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How to Harness Owned, Earned and Paid Media for Inbound Marketing

owned earned paid media

Inbound marketing is an integral part of any successful business’s marketing strategy. Here are three ways to build a plan of action and develop a combination of strategies for your inbound marketing attack.

Breaking up your inbound marketing efforts into owned, earned and paid media is a good way to go. But first, let’s define exactly what makes up owned, earned and paid media.

Owned Media 

Owned media refers to channels or mediums a brand controls. This can be a website, blog, mobile site, or social media account.

Owned media allows business to build long-term relationships with existing and potential customers. It gives companies complete control over their content, is cost efficient, directed towards a niche audience, and provides versatility and longevity.

The downside of owned media is that it takes time to build up rapport and a community, and there are no guarantees it will work. 

Example in Action: Hubspot does a great job with their owned channels. Not only do they publish multiple times a day across their multiple blogs, they push out the content on social media and have amassed quite the social following.

Earned Media

Hopefully, your owned media efforts will result in earned media. Earned media occurs when customers become brand advocates and therefore act as the channel themselves. This can occur through word of mouth, online buzz or via viral content. 

Earned media is, according to Forrester, “often the result of well-executed and well-coordinated owned and paid media.” Which means, in order to earn earned media, you must listen to your channels diligently and respond in a timely manner.

Earned media has both pros and cons. The pros include that it’s the most credible form of media, is transparent, and plays a key role in sales. On the other hand, cons include the fact that the business has no control over this form of media, it can be negative, and it’s hard to measure. 

Example in Action: Moz has a very loyal following. People are continuously praising their expertise in the SEO field and constantly share Rand Fishkin's content. 

Paid Media 

Lastly, there’s paid media. This is when a business pays to leverage a channel. As we discussed in “The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Paid Advertising,” paid media includes paid search, social media ads and display ads.

Essentially, paid media allows you to create a catalyst that “feeds owned and creates earned media.” Not only is paid media in demand and effective, it’s immediate, scalable, and gives the user complete control.

The drawbacks are that paid media can be seen as clutter or spam, has poor credibility, and is seeing a decline in response rates.

Example in Action: Marketing Profs uses the Google Display Network to promote their various online courses. If you visit their site or show any level of interest in one of their courses, you'll notice advertisements for it across the web.

Creating a Converged Media Powerhouse

The best way to leverage these three types of media is to use them together. In fact, when you integrate two or three of these channels into one initiative or campaign, it’s called converged media.

converged media

Image via Street Fight Mag

When embarking on a converged media plan, make sure your campaign has a consistent look, feel and storyline. Hootsuite recommends that all your owned, earned and paid media channels work in concert, “enabling brands to reach customers exactly where, how, and when they want, regardless of channel, medium, or device, online or offline.” 

Seeing as the customer journey between channels, devices and media is becoming increasingly complex, a converged media strategy can make your inbound marketing efforts “impervious to the disruption caused by emerging technologies.”


You’ll gain an advantage when you integrate and align your owned, earned and paid media channels. An inbound marketing strategy that integrates all three types of media will not only support your business goals, it will position you as an industry leader.

Run your inbound marketing campaigns like an agency, get organized with the xoombi inbound marketing checklist



Lolly Spindler


Lolly Spindler

Lolly Spindler is the Content Marketing Manager at xoombi. A writer by trade, Lolly loves to make the written word work for clients by delivering high quality, engaging content to their audiences. She leads the xoombi content marketing team in executing demand generation, SEO, and copy editing strategies. Lolly is a graduate of Boston University.


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