engaging content student audience

Why engaging with students requires engaging content

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - Native Video, Banner - Reporting, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, Education, Native advertising

The shifting landscape

Declining application numbers have been a shock to the system across the higher education sector and have led to several major shifts. This year we witnessed a squeeze at the top, with the highest ranked 20 institutions competing for the brightest. Russell Group universities accepted ABB in the summer which had a knock-on effect right down the rankings and led universities to rethink their recruitment strategies.

Students are aware that it’s a buyer’s market, so are now shopping around, visiting multiple campuses to find the perfect university for them. Others are leaving it later to apply and some are waiting until August in the knowledge that even higher ranked institutions will offer places through clearing and confirmation.

Last year St George’s University became the first to offer medicine through clearing. This year, universities that used to mop up their last few places on results day, still had courses available days after to accommodate for late demand. Most institutions now offer a clearing open day to engage with students before they apply.

Making a first impression

The university is a unique institution, in that it’s marketing team must work to a particular cycle, communicating with a largely new audience each year. This presents a great opportunity to fine-tune your brand over time.

As a result, it’s crucial to make a high quality and lasting first impression with each student, each year. It makes such a difference if potential students understand who you are and what you’re all about before they are signposted towards course lists, prospectuses and open days.

student content

The power of your brand

With tightening budgets to work to, most unis are opting for high-intensity campaigns at key periods – January deadline, open days and clearing. This offers maximum impact and ensures that students are given every opportunity to register or apply. A downside of this strategy is that ads that feel transactional are less likely to influence students in making an important decision.

This problem is compounded by the intensity of competition for share of voice, making it hard to be heard above the crowd. Students are likely to see multiple university ads in a day, so how can any one ad stand out above the rest? Will students click on the first one they see? The most colourful? The most relevant? The most impressive stat?

Or will it be a brand that they have engaged with before and feel they recognise and want to explore further?

Education agency, SMRS, recently drew attention to the importance of brand in their HE marketing survey. 97% of respondents pointed to the increased importance of brand, above other recent impacts such as Brexit and the Teaching Excellence Framework.

student content

Being inspirational

When we talk about online brand engagement, we refer to the execution of meaningful, prolonged interactions with university content. Campaigns are often judged on the price of their clicks and the traffic they drive to a site, but this isn’t always the best way to build lasting and impactful brand awareness. Sometimes we should look beyond the click to really understand the results of a piece of activity.

We should consider the potential student’s experience and ask ourselves what students want from their interaction. If the aim is to win hearts and minds, we can’t be pushy, sending students to fill out a form without having something to offer. Universities are great at producing content but not so good at sharing it!

Departments, lecturers and student groups produce fascinating research every day and it’s exactly the kind of stuff that grabs attention and excites young people about getting stuck in and starting their student journey.

Be the one to spark that idea, that conversation, that inspiration, whilst quietly reinforcing your brand identity as an authority on the subject.

Engaging with a digital generation

The last few years have seen the rise of programmatic display ads which have led to campaigns that mine for direct response, opting for quantity over quality. At the same time, a digitally savvy generation has started holding advertisers to a higher standard. To have a chance of generating quality engagement with potential students, interactions have to become less transactional and more inspirational. To get engagement you must be engaging!

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mobile content

Top tips on writing engaging mobile content

By | Content, Content Marketing

Today’s constantly-connected consumers crave content that’s simple to digest and can be accessed from anywhere, and from any device. Hence why mobile is booming.

Rather than me try to put forward a convincing argument, I’ll let the figures speak for themselves. The latest IAB and PwC Digital Adspend report, which we contribute to each year, unveiled that half of UK internet time is now spent on smartphones. This has caused mobile’s share of digital ad spend to rocket from 35% to 43% in just one year, or £2.37bn.

Mobile’s growth means that it now accounts for 57% of all display ad spend and a whopping 77% of all content and native ad spend.

If you’re yet to optimise your content for the small screen, you’re already missing out on an unprecedented opportunity to win over your target audience.

