For green marketers, telling your own story via sponsored content can be a powerful tool. And, while editorial approach and content is the priority, it’s just as critical to identify the channels where it should be placed so that it is both seen and shared. Look for platforms that align with your brand strategy, and provide optimal exposure to stand out from the fray. For a deeper perspective on alternative channels for sponsored content placement, I spoke with Marilyn Simes, CEO, Digital Instincts. Together, we offer the following advice:
• Identify Distinctive Brand Assets – Then use text as well as non-word elements such as video, sound and powerful imagery to provide multi-sensory layers that will stick in consumer’s minds. Ideally, marketers should develop brand assets that are unique to their own category.
• Link Green Brands to Education Marketing Messages – This is a natural fit, as customers will need to understand the social and environmental benefits. Consider creating proprietary educational content that speaks to bigger green issues such as recycling, pollution and waste management and also ties back to your brand values, while filling a void in the classroom. Your brand then benefits from placement in a unique, uncluttered channel that resonates with educators, parents and kids. The added advantage of reaching kids in the classroom is that they become ambassadors for the cause and marshal their peers and family to take action and make things happen. A perfect example is the Finding My Forest initiative produced by The US Department of Agriculture and Ad Council that included a comprehensive science education package showing kids how to preserve forests and other natural spaces. Myriad government, environmental and youth organizations signed on to promote the program, which reached over a million families nationwide.
• Maximize Digital Opportunities – Digital content delivered via social media, mobile devices, a tablet or web-based app—embodies the “green” message. Sponsored content in a digital format can be published to a website and connected to your social platforms including blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Linked In channels, as well as through email marketing.
Finding where in the digital eco-system your key audience is and the media platforms they gravitate to will help to dictate which platform will best serve your brand strategy. A bicycle brand might want to reach an audience that is on the go (not at a desktop computer) and choose to develop a mobile application that can be downloaded and be made available to both Apple and Android phone users via iTunes and Google Play. In the case of mobile applications, audiences can be reached with targeted technologies such as geo-fencing, which can identify and report back to the brand where the cyclist might be in relationship to a physical store or location. Understanding where a user is and their lifestyle preferences allows a brand to deliver timely, relevant contextual messaging that can communicate key marketing offers together with brand editorial content to drive conversions and ROI. With geo-fencing, tracking analytics can deliver back to a brand powerful insights such as where the user is, what time of day the user visited a location, how long they spent (dwell time) at that location, social interactions, photo-sharing check-ins, loyalty and coupon redemption information.
Looking to engage educators, parents, youth, college students, ethnic audiences or seniors? Certainly, the web is a fundamental destination and point of reference, as well as a gateway to other social platforms.
• Focus on Driving Results - Start backwards by evaluating your goals and objectives to determine what the program metrics and the analytics should be. If driving conversions is paramount, then a coupon redemption program serves as incentive to drive page views (on a site), awareness or behavior change (increase in recycling, for example) at the same time forming a mental connection to product benefits. Do you want to drive page views on a website, heighten awareness or inspire behavior change (recycling, for example)? Brands can employ beacons (hidden electronic chips planted at point of sale) to capture consumer behavior. Online gamification can also provide intense engagement and memorable “green” experiences that enhance core brand messaging. Case in point: FEMA’s ReadyKids, campaign includes a website and online games to teach youth about emergency preparedness. A branded loyalty program can also be effective in enlisting attention and driving customers to purchase.
• Employ Strategic Content Promotion - Sponsored content can’t live in a vacuum. It must be promoted in order to drive traffic to the platforms of choice. So, give thought to where you will advertise and promote (through public relations) your content so that the target audience can easily find it and subscribe to receive future communication.
What alternative channels are your green brand currently using? Post your comments below.