Potential customer using computer and viewing native ad from business.
Native ad content that works best is educational, entertaining and engaging; it’s not content focused on making the hard sell. — Getty Images/fizkes

About 80% of adults in the U.S. are using at least one ad-blocking tool. There’s a good chance if you rely on traditional display ads to reach customers, those ads aren’t even being seen. The solution is to incorporate some native content into your marketing plan. Here’s how to create a native content plan for your business.

[Read more: What Is Native Content?]

What will your native content achieve?

Native content is a highly effective form of advertising when backed by the right strategy. Before you dive in, you must know what you want to achieve. Native ads can be designed with many goals in mind.

  • Increase brand awareness and visibility: Help customers recognize and remember your business.
  • Generate new leads: Help your sales team close deals by creating a pipeline of interested prospects.
  • Increase engagement: This can be in the form of website traffic, newsletter subscribers or loyalty members. Native content can build your community for future marketing opportunities.
  • Boost sales: Make a compelling case to encourage consumers to buy your product now.

Native ad content that works best is educational, entertaining and engaging; it’s not content focused on making the hard sell. Keep in mind that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. For your native content to stand out, it must be original, not annoying.

[Read more: A Complete Guide to Marketing with Native Content]

Know your audience

Many businesses develop “buyer personas” in the course of their marketing efforts. These personas represent key customer groups based on your sales data and market research. A buyer persona is typically expressed as a fictional individual. For example: “Bob, a hardware store’s ideal customer, is a 50-year-old handy dad who visits frequently to stock up on supplies for home improvement projects.”

Buyer personas help you envision who you are speaking to with your native content. For this hardware store, Bob might be the target for how-to videos and articles that highlight the newest tools in stock. This hardware store will know that Bob likely isn’t active on TikTok or Instagram, and instead target Facebook or a DIY publication.

Before you work on the copy, check the platform’s guidelines regarding character limit and formatting.

Choose the right platform and format

There are tons of different channels you can use to reach your audience, as well as forms your native advertising can take. Here are just a few options.

  • In-feed social ads: These ads typically appear on news sites and social media platforms alongside other articles or posts. They blend in with other content on the site, but your business pays to have these ads show up in specific users’ browsing sessions.
  • Recommended content: These ads are similar to an in-feed ad, but show up alongside or at the end of non-sponsored content with a line of text saying this content is something the reader might be interested in.
  • Promoted listings: These appear on Amazon and Etsy to help increase visibility for certain sellers. They are not dissimilar to a paid search ad.
  • Advertorial/sponsored content: Sponsored content is typically produced by a publisher (for instance, Buzzfeed) but paid for by a company. For instance, a hair salon might sponsor an article that discusses the best products for protecting color-treated hair. This is then published on a beauty blog alongside other, non-sponsored content.
  • Product placement: Some publishers, influencers and news outlets are willing to do product reviews or discuss certain businesses in their reporting.

These are all great native content options. The tricky part is determining which of these formats will be most impactful for your target audience. No matter which forms your native ad campaign takes, make sure that it gets clearly marked as sponsored content. Otherwise, you risk alienating your customers, as well as running afoul of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) truth-in-advertising standards.

Build creative assets

Native ads usually need eye-catching visuals and compelling copy. Make sure you invest in great product photos. These can not only be used in your native content, but elsewhere on your website and social media channels.

Visuals are just one part of your campaign: You’ll also likely need to do a fair amount of writing, especially if you’ve decided to go with sponsored content or product placement ads. Before you work on the copy, check the platform’s guidelines regarding character limit and formatting. Some publishers will also have a style guide to which you need to adhere.

Track KPIs and adjust accordingly

Start small with your native content and collect feedback as you go. It may take some adjusting to see what works. Measure KPIs, such as campaign views, site traffic and social engagement (likes, shares and comments), to see how your native campaign is performing. With that feedback, you can refine your audience, improve your creative assets and sell more effectively.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published August 14, 2020