So, if you want to perfect your penmanship skills and fine-tune your mobile copy, here are some top tips for writing compelling content to engage your readers:

mobile content

Short ‘n’ snappy

Did you know that humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish? Which, coincidentally, has been blamed on our use of digital devices. Mobile readers don’t want the arduous task of scrolling through lengthy paragraphs – they’ll switch off in seconds. So, break up the text into short, digestible chunks whenever there’s a natural break. Just remember the golden rule: say what needs to be said, using as few words as possible.

Hook ‘em with headlines and subheads

Continuing the short-and-sweet theme, your headlines need to be to the point, pack a punch, and have a pinch of mystery to them that’ll encourage readers to click through. I know, it’s a lot to ask. The best piece of advice I can give is to think like you’re tweeting (even though you’re not). You want your headlines to be worthy of a re-tweet – scan the social site when you next have five minutes for some inspiration.

Now you’ve got your readers’ interest, you need to keep hold of it with equally engaging subheads. The most effective ones guide readers through the article; they’re snappy, yet provide new and insightful information. Tie-in your subheads with the title, make the font bold and you’ve got yourself a seriously scannable piece of content.

mobile content

Frontload fantastic copy

In the same way, a film trailer entices us to watch the full-length flick, the first few sentences of your article are absolutely crucial for drawing readers in. And so, it must be your very best, attention-grabbing writing. You need to tee-up your article in an original and exciting way. Potential readers will be asking, ‘How will this article benefit me?’ and it’s your job to answer them.

Break it up with bullet points and visuals

Subheads make for scannable content, but you can break up the text even further with bullet points and images. Bullet points, for their part, allow you to convey the article’s key messages in a more digestible manner. They can be used to summarise the content, explain product features and/or benefits, or as a checklist in an advice piece.

Readers can’t get enough of visual content. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember 10% of it three days later. But add a relevant picture and they’ll remember 65% of that information. And, get this: articles with an image every 75-100 words receive double the social media shares as articles with fewer images.

mobile content

As consumers are so stimulated by visual content, you should strive to embed engaging, relevant images and videos within your articles whenever possible.

Writing marvellous mobile copy doesn’t mean writing fewer words. Instead, it’s about making every single word on that digital page count. It’s about formatting articles in an eye-catching way, whilst communicating original ideas that’ll resonate with your audience long after they’ve closed the page.

 

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programmatic

Has programmatic become problematic?

By | Brand Safety, Content Marketing, Marketing, Native advertising

The rise of programmatic advertising has been nothing short of spectacular, with the IAB predicting that programmatic will account for 80-90% of display ad sales by 2019.

Its rapid growth is unsurprising given the problems it has solved, namely audience targeting and unsold inventory. By introducing real-time bidding (RTB) on every ad impression, advertisers can bid for the eyeballs of each individual user based on their browsing history and other data sources. Want to reach a 47 year old female, earning a fair whack who likes sports cars? No problem…

Brand safety becomes the hot topic

Except there was a problem. In March, The Times ran the headline: Big brands fund terror through online adverts. Their investigation focused on sites including YouTube where programmatic ads for major global brands were found to be alongside extremist content.

The fallout grew greater each day as more and more media agencies pulled their ads from Google’s ad exchange. As we noted on this blog when ads were pulled from alleged ‘fake news’ sites:

“Finding audience at the expense of losing control of the environment, suddenly doesn’t seem quite as smart.”

But it’s not just user-generated content sites like YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram that represent a potential danger for brands. There’s also been an exodus from editorial sites like Breitbart – the controversial Alt-right news organisation – and copyright-infringing sites such as those streaming live sport without owning the rights. Ads have also been found on pornographic sites.

I don’t suppose brand safety concerns were top of the agenda for most programmatic buyers; performance by way of finding the target audience trumped everything, but one thing’s for sure – it’s now their number one priority.

Good news for traditional publishers? 

Ironically, one of the campaigns which first sparked this controversy was for a publisher. The Guardian pulled ads for its membership scheme from Google’s Adx ad exchange when they were discovered next to extremist content.

