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Understanding Paid, Owned, And Earned Media | Paid vs Owned vs Earned

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Creating a great digital marketing strategy that will support your company’s growth and increase your revenue is a key element to making your business successful. This means you have to find the best approach and combinations of paid, owned, and earned media to establish your authority in your market. Taking time to understand each type will help you get the best results.

What Is Owned Media vs Paid Media vs Earned Media?

Using different methods of getting content to your audience is important because each method helps you achieve a different goal. Throughout your efforts to grow your business, you’ll need one tactic more than another at certain times. You’ll also see opportunities to switch things up and try something new or shift your emphasis.

Definition of Owned Media

Owned media refers to the content and elements that you create and control completely. A good example is your website. That is a property where you develop and control the content displayed there. Everything is designed to be aligned with your brand and you get the final say on how things are displayed.

Owned media channels also include all of your social media channels and the content on them. Your YouTube videos, Twitter updates, Instagram reels, and Facebook posts are all forms of owned media. The emails you send to subscribers, the ebooks and webinars you offer people, and any other content you create also fall under the owned media umbrella.

When you consider owned media vs paid media, owned media is the space where you get to define yourself and tell people who you are. It’s your chance for the most consistent branding and the best way to express your voice and personality, as well as an opportunity to promote your products and services uniquely.

Definition of Paid Media

The advertising you pay for is your paid media. This is what’s usually the first thing people think about when they hear the word marketing. Commercials, billboards, web ads, promoted social media posts and video ads that play before other content are all paid media. Search web ads are also an important part of your paid portfolio if you want an effective digital marketing strategy.

As you consider using owned media vs paid media, you’ll find that they can connect in many ways. Often, your owned media will be the basis for your paid media. You can pay for ads that promote the things you have already created to get maximum reach.

Paid media can also include paid partnerships with content creators or thought leaders who are established with the audience you want to reach. Having others associate themselves with your company lends credibility and can lead to growth if approached correctly.

Definition of Earned Media

There is also earned media to consider in your digital marketing strategy. When you look at earned media vs paid media or earned media vs owned media, you’ll see that earned media is the one you have the least control over. However, this channel still has a big impact on your company.

Earned media can be compared to old-fashioned word of mouth. When people organically share, review or show off your product and service without you asking or paying, that’s earned media. Thanks to your reputation and quality, you have earned their admiration enough that they will begin to help your marketing efforts naturally and genuinely.

Much like your paid media, your earned media can have a close relationship to your owned media. By putting out great content that attracts people on the channels you own and control, you can inspire meaningful experiences among the customers that interact with you. That makes them more likely to share your blog posts and leave positive reviews that will help more consumers come to you.

Every digital marketing strategy features all three of these pillars, so it’s important to find the balance of which is right for you during any given stage in your company’s growth journey.

Benefits of Owned Media

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Owned media will be at the heart of your content marketing for your business, so let’s look at its benefits. The biggest perk may be the amount of control you have. When it comes to owned media vs paid media or earned media, you and your team get to be fully in charge of what gets made and what it looks like. You choose the formats that work best for you and the platforms you prefer.

For instance, you could do an entire blog series on a certain product as it launches to increase interest and help guarantee sales. You don’t have to wait on collaborators or worry about ad schedules since this is your own media. When you are ready for things to be published, you can make it happen.

A top reason some businesses may want to put more energy toward owned media vs paid media is money. As we mentioned, you don’t technically have to pay anything for owned media since it is the content that you create. All it takes is your time and effort. This means the return on investment is pretty high. Any revenue you get from a piece of owned media is nearly all profit.

Owned media also builds trust with your audience. Some people have trained themselves to tune out ads, figuring that if someone has paid for something it must be suspicious. While we know this isn’t true, owned media is a better way to show people that you are building a good company with genuine intentions.

Benefits of Paid Media

Paid media needs a place in your marketing plan since it is a great way to get yourself in front of the right audiences. Although some people are skeptical of ads, they can still be effective when used correctly and will give you a chance to expand your reach.

An important type of paid marketing is the search engine ad. How many times have you Googled something and noticed that the first few links on the page were ads? They are usually very relevant to the search query, but they have been placed above the top organic results. This is a good opportunity for a business that doesn’t rank highly in SEO and search results to get clicks.

Social media offers great opportunities to put paid media tactics to work. You can promote posts you’ve made so they show up in the feeds of users who may not follow you yet. That gives your brand a chance to interact with a new audience that could be interested in your products. You can also use retargeting techniques that serve social media ads for your company to people who have visited your website in the past.

Paid media costs money by nature so you want to be strategic in how you use it. Putting a lot of money into ads that don’t get clicks will not benefit you much and aren’t a good use of your business funds. You need to do a lot of research into who your target consumer is and how they use the internet. ELK Marketing has professionals that can sort through this for you, so it may be better to get the agency’s help to make the best use of your paid budget.

Benefits of Earned Media

Earned media is all about improving your credibility in your market. It’s the combination of all the things other people say about you without you prompting them. You can take positive feedback and endorsements and use them as a way to promote yourself without spending any money or even very much extra time.

