Category

Banner – True Native

Man in flat dreaming of holiday

Travel: How to save summer 2021 & inspire 2022 bookings

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

With the school holidays nearly upon us, summer, and traditionally the peak travel period is traditionally just around the corner. Of course, set against the backdrop of Covid, nothing is remotely traditional right now. Travel restrictions are currently being lifted across Europe, so how does the industry make the most of these vital few weeks? What lies ahead for travel in 2022?

Pent up demand

One thing is for sure, there’s an appetite for overseas travel given many people stayed at home in the UK last summer. A new YouGov report has found that Europe is the only global market where consumers named government restrictions over health concerns as a barrier to travel, largely because of the high availability of vaccines across the continent. In the UK, where currently over 86% of the adult population have had at least one jab, 62% of respondents cited travel restrictions, with only 25% selecting health.

Reacting quickly

As the industry has discovered, the current reality is that many holidaymakers are only going to book when restrictions allow, leading to very last-minute bookings. When the UK added the Balearic Islands to the green list in June, allowing Brits to return home without the need for quarantine, online searches for the Spanish archipelago increased by 4,750%, with flights to Ibiza up 900%.

Who to market to?

You may recall the headlines back in January when the first baby boomers received their jabs – TUI reported a jump in bookings, with 50% coming from the over 50’s as confidence increased thanks to the UK’s early start with vaccinations. Well, 6 months later, things have moved on somewhat. YouGov research reveals Millennials and Gen X are now the sweet spot for travel companies in the short term:

“The youngest generation, Gen Z, has been the hardest hit economically but while they have less concern over health risks, a lack of disposable income is holding them back in terms of their ability to travel freely. The oldest generation is on the other side of the coin – with savings due to having spent less in the last year but more concerns around travel.

Somewhere in the middle is the audience travel companies are looking for. Millennials and Gen X on average have the combination of a confidence to travel, lack of immediate health risks and the finances to fund what could be multiple trips in the coming months and years.”

What to say?

It’s fair to say the UK government’s traffic light system hasn’t filled consumers with confidence. In May, Portugal was added and then abruptly removed from the green list, sending tourists scrambling for return flights. Research from Trip Advisor has found that UK traffic was up more than any other market in the past few months, but it’s been somewhat bumpy. Their ‘Have Shot, Will Travel’ report found that:

“In the UK, clicks are up more than any other major market since the turn of the year 4, although the recovery trajectory has not followed a steady upward trend like in the U.S. Instead, much of the growth in search traffic occurred during two spikes in user activity – one in late February, when the UK government announced its plans for a roadmap out of lockdown, and then again in April, as national lockdown restrictions began to ease further.”

Recognising that reassurance is going to be a key factor in persuading UK travellers to book, trade body ABTA has just launched #ReadySteadyTravel – to “help travellers feel informed, reassured, confident and excited to book foreign travel this year”.

Graeme Buck, Director of Communications at ABTA – The Travel Association, said:

“Given how changeable things are at the moment, the campaign will be agile – making sure it responds to the latest developments. Our big focus right now is helping people feel informed about what they need to do, both from a government requirement point of view and checking FCDO advice, but also making sure they have everything else in place, from an up-to-date passport to understanding social distancing measures when travelling. And, of course, we’re also celebrating the return to travel and helping people feel excited about the great experiences you get with an overseas holiday.”

Airport signsWhen to say it

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for last minute bookings or to inspire people for 2022, now is the time to engage with travellers through long-form content. Research from Visit Britain shows the planning phase of summer and autumn trips is happening further in advance, and that the booking of trips is happening far closer to the travel date than usual, with nearly a third of consumers booking just before they travel.

We’ve recently run two travel campaigns with very different messaging – one based on where you can book and travel to right now, and another, a destination guide for whenever restrictions are lifted to that country. The performance of these campaigns was interesting – the right now content achieved a lower CTR but an incredibly strong CTA rate from the page (+10%), indicating that while there’s perhaps a smaller audience for overseas travel in the next few months, those looking for it are incredibly engaged and ready to book in the moment. The destination piece gained an exceptionally high CTR and strong dwell times, indicating that there’s a large audience of people in the research phase for next year.

