To Grab Today's Customers, It's Time to Go Native (Advertising)

Here are four steps to take to get started with a new content marketing campaign.

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By Zach Cutler

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The days of banner ads are fading away.

In fact, according to research from IPG and Sharethrough, consumers looked at less intrusive native ads 53 percent more often than display ads. Native ads have also been shown to result in a higher lift in brand affinity (9 percent) and follow-through behavior (18 percent) compared to more traditional advertising.

Today's consumers want to be as informed by advertising content as they are by articles and blog posts, and this era of native advertising is great news for businesses. Native advertising allows companies to make the jump onto the content bandwagon, providing their target audience with useful information while still leading to conversions.

Related: 5 Rules of Native Advertising Every Content Strategist Should Know

Native advertising also allows companies to talk directly to consumers about the topics they care about, in many cases leading to increased brand awareness, trust and ultimately conversions.

So it's little wonder research from Hexagram and Spada found 62 percent of publishers are currently offering native advertising, with an additional 16 percent planning to do so within the year. For a company looking to build brand awareness, increase conversions or get the word out about an app, native advertising can be an extremely powerful tool.

Here are just a few ways to start a native-marketing campaign:

1. Know the target market. It's vitally important to know the target market for a company, product or new app inside and out. What publications do members of the target market read religiously? What content are they looking for when skimming through an outlet?

Take time to conduct market research to become more familiar with audience behavior. Knowing and understanding a target market will make it easier to pinpoint the right outlets and develop highly compelling and sharable content the audience won't be able to avoid clicking.

Related: Create Content That Gets Your Customers' Attention

2. Research platform reach. Using a content-distribution provider is a great way to get native advertising in front of the eyeballs of multiple users. This doesn't mean, however, the company can kick back and let these distribution channels do all the work. Research is still necessary to ensure native ads are targeting the audience where they spend their time online.

Research which content-distribution platform reaches most or all of the publications read by the company's ideal audience. Go to the outlet in question, scroll to the bottom of an article, and look to see which widget is powering their native ads. While the two biggest distribution channels are currently Taboola and Outbrain, there are still others that might be more effective for the company's specific audience or niche.

3. Write interesting posts. The most important part of native advertising is providing top quality content. No one is going to click on an article unless it seems compelling and relevant to their interests. Since the company knows its audience, look to provide this user with helpful, interesting information. Native advertising isn't the same thing as a flashing banner ad, so make sure your content is helpful but not promotional.

4. Optimize for conversion. Once an audience has been targeted, a distribution method has been chosen and top quality content has been developed, it's important to ensure consumers can take the next step once they've been directed to the company site. This means ensuring all pages are optimized to convert visitors into customers or clients.

Make sure to display a big button on the site that's easy to see so new visitors can take the next step, whether that's filling out a form, signing up for a newsletter or purchasing an app or product.

Related: Some Bare Truths About Native Advertising

Zach Cutler

Founder & CEO, Cutler PR

Zach Cutler is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Cutler PR, a tech PR agency in New York and Tel Aviv. An avid tech enthusiast and angel investor, Cutler specializes in crafting social and traditional PR campaigns to help tech startups thrive.

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