Are earned media efforts still worth your investment?

By Laura Larsen on November 10th, 2016

According to HubSpot’s 2016 State of Inbound Report, the top two biggest challenges faced by effective marketing teams are generating traffic and leads (65%) and proving the ROI of your marketing activities (43%). When you put the two together, what that ultimately boils down to is a need to ensure you are reaching the right leads, sparking their interest in your organization and driving sales.

As marketers seek to ensure their messages are directly impacting those decision-makers with the ability to sign off budgets, paid media is becoming increasingly attractive. In fact Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report predicted that by 2021, marketing leaders will spend 75% of their total budget on digital marketing over traditional marketing activities. Paid media campaigns can be extremely sophisticated and deliver highly targeted campaigns to your audience.

But what does that mean for traditional public relations? Has it lost its place? Traditional, earned media (that is, unpaid media) is still critical to attracting prospects and driving sales, and here’s why:

  • Earned media is the most balanced form of communication – in as much as opinion can be neutral, it is based purely on a good story and a well-informed opinion. 
  • With the rise of niche publications and interest-specific social groups, earned media communications can be much more targeted than it used to be. 
  • According to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. 
  • All stages of the sales funnel are impacted by earned media, from educating your broader audience in the earliest stage to answering key sales objections through end user success stories in the later stages of the cycle. 
  • Earned media demonstrates the highest level of thought leadership and goes a long way to building trust and ultimately driving sales. 

One of the biggest problems with earned media is that it is really difficult to measure and prove its success. How do you truly measure the impact of an article on sales? It’s important to put benchmarks in place at the outset so you can understand what is and what isn’t working and be able to continuously adapt your marketing program accordingly.

Needless to say, a perfect combination of earned and paid media is the key to a successful communications program. At Dodge, we appreciate that all our clients have unique marketing challenges and goals to attain. We advise our clients on what blend of communications platforms will best engage their audience and drive sales – whether it’s a consistent cadence of trade media outreach or an ongoing social advertising campaign.

How does your organization leverage earned media and are you able to prove its value?

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