With so many people ‘in-market’ for travel either this year or next, here’s 5 top tips for producing engaging content for your target audience:

How to engage with travellers during Covid – 5 top tips

Be agile In the current market, be prepared to get a campaign live at the drop of the hat. Have assets ready to go – online article copy is far easier to edit and adapt than things like video, display or rich media, and far faster than print

Be reassuring – consumer confidence is low thanks to several false starts; every piece of content should reassure travellers that both they, and their booking are safe

Be inspiring after an enforced period at home, many of us have been thinking about visiting new places. Research shows people are considering longer and more expensive breaks, so content should reflect this. Create some real Wanderlust!

Be thoughtful – another key takeaway from the pandemic has been the public’s attitude to social purpose. Can you emphasise environmental credentials of a hotel or destination? Is tourism vital to the local economy?

Be emotional –according to Expedia, of those who travelled in 2020, 80% travelled for rejuvenation. Don’t be scared to mention that times have been tough, and that you not only need, but DESERVE a break!

For more on why long form content is key to influencing travellers, visit our blog here. To discuss your travel campaign requirements, please contact us here.

 

The power of words: How altruistic are we?

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Native advertising, Uncategorized

As we navigate an exit from Covid restrictions, how altruistic we are as a nation has been brought into sharp focus. Should you have the vaccine to protect yourself, others, or a combination of both? While vaccine hesitancy is very low in the UK compared with other countries, when trying to persuade the population to get vaccinated, it’s a good idea to understand what motivations will work, what buttons to push. In many ways, it’s no different to advertising any other product – what are the features and benefits?!

Different countries have taken different approaches. From over a hundred million dollars of vaccine lottery prize money in California, to promoting the tantalising prospect of the things that we love reopening in France:

In the UK of course, we have stickers. Everyone loves a sticker, right? Whilst it probably isn’t the number one reason for getting your jab, the language you use to get people there might be. One of the most notable changes in tack came when sending texts to the under 40’s in the UK.

The language had been tweaked from a more formal “You have been invited to book your Covid vaccination” used in older age groups, to an invite using the phrase “You have reached the top of the queue” and words like “priority” – as many noted, the text had been gamified – YOU are the winner!

Why words matter

When promoting a product or service, how altruistic should you assume your target audience are? Here’s two recent briefs I’ve worked on recently that both raised this question. One was for a FMCG product that had new green credentials, and another for some university courses in subjects that would certainly be for the common good. So, here’s the question – when enticing readers via headlines, should your focus be on what the product /service can do for you, or how it can help others?

Test and discover

We will often A/B test around 6 headlines for each True Native article, so there is always an opportunity to be proved wrong, but on the whole headlines which provide a clear benefit to the user will outperform those which don’t list any benefit to the reader. As altruistic as we would like to think we are, a good outcome for the user will usually trump all else.

How to craft content that performs

With this is mind, here’s three ways to ensure you’re producing content that pushes all the right buttons:

1. Think about the benefits to the buyer’s life

How can buying here cut my commute? How can this product help my skin? What experiences can I have on this holiday? Sell the dream!

2. Educate – The value exchange

Provide useful information that the reader will find valuable – the more engaging it is, the longer they’ll spend with your brand and content

3. Use emotive, aspirational adjectives

Words like stylish, amazing, luxury, stunning, dream, perfect – promise something valuable or emotionally stimulating. And in turn, generate high CTRs

 

Online advertising

Headlines that perform: Why your creative matters

By | Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, main blog, Native advertising

There’s a task in The Apprentice where the candidates have to make some adverts – usually TV, but more recently audio and digital OOH. Each year, without fail, Lord Sugar will berate one of the teams for producing an ad which doesn’t clearly portray the product. Here, for example, is a classic of the genre – adverts for two tissue brands…

“I don’t know what your bloody adverts about!” shouts Sir Alan to the producers of the ‘I Love My Tissues’ ad. The rival team, having created ‘Atishu’, win the task with a “…horrible advert, a horrible box” because they sold the product, it’s features, and benefits in the ad.

There is, of course, a place for high-end branding ads which barely mention the product, but in all honestly a new tissue brand probably isn’t it. But it’s not just apprentices that sometimes forget that the end user needs to understand what you’re in the business of selling! You can have all the digital adtech and targeting in the world, but if your creative is unclear, it’s unlikely to perform.

