First of all what is earned media, exactly?

Earned Media is referred to as publicly gained media through promotional efforts.

More often than not, marketers tend to overlook the earned media component to the overall marketing strategy.  Which is really unfortunate, it is a crucial and critical key to success.

People do not realize that the internet is flooded with content. On average people see up to 5,000 ads a day!

It’s almost too good to be true thinking to think that none of that was from earned media.  If you are thinking that people are just going to willfully publish and share your awesome content.  

Think again.

That is like going up to bat without the bat.

Now that we realize how important earned media can be for a marketing campaign let’s look at it’s relevance to the customer experience.

Because brands don’t control the messaging of earned media content — such as news articles, consumer social media posts or product reviews — marketers rarely consider it as part of the interactions detailed in customer journeys.

Instead, they focus on a delivery cadence of their display ads, emails, website and mobile app messaging to customers. Since it’s easier to see how those messages drive revenue, brand investment in earned media has been dwarfed next to paid and owned media.

For many large companies, the earned media strategy itself tends to be reactive: If someone complains on social media or there is a PR crisis caused by an executive, their team comes in to clean it up.

But to look at earned media reactively, or to look at it as divorced from the customer experience, is a mistake.

Earned media can impact the emotional appeal people feel with a brand, influencing their behaviors and buying decisions. While marketers know this anecdotally, the power of these emotional interactions is now being studied and quantified.

It’s fair to say that consumers are evolving every day.  So it’s very important as marketers that we move with them.  The customer controls every driving force of the internet.

Though earned media is free, it’s important to realize that you must move people and make a serious impression so that it engages them to share your content.

The secret to successful earned media is data driven science.

While marketing communications was founded on the art of influence, it now can utilize the science of data like paid and owned channels, which have been used for years. Given these channels, brands can now move beyond traditional PR.

The goal: Detect earned media interactions back to key customer activities, including purchasing or improvements to brand reputation.

Since most earned media consumption now happens in a digital context, brands can track not only what ads were served to a consumer, but also what earned media content they see. They can learn about the demographics, behaviors and attributes of the people reading that coverage.

Targeting the proper audience is key.

For example, if you know the exact audience that reads a news article, brands can see if the people who reviewed that content also performed valuable brand activities on owned properties, such as purchasing a product or posting positively about their experiences on social media.

The best part for CMOs: As they learn more about audiences that consume their earned media coverage, they can use that data to evolve their advertising and paid media messaging.

As the move to digital continues, it’s time for brands to elevate the role of earned media. They may find that the best story about their brand is one that isn’t told by them.

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