21 Oct The Difference Between Paid Media and Earned Media in Attracting Customers
Paid media and earned media are both important pieces of your content strategy. While the definitions of each are fairly self-explanatory (i.e. what you pay for versus what you don’t), the ways you can leverage paid media and earned media aren’t as simple when it comes to attracting new customers. We’ll break down why both paid and earned media are important for a healthy content strategy, and when to use each to find new customers.
Paid media constitutes any placement you pay for online, like Google Ads or Facebook and Instagram promotions.* PR efforts like article features, or automated content services like Outbrain and Taboola, are also types of paid media.
Paid media is a key approach to your content strategy to attract new customers when you’re new to business or want to expand your reach in a targeted way. By “targeted,” I mean having a specific audience in mind that values your content and would be more likely to engage with it or convert from it.
An example of paid media in action would be promoting an Instagram post that advertises an upcoming event or explains something key about your brand. In the process of promoting your post, you think through your goal for people engaging with the post (ex. viewing your profile, visiting your website), choose your audience (based on interests, demographics, and location), and select your budget and timeframe.
Whether the audience you have in mind decides to make a purchase or not, paid media enables you to reach a larger number of people who may not have heard about your brand. With paid media, your audience is typically in the awareness phase of the marketing funnel.
*Note: Retargeting campaigns are a type of paid media too, but they target traffic closer to the conversion stage of the funnel as well as past purchasers.
Earned media is paid media’s counterpart. Earned media is organic coverage, or the internet equivalent of word-of-mouth. Earned media is made up of referrals and your own channels. It can have more or less reach depending on how many owned channels you have access to, and the engagement rate for those channels. Owned channels refer to things like your internet subscriber list, your blog readers, and your social media followers. Engagement metrics look different depending on the channel, but typically compare the number of impressions to the likes, comments, or clicks.
Earned media can also be organically-earned press hits from product or service rankings within your industry, or links to your website from other websites and blogs. This type of earned media is especially convincing to consumers since it’s a real review from past customers and raving fans of your brand. These authentically generated testimonials come from people in the advocacy stage of your marketing funnel.
Both paid and earned media are important for a healthy content strategy, since they work with each other to encourage purchases from new and existing customers. Depending on your industry and product or service offerings, your brand may be more drawn to paid media over earned media (or vice versa!), but the combination of the two rounds out your content strategy and creates the best experience for your target audience.