A Sneak Peek Into Sponsored Articles: What Your Content Should Look Like

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[Estimated reading time: 7 minutes]

Sponsored posts are quickly becoming one of the most effective ways for brands to connect with new customers in a more intimate manner. As bloggers and other influencers already have a “personal” connection with their audiences, when they discuss a company or product, people listen.

However, all sponsored posts are not created equal. The analysts at Upfluence decided to evaluate some of the key metrics that improve the performance of sponsored posts – and this is what they discovered. The full report can be viewed here – with this article covering the highlights.

For both advertisers and bloggers, these statistics reveal how to increase two key metrics:

  • Engagement (comments, shares, and likes).
  • Click Through Rates (CTR: the percentage of readers that click on an advertiser’s link in the post).

By spending a few minutes to ensure that sponsored posts meet the key criteria revealed through this research, it’s possible for marketers to increase  the value of sponsored articles for the advertisers, bloggers, and readers.

The Impact of an Article’s Length on Sponsored Posts Performance

A quick Google search reveals a wide range of statistics and opinions around the ideal length of an article. It’s common knowledge that length certainly does play a key role in the global performance of an article – impacting the article’s SEO and engagement, along with the reader’s ability to focus. What is the appropriate length for sponsored posts?

As shown in this graph, short articles don’t provide enough information to capture the reader’s attention and provide relatively low engagement and CTR (click through rates). Meanwhile, long sponsored articles perform better, but the length can reduce the engagement rates as readers have a hard time focusing on the topic for a substantial amount of time.

As it turns out, the optimal length of a sponsored blog post is 400-600 words. Posts in this range tend to receive a CTR of 12.78%, which is very impressive. Additionally, the engagement rate of 6.63% suggests that the posts are also more likely to be shared by readers.

Our research validates the common practice in the blogging world for a traditional blog post to maintain a length of 400-600 words. Particularly when doing a product review, most readers need enough information to make an informed decision about the products, and no more.

The Impact of the Number of Links in an Article on the CTR

As shown in this graph, the more links to the advertiser within the article, the higher the CTR will be.

For a sponsored post to receive the best click through rate, it’s recommended to include at least five links to the sponsor – with one near the beginning, one near the end, and several strategically placed throughout the post. It can also be beneficial to link to several pages on the advertiser’s website rather than just a single landing page.

The Impact of Title/Introduction Length on Sponsored Posts CTR

The length of a blog post title and headers can have a strong impact on the CTR. If a title is too short, readers won’t pay much attention to it because it doesn’t give the reader enough information to make it intriguing.

Meanwhile, if the title is too long, the article title is likely to be cut off – which causes a substantial drop in user engagement and CTR.

The key is to keep titles and introductions relatively short (between 10-50 words long) and ensure that this section include appropriate keywords.

How the Readability Score Impacts Performance

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score is one way to calculate the readability of a text. This score measures readability by considering the amount of syllables in a word and the number of words in a sentence. Short words and short sentences result in higher scores.

Traditional SEO and social sharing knowledge predict that the easier a text is to read, the more likely it is to be read and shared. In fact, when writing for the web it is suggested that you focus on writing at a 6th grade reading level.

When using the Flesch-Kincaid tool to calculate the readability of each article, a very interesting anomaly arose. As shown in this graph, those articles with a very high score (easy to read) and very low score (difficult to read) received the highest CTR percentages – despite having lower engagement scores.

It appears that easy and difficult to read articles may not be shared as much (because of the complexity or simplicity of the content), but they seem to drive visitors to click through to the advertiser’s site.

Meanwhile, articles written with a medium level of complexity seem to receive the most engagement. This makes sense as a reader isn’t going to share something that seems to be overly simplified or overly complex.

The Impact of Video On Sponsored Post Performance

Video is becoming a popular medium for sharing messages online. As screens become more accessible via mobile devices and tablets, the world is watching far more video content. With many apps like Facebook and Twitter automatically playing videos as the user scrolls through their news feed, video has the ability to quickly capture the user’s attention.

Meanwhile, well developed video content can help an advertiser connect with the user, share a short message, and establish a higher-quality brand image.

When it comes to sponsored posts, video content has a tendency to increase CTR while slightly lowering engagement on the blog post or article. The reason for the decreased engagement rate on the blog post is because viewers share the video directly, rather than the accompanying article.

In short, video provides high click through rates and likely higher engagement rates as a whole – even if the article is shared slightly less.

Conclusion

Sponsored blog posts are a powerful and cost effective way to raise awareness of a product or brand. As the world becomes more connected with influencers over the web, this trend will continue to grow in value for advertisers.

However, as the research above shows, all sponsored posts are not created equal. By implementing the best practices shared above, both advertisers and bloggers can receive the maximum benefit from sponsored posts.

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