Ironic, because it’s traditional publishers which stand to benefit the most from the fallout. News UK’s chief executive, Robert Thompson didn’t hold back with his take on the tech giant:

“It is risible, no, beyond risible, that Google/YouTube, which has earned, literally, hundreds of billions of dollars from other peoples’ content, should now be lamenting that it can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content – monetizing yes, monitoring no.” Press Gazette

1XL, which represents local newspaper publisher’s Johnston Press, Newsquest, Archant and DC Thompson issued a statement suggesting that agencies place ads with them rather than:

“blind programmatic ad buying which is placing household brands next to extremist content and fake news”.

What next for advertisers?

Over the past few weeks I’ve had many calls and emails from media agencies asking us to confirm where their client’s ads are running.

As we operate our own network with direct publisher integration, I can easily list every site down to individual sections and placements – in short, we can offer complete transparency and brand safety. I suspect others in the digital space have probably not had such an easy ride.

What many advertisers don’t realise is quite how many exchanges their ads are passing through before being spat out at the other end. Knowing where your ad is being served when bids and ad calls are being made in a fraction of a second on millions of websites is nigh on impossible.

So perhaps it’s time to take another look at the walled garden traditional publishers can offer, after all, could it be that the environment your ad is served in is as important as the targeting?

Essential for native

Thus far, the programmatic problem has only affected display advertising, but

with some display being tweaked to look more like native, it seems obvious that native advertising should be leading by example. After all, when sites are associated with your content, they should be completely brand safe.

As a final thought, I’ll leave you with three things I’d be asking any native provider:

  1. Can you provide me with a full site list?
  2. Can I blacklist any sites I don’t consider right for the brand?
  3. Can you pause campaigns down to individual placements by next impression?

If they can’t answer all three, I’d be looking elsewhere.

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native

5 trends for native advertising in 2017

By | Content Marketing, Marketing, Native advertising, Technology, Videos

Having firmly established its place on media plans over the past year, content & native in-feed advertising accounted for an impressive 29% of display in 2016. So, what does the new year hold for native? Here’s 5 trends we’ll be keeping a close eye on:

Measurement, Measurement, Measurement

When someone as gigantic as Facebook struggles with metrics, the spotlight really falls on if a 3 second video view really is engagement, or simply someone scrolling past to consume more of the thing they were actually there for in the first place? There’s also been plenty of talk about moving away from obsessing over clicks, so perhaps 2017 will be the year when quality of engagement trumps sheer quantity.

Viewability remains a red hot topic

I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing this, having just purchased an Americano. Unsurprisingly it filled the cup. Had it only have been 70% full, I’d have asked why and certainly wouldn’t have paid full price. Remarkably, media agencies are still asking ‘how viewable’ our inventory is so they can price this in. We’ve always delivered native on a vCPM (a 100% viewable CPM) – others are moving towards a CPV or CPE (costs per view or engagement) – one thing is for sure though, the days of charging for unseen impressions must finally be coming to an end.

Trust becomes ever more important

In the new era of ‘fake news’ the credibility of brand content becomes increasingly important. Spammy headlines that lead to unrelated content are bad news for both the sites they appear on and the companies using them. Expect to see big brands becoming more cautious about placements and being seen alongside other campaigns with less credible clickbait creative.

Picture-perfect! The increasing use of visual formats

Video distribution has been one of the fastest growing areas of online advertising so it’s easy to forget the power of great photography. We’ve already worked with some great photo essays for brands. There’s also plenty of hype around 360 VR – our team has been experimenting with this on mobile and it looks fantastic – expect to see more.

Rejection of interruptive formats

Ad blocking continued to be the hot topic during the past year. It was hard to find anyone to disagree with the fact that the industry had brought this upon themselves by annoying the hell out of people – obscuring the content that audiences were there to consume. Many publishers are turning their backs on these formats realising that it creates massive UX issues.

Stay-on-site True Native is just one way to create a non-interruptive user experience whist maintaining revenues. If 2016 was the year of interruption, 2017 is definitely shaping up to be the year of usability and engagement. The two really do go hand in hand.

