How to Plan Owned, Earned and Paid Media for B2B Content Marketing


Content promotion using paid, owned and earned media.

Your content is useless when no one is engaging with it. So you’ll need a combination of media to draft your communication strategy. The dividing lines between earned, paid and owned media are not 100% definitive. An overlap exists in numerous areas, such as:

  • Owned media is promoted via paid media.
  • Owned media is optimized for earned media.
  • Earned media is responded to via owned media.
  • Positive earned media can be promoted via paid media.
  • Social media advertising can be engaged via earned media.

A recurring factor when considering the use of media channels is the tension field between reach and control. Reach means the number of people reached via the channel. Of course, it primarily concerns itself with people who are potential DMU members for the products and solutions that are being sold. Control involves the measure of influence that the organization can have in the presentation of the message or content.

Looking at the different media options, the advantage of owned media is optimal control. The message, the design, the tone of voice and the format are completely in the hands of the organization. The flipside to this is that the reach is limited mainly to existing relations. To generate new business, it’s vital to involve paid and earned media.

control over owned, paid and earned media

Traditionally, paid media was always seen as the most obvious media channel. The rise of social media and content marketing has given owned media and earned media a bigger share in the mix. Owned media is growing because of the increasing value placed by organizations on the production of valuable and relevant content. Earned media is gaining attention due to its potentially huge reach using the relatively low threshold involved in social media, blogs and communities. In practice, though, it’s still very difficult to run effective, large-scale campaigns without involving paid media in some sort of capacity.

owned media strategy

Beside looking at media as either owned, earned and paid, it can also be looked at from a push and pull approach. With push communication, the sender determines the content and the timing of the message. If you receive a weekly e-newsletter, then you know beforehand what the editorial team will have in store for you and when it’s going to land in your inbox. In pull communication, the initiative is with the receiver of the communications. For example, you can search for a certain topic on Google and arrive at a relevant publication that way.

Pull: unsolicited presented content (requested) Push: unsolicited presented content (with permission)
Owned SEO (search engine optimization) Newsletter
Paid SEA (search engine advertising) Advertorials

In content marketing, pull and push mechanisms have their pros and cons. A big advantage of the pull mechanism is that visitors are searching for a specific topic. When they find it, the conversion from site visit to lead is high as the correlation between the visitor’s interest and content offered is significant. The big drawback of the pull mechanism is that the number of people who search at random moments for a certain topic is relatively low. The advantage of push media is that within a short amount of time you can achieve a large reach with a quick response. The disadvantage of push media is that since the communication is initiated by the sender, the receiver will not always be open to this communication.

When planning media, it is sensible to take into account the differences in response expectation. This is particularly relevant for the follow-up. When you provide white paper downloads in a newsletter but during the week that the newsletter is sent there is insufficient time for follow-up, then you’re missing the boat. Leads fall behind quickly and quickly become irrelevant.

However, when you offer one or more white papers on multiple portals that are designed for search engine marketing, people will continuously request them. The follow-up process should be the continuous filtering of leads.

building search traffic

When setting up the media, you should combine push and pull mechanisms. Many content marketing initiatives start by posting content via their own media, such as their blog or in the knowledge section of their website which gets picked up by search engines – this pull gets you traffic over time. To have direct traffic on your content you can add push mechanisms, like your newsletter and direct promotion in paid media.

 

How to attract your audience


promotion

High quality engaging content, completely aligned with the buyer journey of your potential customer is worthless if it is invisible to the your audience. In order to bring across content effectively, you need to think long and hard about your content distribution strategy. Reaching the right persona is far more important than the total exposure achieved. What are your options?

Distribution of content

The media options for a modern marketer to distribute content largely fall into the categories of owned, earned and paid media.

Paid Owned Earned Media

Owned media

Owned media include the channels that you run and control yourself. Your own channels can include, for example, your website or your own newsletter. But also your own social media accounts fall into the category of owned media. As ‘owner’ of a social media account, only you decide what content is shared and the possibilities for responding to the messages. Your own media channels therefore, carry a strong correlation with the content itself. The big advantage of these channels is of course, you have complete control over the content and functionality.

Owned media is largely aimed at familiar target groups and contacts, such as existing customers, associates, subscribers and prospects – parties that are familiar with the organization.

Earned media

Earned media include the channels used by others to share content and messages about your organization. The credibility can be increased due to the fact that others are posting the message. When powerful media spread the message, the exposure of earned media can be huge. A message, or content, that goes viral, can also attract a lot of attention. When a message is forwarded by a number of people with their own reach via social media, the exposure increases exponentially. Imagine that a message to an account with 1000 followers, and that 3 followers of that account, each with 1000 followers of their own, spread this message to their network, the reach is 4000 followers instead of your own 1000. Worth the effort!

Paid media

Harry McCann said one hundred years ago: ‘Advertising is the truth well told.’ All external channels that are bought in to distribute your own message in a positive light among target audiences falls into the category of paid media. Paid media can vary from banners to ads for search engines, and advertorials and product placements. For paid media, the organization buys exposure for their messaging.

Choice between owned, earned and paid media

Traditionally, paid media was always seen as the most obvious media channel. The rise of social media and content marketing, however, have given owned media and earned media a bigger share in the mix. Owned media is growing because of the increasing value placed by organizations on the production of valuable and relevant content. Earned media is gaining attention due to its potentially huge reach using the relatively low threshold involved in social media, blogs and communities. In practice however, it’s still very difficult to run effective, largescale campaigns without involving paid media in some sort of capacity.

frompaidtowardsearnedmedia

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Creating content for modern marketing


Content creators suffer from "writing blocks"

Research shows that content creation is seen as one of the biggest challenges for content marketing. It’s not just authors who suffer from a ‘writers block’, complete organizations face this problem. Creating content in itself is challenging, however, due to the rapid growth of content marketing initiatives, distinctive content is becoming more and more important. When content becomes a repetition of previously published knowledge or facts, the added value is limited. Providing content of high quality, with unique characteristics, increases its appeal. Here is what to create and where to begin.

Which content formats can best be applied, is of course an interesting question. The Content Marketing Institute 2016 carried out relevant research on this subject matter. Approximately 1500 B2B marketers that took part in the survey, were questioned as to the effectiveness and the use of different content marketing tactics. The tactics that are perceived as most effective, are shown in the figure below.

effectiveness-content-formats

The effectiveness of a format depends very much on the message and the audience, but also, of course, on the quality of the content and reach of the audience. It’s impossible to single out one format or offer advice on the best application thereof. It is possible however, to logically link content formats to the buyer journey. In order to stimulate the discovery process trend analyses, vision and infographics can be suitable. The consideration phase, however, lends itself to formats that can transmit more in-depth messaging, for example, whitepapers, checklists and demos.

Furthermore, the chosen content formats must be suited to the DMU (Decision Making Unit) member they are targeted at. When establishing the framework for the use of online messaging, the DMU members and the phases of the buying process should serve as the starting point. As such, downloadable research reports and vision documentation can be interesting for executive board members, and whitepapers about organizational issues for line managers.

content-formats-marketing

Here, individual content items are not standalone entities, but rather combined in order to reinforce one another. In the example above, research can be combined with roundtable sessions. But that same research, can give rise to, among other things, blogs for blogsites and infographics to be applied on social media. The same basic content is then used in a different context, aimed at different DMU members.

Free Download: Creating Content for Lead Generation

Download our white paper on content creation to learn about creation effective content for modern marketing.