Earned Versus Paid Content as Part of Your B2B Marketing Plan

When creating a B2B marketing plan, you need to determine the best integrated tactics to capture the attention of your buyers. Long-form content, like articles and white papers, written by your subject matter experts demonstrate knowledge of your target industries and the challenges that your products can help to solve. But the question arises, which is preferable—earned or paid content? The former is a public relations tool, while the latter falls under advertising.

Earned Content

Having a trade publication publish an article from your company means editorial gatekeepers accept you as an authority in your field. And they are willing to position your writers as industry experts in their pages and on their websites. To have editors notice the value of your contribution and include it as a featured article, you have to earn it. That means building up your editorial relationships by offering pertinent, targeted content that is informative and not promotional.

But the hard work pays off. Including media relations and earned content in your B2B marketing plan raises the awareness of your company as a leader in the field in the eyes of editors and readers. When a publisher picks up your article, it boosts awareness of your company’s capabilities among your current clients, prospects, industry partners and business leaders.

Landing an earned article on a publication’s site is valuable because it appears in internet searches, often includes a link to your website and lets readers share your content via social media and email.

Paid Content

With the shift from print media to digital, publishers have become very creative in offering digital advertising options. Paid content, also known as native advertising, is an option where written pieces resemble the publication’s natural editorial content.

A benefit of running a native advertising campaign with your key publications is that it positions your company as a thought leader more than an advertisement would. Paid article placements that are well-written and solve industry challenges without being overly promotional can provide value to your target audience.

Another advantage of paid content is lead generation. Because you are paying for the package, the publisher will leverage its print and digital media platforms to promote your native advertising campaigns and maximize your return on investment. The publisher likely can provide measurable statistics and deliver leads with key contact information. To gain ongoing exposure on the publisher’s site, tag your paid content with keywords and reader search terms.

Weighing the Options

Some people might say that paid content blurs the line between editorial and advertising. Although most publications have rules about using promotional language in their paid content, the level of credibility might decline—if the pieces aren’t providing solutions to real-world industry problems. To make sure that your paid content isn’t viewed only as pay-to-play, craft it with the same editorial integrity that you would when writing an earned article.

Integrating Your B2B Marketing Plan

Both paid and earned content give you the opportunity to showcase your thought leadership, provide visibility and reach your audience. But the most effective B2B marketing plan isn’t executing marketing tactics in isolation with individual goals, but rather developing a unified strategy with a consistent objective and messaging. In successful integrated marketing, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In B2B tech marketing, tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating new and traditional marketing tactics, your marketing program become more effective and cost efficient. To learn more about how you can increase your lead generation and overall marketing, download our free eBook: Modern Integrated Digital Marketing—A Better Path for B2B Technology Marketers.

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