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Confused about native advertising

Help! Which type of native advertising should I choose?

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

Some time ago when meeting with media agencies, I stopped going through a PowerPoint deck to explain what our execution, True Native, is. Far easier just to show a media buyer a live campaign and click on the headline unit. Bingo! The brand content appears on the publisher’s article page, no matter what site we’re on.

The reason I changed tack wasn’t because some agencies don’t understand adtech (of course they do) but more that there are so many executions of what we now call Native Advertising that it’s easy for those, even in the profession, to get confused.

Indeed, the Content and Native Council at the IAB have recently been wrestling with dozens of formats and how they can be compared and measured effectively. The Measurement Green Paper is great piece of work which tackles some of the big questions in the industry, but certainly isn’t for the uninitiated, which is why I thought I’d go back to the start in this piece.

I’m not going to say one execution is better than another – they all have their place. It’s just that some formats lend themselves to different goals. Broadly, they fall in to three groups (excluding pure video distribution), so here goes!

Content Recommendation

Look: Typically appear in blocks of 6 units – headline and image
Placement: Mostly hosted on article pages, beneath the article
Execution: All units click-out to the advertiser’s site / landing page
Optimisation: Headline / Image variations / Geo targeting on some networks
Brand Safety: Usually blind network
How do you buy: Self-service
Charging mechanism: CPC / CPL (Cost per click / Cost per lead)
Mostly used for: Direct response / lead generation activity
Typical bounce rate: Usually over 50%

Probably the format most people are aware of as we are about a decade into seeing blocks of “You might also be interested in….” under articles on newspaper and magazine websites. Typically used for lead generation (and by publishers to gain additional traffic), it’s usually a lead generation channel. It suffers a high bounce rate as it’s an interruptive format, opening another browser window.

Pros
To put it bluntly, it will either work or it won’t. If your CPA (cost per acquisition) / CPL (cost per lead) / CPE (cost per engagement) stacks up, then grand – you’re in business.

Cons
Usually a blind network with some choice picks. As it’s self-service solution, the quality of the campaigns you surround can vary massively – from brand to somewhat dubious clickbait.

Programmatic Native Display

Look: Just like the surrounding editorial headline units, but marked as ‘Sponsored’
Placement: Usually in the editorial feed or inserted at points within an article
Execution: Units usually click-out to the advertiser’s site / landing page
Optimisation: Headline / Image variations / Geo targeting
Brand Safety: Mixture of named and blind placements
How do you buy: DSPs / Ad exchanges / Account managed
Charging mechanism: CPC (Cost per click)
Mostly used for: Direct response / lead generation / content distribution
Typical bounce rate: Varies but often 50% +

Far more prominent than content recommendation, the headline units are usually solo placements within the editorial feed. Mostly used for a mixture of direct response, traffic driving and content distribution, the typical execution is again click-out from the publisher site.

Pros
A step up from content recommendation, the solo units are a more premium option for brands. Available programmatically though exchanges or directly via networks.

Cons
Bounce rates are again an issue, as with content recommendation, due to the interruptive format of clicking out to a landing page.

True Native

Look: Just like the surrounding editorial headline units but marked as ‘Sponsored’.
Placement: On homepages, section fronts and within the editorial feed
Execution: The user clicks directly through to an article page hosted on the publisher’s site
Optimisation: Headline / Image variations / Geo targeting
Brand Safety: Only named sites – full media transparency
How do you buy: Account managed, full service only
Charging mechanism: vCPM (Guaranteed viewable headline units)
Mostly used for: Brand content
Typical bounce rate: 5-10% (Adjusted bounce rate)

Like Programmatic Native Display, the units are prominent and solo within in the editorial feed. In addition, content is contextually aligned. The major difference to other executions is that the user will click through to the brand content on a standard article page, creating a completely non-interruptive user experience.

Used almost exclusively for the distribution of branded content, our execution is the only stay on site solution where the look and feel of the publication is maintained.

Pros
True Native is just that. To the user it feels like any other article on the site, just with sponsored brand content. Because of this, engagement rates are exceptionally high – on average 90 seconds per view.

