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How to Boost Your Reach with Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is a great way to reach new audiences, establish yourself as a thought leader, or push your products and services. It also puts your brand in front of an audience that fits the maritime niche. You can refine your sponsored content themes down to maritime logistics, emergency recovery or whatever you’d like to by finding the right content network.

If you’re new to sponsored content, and are looking to try it for the first time, this article will take you through the basics of what it is, how you can approach it and the best ways to measure results. 

What’s sponsored content?

We have a slightly different take on sponsored content - and that’s because we like our content to work harder. Less of the traditional spray and pray technique - a more defined process. 

Sponsored content involves the promotion of content that is useful and valuable to the reader. So whereas a traditional advertisement would promote a product’s features, sponsored content would instead explain how the product or service can help a reader solve a specific problem they may have.

Sponsored content fits seamlessly into the Seatrade Maritime News readers' experience within our trusted editorial environment.

Your content (an announcement, a case study, an article) will be presented as a native advertisement on the Seatrade Maritime News homepage for a week, it then moves down to a sponsored content box lower on the homepage.

In short, it’s a way to get your really valuable content in front of the right audience. 

Now you’ve got a definition, let’s move on. 

How to win with sponsored content

1. Have it fit your strategy, not straddle it 

There’s no use in deciding to make sponsored content, and that’s that. Sponsored content only works well when it’s part of the big picture. For instance, if you’re creating content on an ongoing basis (like us) then repurposing it to sponsor works well. You already have a catalogue of media to work with. 

Additionally, it shouldn’t be a standalone tactic for pushing your brand, products or services. The best approach to sponsored content is to sit in a series of ads. Sponsored content works well if you know what sites your audiences are looking at and whether these visitors have been to your website before. Then tailoring the content that displays to cold Vs warm audiences increases your chances of the desired outcome. 

There are tools, such as SparkToro, that allow you to see where your visitors are frequenting on the web from YouTube pages to other websites, to podcasts. Finding where your audiences are will make reaching them on ad networks easier - we’ll get into how to approach network owners later. 

2. Make it an extension of your brand story or stories

Brand stories are the powerful marketing messages that cast your audience (or a segment of them) as the hero, overcoming their jobs to do, or problems, with your service and product and guiding them. If you think of your sponsored content as part of a larger sequence, position it at the appropriate time. First time this audience is seeing your brand? Then your media should reflect some of your core messaging and stories. An audience you’ve seen before? Then maybe your media could reflect what winning looks like, what others have said about your brand and so forth. 

Ultimately they should add to the rich tapestry of your marketing messaging so that wherever you pop up, or even if you don’t, brand recall is a given. 

3. Pair your unique media with a landing page 

Any type of ad tends to work better when a dedicated landing page sits behind the ad. Why? Well, this way you can personalise your page to directly reflect the media you sponsored. If you’re addressing a certain demographic or audience segment, you can directly address them. 

If you’re looking to gain any type of lead or conversion from your sponsored content, a landing page that matches the sponsored content messaging, design assets and beyond is statistically more likely to perform. 

4. Collaborate with the right partners 

If you’ve ever done any retargeting ads with Google before, you’ll know there’s such a thing as an advertising network. As we alluded to earlier in this piece, these are owned by someone. Partnering with the right someone gives you a fighting chance of showing up in the right places. 

If you’re reading this, for example, it’s likely our ad network could be a great place for your sponsored content. We cover the vast majority of space within the maritime niche right here on our website. 

However, if you’ve made it here and sit outside the industry, there will be an ad network suitable for your audience too. 

Teaming up with the right people, getting access to the right audiences and communities and paying an agreeable price are all things to consider when you’re approaching sponsored content. 

How to measure the success of your sponsored content

Using UTMs

While it’s likely most sponsored content providers will give you some form of analytics, for example, we supply stats from a combination of Google & Adobe Analytics. But that’s not always the case. The best practice is to use UTMs. 

UTMs. Urchin tracking modules. A little bit of code hitch onto the back of your landing page URL. They’ll look a little like this: ?utm_source=google&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=example. You can easily build UTMs using this Google tool

If you’re unfamiliar with UTMs, their primary function is to tell your analytics where traffic has come from. The more consistent you are with UTMs, the better your data will be. If you create a batch of UTMs for your sponsored content, you’ll be able to see:

  • Which website they arrived from
  • Which sponsored ad set they clicked 
  • What campaign the sponsored ad belonged to 

And much more. They allow you to go into very specific detail if you choose to. So long as you’ve got the basics of Google Analytics down, you’ll be able to dig into your traffic data and pinpoint how much traffic your sponsored content is bringing in and how many of them go on being leads. 

Measure brand awareness

Not an easy metric to measure, but there are indicators. The best tools you have to measure increase in brand awareness are Google Search Console, SEMrush, AHrefs or others. Each of these tools allows you to see what your visitors type in to find your website and the number of clicks etc. 

The later two tools will even give you a perceived page ranking for keywords. 

An increase in brand awareness is very likely to reflect in an uptick in brand searches, an increase in clicks or other branded keyword variants. If you were to launch a sponsored content campaign and see your branded keywords increase in ranking alongside your traffic, the likelihood is it’s not a coincidence.  

Other metrics you should consider 

Unless you’re sending your traffic to very specific sections of your website or have a very complex lead capture journey, it’s likely that these metrics will do the trick: 

  • Page entrances
  • Page engagement / Time on Page 
  • Page Events
  • Conversions 
  • Returning visitors 

It’s important to note that unless you’re creating bespoke landing pages, you might have multiple “conversions” set up on your website that aren’t as important to the campaign. Be sure to have these defined to know you’re getting the best data. 

Think it’s time for a sponsored content partner? 

If you’ve read this to this point, we’re guessing sponsored content is something you’re considering. We’d love to help you with it. We’ve got a large maritime news website that might fit your agenda. Take a look at how we could help you advertise today.