What EVEN IS paid, earned, and owned content

The Scribble Weekly
Vol. 1, Issue 3

Paid, earned, owned content — otherwise known as the trifecta of digital marketing.

But what does it all mean? If someone asked you today to state the differences in less than three sentences, could you do it?

If you find yourself a little rusty here, then this Scribble’s for you.

Then, own the room when waxing poetic about content marketing at your next cocktail gala, or, er, when you’re plotting out your content marketing strategy.

Paid, earned, and owned content: Let’s break it down

Whether a shoestring- or Super-Bowl-sized budget, you need to know these three common terms in digital marketing, especially if your product or service operates primarily online.

Paid marketing: Pay to get your name out there

As the name implies, this is any advertising for which you pay to reach your target customer.

Examples of traditional paid marketing include billboards, TV advertisements, and radio and print ads. Paid marketing can also include enlisting a public relations agency to help you develop your brand and secure press and publicity.

On the other hand, examples of digital paid marketing include search engine marketing (SEM) such as pay-per-click advertising, targeted ad distribution, re-targeting, and banner ads.

Today, paid marketing has also evolved to include affiliate marketing, partnerships, and endorsements from brand ambassadors and social media influencers. Financial influencers like Mr. Money Mustache or even referral and offers sites like Credit Karma must disclose the nature of their paid relationship when referring people to brands.

Earned marketing: The Oprah Effect

You “earn” free marketing when someone mentions or refers your company, product, content, blog, or any other media without payment.

Examples of earned media include testimonials, referrals, forwarded email marketing newsletters, and distribution of your content via social shares. “Social proof” happens when people vouch for your brand with likes, follows, and comments that openly support your awesome product or service.

In short, earned media carries weight because people perceive it to be objective. Spanx was a relatively unknown brand until Oprah Winfrey included it in her “favorite things” list, which spiked web traffic and sent sales skyrocketing.

Ramit Sethi openly recommends Charles Schwab in his book, “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” as a favorite savings account because of its low fees. For his legions of fans, Schwab is earning free exposure from his direct endorsement.

Keep in mind that people are more trusting of what they perceive to be objective news sources, and 84% of consumers are also likelier to believe recommendations from friends and family members more than traditional paid forms of advertising.

Like the Oprah Effect, unsolicited brand recommendations from bloggers, influencers, and celebrities can help both big and up-and-coming microbrands “earn” serious exposure.

Owned marketing: Create your tribe

The third type of marketing involves content that your company creates, such as blog posts, marketing emails, videos, newsletters, podcasts, social media posts, webinars, and thought leadership content.

By producing engaging, interesting owned media, your company can extend its brand further into the marketplace. If done well, this can result in your very own devoted community, or tribe, and overlap into earned marketing results.

Measuring success

By now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, this is all great, but does it work?

Yes! And you can measure the effectiveness of all three types of marketing by setting the right benchmarks, such as key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, you might set a number of clicks or traffic to your site as a KPI for paid marketing. Social shares and follows could be a KPI for earned marketing. And new email newsletter subscribers could be a KPI for your owned marketing efforts.

KPIs are also easier to pinpoint than total return on investment (ROI) for each marketing type, which can be more one-dimensional when comparing sunk costs and results.

Your KPIs will be unique to your company, goals, and budgets. Here’s an article to help. Once you’ve set these up, track your progress against your specific goals.

What’s remarkable is how, over time, your paid, earned, and owned strategies will co-mingle:

Paid → owned:

Paid social media ads can increase traffic to your own company videos or blog posts

Owned → earned:

Popular owned media can be shared among your brand devotees, which results in earned media

Earned → owned:

Online reviews can link back to company websites and content

Owned → earned:

People who comment about your awesome video ads can help drive engagement among other prospects

Now that you know how to rattle off the differences among paid, earned, and owned content, we’d like to let you know that we can help you create more of and master each.

Scribe can help with targeted paid financial content distribution, share-worthy earned marketing, and high-quality, publication-ready owned media efforts. If you want to know more, then reply to this email or write us at hello@thescri.be.

With consistent execution and focus, your company should see some uptick in inquiries, attention, follows, and, ultimately, revenues — and hopefully some profits, too.

Speaking of profits, here's a 20 second-ish book review

Profit First, by Michael Michalowicz

If you’re an entrepreneur, or know of one (and who doesn’t these days), then you know the feeling of seeing your business bank balance hemorrhage itself to almost nothing each month. Salary? Ha! You mean the slim pickings left from paying all your bills and contractors? You begin to wonder, “Is this all worth it?” and then you cry yourself to sleep.

To end this sordid state of affairs, consider the “Profit First” cash management system, which dog-ears your top-line revenues into five distinct buckets, complete with separate checking accounts for each: Income, Taxes, Operating Expenses, Owner’s Comp, and Profit. The book comes with practical strategies to get started, sample allocations for different businesses, and helps you, over time, to end up a confident business owner who has a better handle (and reserves) to pay bills, taxes, contractor/employee salaries, and most importantly, yourself.

That wraps up this week’s issue of the Scribble!

— Your friends at Scribe

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