Cons
As a branding channel, it tends to be most suited to top of the funnel campaigns rather than direct response actions.

Conclusion:
As the latest IAB ad spend report confirms, content and native now accounts for a quarter of all display advertising – so it’s certainly here to stay. Which of these executions you choose to use will depend entirely upon your goals. Looking for DR? Head for click-out formats. Looking for brand engagement – head for stay on site True Native.

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Content creation

The science of headline images

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

Humans are visual creatures. 65% of us are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. Most of us process information based on what we see rather than simply the text that we read and this has long been recognised in education and the development of learning materials.

But we don’t stop being visual as soon as we leave school, it’s a characteristic that stays with us for our whole lives, and almost all of us are highly visual across the spectrum of our activities. Display advertising has, since its earliest beginnings, used powerful and highly evocative images that support the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Native images

Which is why Sarah Mandato, Director of Content Solutions at Nativo, is so right to remind us of the importance of headline images in our native advertising. We tend to focus on headlines when we evaluate or design content, but the headline image is actually doing the talking for a good proportion of the audience.

Mandato goes on to give seven tips for choosing visuals. She talks about being authentic; for example, pictures of real people rather than models, because most people only engage with real people, not mannequins, albeit living, breathing ones. She also carries that argument through to the use of stock-shots. We all need to fall back on them sometimes but they’re just not real enough to engage as a headline image.

Next she warns us against using product shots and again, in the context of native advertising, she makes the strong point that native engages by sharing the aspirations and the interests of the audience. It’s not the pack that sells, it’s showing the interested visitor that you understand what they’re trying to achieve.

Joined up thinking

Whatever visuals you choose, it’s obviously important that they should be hi-res and eye-catching, but it’s just as important that they connect with the headline and the body content. This aligns with the very heart of native that everything they see and read should add value to the experience; no ‘clickbait’ as Sarah Mandato describes it, and not too busy either because it won’t translate well on the smaller mobile screen.

Particular care should be taken when setting up auto campaigns. The spirit of native is that the content sits perfectly within the editorial stream; a headline image that has no obvious connection with the editorial environment will just scream ‘spam’.

Well-seasoned

With Christmas already a major theme on the high street, it’s worth saying a word about seasonality. Keeping in step with the seasons in both our content and visuals reinforces the currency of our content; out of season clothes and activities only really works if you’re trying to promote next year’s holiday.

Sarah Mandato’s final tip comes from the wisdom of all disciplines; test, test and test again. Play around with some of the variables that are in your control, and don’t worry too much about those that aren’t, such as what else is on during your live time.

Thanks to Sarah for some great insights; another example of how native advertising is building on its own experience, day by day.

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create or to curate content

To create, or to curate, that is the question

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

With native advertising and sponsored content now being the tool of choice for so many leading brands, the debate is now moving to an advanced discussion of the choice of strategy.

One of the first decisions will be whether to create, or to curate your content. Are you going to write brand new material, never before seen or read, that takes a fresh approach? Or do you curate your content, making use of your own assets and changing the way you share them; the product guide from last year, that video from the YouTube channel or the images from your social media channels.

In the beginning there was creation

One of the plus points of creating content is the chance to take a new direction; perhaps you want to capture a different audience or talk about a new topic. Good quality, fresh content will always attract followers who are searching for answers or to be entertained with new ideas. As you own it you can share it as you like, potentially increasing the opportunity to convert passing visitors to genuine leads.

As always success will be down to the quality of the content, there’s no room for vanity publishing here. If the work is up to scratch and offers genuine value to readers and rewards them for their efforts, then content creation is a great way to build your own credibility as a source of expertise.

Curating the existing collection

Curating existing content works to a different set of rules; in this approach you are driving more value from those existing brand assets. It’s a skill that develops from not only knowing your market extremely well but also being able to predict how that market will evolve; in effect the brand itself is becoming a publisher.

For some sectors curating will be the most appealing, particularly in areas such as fashion, motor and travel, where there is already so much content out there. Why invent the wheel, right? But it’s important to make it your own and develop a consistent brand voice that you can use throughout all your materials.

