Differences between Owned, Earned and Paid content marketing channels

In my previous blog post titled “Content distribution/marketing is as important as writing and publishing content“, I wrote about the importance of using content marketing and distribution channels so that you don’t have to depend on the whims of search engines for targeted traffic.

Some of the prominent channels I talked about were:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Newsletter

Other prominent content marketing and distribution channels that you can use are:

  • Your business blog
  • Improved search engine rankings
  • PPC campaigns on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo
  • Banner advertisements on websites and blogs
  • Your own website content
  • Your articles and blog posts appearing on other blogs and websites, and even online forums
  • Press release websites (but only those of repute, not the spammy sorts)
  • Promoted content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (there are many more such platforms)

This is not a complete list, this is just to give you an idea of the channels you can target in order to market and distribute your content. Among these channels, they are of the following three broad categories:

  • Owned
  • Earned
  • Paid

Below I briefly explain the difference between these categories of content marketing channels.

Owned, earned and paid content marketing channels

Owned content marketing channels

As the name suggests, you own these channels. These can be

  • Your own website content:
    • Information pages
    • Articles and help pages
    • Company, services, product profile pages
    • FAQs section
  • Your company blog
  • Your newsletter
  • Online forums that you host under your own domain name or various other owned domain names
  • Your social media and social networking platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, etc.
  • The mobile phone apps that you may have to make it easier for people to access your content

You are in full control of these channels. You need to build them up from scratch. They require lots of effort but once you have done enough work, the results can be awesome.

How do you nurture owned content marketing channels? Of course by producing high-quality content on a regular basis. Whether you’re publishing a blog, a series of articles for a newsletter, be persistent. Don’t overtly worry about stuffing keywords here and there in order to improve your search engine rankings because this no longer work. Solely focus on quality. Provide useful information. And provide it consistently.

Earned content marketing channels

These channels manifest due to your authority and expertise and the sort of respect your opinion enjoys. These channels can exist in the form of

  • Bloggers and webmasters linking to your content
  • People writing articles and blog posts in response to what you have published on your website or blog, or even elsewhere
  • Your articles and blog posts appearing on other websites and blogs
  • People sharing your blog posts and articles from their own social media and social networking profiles
  • People talking about your content on various online forums and comment sections
  • People including your links in their own newsletters

Of course, you need to “earn” this channel by establishing your authority and proving your expertise. People should want to link to you. They should want to share your content on their respective timelines. They should find your content relevant enough to respond to it on their own blogs and websites. Your content should be so useful that people link to it in order to add more value to their own content.

Paid content marketing channels

If you have enough money, this is the best approach for you. You pay for the exposure. Some of the well-known paid content marketing channels are

  • Google’s AdWords campaign
  • Bing PPC
  • Promoted updates on Facebook
  • Advertising on Facebook
  • Sponsored tweets on Twitter
  • Submitting your content to paid directories
  • Buying link space on other websites or blogs – this is frowned upon by Google but if you don’t care much about how Google thinks about you, go ahead and do it

There might be more channels in this category, or in fact, in all the categories mentioned above.

Which content marketing channels should your business use? There is no set rule. The best would be earned channels because you will be actually investing time and effort in improving the overall quantity of your content rather than trying to get quick results and end up creating lousy content in the process.

But in order to create a space in earned channels often you have to use a mix of owned plus paid channels. As I recently read somewhere if you don’t invest in paid channel lots of your quality content remains unnoticed, that is, there is no use creating it.

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