If you’re a small company it might seem a daunting prospect to begin your digital outreach. Where to start? How do you get the best return on investment for your marketing budget? How do you know what’s working? New stats show that when it comes to return investment, native content is your best option. Over and over again, native content proves to be a big winner for online advertising opportunities, better than online ads or direct mailings.
The Growth of Native Content
A recent study in Fast Company shares big projections for native content in 2017: advertisers are expected to grow 36.2% this year with a collective spend of $22 billion dollars on native content alone.
This is very good news for a Forbes, “Native advertising, unlike other formats, benefits [both publishers and advertisers].”
Lauren Fisher, a principal analyst at eMarketer says in Fast Company, “Growth of native digital display is being driven by publishers’ pursuit of higher-value and more mobile-friendly inventory, as well as by advertisers’ demands for more engaging, less intrusive ads.” eMarketer says this type of advertising will likely be more than half (52.9%) of digital advertising for the first time ever this year. Most of this will be spent on mobile native content.
Why Native Content is Important to Brands
This type of marketing is clearly gaining more traction from readers, because it offers something unique that aligned with what they are already reading. But more importantly, perhaps, is that it helps create the story behind the brand– a narrative about the product, company, or brand that can help people connect.
Kyle Ryan writes on HubSpot that, “Consumers are 25% more likely to engage with a native ad when compared to a traditional banner advertisement. Even more impressive is the fact that 53% of native ad engagement is positive, which helps to build credibility and a great brand experience.”
And this connection is so important for brands in this new, digital age. “Impactful, memorable, emotional connections lead to true brand loyalty,” writes Denise Lee Yohn.
She provides some great advice for brands looking to make an authentic connection with their existing AND potential customers. And the best part is that these tips can be used to inform your digital outreach strategy and position your brand as a thought-leader or innovation leader in your field.
Lee Yohn’s suggestions for establishing an emotional connection with customers include:
- Ground your brand identity in emotional values
- Give long-term customer relationships priority over short-term sales.
- Use your brand—not product categories—to determine your business scope and scale.
- Perpetually ask and answer: “What business are we really in?”
How to Use Native Content to Connect with Customers
Ask yourself, what does your company stand for? Why did you start the business? What can consumers learn from you? Asking these questions before diving into creating content can be helpful as you create thought-leadership articles. You can use this content on your own site, share it with social media followers, and send it out to other bloggers or news sites.
But to really boost your site and your brand, getting your story out into the wider web is really the goal. Find bloggers that want to share your story, contribute as an expert to an array of sites, and share your thoughts on other articles you read. In all of these methods, be natural, be real, and do not be sales-y. Your goal is not just to sell product/services, but to share your ideas.
And to really boost your presence, you can work with companies that help promote you beyond what you can do on your own. As the importance of web presence increases, there are an increasing number of companies looking to scam the system of linking and page rank, so be careful with whom you work to ensure there is no ‘black hat SEO’ happening, sometimes unwittingly.
Finally, be prepared to pay. While some sites will be very happy to publish your articles for free, working with a reputable company in your field for a fee might be just the exposure you need to get your ideas out there.