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5 Tips For Branded Content That Connects With Customers

In an online world that has become oversaturated with advertisements vying for the attention of web users, many businesses are increasingly turning to branded content as a more effective way to reach customers, while dramatically improving overall brand clout.

From small companies to big name players alike, branded content has continually proven itself as a powerful advertising method that often has a further reach than that of more traditional strategies. In fact, research from the Custom Content Council suggests that spending on branded content reached an all-time high last year, accounting for more than 26% of the advertising budgets for the companies included within the study.

While the benefits of branded content are no doubt evident, harnessing the power of this emerging advertising trend requires careful thought and input. From targeting customers effectively to creating content that is both relevant and useful, there are several different keys that can help businesses looking to develop better tools to reach an online audience.

Use the five following tips to create stellar branded content that will allow your client's business to stand out on the World Wide Web.

1. Know Your Target Audience

A rookie mistake often made by new content developers is the creation of articles and information that is not well-targeted to a particular base of individuals. While content created for advertising purposes should certainly reach the largest audience possible, it is nevertheless important to underline a target group of individuals within the online crowd. Doing so will allow you to develop a greater understanding of what content is most desired by said group, increasing the likelihood that your articles will be shared through social media networks.

This generates further interest in your brand, while also aiding in the establishment of your content as a respected leader within your particular industry.

2. Forget the Rules of Traditional Advertising

Traditionally, print and online advertisements have followed a precise set of rules regarding the transmission of the message behind the ad. Unlike such advertisements, the foremost rule of developing branded content is to create interesting and information pieces that are useful to the end user.

While it is certainly difficult to ignore the instinct to press the customer with a sales pitch or information about your business, such tactics often work against the content developer. Instead, include a subtle link to your business or a brief mention near the end of the content.

3. Toss Aside the "Fluff"

In an effort to connect with online customers through branded content, some businesses forget that creating quality content is about much more than simply filling the page with pretty words. Savvy web users expect informative content that is not only interesting but also entertaining. It is always preferential to create short and concise content chock full of useful information, than to wax on for several paragraphs without sharing anything concrete. Be certain to minimize the inclusion of such "fluff" whenever possible.

4. Understand How the Web Classifies Relevant Content

The long-term success of branded content campaigns largely hinges on the content developer's ability to create content that juggles the changing dynamics of the Internet with the customer's expectations for high-quality information.

Many of the industry leaders within the SEO world and advertising industry have predicted that 2012 will bring about a major shift in how content providers connect with their audience, thanks to the evolving approaches of behemoths like Google. Content creators need to stay informed and pay close attention to such trends that could impact the overall success of marketing strategies.

5. Make Distribution a Priority

Unlike traditional advertising, branded content is created specifically with the idea that its relevancy will cause individuals within the targeted audience to share it with their online connections. This sharing can be encouraged by including shortcuts and links for sharing content through social media networks whenever possible. The buck does not stop with reader-driven distribution, however, as responsibility for sharing content across an assortment of different platforms remains an important role of the content developer.

While crafting the perfect branded content strategy can feel like a major challenge, using the myriad of different resources and tools available, content developers can start to make their mark on the online world. Whereas branded content was previously seen as an intriguing way to potentially grow one's online business, recent studies suggest that it is instead emerging as one of the only advertising methods that works. This makes it imperative for online businesses to begin applying such marketing tactics as soon as possible.

Topics: branded content - customer engagement - content marketing - content marketing strategy

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