Effective marketers know the “trinity” of a good media strategy is effectively communicating your story across the intersection of three distinct media channels: owned media, paid media and earned media. This post will demystify these channels for you, to ensure you are effectively marketing across all three.
Owned media is exactly what it sounds like, properties that you own and entirely control. That includes assets like your website, mobile apps and email database. That includes ways of communicating to your customers through those assets, like website design, ad creatives, email marketing and SMS text based marketing. And, lastly, it includes data analytics, reporting and conversion rate optimization tools that help you glean actionable insights from your owned media activities.
Paid media is buying your way into getting discovered. For most startups, that includes things like paid search ads (e.g., Google, Microsoft), paid social ads (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter), paid shopping listings (e.g., Google, Amazon, Walmart) and display advertising across various sites or programmatic advertising networks across the Internet. This too requires disciplined tracking and reporting tools, and can assess campaign performance/conversions and properly attribute cross channel marketing touchpoints to a specific customer.
Earned media is taking actions, other than paid advertising, that result in getting your business promoted on third party websites. This includes things like search engine optimization for organic traffic, press releases that get picked up by other publishers, content marketing on your blog that gets indexed by search engines, affiliate marketing and social media communications or influencer marketing that get shared virally through the social networks. Again, supported by any required tracking and reporting tools for measurement and optimization.
An Integrated Holistic Approach Spans All Three Media Channels
If you are simply sending your messaging through one of the above three channels, you are leaving a lot of potential growth opportunities off the table. It is important for each campaign you are managing that you include a strategy and budget for all three of the above channels, as the real marketing magic happens when they are running concurrently across all three channels. You want to make sure wherever your target users are engaging, that your message is showing up loud and clear. That includes on your sites, marketplaces, news articles, search engines, social media or wherever else customers may be looking for inspiration prior to purchasing products.
How to Manage This
Larger companies typically have departments of people that do each of these stand alone tasks required. But in smaller businesses, they don’t have that luxury. So, they often have to rely on agencies that can assist them with each of the above needs. Some companies engage specific agencies for each point solution (e.g., an SEO agency to assist with organic search traffic growth). Some companies engage one agency that can function across all channels, and do all of the above through one service.
It is harder to find a good “Jack of all Trades” that can do each of these services well, in one agency. But they are out there. So, if you can find them, that is the preferred path, as they can provide many advantages for you. They can enable consistent goal setting and messaging across all channels. They can also better help you with cross channel attribution measurement, by centrally managing all channels in one agency.
But in all cases, it is critical you lay out your clear key performance indicators of success, and measure them religiously. That could be setting lower funnel goals like leads, conversions or sales. Or it could be setting upper funnel goals like brand awareness, brand intent or customer database growth. Figure out what KPI is most important for your business and goals, and make sure all people doing the work, internally or externally, are measuring each of the above campaigns, across all channels, against the agreed upon KPI metrics.
Hopefully, for many of you, you are already doing a lot of this in your current marketing efforts. But for those of you that are not, effectively managing each of these three channels is pretty much “table stakes” today, for setting up a winning marketing campaign. Good luck!!
George Deeb is a Partner at Red Rocket Ventures and author of 101 Startup Lessons-An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.
Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.
I am a Managing Partner at Chicago-based Red Rocket Ventures, a growth consulting, executive coaching, shared executive and financial advisory firm based in Chicago. I am the author of 101 Startup Lessons—An Entrepreneur’s Handbook, a member of the Chicago Tech 50, mentor at Techstars and an active venture investor via the FireStarter Fund. I am a past Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” for my efforts as Founder & CEO of iExplore. You can follow me on Twitter at @georgedeeb or @RedRocketVC.
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