Here’s some anonymised ads (both direct response and sponsored content) headlines I’ve seen recently online:

Headline: Time for change Sponsored by: B2B Brand 

A change in your business, a change in their business, a change in the world? It wasn’t clear who the change was aimed at, what the change was, or who the change benefits. When we create headlines (and select images) for native sponsored content, we always think about the end user – what benefit will they get from spending time with this content? If there isn’t any clear reason to click, it’s destined to underperform even if what it’s clicking to is actually good.

Headline: Save £300 with our early bird pricing Sponsored by: Consumer Brand

I was unaware of the brand, so didn’t know what they sell. The image was of some electrical equipment, but it wasn’t clear what it was for, or what it did!

Outside of the very biggest brands, you should never assume that even your target audience has heard of you. Start with the basics – features and benefits! Features describes what the product does, benefits describe how buying this product can help you. So, how do you cover all of this in a snappy headline with a short character limit? Here’s a headline we recently ran for a water softener company:

Why a water softener is the ultimate beauty hack”

So, in 40 characters we’ve explained what we are selling and how it can benefit you. If you were considering a water softener, you can discover how it may help you look your best, if you weren’t considering a water softener but beauty is a priority in your life, you may well be enticed to see how it could help you achieve better skin. Put simply, it works both ways.

Here’s five essentials for producing crystal clear headlines that work for your audience…

5 ways to create headlines that perform

Be prescriptive. A prescriptive statement is stating what should happen, and in the context of advertising, that something desirable should happen if you follow our instruction. “Looking for promotion? Study at TAN University to boost your prospects”.

Be relevant. Clickbait only annoys the user and will result in poor results when they realise the headline isn’t related to the content.

Be positive. Think about the benefits to the reader’s life. Explain how buying this house will cut their commute in the headline.

Be educational. Think about the value exchange with the reader. Provide useful information they’ll find useful – the more engaging it is, the longer they’ll spend with your brand and content.

Be aspirational. Use emotive, aspirational adjectives. Words like stylish, amazing, luxury, stunning, dream, perfect – promise something valuable or emotionally stimulating, and in turn, generate high CTRs.

 

Influencers on mobile

For influencers with impact, look closer to home…

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

It’s been a rough couple of months for influencers. From ‘working’ holiday trips in the peak of the pandemic, to being caught using filters to boost the results of beauty products, it’s fair to say the general public’s view of those who ‘insta’ for a living is probably at an all-time low.

Pre-COVID, YouGov and Grey London found 96% of people do not trust influencers, as what started as a once noble profession, spiralled out of control. Has this stopped brands working with influencers? Nope. Not when the majority of millennials admit to having been influenced by a social media content creator, and that despite growing mistrust in social media platforms, 25% of us say we are using them more.

Are all influencers the same?

So, what counts as an influencer? Well, the dictionary definition is quite simply “a person or thing that influences another.” In marketing terms, we expand this to include the idea that this person has the ability to boost their audience’s purchase intent of a particular product or service though content. But are all influencers someone we haven’t met, or someone being paid by a brand to promote their wares? Quite simply, no. There are more credible unpaid influencers right under your nose…

It’s often said that the very best form of advertising is word of mouth, but is that an analogue proposition in a digital age? Not quite – according to Nielsen, 92% percent of worldwide consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. But the word-of-mouth recommendation has to start somewhere – so if the recommender hasn’t themselves used the product or service; how do they recommend?

So, what if the information came from the brand and the message was delivered by word-of-mouth? Well, that’s what we’ve been measuring digitally for the past six years – we look at how many people have read brand content in our premium publisher environments in two ways: article page reads where the user has come through a sponsored headline unit, and reads from those who have arrived by way of a shared link.

Growth of messaging apps

Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 as they viewed it as a major rival with explosive growth – they were right. In the UK, around 80% of 18-44s use the platform – it has 50% more users than Instagram. You might not think of them as direct competitors, but they both do the same thing, share content – it’s just one is in private, and one is in public.

Social Platform users graph

Which brings us back to our analysis of sharing across out network. Six years ago, the majority of sharing we saw was public – on Facebook and Twitter (via the sharing buttons on articles), now it’s private – sending the URL via What’s app, iMessage, email. On many campaigns, we’ll see hundreds of additional reads registered this way – essentially word-of-mouth delivery from your family or friends, and we all know the power of a personal recommendation.

