Marketing

Organic vs. Paid Marketing: Differences, Benefits, and Best Practices

Organic vs. Paid Marketing:
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Developing a marketing plan is similar to planning a well-balanced diet.

Yes, you have your favorite foods and others you might rather stay away from, but for your diet to be truly balanced, you’re going to need a bit of both.

The same is true of marketing plans. You might love organic social media and could publish Instagram Reels all day, every day. Likewise, you may dislike creating Google search ads and would prefer to never need to deal with them. However, the best marketing plans include a pinch of paid marketing and a dash of organic marketing.

Developing a paid and organic content strategy will prove to be most beneficial for your brand.

What is organic marketing?

What is organic marketing?

Simply put, organic marketing is a type of marketing in which brands and individuals provide value to customers and potential customers through efforts to build relationships, promote the brand, and increase conversions. Essentially, organic marketing can be any sort of marketing a brand doesn’t spend money on to distribute the content or to generate leads.

Some of the tactics involved in organic marketing may include:

  • Social media posts and discussions
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Blogging
  • Link building
  • User-generated content efforts
  • Email marketing
  • Newsletters
  • Personalization
  • Podcasting

Organic marketing shouldn’t necessarily be considered “free marketing.” With any of the aforementioned tactics, an organization still must invest time and resources into strategy implementation and content development. However, with an organic marketing strategy, you do not need to set aside funds to pay a third party for the distribution of the content you develop.

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What is paid marketing?

What is paid marketing?

Paid marketing involves many of the same ideas as organic for developing content and strategies, but the content distribution is fueled by funds set aside to assist in the delivery of the content or information. Return on investment (ROI) is often more applicable and easier to define in paid marketing efforts. This is because paid marketing often has specific, targeted calls to action, whereas organic marketing often is broader and not fully measurable.

To develop a paid marketing campaign, such as a paid search strategy, you would coordinate with a third-party platform to distribute the content. In many instances, this is a social media platform or a search platform. Google and Meta are two of the major names in paid marketing efforts that marketers often use.

What are organic marketing best practices?

What are organic marketing best practices?

To be effective with your organic marketing efforts, you must focus on long-term goals. Consider some of the following best practices for your organic marketing efforts:

Develop evergreen content.

When developing organic content, keep the long game in mind. If you create content that’s tied to a specific event or year, its ability to be relevant past that year or past the completion of an event decreases significantly.

When you seek to develop evergreen organic content, ask yourself if an individual will be able to use this content one year from now. How about five years from now? If the answer is no, the content may not be the best fit for an organic marketing strategy.

Make mobile-friendly content.

According to Google, nearly 55 percent of web traffic comes from mobile devices. For your brand, this means that if you aren’t optimizing content for mobile, you are neglecting a huge opportunity.

Google also states that 3 in 5 smartphone users are more likely to make a purchase with a company that offers personalized or relevant recommendations for products. Likewise, nearly the same number of individuals have a greater affinity toward companies that feature mobile sites or apps that remember their customers.

Blog and guest blog.

Maintaining a blog is an effective way to keep a consistent stream of content flowing from your organization. With this consistent stream of content, a natural improvement in SEO also comes. However, you can boost the effect blogging has on your organic marketing efforts by employing a guest blogging strategy as well.

This guest blogging strategy would involve you writing blog posts for other sites as well as inviting others to write content for your blog. Doing so gives you more content to publish, increases potential reach, helps your readers see additional perspectives, allows you to build topic authority, and improves your SEO.

Engage with your customers and potential customers.

Your organic social media efforts will be more effective if you look for and take advantage of opportunities to engage with your customers and potential customers. One obvious way to do this is by inviting feedback and conversations on social media.

When customers or potential customers comment or send direct messages, don’t let their comments simply float out there, never to be acknowledged or answered. Individuals who follow or engage with your brand on social media are searching for opportunities to connect. You should be thrilled to have the opportunity to build on these connections.

Optimize your content for search engines.

More than half of all web traffic can be attributed to organic search results. If your brand is focused on B2B-specific content, the percentage of web traffic attributed to organic search is even more pronounced — 76 percent. With the more than 5 billion searches that occur on Google each day, surely many opportunities exist to optimize search results in ways that favor your brand.

Paid search is a part of this, but when you consider paid search versus organic search, you would do well not to neglect the organic opportunities. Perhaps the best way to look at organic SEO is more of an operational business cost rather than a “marketing” effort. Because good SEO pays so many dividends to your organization, you can’t afford to miss out on the benefits. Invest time and resources into your organic search strategy.

Be active on social media.

Avoid the temptation to make your organic social media efforts about sales. Your organic efforts on social media should be about building relationships and providing content that inspires, is helpful, and intrigues your audience. You will have opportunities to sell and to be more aggressive with some of your paid social media efforts.

If you are too aggressive with your organic efforts, you will never get the engagement or get the account growth that you seek. Make your social media content-development efforts about your customers rather than about your bottom line and you will see success.

What are paid marketing best practices?

What are paid marketing best practices?

Organic marketing efforts often help you get your foot in the door, whereas paid marketing initiatives should be designed to help you close the deal. Consider employing some of these marketing best practices:

Run pay-per-click campaigns.

Pay-per-click campaigns are often viewed as the most effective paid marketing efforts for good reason. Approximately two-thirds of customers click on PPC ads.

If you are developing a PPC campaign, focus on high-performing keywords while filtering out low-performing keywords for best results. When developing PPC ads, remember that the same elements that make any piece of content compelling apply to PPC ads as well. Make sure the content speaks to consumers, then let the ad unit do the heavy lifting.

Create social media ads.

As we mentioned earlier, organic social media should be an important part of your marketing efforts, but don’t neglect the opportunities that come with paid social media ads.

Half of U.S. adults say that when brands use their data in social media ads, it helps them find products or services that they find valuable.  Likewise, almost half of internet users say they are more likely to purchase from brands they see in advertisements on social media.

Perhaps the greatest value that comes with paid social media ads is the amount of user data available to you as you develop ads and content. Social media platforms can provide you with data that helps pinpoint your audience demographics, interests, and how they like to engage with content. Equipped with this information, your ability to reach customers with content you know will resonate with them is higher on social media than on other ad platforms.

Engage with influencers.

Depending on the size of the influence of the individual, engaging with influencers isn’t always an exclusive paid marketing strategy. For example, if you partner with an influencer with tens of millions of social media followers, then you almost certainly will be required to pay a fee for them to promote your product or service.

However, if you partner with a local vlogger or someone with more of a targeted, niche audience, it is possible you can agree to an exchange of products or services for the “influence” the individual will provide. Marketers who use influencers find it a compelling strategy — with a full 90 percent of marketers saying they believe influencer marketing is an effective type of marketing.

Next Steps

If you have an organic marketing strategy, that’s great. Now develop a paid marketing strategy as well. And if you have a paid strategy — but not an organic — you know what you need to do. Combining both strategies will make your marketing efforts part of a well-balanced plan and you will see results.

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About the author

Chad Buleen

Chad Buleen is a well-intentioned husband and father who loves to write about social media, digital marketing, and content strategy. His hobbies include competing in wrestling matches on the living room floor, being nominally effective at helping his kids with their math assignments, and spending time trying to convince people that working with social media is a real job.