Types of Digital Marketing | Earned, Owned, and Paid

Gerald Lombardo

Gerald Lombardo
July 26, 2022 9 min read

Digital marketing is a way for businesses to make more money online. There are several types of digital marketing, including earned, owned, and paid.

In the past, marketing and advertising were two sharply divided processes - and sales was something else entirely. But today, the term “marketing” is becoming more-and-more encompassing. Today, covering everything from the research that goes into finding potential customers, to the messaging used to entice them, to, finally, the methods used to get them to buy.

Digital Marketing Channels 

The most straightforward way to organize and understand digital marketing is by breaking it into three distinct categories. Earned Media, Owned Media, and Paid Media. 

The tactics of Earned, Owned, and Paid marketing channels are different. But the goals are basically the same: Make brands and businesses more money.

Earned Marketing Channels

The first category of digital marketing is earned media. Earned media is what it sounds like. Earned media equals marketing that is “earned” through the actions of customers or other third-parties. In the physical world, the two most common types of earned media are word-of-mouth and referrals. Digitally, Earned Media includes features in the press, as well social media and more. Basically, anything promoting your brand without compensation.

When it comes to important types of digital marketing, public relations is among the top. PR is about getting your business press,  what you’re really looking to do is secure what are called “earned placements.” These are opportunities to have your business featured in a publication that will, ideally, reach your target market.

The reason this is so valuable is because it not only helps increase the visibility of your brand, but also helps improve what’s called your search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process  of making your website more visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), like Google. The logic is that if a website is featuring your business, then you must be pretty important - and that means people searching for keywords related to what you do are more likely to find you.

In other words, getting earned placements is a great way to improve your SEO without having to spend money advertising.

Owned Marketing Channels

The second digital marketing category, Owned Media, is made up of marketing channels that businesses “own” outright. This can include their website, their blog, their email list, and any other digital properties they control. The goal of Owned Media is to use these channels to build relationships with potential and current customers - and, ultimately, to get them to buy what you’re selling.

One of the most important aspects of Owned Media is what’s called “content marketing.” This is the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content with the goal of attracting and retaining a clearly-defined audience.

The logic behind content marketing is that, if you can provide potential customers with valuable information, they will be more likely to buy what you’re selling. And, even if they don’t buy right away, they will remember your brand the next time they need what you’re offering. Creating high-quality, useful content is an increasingly important part of effective digital marketing. These days it's not just about pure "ads." Customers and potential customers do not want sales stuffed in their face. Instead, they want interesting and engaging information. In some cases, customers may just want to be entertained. It's online brand's responsibility to give their customers what they are searching for - whether that be their specific product, or information related to their product.

Owned Marketing Example

For instance, a health and wellness brand should create content around the benefits and uses of their products. If you are selling a vitamin C supplement, you should have multiple articles on your blog around everything to do with vitamin C. The reason this is important is related to "search intent."  Customers searching for topics related to vitamin C may be in the market to buy. This won't be true in every case, but you can bet that at least some of those who are searching things like "how much vitamin C should I take?" have at least some potential to buy. The more likely someone is to buy, the higher their "intent." And the goal is to as closely align the content your online brand is creating with the terms or keywords your customers are searching for.

Owned Marketing: Social Media

Social media is another owned marketing channel.  The difference between social media and content marketing is that, with social media, you are often not creating the content yourself - you are simply sharing it. The goal of social media is similar to that of content marketing: to build relationships with potential and current customers.

The main difference is that social media is a two way street. This means you can and should be interacting with customers or clients. Now, this isn't to say that businesses and brands can't or shouldn't create their own social media content. Certainly, they should. But  also make moves to encourage your social media followers to create content for you. That's the best of both worlds! Think of social media as online networking! I will help you maintain the right approach. 

And when it comes to effective networking, it's not all about quantity - it's also about the quality of your connections. Focus on finding the right people online and giving those people content that they can engage with and enjoy. A smaller, highly-engaged audience is much more valuable to brands then a larger, indifferent one. Read more networking tips here

Here are some ways brands can leverage their social media following:

  • Use social media to run contests and giveaways.
  • Use social media to promote user-generated content.
  • Use social media to crowdsource ideas.

Paid Marketing Channels

Paid media is an incredibly valuable digital marketing type exactly what it sounds like: Marketing or advertising that involves businesses paying to be seen by customers. Online, the most common forms of paid marketing are what are called “PPC” and “Display advertising.”

PPC stands for “pay-per-click.” With PPC ads, businesses essentially rent space from online platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram. They bid on keywords related to their product or service, and then pay a small fee every time one of their ads is clicked.