We run across every vertical from B2B to Travel, but I wanted to look at some of the best performing campaigns we’ve seen recently over a selection of categories. 

Sharing percentages by vertical graph

As you can see, one clearing campaign for a university achieved almost a quarter of its page views via sharing – the content focused on what university was going to look like in September 2020, so answered many prospective students’ questions in an uncertain time. Other verticals that performed well were property (How to buy an apartment in London for under 400k), and Home & Garden (How to get a fantastic lawn in time for summer). So, what’s the recipe for success?

What makes content sharable?

The value exchange: either lots of insightful details about a product or service I think you’ll be interested in, or brand content that provides useful tips and tricks to help the user

Trust and Authority: A university writing about how to complete your UCAS application, a housing developer explaining how Help to Buy works, a haircare brand with tips for keeping your lockdown locks perfect. There must be synergy between the brand and the content

Well-structured content: 75%+ of traffic is mobile and it’s likely that your content will be shared on mobile, so think short punchy paragraphs, bullets, bold and sub-headlines that help navigate the user through the content

So next time the discussion turns to influencers, consider the value of engaging brand content in credible publisher environments. Get it right and it could well have the additional impact of being sent by the ultimate influencers – friends and family!

 

female shop assistant holding open sign

Business reopening? How to be reassuring…

By | Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog

I’ve just bought a carpet. If you’d told me in January when we moved house that I’d have to make an appointment to visit Tapi Carpets, would be met by a lady in medical gloves wearing a full face visor, and be asked to sanitise my hands before so much as flipping through the shag, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s just what happened, and you know what, it didn’t feel as strange as I thought it would – we just got on with it. A few jokes about the store never being cleaner… “just imagine the germs that were on credit card terminals before – yuck!”… and we were done.

As I walked home, I started to think about the reason it didn’t feel that odd or unwelcoming. Obviously, we’re a few months into this now, so we kind of know that when we buy products or services it’s probably not going to be conducted how it was prior to COVID-19. However, I think the main reason it wasn’t completely weird was because Tapi did a great job in preparing me for the experience.

From the phone call booking the appointment, to the email setting out what to expect, everything was reassuring. We were told we’d be the only people in the store, that their staff “may look a little strange” in PPE, and that the credit card machine would be sanitised with “fluid alcohol or a bleach solution after each use”. This was their first day back open since the government closed all non-essential shops, and they nailed it.

The UK is nervous 

As someone not in a high-risk group, I’m more comfortable than many – we’ve already booked a holiday; I’d be fine getting on a plane in the next couple of months. In short, I’m not representative of the UK. According to a YouGov poll in April 2020, just 32% of us would feel comfortable going back into a pub or restaurant and only around half of adults would be happy to go back into a clothing store (54% men, 42% women). Given these findings, how businesses communicate reassurance is going to be key to attracting physical customers back.

Crafting comforting copy

We’re currently working on many campaigns which include reassuring copy – from a developer offering socially distanced show home viewings, to a university explaining why joining a virtual open day will be just as good as being there in person. Here’s three things to think about when writing re-opening copy:

1.     Be upfront. Don’t pretend that COVID-19 hasn’t changed things – we all know it has. Instead talk honestly about the changes you’ve had to make for the benefit of both your staff and customers

2.     Be detailed. Long form copy gives you the freedom to explain exactly how things will work. Unexpected surprises will unnerve those who are already anxious

3.     Be upbeat. It’s a positive that you’re able to serve your customers. Don’t focus on the negatives. Tapi told me about the “success” of their opening trial and some great reopening offers, not that I might have to wait for an appointment and can no longer just turn up to their stores

If you’ve missed my previous blog posts on brand content in the age of COVID-19, you can find them here

Family with two kids in masks in airport

Pitching for tourists: How and when to market post COVID-19 travel

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

Unquestionably, travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors since COVID-19 hit. New data from Pubmatic has revealed a 96% drop in ad spend from the first week of March to the second week of April, as country after country locked down, and airlines pulled flights.

As we hurtle towards June, we’re starting to see some green shoots, as thankfully infection rates decline across Europe. Flights are once again being scheduled, with British Airways predicting “a meaningful return” to the sky from July.    

