Advertorials are, probably, the first form of native advertising. The first advertorials appeared in magazines and newspapers, before the age of internet. To define an advertorial, it is a piece of promotional content which looks and reads like actual articles usually published in the respective magazine.
Thus, writing an advertorial requires both editorial skills and advertising skills. It is easy to make an advertorial look too sales-oriented, or to get lost in the storytelling and forget about the product you are supposed to promote. When they are well written, however, advertorials have a high conversion rate because people act on the feelings they formed after reading the content – which are very favourable to the brand and product.
Well then, how can you become proficient at writing advertorials? What are the key elements of an advertorial that doesn’t read like an ad? Here are a few tips:
- First of All, Gather the Nuts and Bolts
Before you start writing, you should have a clear image of the product features and benefits. Write down the key information which must be included in the advertorial such as the limited time offer, the key message to the readers and the CTA.
Once you have these elements on your working document page, you can start developing your advertorial and be certain that you have not forgotten about them.
- Adapt Your Advertorial to the Publication Where It Will Appear
Advertorials are specifically crafted for each publication or website. This is the only way in which you can make them look and feel like native content. You will write in one way for a satire website like The Onion, and in another way for a glossy magazine for women.
Most websites and publications have guidelines for the advertorials they accept. You should take the time and look over them. These guidelines usually indicate the tone of voice, text formatting, use of images, quotes and anchor text (links to the product website).
- Start Telling a Story
At this point, imagine that you are actually writing a piece of content for the publication. The story is not about the product (this is an easy mistake to make), but about people’s lives and how they are made better by the product. Great advertorials read just like an exciting editorial pick and by the end the readers feel that they must give the product a try, even if there is not a single line of text containing the word “buy”.
Many times, these stories can be developed from testimonials or client cases and have an even greater ring of authenticity.
- Support Claims with Quotes Whenever You Can
One of the rules of journalism is that you have to quote your sources. One of the rules of advertising in that you have to back your claims with proof. By combining these two rules, it results that a great advertorial should use quotes in support of performance and quality claims made. These quotes can be easily lifted from the product pages or from the company’s social media accounts.
This will also give your advertorial a more native look – because newspaper and magazine articles frequently contain quotes.
- Give Your Story a Happy Ending (and a Call to Action)
Don’t forget to end your story on a shining positive note. Even if you use the problem-aggravation-solution storyline, do not forget to tie up any negative loose ends and finish off with a happy ending.
This should be cleverly blended in with the CTA to give readers the impulse to click on it while on the emotional high of the happy end.
Finally, once you are done writing your advertorial, give it to a couple of friends to read. If they say “nice ad”, you should probably rewrite it…