You’re probably more familiar with Native Advertising than you think.
Even if you’ve never heard the term before, you come into contact with Native Ads every when day you use social media or surf the web.
Native Advertising is a marketing strategy that warms up cold traffic by minimizing resistance and moving readers further along the customer buyer’s cycle. It’s often disguised as content, but in reality is a carefully crafted promotional message designed to get you in the right mindset before reading a sales message.
This promotional strategy is designed to provide immense value to the reader while matching the format and feel of similar content on the same medium. This familiarity and congruency avoids sending up “salesman alarms” like traditional ads or sales pages do.
The content-focused promotional content that’s placed throughout the native ad funnel makes readers more open-minded to hearing about your offer, and primes them to buy BEFORE they land on your sales page or you ask them for the sale.
Here’s an example of what a native advertising funnel might look like:
While your funnel might be larger or smaller depending on different variables – such as the complexity of your offer or the kind of traffic you’re getting – most funnels can generally be broken down into 4 parts:
The discovery phase, the engagement phase, the conversion phase, and the ascension phase.
Breaking Down The Native Advertising Funnel
The Discovery Phase
The goal of Discovery is to create a complete customer profile, and find out which themes, headlines and topics your audience responds well to. You’ll use this information as the basis of your marketing campaign.
This stage happens before you ever come in contact with a customer or approach someone new with your marketing. Before you can start promoting your offer, you need to know who you’re speaking to, what they want, and what drives them.
Critiques and Audits
Discovery almost always requires in-depth research into your market, your audience, and your competition so you can get to know them intimately, but you’ll also want to perform critiques and audits of your existing marketing materials, funnels and offers.
Auditing what you already have will help identify any broken links in your funnel, and also identify areas where you can increase conversions quickly.
For example, if you perform an audit of your funnel and find that your social ad is performing well, but you’re losing people by the time they get to your sales page, then adding in an advertorial landing page to warm up cold traffic would give you a quick win.
Audits help you improve what you’ve already worked so hard to build, and identify high-leverage areas where you can get traction quickly.
Deep Dive Research and List Testing
Discovery can also involve testing your current list or audience to see what resonates with them. By testing and exploring your existing audience BEFORE you market to them, you avoid wasting time and resources since you’re approaching them right off the bat with something you already know they’ll respond well to.
We can use PPC ads or our existing email lists to test ideas and see how our audience responds to certain themes before we put them into our sales funnel.
A great way to test your existing list is to run a mini email series designed to test different headlines, themes and topics to see which your list responds best to. Use the concepts with the highest open rates to determine the theme for your social ads, advertorials, and landing pages.]
You can use the same strategy and run Facebook ads and see which headlines get the most clicks. Those headlines that converted well can then be used to create your advertorials.
The Engagement Phase
This is where you’ll make first contact with your customers. The engagement phase holds the customer’s hand through the sales process – from that first touchpoint, through your funnel, and on to the final sale.
The goal of the engagement phase is first to get people to click an ad or email link and read through an advertorial landing page, and then get them to click through to your final sales page after they’re already primed for the sale.
PPC Ads or In-Feed Social Ads
Now that you’ve discovered the secret fears, desires and motivations of your audience, it’s time to start getting in front of them.
Use buyer psychology and persuasion strategies to craft ads that create curiosity and a sense of urgency so they click through to find out more. Remember, the goal of the ad is NOT to make a sale – it’s simply to get them to click through and read your advertorial landing page. So keep that in mind as you’re writing your sales copy.
It’s important to test several versions of your ads to see which ones get the most clicks and resonate best with your audience.
Advertorial Landing Pages
An advertorial-style landing page is designed to create congruency between your initial ad and your sales page or squeeze page. It’s used to warm up cold traffic between your social ad and your final landing page.
Advertorials have been around for a long time, and use engaging stories to move readers further along the buyer awareness cycle so that they’re already primed to buy before you ask them for a sale.