The logic behind PPC is that it allows businesses to specifically target customers who are interested in what they have to offer. And, because you only pay when your ad is clicked, it can be a very cost-effective form of marketing -  if done correctly.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is what you see when you visit a website and there are banner ads. These are usually images or videos created by businesses to promote their product or service.

The logic behind display advertising is similar to that of PPC. Basically, businesses reach people who are interested in what they're selling. And, because you can target your ads to specific demographics, interests, and even websites, it can be a very effective form of marketing.

There are a few things to keep in mind with paid marketing, though. The first is that, because you are paying to be seen, it can be easy to spend a lot of money very quickly. The second is that, because you are essentially renting space from online platforms, your ability to reach customers can disappear overnight if you stop paying. Finally, paid marketing only works if you have a product or service that people actually want to buy. Otherwise, you're just throwing money away.

Digital Marketing - Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

There are many types of digital marketing. Digital marketing, in other words, can be a lot of things, but one thing it always is, is measurable. That’s because, unlike traditional marketing channels like print or television, online businesses can track exactly what customers do when they see their ads or visit their website.

This data can then be used to improve the effectiveness of future marketing campaigns. But, in order for data to be useful, it needs to be organized in a way that makes sense. That’s where KPIs come in.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that businesses use to track and measure the success of their marketing campaigns. There are a lot of different KPIs that businesses can track, but some of the most common include:

  • Website traffic
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Pages per visit
  • Organic search traffic

Each KPI is going to be different for every business, because what counts as a “good” number is going to be different for every business. For example, a business with a very high conversion rate might not be as concerned with website traffic, because they know that the people who are visiting their site are more likely to buy what they’re selling.

Low Conversions

However, a business with a low conversion rate is going to want to focus on increasing website traffic, because they need more people to see their product or service in order to make more sales. The important thing is to track the KPIs that are most important for your business and then use the data you collect to improve your marketing campaigns.

Digital marketing is a very effective way for businesses to reach new customers and grow their business. But, like any form of marketing, it’s important to understand what you’re doing and to have a plan for how you’re going to measure success. By understanding what digital marketing is and how to track your KPIs, you’ll be well on your way to growing your business online.

Should Brands Do Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing types should brands focus on? And, in general, can marketing online help customers and grow their business? In short, it depends and, well, yes. Regarless of your ideal digital marketing type, certainly your brand should be doing some type of online marketing.But, like any form of marketing, it’s important to understand what you’re doing and to have a plan for how you’re going to measure success.

If you don’t have a plan or if you don’t understand what you’re doing, then digital marketing can be a waste of time and money. But, if you take the time to learn about digital marketing and to create a plan for how you’re going to use it, then it can be a great way to grow your business.

So, should brands do digital marketing? The answer is yes, but only if they are willing to put in the time and effort to learn about it and to create a plan for how they’re going to use it. Otherwise, they might as well not bother.

Best Digital Marketing Tactics

The best digital marketing type depends largely on the stage of your company or venture.  For example, a startup is going to have different needs than an established company.

A startup is going to need to focus on generating awareness and getting people to try their product or service. An established company is going to need to focus on growing their customer base and increasing sales.

So, what are some of the best digital marketing tactics for each stage?

  • For startups: content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.
  • For established companies: email marketing, retargeting ads, and using data to improve your marketing campaigns.

The important thing is to focus on the tactics that are going to be most effective for your business. You don’t need to use all of the tactics, but you should focus on the ones that are going to have the biggest impact.

Digital marketing is a very effective way for businesses to reach new customers and grow their business. But, like any form of marketing, it’s important to understand what you’re doing and to have a plan for how you’re going to measure success. By understanding what digital marketing is and how to track your KPIs, you’ll be well on your way to growing your business online.

How Much Should You Spend on Digital Marketing?

This is a difficult question to answer, because there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The amount you should spend on digital marketing depends on a number of factors, such as your budget, your goals, and the size of your target market.

If you’re a small business with a limited budget, then you might want to focus on just one or two digital marketing channels. If you’re a larger company with a bigger budget, then you can afford to focus on more channels.

The important thing is to focus your spending on the channels that are most effective for your business. There’s no point in spending a lot of money on a channel that isn’t going to generate any results.

The Future of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is always changing. New technologies and platforms are constantly being developed, and new ways of reaching customers are always emerging.

So, what does the future of digital marketing look like?

The future of digital marketing looks very exciting. We can expect to see more use of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and personalization.

We can also expect to see more use of data to improve marketing campaigns. This helps create more personalized experiences for customers.

So, keep up with the latest marketing trends if you want continued successOnly by doing this will you be able to continue to grow your business online.


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