There’s no question that content marketing has stolen the industry limelight in the last few years, but did you know it existed long before the digital era? Yup, the history of content marketing actually dates way back to the print age— 1895, to be exact.
Fun fact: John Deere has been dubbed the “OG content marketer” thanks to their magazine, The Furrow, which they began publishing in 1895. Although the term content marketing didn’t exist at the time, The Furrow was one of the first instances in which a brand used content as a marketing tactic.
Fast forward to the digital age, and content is king 👑.
It’s no surprise when you consider that consumers spend 8.8 hours per day consuming content online.
But content marketing has become so popular that over 4 million blog posts are published every single day. That’s some seriously fierce competition. And while consumer tech enthusiasts spend more than a quarter of their day online, marketers are still competing to grab their attention.
So, what’s a marketer to do? How can they quickly reach tech-savvy consumers with relevant content without having to constantly fight for Google rankings? Sponsored content could be the answers you’ve been searching for.
Sponsored content: 101
Sponsored content is a combination of content marketing and paid advertising. A brand pays a publisher to produce and publish a piece of content on their behalf.
Sponsored content offers marketers an opportunity to advertise to consumer tech enthusiasts without having to advertise to them. What I mean is, sponsored content is much more than just an advertising tactic. It serves to provide valuable information for its readers. And if your target audience is tech-savvy consumers, you already know they do a lot of research, making sponsored content the perfect strategy for reaching them.
That said, sponsored content can take many different forms, such as how-to’s, listicles, guides, and more. The example below features a use case article on Scotch.io sponsored by CloudBees.
Notice how the sponsored post aims to provide readers with information on a product’s different use cases rather than trying to convince readers to buy. That’s the beauty of sponsored content. It allows marketers to inform readers while still letting them come to their own conclusions.
The value of sponsored content
Sponsored content wouldn’t be such a hit among marketers if it lacked value. Let’s explore the key characteristics that make sponsored content such a valuable marketing strategy.
Content really is king
It’s no wonder content has been crowned king in marketing— it’s one strategy that offers multiple benefits. Content marketing is: cheap, versatile, and highly effective.
- Cheap. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
- Versatile. Content can: increase brand awareness, build trust, generate leads, and increase sales (among other things).
- Effective. For every dollar spent, content marketing generates about 3x more leads than traditional marketing.
Aside from all that, people genuinely enjoy consuming content online. According to this infographic from Demand Metric:
- 60% of consumers enjoy reading content from brands.
- After reading custom content, 82% of consumers feel more positive about a brand.
- Content marketing makes 70% of consumers feel closer to a company.
Sponsored content offers marketers a way to capitalize on all of that without the hassle of planning and executing it on their own.
It’s a time saver
Content marketing is a highly effective strategy. It also takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to reap the benefits. Time that marketers sometimes just don’t have. Sponsored content gives you all the benefits of traditional content marketing in a fraction of that time. In other words, sponsored content delivers quick wins.
Publishers usually assume responsibility for creating sponsored posts on your brand’s behalf. In addition to that, publishers take care of the promotion as well. In short, marketers save time on content creation and promotion.
Bonus: Sponsored content offers automatic access to highly-engaged publisher audiences that creates a halo effect for brands.
Sponsored content is contextual. Meaning, your sponsored post will be contextually relevant to the curated posts surrounding it. This results in content being automatically more relevant to a publisher’s audience.
Why is this important?
The internet today is flooded with thousands of ads in the wrong place. 47% of consumers actually implement an ad blocker because of irrelevant ads. Without contextual relevance, marketers are missing a real opportunity to connect with their audience. Contextual advertising, like sponsored content, reaches the right audience while providing real value.
No ad blockers
According to research from GlobalWebIndex, 47% of internet users across the globe use an ad blocker. That means your traditional advertising campaigns might not be reaching tech-savvy consumers after all.
Sponsored content isn’t a traditional ad format. As we mentioned before, it serves to provide information to readers, so sponsored content often takes the form of an article. Therefore, it doesn’t fall on an ad blocker’s radar as your traditional ad placement would. So if you’re looking for a way to avoid ad blockers, sponsored content can do just that.
Creating sponsored content for tech consumers
Here are five tips for creating a strong sponsored content campaign that tech-savvy audiences will respond to.
1. Get specific about your audience
When it comes to targeting such a diverse group of individuals like consumer tech enthusiasts, you need to get specific about the niches you want to reach. For example, targeting a tech enthusiast who enjoys smart technology would be different from targeting a developer looking for a new software tool.
Who is your audience? What are their interests? Where do they spend their time online?
Asking questions will help you understand your target audience within the broader tech consumer market, which will ultimately help you create the right messaging and find the right publishers to make your campaign successful.
2. Find the perfect publisher
The right placement for any type of marketing campaign is everything. If your post is in the wrong place, in front of the wrong audience, your campaign will flop.
A strong understanding of your tech audience will help you scope out the publishers that they trust to bring them all the best tech-related news, insights, and resources.
There’s a lot of tech-focused publishers out there. Choosing the perfect publisher partner all depends on your specific audience and goals. If you’re trying to reach a broad tech audience, consider publishers like Digg or Firefox. Looking to get even more specific? Consider researching other popular publishers within the overall tech space.
3. Consider where your campaign falls in your funnel
One of the great things about sponsored content is that it works used at any stage of the marketing funnel.
Sponsored content is an excellent way to raise brand awareness. Your campaign should focus more on providing useful information to the reader that relates to your brand but doesn’t necessarily try to make a hard sell. For example, a how-to article.
If your campaign goals are to increase conversions, your sponsored content should focus on promoting free trials, discount codes, or sign-ups. Again, this will depend on what you’re offering your audience.
4. Make sure content provides value to readers
Tech consumers do their research before making any sort of commitment. They want to make sure their investment will be worth their while. In other words, tech consumers want to know what’s in it for them?
Sponsored content is an opportunity to deliver valuable information to readers. If done right, a sponsored post will leave tech-savvy consumers wanting to engage with your brand even more.
Sponsored content is a shortcut strategy that gives you all the benefits of traditional content marketing for a price. Sponsored content is perfect for reaching well-informed and research-obsessed consumer tech audiences around the globe.
By working with trusted publishers, your sponsored content campaigns will leave a lasting positive impression on tech-savvy consumers.