The importance of tourism

Many countries who are heavily reliant on tourism, such as Spain and Italy (around 12 – 15% of GDP), already have plans to bring visitors back as soon as possible. Sicily announced that it will discount plane tickets and pay for every third night in hotels in an effort to lure back tourists. Spain’s tourism minister has said they hope to welcome foreign tourists back by the end of June.

After the banking crisis in which the country was badly hit, Iceland turned to tourism, which now accounts for 9% of GDP.  The country is already preparing for tourists in June who will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Reykjavik airport.

In Britain, the focus has turned to domestic tourism to save the summer season. Visit Britain have proposed an extra bank holiday later this year to help businesses who were closed during the first stage of lockdown. Domestic tourism alone is worth £80 billion a year to the UK economy.

Advertising when?

The Irish Examiner recently reported that Tourism Ireland are tendering for a COVID-19 research programme. It’s essentially a piece of work designed to tell them when to begin marketing Ireland as a tourist destination again.

This week, Visit Scotland reported “a slow but steady return to traffic on visitscotland.com and an upturn in long lead (90+days) flight bookings.

Given the long consideration phase when booking a holiday (see our blog on Why long form content is key to influencing travellers) and strong signs that we’re moving to a more optimistic phase (see Why your brand content should now be optimistic), perhaps that time should be now?

Hitting the right notes

Getting the tone right in the current climate will be key – I’ve already seen some great campaigns including Visit Switzerland’s activity-packed “Dream now, travel later”…

Visit Britain have grouped a selection of quintessentially British content together, creating a hub containing everything from recipes you can make at home, to 360 degree videos, and articles on binge-worthy British TV shows.

Finally, Travel Saint Lucia have been hosting live streams twice a week, showcasing activities from kite surfing to live island sunsets. There’s also been interactive content you can join in with, from cooking classes to yoga classes with a stunning backdrop!

Remaining front of mind

All these campaigns have one thing in common – encouraging us to think ahead to when we can travel again. Those that remain front of mind will benefit the most when people start booking in serious numbers again.

Let us help you generate some wanderlust ahead of re-opening. Contact us today to see how we create and distribute inspiring on-brand travel content that performs.

 

Family seaside holiday

Why your brand content should now be optimistic

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog

I’ve just booked a holiday for the first week of January. Will it happen? Probably, but there is of course a chance that it won’t.  Does that matter? No, it’s fully refundable. Like many, I need something to look forward to. It seems I’m not the only one – social platform Pinterest has just released some interesting stats on where they believe consumer sentiment is right now.

Four phases based on consumer trends

Pinterest have split their timeframe into 4 parts:

Phase 1: Triage + Information (First 21 days)
Phase 2: Empathy + Relevance (Days 7-45)
Phase 3: Escapism + Optimism (Days 45-120)
Phase 4: Recovery + Rebound (-10 days from quarantine lift onward)

In the first few weeks of lockdown searches centred around recipes and things for kids to do. These have now levelled off in line with phase 3 according to the platform, with planning for the future now growing strongly. Thoughts have once again tuned to categories such as travel and wedding plans.

This mirrors what we’ve seen across our own network with engagement across food, home and garden performing exceptionally well during April and education campaigns for September university courses taking off during the past few weeks, as students plan their future.

The research phase lengthens

Whilst we may be entering a more optimistic phase, one thing that has changed is how we research potential purchases. New research from Bauer Media found that 32% of consumers now take longer to look up and consider a product or service than they did pre-lockdown. Notable category finds were that:

“59% spend longer when buying kitchen equipment, and 52% spend longer when purchasing entertainment electronics”

Cars, houses and holidays

We know big ticket items have a far longer funnel even in more normal times. As we explored in a previous travel blog, research from Expedia shows that in the 45 days before making a purchase, British consumers visit websites an average of 121 times!

The journey to purchasing a car typically lasts around 24 weeks according to Facebook research. 13 weeks of that time is spent researching and building knowledge online through content before a potential customer even sets foot inside a dealership.

Buying a new home can involve an even longer consideration period (16 months), with online research lasting 7 months before an active search begins according to the digital house hunt (Google).

