Keeping driving traffic to your e-commerce website is highly important because each visitor can turn into a buyer. For online stores, traffic will come in through different channels, and these media or channels are divided into three categories: owned, paid, and earned media.
What is owned, paid, and earned media?
Owned, paid, and earned media are also known as channels and often integrated with various marketing strategies to increase traffic to your website. Though these three types of medium sound different, they all have the same purpose of building brand awareness, and growing sales.
Owned media is any online property or channel that is owned, controlled, and managed by the brand/business itself. While the definition sounds simple, business managers often overlook the resources they have. The brand’s Facebook page, Instagram account, official website, blog, and YouTube Channel are all owned media. An in-app popup ad slot can be owned media as well.
Why use owned media?
The most notable benefit is that, with owned media, you have full control of any content shared at any time and distributed to whom. And in most cases, compared to the other two media, you can make the most out of owned media and track the data you need.
Example - Social Media
Social media encompasses a wide range of channels, from the well-known Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, to the recently popular Tik Tok or Clubhouse, which are often used by brands to deliver company news, product discounts, and connect with consumers. Each platform has its own strengths and styles, with Instagram focusing on photos, Tik Tok on short videos, and Twitter on instant messaging and direct interaction.
Even though there are so many social media platforms, most brands still choose to create a Facebook Page to share new promotions and new products with their fans. Brands also use Facebook pages to share their values and style, creating a professional image and building customers’ trust and liking.
On leading apparel brand Anthropologie’s Facebook page, there’s a button of “Shop Now”, link in the post, and link in the bio, etc, to lead visitors who are attracted to the brand.
Example - Newsletter
A newsletter is a low-cost, easy, and effective way to reach with your customers quickly to deliver product promotions or company news. With a solid newsletter system, you are able to send out different content to segmented audiences at a specific time, and track their open rate as well as click-through rate to help attract more traffic to your online shop.
Take Shopify’s newsletter as an example, it doesn’t mention much about their product but shares articles with their existing or potential customers. If these eye-catching topics are useful, they will click “read more” and go to Shopify’s website.
Example - Blog
A blog is usually a critical part of content marketing strategy, with which the brand creates useful content to attract people to read and learn about the business. People are typically more inclined to purchase after knowing the business and their products better.
Madewell shares these interesting stories on their blog, that are not related to their products or led to sales, but shares their company value and culture and just what they care about in general. People, especially the younger generations, often pay for a story.
These 3 owned media examples are common and usually free. You just need to get creative and start right now!
Paid media means any form of media you spend money on for driving traffic to your website, or sometimes to promote content to drive owned media. A few popular practices include sponsorships, paid search results, paid advertisements, or even billboards on highways!
Why use paid media?
When you just start your business, there’s no fan following your Facebook page or Instagram account, but you still need to get your words out. With paid media, you can simply pay and utilize the channel and promote your content to more people. If your business is running smoothly but seeking growth, paid media allows you to reach more people who haven’t head of you.
Example - Sponsorships
Influencers are getting more and more influential in the Internet world. Their followers tend to trust what they recommend, use or share, thus it’s a powerful paid media to use for promoting your product at any stage.
For example, Fabletics, a women’s activewear company aimed at offering stylish, quality clothing at an affordable price, has been collaborating with influencers across the country for years. Fabletics sponsors many Instagrammers and bloggers, and influencers share posts in these outfits with their own styles which feels organic and real for their followers.
As a result, according to Mediakix, “the Fabletics influencer marketing campaign boasted a high overall engagement rate of 9.41%” and annual revenue of more than $300 million.
We can all agree that videos are making huge impacts nowadays, so more and more brands are looking to place their products in videos by famous YouTubers and show consumers their products in various creative forms. Here’s one of the video sponsorship examples: the famous shoe brand Aldo engaged Chriselle Lim, a fashion YouTuber with 747K subscribers, to create this video “Shoe Paradise” using a contextual storytelling approach to naturally present Aldo's latest shoe collection. The viewers are guided to the website to participate in the brand's latest campaign, successfully creating a buzz and attracting traffic.
Example - Advertisements
Advertisements can be search ads or ads on website & social media platforms. Search engine ads help put your website on the top of the search result. It sounds much simpler than curating a show of influencers, right? Yet it still takes expertise to come up with thorough keyword strategies to compete with many other sites that sell similar products to the same group of people.
Earned media is any channel that shares information about you in any type of form voluntarily. It can be media coverage, social shares, recommendations, reviews, word-of-mouth, mentions, SEO, etc. It’s the most unpredictable and uncontrollable but powerful way to create traction, viralness and drive traffic to your website.
Why use earned media?
Because earned media is not controlled by the brand itself, it has a higher level of credibility and influence on consumers. If done successfully, earned media can naturally reach more people than paid or owned media. Many successful viral marketing campaigns are examples of earned media at its best.
Example - Reviews
The power of reviews is amazing! Now before people go to a restaurant to eat, buy a certain commodity, they will first look at the reviews. These reviews came from previous customers, showing whether or not they are satisfied with the goods, stores, and services. This is especially true for e-commerce brands, because the customers cannot see the item physically, therefore cannot feel the quality of the goods before they make a purchase. So it’s good to have those reviews to help new buyers evaluate whether such goods or services are suitable for themselves. Since "most" reviews are and should be organic, once consumers are willing to recommend something, it usually means that their expectations are met, and these comments are also trustworthy.
Amazon provides an accurate and complete review mechanism so that people who are interested in buying a certain product can first understand the condition of the product. On your e-commerce site, it is best to also provide a section where people can leave reviews, upload photos of the actual product, and be encouraged to do so. These reviews or comments are content that is very important and difficult to reproduce. In terms of apparel brands, people usually care about the quality, color, sizing, packaging, and shipping time. As long as you pay close attention to the details and provide customers with a seamless experience, you are getting yourself a perfect rating.
Example - SEO
SEO is also a type of earned media, which is an excellent source of traffic for e-commerce operators. In our previous articles, we have talked extensively on SEO and how it can help your business. Simply put, SEO is the process of improving your site's organic ranking on search engine. By doing so, you make your website more visible to users and have a better chance of gaining more customers and revenue. However, SEO is not just a matter of pushing a magic button and it works overnight but requires long-term effort to achieve good results.
Kiwi Sizing's blog is an example of how to operate SEO. By sharing various e-commerce related knowledge and tips, we attract searchers to find our website and then become potential customers by knowing more about our products.
Generally a store should leverage as many media channels as they can to maximize result. But given limited time and resource, it's important to prioritize certain channels.
If you have enough advertising budget in the early stage of your business, you can first try paid media to get traffic and continue to optimize the effectiveness of your advertising, while operating your owned media to accumulate your brand image and style. In the long run, it is recommended to continue improving SEO to achieve lasting results.
Regardless of which phases of your business, you should constantly review the traffic channels being used and make adjustments so that you continue to iterate on the best media marketing strategy.
- 3 Useful Blogs of Learning SEO & Business Techniques
- Digital Marketing: 3 Benefits of Growing Your Organic Traffic
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