As marketers, we are constantly churning out content to promote our brands. The question is, what type of content should we create and how should we promote it? Understanding the difference between “renting” and “owning” content is critical for creating an effective inbound promotional strategy.
“Rented” content is paid placement of your message, better known as advertising. Common examples of paid media are search engine or banner ads, boosted/sponsored social posts, television, radio, and print ads.
With rented media, you create the content, but you have little control over the placement of your message. Take banner ads for example: you create the images, write the copy, and choose the landing page, but you can’t completely control who the ad gets served to. In some cases, you can use audience targeting, but overall, the placement of your ad is up to the platform that is hosting your ad. Moreover, paid content only lasts as long as you are willing to pay for it.
“Owned” content is media you create and distribute on channels you control. Examples of owned media are any pieces of content you have created that are hosted on your blog, website, social platform, email, or any other channel you have control over.
Because these pieces of content exist on channels you own, you have much more control over the placement and audience of this messaging, especially if you are using HubSpot’s Smart Content feature. While creating these pieces of content may cost money, you are not paying an outside party to promote these pieces of content. Additionally, these pieces of content exist on your channels for as long as you would like them to.
Why Owned Content is Top Priority
If you subscribe to the Inbound Marketing methodology, owned media is your most valuable asset and should always take priority over paid.
Quality owned media can be costly to produce, but once you’ve created it, you can host it for free on your platforms as long as you’d like. Owned media generates leads for as long as you let it whereas paid media only generates leads as long as you’re willing to pay for it. The quality of your owned media acts as an authentic reflection of your brand. If your content is high enough quality to generate leads on its own, it will enhance your brand equity.
It’s understandable why so many companies get caught up in paid. You can spend some money and gain leads almost immediately. It’s easy to become addicted to the instant gratification that comes with renting your content.
While you may be gaining leads fast and furiously from paid content, the quality of these leads likely won’t compare to those generated organically. Paid media may produce nearly immediate results, but in the end, inbound content will provide you the highest overall ROI.
Choosing When & Where to Use Paid Content
While owned content aligns strongly with the Inbound methodology, this isn’t to say there isn’t a time and place for paid content. If done correctly, paid content can enhance your owned content and drive lead generation. It is essential to remember that paid content should be supplementary to your best owned content, not to be used as a primary marketing tactic.
The key to effectively using rented content to amplify your owned content is to strike when the time is right. Using real-time marketing to create and promote content based on current events or trends is essential for establishing authority and thought-leadership. By promoting these “spur-of-the-moment” pieces of content through paid methods, you can further drive engagement and conversion while reinforcing your status as a key player in your industry.
Additionally, paid promotion can be useful for boosting your most successful pieces of organic content. Watch for closely for patterns and trends within your marketing and sales metrics to determine which pieces are best suited for paid promotion. Content with high conversion or click-through rates are most likely to produce the highest ROI.
While owned content should remain your most valuable asset, there are instances where paid content can be effective for generating leads and driving awareness. When it comes to choosing between rented or owned content, moderation and data-driven decision making are essential for creating an effective inbound promotional strategy. Use experimentation to figure out what ratio of owned to paid works best for your brand.