Sponsored content can be a highly effective tactic to capture the attention and build awareness of your brand – when crafted effectively. If you’re thinking about adding it to your marketing strategy, follow these do’s and don’ts for writing sponsored content that performs well.
1. DO tell a compelling story.
Sponsored content isn’t just a different medium for your corporate marketing messaging. It’s a way to show your authenticity, inspire and/or educate readers, and make your brand relatable.
2. DO have a great headline.
Start with a boring headline and that’s as far as readers will get. Instead try something that evokes an emotion: curiosity, humor, or fear (of missing out). For example, instead of “Invest in a Taco Bell Franchise” we chose “Why Taco Bell Is Nacho Average Franchise”. “How to” and listicle (5 Ways to…) titles also perform well.
3. DO write the story with specific topics and keywords in mind.
Think about the audience you’re trying to reach and choose topics and keywords that align with their interests and questions they’re searching online. (We’ll talk more about that in a minute.)
4. DO share the content.
Share via your company social channels, emails, website, newsletters, etc. to get your content in front of the most eyes. Don’t forget to ask everyone in your company – employees and franchisees – to share via their personal networks as well.
5. DON’T “sell” your brand.
Remember: This is not a direct sales piece; it’s an educational piece of content that should position your brand as a helpful resource and authority on a given topic.
6. DON’T be too brief.
Longer content performs better than shorter content. But DO be sure to break up long copy with subheads, bullets, numbered lists, images, etc. to make it easy to read.
7. DON’T use salesy images.
Images that are branded or look like an ad may turn off readers expecting to learn something from the article. Instead, images should be high-quality, and like the content, should be engaging and non-salesy, like this Cruise Planners photo, for instance.
8. DON’T expect leads immediately (or to come directly).
The purpose of writing sponsored content is not to generate direct leads; rather the purpose is to create brand awareness and build trust with readers as one component of your overall marketing strategy. The more articles you publish, the greater chance you have of influencing readers and driving traffic to your site over time.
What You Need to Know About Topics and Keywords
One of the other major benefits of sponsored content is that you can optimize it for search engines (SEO). Google and other search engine algorithms are changing all the time, but it’s still important to identify topics and keywords that your audience is likely searching for. Those keywords should be included in your title, copy and meta description to help your post rank organically on the first page of Google. Keep in mind, however, that ranking near the top of the page doesn’t happen overnight, and rankings can change day to day.
Example of an SEO Optimized Story:
Client: Mosquito Joe
Keyword: Seasonal Franchise
Title: The Appeal of a Seasonal Franchise
Ranking: Page 1
Client: Pinot’s Palette
Keyword: Paint and Sip Business
Title: Want to Open a Paint and Sip Business? 10 Reasons to Consider a Pinot’s Palette Franchise
Ranking: Page 1 (just below the New York Times and above Wikipedia and Entrepreneur)
Example of Founder Story Not Written for SEO
If you would like to write a story on your founder or your franchisees or some topic that does not lend itself well to SEO you may do so; but, please remember that these topics will have a much harder time ranking. This type of content is great for sharing through social, though email, in a press release, etc., but you should not expect it to rank organically.
These are both amazing stories that performed very well on social media but were not written with SEO as the primary goal.
Client: Burn Boot Camp
Keyword: Fitness Entrepreneurs
Title: Fitness Entrepreneurs Who Were Millionaires by 26 Say It’s Not About the Money
Ranking: Page 6
Client: Cruise Planners
Title: The Heart of a Travel Agent, the Drive of a CEO: How Michelle Fee Built the Cruise Planners Franchise
Making Sponsored Content Part of Your Marketing Mix
If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. Unlike many other publications that require you to craft your own sponsored articles, FBR’s editorial team does all the heavy lifting for you.
Our editorial team will spend time researching your brand and your product. Through our research we identify keywords to target, suggest content topics based around these keywords, and work with you to determine which stories make the most sense based on your audience and objectives.
Then we’ll write them, optimize them for search engines, and distribute the content to our audience of readers researching the best franchise opportunities.