Paid or Organic: Finding the Right Mix for Your Marketing
Pop quiz: should you focus on organic or paid marketing?
Okay, that’s oversimplifying things. But it is a question that comes up a lot from marketers who either have small media budgets, small teams, or both. They’re looking for a way to have the most impact as efficiently as possible. And the thing is, the answer is simple (see above), and a bit nuanced (keep reading).
Before we get into the why, let’s take a moment to get on the same page about the what.
What is organic marketing? Organic marketing is marketing content that doesn’t have media spend behind it. Things like blog posts, SEO-optimized web copy, social media posts, video content, and email marketing, to name a few.
This type of marketing is great for building long-term relationships with your current customers. A regular email newsletter or blog post cadence can keep existing clients engaged with your brand and can help them become repeat customers or even advocates for your brand.
It also feels more authentic to people who encounter it — something that’s increasingly important to buyers who don’t want to be “sold to” until they’re ready.
Sharing a how-to video on a topic your audience is interested in or publishing checklists and informative posts can position your brand as a trustworthy resource. It can also boost your organic search rankings — another signal to potential viewers that your brand knows what it's talking about. This is why we always recommend that our clients build out a robust resources library, commit to regular blog posts, and consider adding email marketing to their mix if it isn’t there already.
Of course, the challenge with this kind of marketing is that it can be labor intensive (although there are definitely efficiencies to be found. Or you can always hit up an agency partner like CID for help!). And, it doesn’t have the instant(ish) gratification that might come with other types of marketing. Which brings us to…
What is paid marketing? As you probably guessed, paid marketing is marketing content that does have media spend behind it. Think search or display ads, social media ads or boosted posts, YouTube pre-roll ads, CTV or broadcast spots, sponsored content, native ads — generally speaking, if you’re paying to place it, it falls under this category.
The advantage of paid marketing is you have more control over who sees your content. In digital marketing efforts in particular you can take advantage of audience targeting tools and be more confident that your message is getting out to the people you want to receive it. Depending on your industry and your goals, you can also let it run for a longer period (a few months or even longer in some cases), so once the initial ad creative is done, you don’t have to stress about creating new content for a bit.
Unlike organic marketing, you’ll need to put media dollars behind your paid efforts, so you’ll need to have a bigger budget in comparison. You’ll also want to monitor the effectiveness of your ads and keep an eye on budgets. That piece of the puzzle can be time-consuming and a bit finicky, frankly, and it’s one reason why so many of CID’s clients lean on us to manage their paid digital advertising efforts.
Finding the right mix for your marketing We strongly believe a good marketing plan includes a mix of organic and paid efforts. The two approaches complement one another so well and using them together makes it more likely that you will reach your target audiences where they are in their marketing journey.
Since organic and paid marketing efforts tend to serve different goals, understanding what you’re trying to accomplish primarily can help you decide how to balance your strategy.
Generating leads: If you’re looking for quick(er) wins in the form of lead capture, leaning more heavily on paid media can help get you there.
Generating trust in your brand: If your main goal is to reinforce your brand’s position as a trustworthy option, lean into a strategy that emphasizes organic more.
Using each tactic strategically rather than going all in on one or the other will give you a well-rounded, holistic approach to marketing.
So, pop quiz: should you focus on organic or paid marketing?
Get help sorting out your marketing mix from CID’s marketing & strategy team. Contact us now.
Senior Content Strategist + Copywriter
Creative. Strategic. Crategic? (We'll workshop it.) Rebecca's part of our award-winning marketing & strategy team where she turns ideas into words and words into content.