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The Secret Power of Online Advertorials

By Ian French, President

 

Are advertorials part of your online tool kit? If not, it’s time to put this powerful direct response (DR) tactic to work for you – to generate leads, drive sales, build brand and improve your ROI.

Online advertorials are one of the most effective forms of DR online marketing available. In fact, the only tactic we have found to be consistently more cost-effective at generating leads online is good oldfashioned search. That makes advertorials more cost-effective than display ads.

Given how effective they are, I'm still surprised by how few direct marketers know of, or regularly employ, online advertorials as part of their marketing mix. One of the reasons they are so underutilized is that they’re so simple that they don’t get a lot of attention. In fact, I’m willing to wager this is the only article about online advertorials you’ve ever read.

An online advertorial is, essentially, nothing more than a carefully crafted article about your product, service or nonprofit cause with a couple of photos and a link to your website. But don't be fooled! When it comes to generating cost-effective, highly qualified leads, online advertorials are beasts! What they lack in sex appeal, they more than make up for in effectiveness.

What makes them so effective is the fact that although they are clearly marked as advertisements, online advertorials look and feel like editorials. In other words, instead of coming across as commercial endorsements, they come across as an unbiased, third-party article about your product, service or cause. And, the fact that they run on sites of specific online publishers (e.g., AARP, Zoomer, Reader’s Digest, BET, Interactive One, Chatelaine) gives them even more clout and credibility.

As a result, consumers eagerly gobble them up and perceive them as being more credible and trustworthy than standard advertisements – all of which translates into more effective advertising.

The standard advertorial is about 500-750 words, is written in a casual, consumer-friendly style and contains a link at the bottom that leads to a landing page or microsite, ideally one that is specifically designed to convert clicks to leads.

While most creative types balk at the idea of using such a simple and – dare I say it – boring tactic, true direct marketers love the fact that online advertorials give them that most precious commodity: time! That’s time to build a detailed sales presentation, properly position features and benefits, and to overcome objections. And, as every savvy direct marketer knows, the more time you have to engage with the prospect, the greater the likelihood of closing the transaction.

We have used online advertorials to market a wide array of products, services and causes, including: prepaid credit cards, reverse mortgages, child sponsorship, animal welfare, discount-buying clubs, spas, health and auto insurance. Virtually any product, service or cause that has more features and benefits than you can thoroughly discuss in 30 seconds is an excellent candidate for an online advertorial.

If you’re looking for a way to generate more online sales or donations, try running some online advertorials, and let the leads roll in!