How to write an advertorial that sells
An advertorial does exactly what it says on the tin.
It’s a cross between an advert and an editorial.
But unlike an advert, it gives you a lot more scope for telling a story to the reader about your product or service.
They’re also far less hard sell than an advert.
Yet, while they may be written in a similar style, they are distinct from an editorial because your brand is clearly sponsoring the content, often with a sponsored logo at the top.
But in many ways the best advertorials are those that fit seamlessly within a publication or website that don’t look like an advert.
Also known as native advertising or sponsored or branded content, they form an integral part of your content marketing strategy.
They are a particularly useful tool for businesses selling an intangible product or service such as insurance or a weight-loss programme.
And with advertisers keen to maximise return and hosts such as newspapers, magazine and online publishers out to sell as much advertising space as possible, a well-written advertorial that stands out from the competition is an excellent way to promote your brand effectively.
So how do you go about writing an advertorial that sells?
1) Do your homework
Before you do anything, you must know the product or service you are selling or promoting inside out.
So do your research up front and ask the sales and/or product development team all of the relevant questions you need answers to.
Then study the publication or website where the advertorial is going to feature and make sure that the way you write it fits within the same style and structure.
Many of the more well-established publications will have their own style guide or advertising policy, which you should look at before putting pen to paper.
Ultimately you have to think about the kind of person who is likely to read that publication or website and the type of content they are looking for.
And consider how many words you are going to write and how to make the best use of the space you have been allocated.
Look at other adverts within that publication or website and see how well they work.
The most successful advertorials tell a brand’s story in a format that audiences enjoy and expect from a publication or website.
2) Come up with an engaging headline
As with all headlines, you need to produce one that grabs the reader’s attention from the word go without being overly sensational or inaccurate.
Use an interesting fact or statement, or a thought-provoking or searching question that prompts your audience to read on to find out more or to get the answer.
You need to generate an emotional response from your reader and having a strong headline goes a long way towards this.
Again, have a look at the advertorials in the publication you are going to appear in to see which work best.
And use plenty of sub-headings to break up the text into relevant sections and make it more digestible for your reader.
3) Provide valuable content for your reader
The rest of the copy should flow from the headline in a structured way that makes sense to the reader.
You could present it as a short story, a case study, Q&A, a series of facts, steps your reader needs to take, or even a top five or 10.
Use four or five bullet points at the top to outline the key points covered within the advertorial.
You should start with an introduction that gets the main messages across you want to make and sets the scene.
Then you must expand on each of those key themes and explain why they are important and relevant, backing it up with accurate facts and figures.
A good approach is to identify the key challenges the reader faces and then examine how your product or service can provide them with the right solution to tackling these problems.
Focus on the benefits rather than the features of the solution, looking at human effect.
Finish by summarising the main points you have covered in the piece, and a clear and strong call to action.
Enhance the article by using quotes from an authority on a particular subject throughout to back up what you are saying.
Box outs and pull quotes are another great way of highlighting key points within the piece.
Keep your language and sentences/paragraphs short and to the point, and easy to understand.
And remember not to make it to long – the average reader has an attention span of about 20 minutes.
Once you have convinced your audience of the value you provide they are much more likely to take action by picking up the phone, making the purchase, subscribing to your newsletter or offers, or sharing the content with others.
4) Visualise your content with pictures
You’ve all heard the phrase ‘a picture tells a thousand words’.
So make the most of your visuals by using high-resolution images that help to tell your story.
They also help to break up the text.
But don’t use too many as they can distract from the narrative.
Infographics are another great way to illustrate facts and figures, and processes simply.
Website links can also be useful, but consider the media you are writing for.
If it’s print, people are likely to get frustrated if you put in horrendously long links that they need to go online and input.
5) Consider using a professional writer
If you're stuck with words it may be best to use the services of a professional writer who can bring your content to life.
Journalists often make the best storytellers because that’s what they do on a daily basis.
Also, by having a well-known writer’s byline on your advertorial, it gives it much more credibility among your readers.
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