Earned Channels: From your sales staff leading the way to customers leading them
You can access an audience beyond the people visiting your storefront by leveraging earned channels. The most popular earned channels are social media, search engines, podcasts, radio, and traditional public relations (stories published about your company by third-party sources).
We categorize these channels as “earned” because they give you access to a third party’s audience for free, based on how well your content matches their audience’s interests.
When you post to social media, you’re relying on each channel’s algorithms to deliver your message to users you otherwise couldn’t reach on your own. When people search for products, services, or answers to questions online, you’re competing with every other resource claiming to offer the best solution. These social media channels and search engines are the gatekeepers. They decide whose content is shown first.
Earned media’s reach is limited, however, by these ever-changing algorithms. So, you may struggle to predict exactly how your content will perform, who it will reach, or whether it will inspire action.
Frustrated by the amount of competition in Facebook feeds and Google results, many companies begin paying to advertise on these platforms. At that point, these earned channels become paid channels.
How earned channels support your website
For several years, companies leaned heavily into social media because they saw a free opportunity to reach new audiences. Unfortunately, many of those companies also let their websites and email marketing efforts die on the vine. Then, when Facebook’s algorithm changes pushed organic reach down to near 1% in late 2017, they realized they could no longer reach the audience they spent years building.
In contrast, the companies that saw social media as a means to entice users back to their own website were far less affected by the drop in organic reach. And that is essentially how an integrated digital marketing strategy should work.
Think about your company’s website as an island. On it, you’re virtually unlimited in what you can publish, how often, or at what length. You can build your website island to reflect your brand, however you want.
However, if you want potential customers to visit your island, you have to maintain a presence where they spend their time and give them a reason to come. You can use your earned channels to invite them to your website island.
- Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat)
- Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing)
- Public Relations (newspaper articles, radio/podcast guest appearances)
- Word of Mouth (Reviews, social shares, referrals, backlinks)