Planning content ahead of trends 

Given that the research and consideration phase has more likely lengthened during lockdown, it makes sense to be in market with useful content to aid the buying journey now, ahead of expecting consumers to be comfortable with booking travel / visiting a dealership / viewing a show home.

Even if people aren’t ready to commit to booking the trip of a lifetime right now, they have almost certainly started the process. Producing and distributing optimistic content now will sow the seeds for conversion when the time is right.

 

corona virus covid-19

Brand content in the age of COVID-19

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog

We’re now several weeks in to living life as we’ve never known it before. Coronavirus has changed everyone’s plans, from that city break that never happened, to multimillion-pound ad campaigns. But in times of crisis there are opportunities for some brands, as consumers take comfort in certain products and look for leadership from companies they trust.

Let’s split this into three parts: who consumers want to be advertising, who is advertising and who is succeeding in advertising during these uncertain times. And when I say advertising, what I mean is communicating. If you’ve never read Jeremy Bullmore’s definition of “What Is Advertising” – perhaps now is a good time as it’s a great read – his 1976 definition basically stands true today:

‘Any paid-for communication intended to inform and/or influence one or more people.’

Who do the public want to hear from?

So, let’s start with who consumers want to be advertising. Rather than make the bold assumption that now is not the time to be communicating, selling, or even discussing coronavirus, Opinium asked the British public just that.

The first surprising finding was that majority or those surveyed wanted to hear the same amount or, in certain sectors, more from brands – it wasn’t deemed to be a time to go dark by most. Perhaps less surprising were the sectors people wanted to hear more from:

Healthcare and pharma – 33% wanted to hear more
Supermarkets – 33% wanted to hear more
Food and drink – 28% wanted to hear more
Retailers – 21% wanted to hear more
Household goods – 20% wanted to hear more

When looking at who should be fronting the messaging, the response, without question, was those in the front line, with influencers and celebrities coming bottom. Practical, authentic information is in demand during a time of crisis. A 12 market brand trust report from Edelman found that brands should sell solutions…

84% percent of respondents said they want brand advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges.”

Who’s active right now

Aside from the Government, the most active sectors according to Winmo have been FMCG (comfort food in particular), home improvement (homes & garden) and entertainment (subscription streaming services, toys, computer games). There’s also been a big shift in channels with OOH and print budgets shifting online. From our own perspective, we’ve seen incredible engagement with home and garden content as people spend every day at home looking at all the jobs they’ve put off!

Who’s succeeding

Brands seen to be adding value by directly helping with the crisis are generating plenty of brand love online – from Barbour manufacturing scrubs, to Tesco donating millions to food banks, but there’s also plenty of space for those brands helping the public maintain some sense of normativity – Nike, for example, has made it’s training club app free of charge.

We’re currently helping brands react to the new “new” by using long form content to communicate information. Our tips on how to communicate in a crisis are here, or feel free to get in touch to see how we can help you distribute brand content across premium publisher’s here.

 

Hands showing signs

How to produce brand content that performs in 2020

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog

January, by its very nature, often allows for a period of reflection. The madness of Q4 has passed and it seems like an opportune moment to take a look back at what worked well in 2019 and do more of the good stuff in 2020. With that in mind, I’ve been revisiting some of the most successful content we ran last year to see why it worked so well.

I’m going to keep this quite top line as we’re planning more regular sector specific pieces throughout the year (health, property, fashion, food & drink) – if you missed our recent travel content tips, you can find them here.

So, in no particular order, here’s some recommendations for your future brand content campaign:

Be authentic

We’ve been running multiple articles for a leading London hotel over the past 12 months. Whilst London recommendation pieces have worked well (arts, restaurants, events), the most powerful theme was actually under our noses – the hotel itself. Writing about the history of this iconic hotel and how you can feel it in the building proved to not only to be the most successful content in terms of engagement but also CTAs. The audience were keen to discover how they could buy into the magic.

Be useful

Campaigns that provide useful information based on the specialism of the brand continue to perform exceptionally well. Examples include an eye drops brand explaining how you can tell if you’ve dry eyes via a blink test, a housebuilder detailing exactly how Help To Buy works and a children’s food company with top tips for teething toddlers. If you’ve earned the right to talk expertly about a subject, use it for all its worth!