Room for both

Your content strategy should of course always be linked to your business objectives. It’s important for advertisers to create new content so you can stay ahead as the source of expertise and continue to deliver more value and better solutions. Nevertheless curating content has its place too! Your success here will depend on the editorial skills you bring to selecting the right material and then how you present the whole.

Over the longer period, think of your complete content strategy like a loaf of bread, sharing slices of interest specific stories to the market whose interest you share.

So, the answer is definitely to use both. It may be creating, it may be curating, they are both very powerful strategies when applied in the right context.

At TAN Media, we create and curate content for a range of brands across almost every vertical. We want to share our expertise and data insights, so you can make the most of content and engage with your target market. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your content needs to compliment your current brand strategy.

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importance of headlines

How to craft killer headlines

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

The ever diminishing window we have to catch the attention and interest of our target market means that even native advertisers are reliant on that headline to make a firm connection. Not in the way of display ads with garish visuals and dynamic fonts, but simply by giving a taste of what’s to come.

In fact recent studies has shown that it’s even down to the number of characters in the headline; 70-90 characters, the response was 36%, 20-40 characters 19% and less than 20 characters a mere 13%.

Those are numbers we should not be ignoring; tripling the numbers of visitors who start to read the content is something that usually takes more than adding a few words. For native advertising that re-assurance that we can start delivering some value even in the headline, or at least hint more strongly of value to come, is very good news.

But why are headlines so important and how can we make them work even better in native advertising? As usual it comes down to really understanding the consumer.

Woo me, tempt me!

This means recognising that we are all still pretty much basic humans; our technology actually evolves a lot faster than we do. We’re easily distracted, we have very little staying power, we don’t like having to work too hard to understand things, we get defensive, suspicious and sometimes aggressive when people try and sell us things that we didn’t know we wanted.

Share the audiences passion!

This is embracing the people that are incredibly passionate about the things they love; whether it’s bee-keeping, cycling, saving the planet or simply just learning new things and finding new solutions.

Native advertising works so well because it understands the person but talks to the consumer, which requires a much more subtle and value laden approach if the result is to be true engagement.

Which brings us back to the issue of headlines. Native advertising can learn a lot from looking at the natural world

Native headlines: the nectar and the bee

For the flower to get pollenated it must first attract the bee. Once the bee has visited, the relationship between them is one of mutual benefit; flower suitably pollenated, bee full of nectar; just like the relationship between consumer and good native content; win, win.

So how to get the consumer to taste the native nectar? By borrowing from the wonder of the flower, a great headline that captures the attention and hints or teases about what is to come; it doesn’t pretend to be what it isn’t but nor does it shout with brand names and product offers, studies mentioned headlines containing brand names are a real turn-off.

That tells us that headlines should be subtle but not so subtle that they’re lost amongst the ground cover. They need to say read me because I’m worth it, not simply grab attentions for attention’s sake.

Good headlines are a splash of the nectar to come, tasted at the moment of truth; to click through or not to click through.

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Great content – that’s what women really, really want

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

Marketers are at long last waking up to the fact that there is no such being as ‘woman’ and that taking a homogenous approach to the female of the species is not just plain insulting but extremely poor marketing as well.

Here are a few facts that might make some of our leading brands have another look at their marketing strategy sooner rather than later.

Wealth and market disruption

In the UK women are directly responsible for around 60% of all spending but are actually the decision maker in an estimated 85% of purchase decisions.

Even in the notoriously male automobile market women are recognised as being the decision maker in 60-80% of car purchases, according to Aston Martin, who are rethinking their models to better meet the preferences such a powerful lobby. Porsche quote similar research and back it up with incredible statistics; over half of total sales for this iconic sports car manufacturer come not from the iconic sports cars but their SUV, the Cayenne, with the growth being accounted for disproportionately by women buyers.

Even in the middle of the market Nissan put the figure at around 70% globally and, of particular interest, say that the percentage of women making the buying decision is higher in the developing and new emerging markets.

