Acquisition & Engagement

Building Paid, Earned, and Owned Synergies Into Marketing Mix Modeling

John Koetsier

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Synergizing paid, earned, and owned media boosts ROI up to 1000%. And if paid media is the quarterback, organic is the offensive line. Together, like fine spices and horrifically mixed metaphors, they can form a tasty, successful whole.

But how do you build paid, earned, and owned media synergies into your marketing mix?

Where do you start?

This is part four of a five-part series on Better Together: The elements of paid & organic marketing
Get the entire free report now

Here are some important ways to make it happen.

Attribution: everything starts with attribution

Attribution is the science — and yes, sometimes the art — of knowing what marketing and advertising actions have driven which sales and customer activity results.

Smart marketers know that attribution is precisely at the core of what they need to do real data-driven marketing. Sometimes it seems complex and challenging, but ultimately, attribution is a very simple idea:

  • Attribution tells you how your prospects become customers
  • Attribution tells you how your customers buy more, increasing your share of wallet
  • Attribution tells you how your best customers become fans
  • Attribution tells you how your fans evangelize the good news about you, your company, your products, and your brand

Attribution is a top priority for a majority of marketers because marketers want to understand all the touchpoints on the buyer’s journey and marketers also want to fully understand their interactions with existing customers.

That insight tells you what is working.

That insight also tells you how to adjust your investment tactics to ladder up into a comprehensive strategy that achieves your goals: increased awareness, higher levels of consideration, more engagements with potential customers, increased conversions into customers, additional revenue, and greater profitability.

Without attribution, marketers don’t know what’s working and cannot make the right decisions.

Once you have attribution in place, you can start laying the groundwork for comprehensive marketing success.

Organic: laying the groundwork

Brands that win at organic marketing are primed to win at paid. Companies that rely solely on paid marketing tend to run out of cash.

Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product and passionate customers, which is why organic marketing is so seemingly simple for the Teslas, Apples, and Googles of the world. But not every brand captures the zeitgeist the way those companies have, and their marketing journeys are a little more challenging.

Organic marketing lays the groundwork for inbound attention. That tends to be of higher quality than captured or redirected attention, which is what you typically get via paid marketing.

Why? Inbound attention results in a self-selected audience segment, and purchase intent is naturally higher.

Just one example: Personal finance startup Mint had 20,000 customers waiting to sign up before launch, putting it on a trajectory to exit at a $170 million valuation in just two years. The strategy: owned content and earned attention … in other words, organic marketing.

For Mint, that looked like blogging and then social virality. For other marketers in other niches — and other times — it will differ. But wherever you lay the foundation, its quality will determine at least part of how successful your paid campaigns can be.

Paid: accelerating growth

Organic marketing is a great way of finding out what sticks. Paid marketing is a great way of amplifying success.

Marketer after marketer agrees: Use paid to boost the signal after you’ve found messages that resonate.

“Paid marketing efforts amplify organic marketing efforts by allowing a brand to be top of mind,” says Eric Johnson, a content specialist at FeedbackWrench. Julie Howell of Postali, a marketing agency for legal firms, agrees. “You still have to earn your organic rankings on your own, but once you do, you can amplify their success by engaging in paid search and vice versa.”

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Paid marketing can also be used to fill gaps.

There are times when, for whatever reason, consumers do not consider your brand as a solution to their problems, in spite of your strong belief that your products are a good match. Even though your organic content just isn’t penetrating, you can buy your way into customers’ consciousness to open up a new market segment.

Once you’ve done so successfully, and know your ROI and ROAS metrics, you can seriously accelerate growth with paid media.

Owned: building internal capacity

Marketers with vision always enhance owned platforms with every campaign. Marketers who want quick wins sacrifice owned media on the altar of immediate performance.

While owned and earned are increasingly intertwined concepts, it makes sense for marketers to always enhance owned outposts. Websites with organic traffic, apps with retained users, social media accounts with engaged followers, email lists with high open rates, events with high attendance rates, brands with high consumer loyalty … all of these are owned assets.

Owned assets can be used to drive company initiatives, but owned assets are fragile.

They exist at the pleasure of the people who engage with them. In that sense, owned assets must be continually re-earned. Bad, spammy emails cause unsubscribes. Tepid website content breeds apathy. Irrelevant push notifications accelerate app uninstalls. And, on the other side, good, relevant, engaging marketing via owned channels strengthens those channels and even, potentially, breaks out of those channels and hits both physical and digital word of mouth.

But — and this is key — smart marketers build every campaign, every ad, every promoted post, and every other form of paid and earned marketing to enhance and enrich owned platforms in addition to delivering more immediate, specific, and ROI-driven goals.

(And, I’d argue, that enhancement of owned looks like an increase in NPS, net promoter score.)

Marketing done this way achieves specific short-term goals while also building long-term owned capacity — marketing capital — which can be invested in the long term to be spent, if required, on business-critical initiatives.

“If paid marketing isn’t reinforced with organic marketing, the results from it will only ever be short-term,” Eric Johnson, a marketer at FeedbackWrench says. “Organic marketing is like the second line on a hockey team. The first line is made up of the players who can score some quick wins, but the second line has to play strong once the first line’s energy has elapsed.”

Marketing mix: Adding a little bit of alchemy

Marketers live in campaigns.

Quarter to quarter, month to month, campaign to campaign, marketers have to narrow their gaze, focus their attention, and bear down on the task at hand.

The challenge is addressing the big picture.

One marketer I talked to invested a year in search engine optimization via quality content before seeing sales explode via web and social campaigns. Few marketers have the patience and the vision to wait that long, or the faith to continue without immediate results.

So the challenge is to look further than a month or a quarter. To estimate the needs of the business as a CEO might, not just a CMO, or a director or manager of marketing initiatives.

And then to plant the organic seeds which can be watered over time, harvested, and accelerated with paid media as needed and as appropriate.

As mentioned at the top, this is part four of a five-part series on Better Together: The elements of paid & organic marketing. Get the entire free report now.

John Koetsier

Before acting as a mobile economist for TUNE, John built the VB Insight research team at VentureBeat and managed teams creating software for partners like Intel and Disney. In addition, he led technical teams, built social sites and mobile apps, and consulted on mobile, social, and IoT. In 2014, he was named to Folio's top 100 of the media industry's "most innovative entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers." John lives in British Columbia, Canada with his family, where he coaches baseball and hockey, though not at the same time.

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