Be inspiring

It’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re in the market to sell something, whether that be the wider brand or an individual product. Think about how the content you are creating gives the reader inspiration to do something, whether that be create a spectacular cheeseboard for Christmas, start a new university course, or go and explore a new country. Three very different outcomes, but all successful this past December.

Computer keyboardBe data driven

Whilst the creative process is unlikely to be replaced by AI anytime soon, a good content strategy should make use of the wealth of amazing insights we can now report on. For several brands this year, we’ve tested advertorial content alongside softer, less product led content. Each article produced different outcomes, but broadly we found that advertorial content produced better CTAs, with the content marketing style pieces producing better CTRs. Map these to your business goals to produce better outcomes going forward.

Finally, if you do all these things, don’t be ashamed that you’ve something to sell in return – It’s what the value exchange is all about!

Contact us today to discover how we can help you create meaningful engagement with your target audience.

 

5 things we learned planning 2019 clearing campaigns

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - Reporting, Banner - True Native, Content, Education, main blog

It’s been a busy few months developing university clearing campaigns with our agency partners. As students start to receive their results, applications will soon be flooding in. Here’s 5 things we’ve learned so far….

  1. Clearing is not as scary as people think, so communicate that

Clearing can seem daunting to students who don’t understand the process, whereas in actual fact the whole point about clearing is that it allows students to talk directly to universities. They’re able to quickly find out what courses are available to them and apply straight away, sometimes there and then over the phone.

Clearing cuts red tape and makes it easier for students to apply, meaning more students in the right courses, and more places filled up for universities. It’s up to marketing teams to get this message across to potential students.

Some of our best performing headlines and articles have been reassuring pieces, helping guide students through the process. At the same time, long form content gives institutions the ideal opportunity to position themselves as a viable option and provides potential students with the confidence to contact clearing teams.

  1. Consider your audience groups

Universities spend large budgets targeting potential students and signposting key courses, but should they spend more time thinking about who their audience is?

Whilst students will ultimately make the final decision on where and when to apply through clearing, they don’t have to do this on their own. Parents, teachers, tutors and heads of year all have an impact on a student’s decision, so universities also need to be engaging with these influencers and giving them the best possible information for them to pass on. It’s certainly worth considering producing bespoke content for these groups.

Young people on smartphones

  1. Don’t just focus on traditional school leavers

This year we have seen more universities expand the audience of their content campaigns to engage with mature students who are considering returning to university (or attending for the first time) to change or progress their careers.

The messaging to these potential students has to be really eye-catching and inspirational to encourage consideration and cut through the wealth of marketing aimed at more traditional clearing audiences.

Unlike school leavers, mature students don’t have parents and teachers drilling key application dates into them, so they often don’t realise its application season or fall foul of the ‘there’s always next year’ syndrome. Universities need to reach these students, often found in the local catchment areas, and explain the benefits of career focused courses. We’ve found messaging around career changes or progress have had the biggest impact across our network.

  1. Be strategic with your budget

We know results day is an incredibly important time to reach students as they have a very short window to make a decision. As a result, advertising spends on results day have become mind-blowing due to the sheer amount competition driving up the prices of biddable media.

With a click on Google sometimes costing upwards of £100 have you considered other DR channels like Native Display to diversify your results day strategy?

Another option to take the pressure off a very narrow window is to engage with students in pre-clearing. This gives universities a chance to get their message across with longer form, less DR based content.

That way when students reach clearing, they have already engaged with the university, have some understanding of its offering / courses, and see it as a viable option. Therefore, pre-clearing brand engagement can massively increase performance of your activity on the big day and get more out of your overall campaign.

Young adult at laptop

  1. Try out different content approaches and react to performance

Every university is different in their approach to the content they create. You often hear that copy needs to be authentic, and written in language that students will engage with, but what does that mean?

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to producing content – whilst we’ve a wealth of experience writing for student audiences – it’s still worth trying different approaches; analysing and optimising towards what’s performing best.

For us, that might mean testing an advertorial article full of facts about courses, campus locations and teaching against a softer content-led approach, written to engage students with the brand.

Both have their place in the recruitment cycle, but looking at engagement with the content, CTAs from the article page and back end data from clearing landing pages, you can understand which approach works best for your audience and optimise towards those articles, giving you the best value for your advertising spend.