Paid, Owned, Earned
There is no tried and true formula for a marketing strategy. It is a complex combination that involves a many different elements, x-factors and a lot of trial and error to find what works best for any given company at any time. It would be great if you could just pick one tactic and run with it – SEO, PPC, Television, Radio, etc. You will definitely see some results from any given tactic, but it has been proven over and over again that multi-channel marketing strategies is much more effective when used together in a comprehensive plan. The return on your investment in the right combination of measures will quickly overshadow the benefits of any one tactic. So how do you figure out the most effective plan for your business?
The Basics: Organic & Paid
Most marketers are pretty well-versed in the importance of organic and paid media. Organic content is what is considered “owned marketing.” This is stuff like blog posts on your site, signage on your storefront, social media posts, traffic from SEO, etc. It’s obviously a very appealing method of drawing customers in because if you get more visitors that turn into customers, the acquisition cost per client keeps getting lower and lower. It’s a very cost-effective measure.
However, while organic content is owned, paid content tends to produce a higher-quantity of leads that actually result in more sales. So organic is great for bringing more traffic to your site. boosting your brand awareness and establishing you as an expert in your industry. Paid media, on the other hand, is better targeted and more efficient when it comes to hardline sales. So it doesn’t make sense to compare the two directly in terms of cost because although you’re spending more on paid media, it’s also bringing in more money for your business.
You can think of paid media as a throttle for your campaigns. For example, if you are looking to acquire a higher amount of leads during a particular month, you can increase your amount of paid media in order to improve lead flow for a desired period of time. It doesn’t have to be a full-time, consistent plan – your strategy can include wiggle room depending on your budget and goals.
And now social media is a big part of the multi-channel marketing mixture! At first, social platforms were their own form of free marketing. But now they offer both organic and paid promotion options. It doesn’t make sense to categorize them as strictly paid or organic. That’s where earned marketing comes into play.
The Perfect Blend
Instead of thinking about your marketing components by how the traffic comes to you, think about the property that is driving the traffic. By this standard:
Owned: is any property that you own and control, such as your website, blog, profiles, email and social pages.
Paid: is any placement on property that you are paying to put in front of an audience, including PPC, ads on radio & television, remarketing, retargeting, paid social, native ads and paid influencers.
Earned: is any property that gives you free placement in front of someone else’s audience, including reviews, media coverage, guest posts, mentions, social shares and influencers.
The perfect multi-channel marketing strategy will encompass all three of these types of media and they should all be working in conjunction to leverage their independent powers. We’ve all seen companies who try focusing on one area, such as blogs or social media and get off to a strong start but then lose focus and it doesn’t turn into a long-term strategy. But when all three are used together, you can fall back on the efforts made in one area even when another one is falling short.
Owned media gives you complete control over your messaging and grows in power over time. You can optimize your website for SEO, develop a solid content marketing campaign filled with blogs and case studies, etc., use your email subscription list and get an engaged following on social media. Paid media lets you get your message in front of an audience immediately, via TV, radio or other digital formats. It benefits you in terms of bringing great leads right to your site and creating brand awareness, but the downside is that it can get expensive. It’s important to do testing to figure out which platforms and campaigns are delivering the best ROI. Earned media is free, but takes time and effort to acquire and monitor.
A great marketing plan not only uses all three types of media, but blends them into new strategies that are even more effective together. For example, when you post a blog, share it to your social media platforms and pay to promote it in various ways. That way, if people see and share the post, you are taking advantage of all three types of media at once. The only way to find the right mix is to see the big picture of your goals and opportunities. It’s different for every business but with the right amount of testing and analysis, you can settle on the formula that works best for you.