Only the beginning

We know that some of this is due to the changing face of work; 67% of women now work either part-time or full-time (for men that figure is 77%) up from 62% twenty years ago and with pay inequality gradually declining with women forecast to earn 82% of a male equivalent by 2017, up from 79% now; suggesting total equality is actually in sight.

So, increasing financial independence is part of the explanation for the huge purchase influence but, according to Marketing magazine (6.3.2015), the real explanation is far more complex and challenging than simple economics.

This, they say, is the tangible result of the growth in confidence of women globally, no longer prepared to accept a stereotypic role as a male accessory, a mother figure and homemaker as so many religions and cultures have traditionally portrayed women.

A technical marketing challenge

For the marketer this requires a fairly fundamental rethink on a number of levels. Firstly many women do not think that products and services are designed for them; even in a market as asexual as financial services 75% of women respondents complained about product relevance and targeting.

According to She-conomy, US specialists in marketing to women, “Women don’t want to see a lot of “cutesy” pink floral imagery in advertising. Instead, marketing that features a strong and confident woman is much more appealing to this demographic”.

And that takes us back to the title; what women really, really want is great content that designed to appeal to and respect the incredible range of differences to be found within the female gender itself. According to She-conomy and Marketing magazine this means that future marketing efforts must be relevant to them as individuals, as people, and woe betide the marketer who does not pursue a less historically based understanding of their female customers.

However, there is one issue of relevance, although a slight anomaly as it once again homogenises women, but according to She-conomy, women think about purchases differently to men. Men, they say, have technical needs and want instant gratification; women, on the other hand want endorsement and ‘confidence through conversation’.

Which is why native content is so suited to the challenge. Content that speaks the language of the reader, content that is designed to complement the editorial, content that is crafted, and always has been, to create a conversation and build confidence.

Native Content Best Practices

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

There are some who see native content as simply advertorial with a new name for a new generation. But for those who are prepared to dig a little deeper will be the reward; a treasure chest of thinking and understanding about how we new centurions communicate with each other.

Making comparisons with even the recent past is always, if not dangerous, then certainly unwise for planning purposes. Technology moves so far in such a short time that even basic terminology such as ‘marketing’ or ‘communication’ mean subtly different things than they did thirty or so years ago. In the latter half of the twentieth century marketing pretty much meant ‘selling’ and communication meant ‘telling’. Advertorials were still fairly blunt weapons, using brand names and images as often as possible between steps on a bland path to appearing witty and on the consumers’ side. Half-way along the first quarter of the twenty-first century and marketing is rather more about creating brands that reflect the lives’ of their target markets and communication is certainly more about listening than it is about talking. New methodologies need a reappraisal of the tools we use. Our approach and our introduction, especially in headlines, has to reflect the lightning fast filter of those whose attention we crave. Here are some native content best practices…

Headlines that work

No more than 60 characters, or about seven words, with sub-heads where the context takes a different angle. Make sure they’re relevant and current and use the under-rated colon to avoid a filler of joining words. Using multiple headlines for one article can really help drive engagementThe current data shows that content with between 1 to 5 headings drives a CTR (click through rate) of 0.83%; but that escalates to 1.3% with 11+ headlines. That means a benefit for tactical diversity when structuring your content.

Imagery

Don’t be shy in testing a number of  images for your previews (as long as they are relevant!); again the research supports the power of imagery. One preview image is linked to a CTR of 0.79% but two or more alternatives push that to 0.98%; it needs more response analysis but that could well reflect the depth of relevance perceived by the audience.

Don’t be afraid to pose emotive questions in your headlines

Questions are important, it’s the way you show you’re listening; and the emotion you invoke, it’s the way you show you actually care.

Always call for action

Having made the investment in engaging your audience, any seasoned marketer knows that the next step has to be really simple. The call to action (CTA) has to be direct but not in a ‘buy it now’ sort of way; instead a ‘we’d love to chat longer’ contact or hyperlink keeps the customer in control. Thinks about adding additional CTAs in the body of the piece; if you’ve already hooked the fish why wait to reel them in?

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