Paid, Owned, & Earned Media: What's the Link to Lead Generation?

g2m chart hand drawnOdds are you have probably heard of this marketing term by now: paid, owned and earned media. But what on earth does it mean? And how does it get you more leads?

Before deconstructing your business' media strategy, it's important to grasp the concept behind this phrase; that is, there is a functional relationship between channels you own (eg. your website), channels you pay for (eg. advertising), and channels you earn as a result (eg. social media).

Since marketing budgets are typically tight, it's difficult to decide what's best to include and what to leave out. As a result, many sacrifice the integrated approach, and instead pour all their resources into one area, like search engine optimisation (SEO). But this is not ideal.

For the best results, you need to have all three bases covered.

1. Owned Media

This is the channel that your company controls. It's strategically developed for longer term relationships with existing potential customers. It includes...

Your Website

So you're probably aware how important your site is for lead generation. You want your website to serve as the first impression of your brand.

Whether people get to your site from educational pieces of content, or from searching about your products and services, each visit represents an opportunity - to convert visitors into contacts.

Of course, once you have their details, you will be sending them back to your site to consume more content that will nudge them further down the funnel towards sales.

Branded Content

You should have content for your buyer personas no matter where they're at in their buying journey. That way, they get to know you and trust you because you're helping them with a problem they're having.

So your branded content encompasses educational stuff (ebooks, research papers, how-to guides, and workbooks) to sales-oriented stuff (brochures and product information).

What you say is very important! You must show you understand who you're speaking to.

Your Social Media Profiles

Your official social pages serve as a megaphone to the world - a way of distributing that precious branded content you've created.

It's also a reflection of how established you are - these days, if you're not listed online somewhere then you're not seen as a legitimate business!

At the very least,

  • Make sure you're on Google Local - it's the best web directory there is
  • Join LinkedIn - it's like Facebook for professionals

Then measure and analyse which platform generates the most leads. Thanks to marketing automation software, we can clearly see which social channels are the winners.

2. Paid Media

This is when you pay to leverage a channel. The aim is to feed owned media and create earned media. It covers online advertising (PPC, display, retargeting, and paid social).

In our opinion, the best type of online advertising you can use is retargeting because it really helps to put your ad into context.

Although using these channels is OK for a short term boost, it's not ideal because it's much like renting - it grinds to a halt as soon as you stop paying for your space.

3. Earned Media

This is when customers become the channel, encompassing viral buzz and word of mouth. The aim is to achieve this as a result of your well-coordinated owned and paid media. It includes...

SEO (search engine optimisation)

If you get your owned media right, then traffic from organic search will come naturally. You will probably rank higher, too!

Google keeps tweaking their algorithm to be less keyword-focused and more intuitive about whether people are actually finding your content useful. So think more about user experience and you will be rewarded.


You should have a corporate blog in place to promote your precious branded content. If you do well, then people will blog about you and share your blogs.

But let's get one thing straight - you should NOT blog about your newest product release, or some award your company won. If you do, people won't share it. And you will have failed in this area.

Social Media

Hopefully, your blogs will be shared on social media if they're that good. This is why you have to make it easy to share. Put social sharing links on your key conversion content, so that people who enjoyed it can distribute it to their networks.

To learn more about how to turn your website into a lead generation machine, download our free ebook:


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Topics: lead generation content marketing marketers b2b marketing