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Seamless integration: The holy grail of marketing effectiveness

There is no dichotomy between paid, owned and earned. They are stronger together than apart, and we detail how to fuse them to deliver the best short and long-term results.

In the first half of this article, we outlined empirical research provided by the ‘godfather’s of effectiveness’ (Binet and Field) that proves businesses that balance long-term brand building and short-term activation are more successful.

 

However, we also highlighted an often-missed point of their research that TV alone is not the panacea, and paid activity is significantly more effective when integrated with owned and earned.

This yarn delves into how brands should better leverage their owned and earned arsenal as part of the marketing mix. So you’re not just taking our word for it, we’ll again use Binet and Field’s research to back it up.

A paid, owned and earned dichotomy is significantly less effective

I’m sick to death of ‘either-or’ discussions – it’s brand marketing or sales; paid or owned. Thankfully, Binet and Field’s Marketing effectiveness in the digital era comes to the rescue, yet again. Try these insights for size:

We spent all our budget on a TV ad

How often do you see companies spend a bomb on ATL, with little or no supporting owned or earned media?

 

The only way to learn more about their product is to visit a fairly rudimentary website or to talk to a sales rep.

 

They don’t appear in search for anything other than their brand name, and their advertising basically just yells at you about features and price.

Binet and Filed state: “Paid media is not the only way to reach people; brands can also use owned and earned media… which boost effectiveness significantly…”

“Online activity serves to extend and amplify the impact of the original TV ad and link it through to sales. In the digital age, every ad has a direct response mechanism – it’s usually in the consumer’s pocket.”

 

And to reaffirm, they found that integrating owned and earned media boosts your campaign effectiveness by 13% and 26% respectively.

Let us be really clear about this: There is no dichotomy between paid, owned and earned. They are stronger together than apart, and we need to choreograph them appropriately to deliver the best short and long-term results.
This is marketing strategy and media planning 101, and if your agency isn’t helping you with this flighting, what are you paying it for?

How to turbocharge your owned media – and paid effectiveness

A sophisticated owned marketing strategy is underpinned by content, which can be atomised across multiple paid, owned and earned channels.

 

This helps you extend your marketing to both customers and non-customers, or “all users of the category”, as the dynamic duo say.

 

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) undertakes some cracking research into B2C and B2B trends each year. Here are some of the 2020 highlights:

 

The three most-cited content marketing goals achieved in the last 12 months were:

Along with these highlights:

Despite this, only 41% of B2B and 33% of B2C marketers had a documented content strategy – a figure that still astounds me!

 

This lack of an owned strategy is also reaffirmed in the Green Hat/AMI B2B Marketing Research Report 2020, which found: “While the top investment area for marketers in 2020 is content development, only 17% of our respondents had a personalised, full-funnel approach to content marketing.”

 

We’ve written extensively about how to build a sophisticated content marketing strategy, which I won’t rehash here.

 

However, I will say it’s near impossible to create content that delivers tangible business returns – both as a standalone, and when integrated into the broader marketing mix – without a bloody good strategy.

If TV is the ‘reach nuclear bomb’, and content is the delivery mechanism to drive a predetermined next step, you must have a unified strategy that assimilates all the levers at your disposal into a harmonious marketing ecosystem.

Content that’s customer-centric is commercial

This all comes back to strategy – one that’s documented. To ‘win’ at owned media, you need an intimate understanding of your audience’s intent and mindset, so you can present the right content to the right person at the right stage of the buying journey.

 

From there, it becomes a lot easier to create relevant, powerful and authentic content that is specifically tailored to where your target customer is during the journey.

For instance, you may need to craft emotional, thought leadership or entertaining content to grab their attention and increase awareness of your brand. Whereas it may be far more utility and intent-focused if they’re at the evaluation stage.

 

This kind of customer-focused content breeds trust and brand awareness. It enables you to have a different conversation, and be far more nuanced at different stages of the buyer’s journey. And this again highlights the dual role of paid, owned and earned to work harmoniously in both the long and the short-term.

Content-led data makes performance media more effective

Importantly, owned assets should build free, organic traffic for non-branded keywords, based on consumer intent.

 

This delivers sustainable engagement with a specific and targeted audience that increases over time – rather than the instant decay of short-term activations.

 

And attracting them to your site also enables you to build up data, ensuring that both the content and performance marketing you serve them is relevant to their intent, behaviour and preferences.

 

This increase in targeted and sustainable traffic enables you to reinvest money that would have been used to acquire web visitors into paid activations, as well as helping you to avoid becoming embroiled in a SEM bidding war that, too often, ends up as a loss generator.

Emotion wins when it comes to brand building

Binet and Field demonstrate that emotional campaigns are more effective on almost all business metrics.

Smart marketers leverage content – as well as paid media – to tell a story that elicits emotion much earlier in the journey.

 

Importantly, this does a dual job, particularly when it’s led by TV and video. In the short-term, it lets you emotionally prime for sales – making your media buy more effective.

 

But it’s equally powerful in the long-term, with Binet and Field stating: “Emotional brand-building associations are much more likely to influence purchase months or even years down the track.”

 

While content plays a role at the lower end of the funnel, longer formats come into their own in terms of storytelling.

 

B2C marketers have played the emotion card, based on consumer insights, incredibly successfully for many years – Dove’s Real Beauty campaigns are a standout.

 

But research from Google and CEB research (going back seven years now) reaffirms that B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.

 

So, the message is simple. Brands that win hearts and minds are much more likely to secure a greater share of wallet than those that sell on functional value alone.