The Conversion Phase
This is the fun part. It’s where a reader finally clicks that big button and converts into a paying customer. This is where the people in your funnel move from the front end (before the sale) to the back end (after the sale) – essentially turning ‘browsers’ into ‘buyers’
Sales Page / Squeeze Page
After your readers click on your Ad and read through your advertorial landing page, they’ll be ready to hear more about your offer. You’ll need a long-form sales page or short-form squeeze page to capture this traffic that’s already primed to buy.
This is where all your hard work finally pays off by getting those valuable email addresses or the sale.
Opt-In Incentive or Check Out
If appropriate, you can also create a lead magnet or tripwire to further warm up your traffic by providing free or low-cost value. These content pieces are designed as intermediaries that maintain congruency and build trust.
It’s also important to keep selling throughout your entire funnel – including your check out page. This is an area that many marketers ignore, and taking the time to craft persuasive sales copy or upsell copy on your checkout page will really take your sales funnel to the next level.
The Ascension Phase
The ascension phase is what happens after a reader has given you their email list, or become a paying customer.
This is the “back end” of your funnel where you promote your upsell offers, build lifetime customer value, get repeat business, and remarket to people who have already shown interest in what you have to offer.
This is also where you segment your list to create custom offers to narrow down your marketing message or remarket to people who have shown interest, but didn’t fully convert.
Creating back end content is a whole different beast, and can be broken down and expanded upon into many different parts. For simplicity’s sake and to meet our purposes here, we’re lumping these all in together and defining this as everything on the back end of your initial offer that happens after the sale.
Email Sequences and Back End Content
There are so many ways to use email series, so it’s important to know WHY you’re emailing your list so you can strategically direct the messaging to focus on a specific purpose. Many times, the best way to start is to create an ‘indoctrination series’ which familiarizes new subscribers with your brand – helping them to know, like, and trust you.
After readers are indoctrinated into your brand, you can “ascend” them to the next level of service. This is a prime spot to promote your upsell offers, or segment your list for more targeted marketing.
You can also create a ‘recovery sequence’ which targets readers who have abandoned their checkout carts, or opted-in to your list but haven’t yet purchased. These emails are designed to ‘push them off the fence’ and act as a last chance to convert people who haven’t take that final leap.
Email marketing is an ongoing process, and many marketers create large sequences that constantly ask readers to re-opt-in for another offer, or continually segment them for future marketing.
Regardless of what the purpose of your email sequence is, the ultimate goal should be to create congruency with the content you’ve already put in front of your readers, and continually built trust and familiarity with them.
Implementing the native advertising funnel
Alright let’s look at a quick recap. Here’s what a full native advertising funnel might look like:
- Deep dive research into your audience, business, and market
- Critique and Audit of your existing materials and funnels
- List Testing to see which themes and topics your audience responds best to
- An In-feed Social Ad to get that first click
- Native Advertising Landing Page or Advertorial page to warm up that cold traffic
- Sales Page or Squeeze Page to capture traffic that’s already primed to buy
- The opt-in incentive and/or check out page after they take the big leap.
- Welcome or Onboarding Email Sequence to indoctrinate them into your brand and tell them what to expect
- Re-Engagement or Cart Recovery emails if you need to push the stragglers off the fence.
- Additional sequences or ongoing emails designed to ascend them to the next level of service, upsell them on new offers, segment your list, or get them to re-opt in for a new offer.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to native advertising than click-bait ads and tawdry Buzzfeed articles. Regardless of where you’re at in creating your funnel, the most important thing to remember is that you want to create congruency, familiarity, and trust throughout every stage.
You want readers to feel as if every piece of content or sales copy is a natural continuation from where they were just reading before. This is why testing your list and researching your audience to identify what they resonate with best is so important. By keeping the theme of your content consistent (even if if it’s not all about the same exact topic) you’ll be able to maintain that congruency and keep readers focused on the content – instead of the sale.
If you’d like help auditing your funnel or creating persuasive sales copy for your PPC ads, landing pages, or back-end content, I’d love to learn more about what you’re working on.