Using Owned, Earned, & Paid Media for Effective Online Marketing

Ashley Wilson-Rew

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There are three categories of media that will increase your traffic, leads, and sales: owned media, earned media, and paid media. To optimize your marketing strategy for YOUR business, you need to take advantage of all three types of inbound marketing media.

The 3 Types of Inbound Marketing Media

Infographic courtesy of Smart Insights.

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Owned Media

Owned media, or internal media,  includes all types of content and media that you produce, create, and publish. This includes your social media profiles, your website, your blog, and your product or service.

The power of owned media is in its customization and flexibility. You have the ability to edit, redo, repurpose, or otherwise change any aspect of these media at any given time. The ROI of owned media is completely within your control - but that also means it's definitely your problem if you don't see success.

To make the most of your owned media, make sure you're following best practices for the following inbound marketing tactics:

  • Blogging
  • Website optimization
  • Landing pages, forms, thank-you pages
  • Content marketing
  • Social media
  • Offline marketing materials
  • Downloads
  • Apps
  • Conferences, trainings, seminars, webinars
  • Email marketing, workflows, lead nurturing
  • Any other marketing channels that you own

Following best practices includes consistent A/B testing and optimization. You'll need to track your analytics closely and spend time testing variations of everything to make sure you're getting the results you want.

Earned Media

Earned media, or external media, is owned or affected by other people and outside circumstances. You earn the right to be affiliated with, linked to, or referenced by these outside sources. This means earned media is very difficult to acquire but also incredibly valuable. Earned media includes:

  • inbound links,
  • social shares,
  • viral content,
  • reviews, and
  • influencer marketing.

Google regards inbound links and other earned media very highly. In fact, high-quality inbound links (links from reputable, relevant sources) and referrals can cause drastic upticks in your website traffic and rankings. Here's a quick graphic from Shopify that breaks down Google's ranking factors:

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You'll notice that earned media (link signals, review signals, social signals, mob signals) make up about 1/3 of your SEO power.

Your prospects will also lend the most weight to earned media. It's easy for you to say how great your product is; having it confirmed by a third party builds trust and credibility.  

To increase your stock of earned media, you can:

  • Network with peers and influencers on social media
  • Request reviews from customers (incentives make this pretty easy)
  • Quote, link to, or reference peers and influencers in your content
  • Create & share highly valuable or entertaining content

Again, you don't have much control over the quantity or quality of your earned media. But you can plan your marketing strategy in a way that increases the likelihood of earning media from a reputable source.

Paid Media

Paid media includes any channel on which you pay to post your content or show your ads. Typically, this includes search engine PPC and social media sponsored advertising. Paid advertising is fantastic for new businesses, businesses that need a quick pick-me-up, and time-bound products or services (such as seasonal or limited time offers). 

Paid media drives quick results. If you do it right, it counts as a form of inbound marketing: reaching your customers where they're looking. Unfortunately, it's very easy to get wrong.

To get the most out of your paid media, make sure:

  • Every link, ad, block of copy, and landing page is relevant
  • All keywords are well-researched and optimized
  • You understand your buyer personas intimately

Inbound marketing is all about relevance. Relevance is especially important when serving content your prospects can't avoid. If they find it valuable, they're extremely likely to convert into a lead. If your offer is irrelevant and annoying, you're wasting your time and money and worse: pushing away your target audience.

Why Does It Matter?

Infographic courtesy of Titan SEO

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Understanding the quirks and best practices of each type of media (and the components within them) is the only way to create an effective online marketing strategy. You're not going to succeed with JUST owned, earned or paid media - you have to make them work in tandem. 

Without high-quality owned media, you don't have a solid foundation for any marketing strategy. 

Without earned media, you don't have the social proof to build credibility with prospects.

Without paid media, your owned and earned media outlets will be sluggish getting off the ground.

An effective online marketing strategy requires a variety of marketing tools and resources. If you want more information on building an effective marketing strategy, feel free to give us a shout!

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