Sponsored content is helping marketers reach more of their audience through paid media without worrying about ad blockers or relying on organic strategies. It's a natural way to connect with prospective buyers on other channels without interrupting their experience.

Learn how to create an effective sponsored content strategy that yields a high return.

Key Takeaways:

🤫 PS: Looking for pricing on content syndication leads? Get a price list here

What Is Sponsored Content?

Sponsored content is media you create that you pay for others to promote. For example, if you write an engaging e-book, you might pay a leader in your industry to publish that e-book on their website under your name.

Some content you can sponsor includes:

Your audience can identify sponsored content by the small note at the beginning of the media that says something similar to "Sponsored by" or "Paid for by." The following sponsored content example shows how a sponsored blog post might appear.

Example of sponsored content

Image from SEMrush

How Is Sponsored Content Different from Other Ads?

There are several effective ways to advertise your content. Knowing the difference will help you choose the best one for your strategy.

Sponsored content is content marketing that doesn't necessarily aim to sell a product or promote your brand. It can also build trust or create demand. Thought leadership articles are one example of content you might sponsor. Sponsored content also more closely connects to the publishing site's original content and might appear in its blog, an email campaign, or within its content.

Native advertising is very similar to sponsored content marketing. However, it tends to have a more apparent sales goal. Native ads also have set spaces where they appear, like widgets at the end of the page or spots at the top of search results.

Branded content is the marketing content you publish on your site for your audience.

Branded Content vs. Native Advertising vs. Sponsored Content

Image from ActiveCampaign

Benefits of Sponsored Content

Sponsoring content has several benefits, including:

5 Tips for Maximizing the Return of Your Sponsored Content

Use these tips to create a sponsored content strategy that yields your desired results.

1. Establish What You’ll Receive in Return

Before investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in sponsored content, you must establish why you're sponsoring your content. For example, creating a goal for your content might include generating traffic, new leads, or making a sale.

Generally, sponsored content isn't a sales pitch and won't be as effective if it only pushes products to readers. Instead, your content should offer value through education, thought leadership, and industry insights.

However, you’ll lose money if you aren't getting any returns from that content. First, establish a content goal to increase your business's revenue from sponsored content. Your goal should eventually lead to more sales, although it doesn't have to occur immediately.

Nearly 80% of marketers use content marketing to generate leads. It's a great goal for your sponsored content as it gives you a measurable way to track how well your content performs and whether you're making a wise investment. It also offers a usable return as you can take those prospects and nurture them until they become loyal customers.

2. Find the Right Publisher

Sponsoring a dozen articles across several websites will get you more eyes than only posting on one website. However, not everyone who sees your media will respond. Therefore, if you want to make the most of your investment and make your content work for you, you should only target a few publishers.

Finding the highest-quality publishers starts with understanding your market. These are the people who are most likely to become buyers. Your first-party data will tell you who they are, their common behaviors, and their needs.

Use that data to identify common places they might frequent and websites they enjoy reading. For example, there might be a leader in the tech industry that most of your clients follow. Sponsoring content on that site will get your media in front of your ideal audience for more quality leads and traffic rather than a large audience of low-value leads with low buyer intent.

3. Focus on Engagement

You want your content to connect with your audience and engage them. Some ways a reader or viewer might engage with your content include liking it, commenting, sharing, filling out a form, or accepting an offer. About 80% of customers agree that their experience with a company is as important as the products a company offers.

When they have a positive experience, they’re more likely to respond to your content. This response provides feedback on how well your content performed and how you might adjust your strategy. You can also gather prospects' information for use in your nurturing processes.

To create engaging content, make it relevant. A customer won't engage with content that doesn't apply to them, no matter how well-made it is. Relevant content keeps the reader at the center of your message, including the challenges you address or the information you provide.

For example, a brand-centric message might say, "Marketing automation performs tasks faster." However, an audience-centric message says, "Marketers save hours each day by using automation."

4. Understand the Context

Context is key to sponsored content. You want to research what other content appears on the publisher's site, who the audience is, and what content formats perform the best. You’ll want your content to blend with the other content's style.

For example, publishing a very professional e-book on a site that usually posts informal, conversational posts might not connect as well with the audience.

5. Use Content Marketing Strategies

Even though you're paying for your content's placement, in the end, it's still a form of content marketing for tech companies. Therefore, you should apply most of your IT marketing rules to your sponsored content to maximize its effectiveness.

For instance, you’ll want to use different media formats, images, videos, and other tools to keep it interesting and memorable. Video is one of the top content marketing formats today. You’ll also want to ensure you capture your audience's attention with an intriguing headline and image.

One area that you should spend extra time focusing on is your branding. When you create branded content, it appears on your site, so your audience has no problems connecting it back to your company.

However, your audience might not make the connection when it appears on someone else's site. That's where style, color, logos, and slogans can help. They make your branding stand out and ensure your audience recognizes who the content belongs to, or from where it originated.

Make an Impression with Your Sponsored Content

Help your sponsored content stand out by working with ActualTech Media’s IT marketing content specialists. We offer dozens of unique designs and formats for tech marketing that will connect and inspire your audience.

Contact us to learn more about our content creation services.