One of the most common ways to do this is by displaying reviews and testimonies from real users on your website and social media pages. Let people say in their own words why they love your brand so new customers can see it as they get to know you. This lets people feel like they can trust that your service works well since it has worked well for others.

To enhance your returns on earned media, you should make sure you have easy ways for people to share and recommend your company. Remember, social media shares and reposts are also types of earned media strategies. Your social media sites should have lots of owned content that can be easily promoted by your followers, and your website should have simple ways for users to share links to products or services.

When dealing with earned media, take care to invest in reputation management. You have less control over this channel, so you can’t prevent a negative message from going out. It’s not fun to think about but not every review will be positive and not every influencer who features your product will like it. Have a plan to mitigate the negative messages that do end up shared.

Choosing Between Owned Media vs Paid Media vs Earned Media

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So where do you start when choosing between the different channels? In reality, you need to embrace all three of them. It’s more about striking the balance between what you need for where your business is and what you are trying to accomplish. They will all help you at the various stages of your journey.

When To Lean Toward Owned Media

As you get your brand started, make sure to build a solid library of owned media. Focus on creating a great website that will be helpful to potential customers and clients and makes it easy for them to consume your blogs, videos, and products. Your website is also the first part of your SEO, or search engine optimization, so it needs to be built properly to help your site rank in results.

Owned media gives you your first shareable content, making it even more important as you get your business off the ground. It looks a lot better to share owned media vs paid media on your own platforms as you establish yourself so you can create the feeling that you have a trustworthy brand.

Many new business owners are also very budget-conscious, so owned media will obviously be a big help in generating buzz without shelling out a lot of money. Until you start bringing in steady revenue, you may be hesitant to spend a lot of cash on ads and partnerships. It makes more sense to create a lot of sharable content that you own and use it to get organic traffic and interest.

When To Lean Toward Paid Media

Your push with paid media can start at the beginning of your company’s digital marketing journey, but you may want to wait before putting too much into it. You will definitely need some ads and paid posts from the start. However, you shouldn’t go overboard until you have some data that will guide the best way to spend those ad dollars.

Let’s say you sink a ton of money into promoted Facebook posts right at the beginning of your company’s start but then realize more of your target audience seems to use Twitter. It’s going to be a hassle to reroute those funds and you may not get much return on what you’ve already spent. It’s better to start making sales and see where your customers are coming from to get a better result.

The paid or owned media consideration should also account for which types of owned media you should use in your paid channels. Look at what content you have that does well and make it the focus of your advertising. If your webinars are doing well organically, you can use paid media strategies to advertise them to boost interest and drive even more traffic to your website for more potential sales.

When To Lean Toward Earned Media

A bigger reliance on earned media will likely come as your business matures a bit. Once you have a solid customer base that is loyal to your brand, you can start to capitalize on those connections. Encourage past purchasers to leave reviews for your products and services, or even film testimonials or demonstrations. You can use that content on your site and socials.

You can also turn your earned media into paid media. Pay to promote a post featuring an honest testimonial on the social channels that offer the most promise of sending you new customers. With this combination, you can improve your reach in a credible way that people can relate to.

As you balance earned media vs paid media, take time to focus on the element of reputation management. Paid contains a message that you created and approved and is typically displayed in a way that you chose. This level of control is something you don’t get with earned media.

You will have limited control over what people say as they react to your brand and product. Make sure you have a strong customer service team in place to keep client satisfaction as high as possible. When you see problems and negative reviews concerning your brand, address them respectfully and offer to make things right. Do not argue online with customers, since this makes you look worse.

The Right Combination

The best blend of owned media vs paid media vs earned media will look different for every company. To get it right, start with an evaluation. ELK Marketing can audit and analyze your company’s SEO and marketing media strategies to see what’s working well and what can be improved to get you better results.

Businesses that aren’t getting a lot of organic website visits may want to temporarily increase their paid efforts while also creating more owned content to share across the appropriate channels. A business that has a lot of competition may want to use earned media to set itself apart, showing how much customers love its product over the alternatives.

Using these channels will require flexibility. It won’t always make sense to hold on to a strategy that used to work for you if your circumstances change. A new start-up may be safe to put earned media on the back burner for a while as it gets established. However, that same business may miss a lot of opportunities if they don’t incorporate word-of-mouth and customer loyalty in the long run.

Similarly, your paid and owned media need to evolve. Always watch for the next big platform for your target market and make sure that your paid dollars are focused on that opportunity as needed. Your owned media should grow as well. If you notice your customers are clicking your blog posts less but watching more of your videos, then make the shift to appeal to what they want.

Refreshing your owned media vs paid media vs earned media strategy every so often is the best way to keep your brand fresh and responsive so that your customers always feel connected to you. This is also how you keep yourself growing into new market segments that offer new revenue opportunities and chances to grow your name recognition and reputation.

Building Your Company with Owned Media vs Paid Media vs Earned Media

Every company in every industry needs owned media, paid media, and earned media in their digital marketing plan to be successful. The exact combination is about how your business operates and what goals you have for your company. This can seem intimidating but you don’t have to figure out owned media vs paid media alone.

Contact Us at ELK Marketing so our team can come up with a plan for you!

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