How to Use Earned Media, Owned Media & Paid Media to Increase Revenue — Lionesses of Africa

by Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho

In order to design a robust multi-level digital marketing strategy and create a cohesive content plan, incorporating the 3 elements of earned, owned and paid media is crucial. Earned, owned and paid media efforts are important to your overall business objectives and should intersect in your content marketing strategy.

Understanding the differences between each type of media and ways to combine them is critical to the success of your lead generation efforts. I would like to think of it like a tripod, 3 strong legs and it can carry good weight, one shaky or non-existent leg and it all comes crashing down.

Let’s discuss their several uses and distinct differences.

Earned Media

What is the point of a website or social media site if no one is seeing or interacting with it? Simply put, earned media is the media exposure you acquire via word-of-mouth. It could be from the fantastic content you’ve created & distributed, the combined result of strong organic rankings from your SEO efforts, the customer experience you’ve delivered, or a good mix of all three. Earned media refers to the recognition you receive as a result. It could be in the form of press mentions, positive reviews, reposts, recommendations, etc. You could also be invited to contribute your own thought leadership content to industry publications. So whether you’re getting mentions on external sites or you have an opportunity to contribute to them regularly, this type of media helps to fuel the top of your lead generation funnel and introduce you to new prospects.

Owned Media

This is about the content for your company website, your blog, and your social media accounts. Owned media is content from assets of which you’re in full control. The primary objective of owned media is to continue providing value to leads as they move down the sales funnel. These assets should typically offer a more controlled narrative and messaging about your business. If the content is too promotional in nature, you could risk losing the prospect as you lose the subliminal value of the content.

Not such a smart thing to do as studies have shown that brand recall for valuable brand content is 20% higher than adverts. Owned media channels are extensions of your brand as a whole. The more owned media you have, the better chances you have to extend your brand presence in the digital space. So if you’re looking to warm up leads that you’ve generated with earned media and win over some more, you should focus on producing educational & valuable resources via owned media.

Paid Media

Paid media is arguably the best way to promote content in order to drive earned media, as well as direct traffic to owned media properties. It involves external marketing efforts that involve a paid placement such as PPC, branded content and display ads. Another way to gain more exposure for your content is through influencer marketing. You pay influencers to tweet or share your links via their owned channels, thus impacting the reach and recognition of your content and brand.

To get the best results with paid media and increase customer engagement with your brand, it all depends on going where your target audience is the most active. You could target users on a platform like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn based on their interests, industry, and job title; then deliver a link to a landing page with a relevant piece of gated content.

I have the perfect analogy for the earned, owned and paid media trifecta and here it is; Owned media is the destination, earned media is the vehicle that gets one to the destination while paid media is the high quality fuel that propels the engine and keeps the vehicle moving forward and towards the destination.

Each element has a unique role, but using all three together will make your digital media strategy so much more effective.

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