Paid Vs Organic Advertising: A Guide on how to successfully leverage both


Using the correct strategies to target, reach, engage, and convert audiences is critical to the growth of your organisation. With so many online platforms available today, determining where, when, and how to employ the many digital marketing tools at your disposal can be difficult. Moreover, because all digital marketing methods eventually fall into two categories – organic or paid – it's very important to understand how to use both to reach your business objectives.

While organic marketing is more holistic and word-of-mouth in nature, paid marketing is more sales-focused. Organic marketing is all about content, with an emphasis on education, entertainment, improved search results, and consumer loyalty. Paid marketing targets users on social media and search engines with micro-targeted advertising and sponsored content.

Weighing the options between organic vs paid social media? We’ll save you some legwork in this blog but you’re probably going to want to do a bit of both to get maximum returns for your business’s marketing spend.

What is Organic Marketing ?

Organic marketing – or inbound marketing – is a content-based strategy that primarily focuses on education and entertainment to build brand awareness and enrich the connection with your audience. Brands often use organic marketing to establish brand personality and tone, build relationships, provide solutions to problems, and provide customer service.

Organic marketing, also known as inbound marketing, is a content-based strategy that focuses on education and entertainment to increase brand exposure and deepen relationships with your target audience. Organic marketing is frequently used by brands to establish brand personality and tone, form relationships, resolve issues, and provide customer support.

Major Benefits

  • Improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is an organic marketing tool that targets customers through search engines to address a problem — and it delivers a powerful punch, driving 1,000% more traffic to your site than organic social media efforts.
  • Increase brand exposure and visibility in places where people already spend time, such as social media and search engines.
  • Increase consumer loyalty within your current audience. People are already sold on (and adore) your brand, thus you have a following. Organic marketing allows you to continue delivering value and reminding your consumer base that you are the best.

Examples of Organic Marketing

  • Search Engines (SEO)
  • Unpaid Social Media Posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, etc.
  • Blog Posts (This very post you’re reading is an organic marketing effort)
  • Email Newsletters
  • Online Public Relations
  • Link Generation
  • Guest Posts
  • User-Generated Content

What is Paid Marketing ?

We've all seen sponsored posts or advertisements while scrolling through social media or the first page of Google search results. "Wow - I've been meaning to get it," you could think, or "How do they know me so well?" This is referred to as paid marketing, sometimes known as inorganic marketing. Paid marketing allows you to access a previously untapped audience and convert their clicks into sales. In other words, you are paying for outcomes.

ROAS can be used to measure the success of a sponsored advertising campaign (Return on Ad Spend). This is a revenue-measurement metric that compares each dollar of ad sales to the amount spent on the ad campaign. Imagine you earned $5 for every $1 invested on an advertising campaign, your Return on Ad Spend would be 5X (or 5:1 or 500%)

Major Benefits

  • Generates leads and drives conversions.
  • Attracts NEW followers and customers.
  • Putting ads where your target audience is already searching means you'll reach them faster and more directly. Paid marketing has proven to be incredibly effective as more people have grown accustomed to purchasing products and services

Examples of Paid Marketing

  • Pay-Per-Click
  • Social Media Ads
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Banner Ads
  • Ad Retargeting
  • Billboards, Posters, or Printed Materials

Paid and organic marketing can both be classified into Social and Search Marketing. Both search and social media facets of your company’s marketing strategy can be vital and need to be looked at holistically to leverage the Pros of each type.

Paid Social Media Marketing Vs Organic Social Media 

While paid and organic social are different beasts best harnessed for different goals but for a holistic approach that balances awareness with conversion, it pays to know the pros and cons of each.

And while ad spending initially slowed at the beginning of 2020, it has rebounded to new heights in 2021 — this despite Apple’s famous iOS 14.5 update, which resulted in substantial targeting limitations for Facebook and Instagram users on iOS devices.

On the other hand, algorithm updates have made organic social media highly competitive. And many business owners are finding that spending at least a portion of their social media budget on advertising is no longer optional.

So where does that leave your brand’s social media marketing strategy? Well, it depends on your overarching goals. Read on to learn more.

What is organic social media?

Organic social media refers to the free content (posts, images, videos, memes, Stories, and so on) that all users, including businesses and brands, share on their feeds.

When you publish organically to your account as a brand, you can anticipate the following people to view it:

  • A portion of your followers (also known as your "organic reach")
  • Followers of your followers (if people choose to share your post)
  • Followers of any hashtags you use

It may appear easy, but organic social media is the core of every digital marketing plan today since it is the most effective approach to cultivate a connection with your customers at scale.
For example, brands use organic social to:

  • Establish their personality and voice
  • Build relationships by sharing informative, entertaining, and/or inspiring content
  • Engage customers at every stage of their buying journey
  • Support their customers with customer service

Here’s an example of organic content from one of our clients, Turquoise Moose.

But, there is a downside to organic social. Because all of the major platforms use ranking algorithms, your organic postings will only be seen by a limited percentage of your followers.

For example, the typical organic reach for a Facebook post is approximately 5.5% of your total follower count. It's typically even less for huge businesses with significant followings.

Organic reach has been declining for several years as the world's largest social media platforms near saturation, attention spans shorten, and platform CEOs prioritise "meaningful" or "responsible" user experiences. In other words: it's harder than ever to have your brand's content seen by your current audience, let alone fresh eyes.

This is where paid social media enters the picture.

What is paid social media?

Advertising is another term for paid social media. It is when brands pay money to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms to get their material shared with particular new targeted audiences who are likely to be interested, either by "boosting" their organic content or creating unique adverts.

According to eMarketer, paid social is on the mend post the uncertainties of 2020. Users are not only spending more time on social media, but they are also more acclimated to online shopping via ecommerce or social media stores than ever before. This makes ads feel like a more natural part of the social media experience, especially when they are developed with care.

Paid Social Media Marketing spending trend chart

But, B2C retailers are not the only ones focused on social advertising. Paid posts, more than organic content, are the most effective strategy for marketers to reach new audiences on social media and turn them into consumers. Companies and organisations utilise paid social media promotion to:

  • increase company exposure and gain new followers
  • market their most recent offer, material, event, etc.
  • drive conversions by generating leads (including e-commerce sales)

Your relationship with your consumers or audience is nurtured via an organic social media strategy. It can help you:

  • Develop and expand your brand's visibility in places where people already spend their time.
  • Cater to existing consumers
  • Attract new clients by demonstrating what you stand for. 

Nevertheless, organic is generally slower to achieve business goals, and while it is theoretically free, it requires a significant amount of effort, experimentation, and/or experience to get right.

A paid social media plan, on the other hand, is how you interact with new customers or audience members. It helps you:

  • Reach a larger number of people
  • Target your ideal customer more precisely
  • Hit your business goals faster

But, it requires a budget as well as its own type of skill (those ads do not monitor themselves).

In short, while organic activity is vital for relationship-building, network ranking algorithms have made pay-to-play a reality on social.

How to make the best of both Organic and Paid social for your business ?

The foundation of the majority of integrated social media strategies is using organic to serve and delight your existing customers, while attracting new eyes with paid ads.

Here are a few best practices to help you get into the weeds of it and leverage the best of both worlds:

Boost your best organic content

Your best-performing posts aren't just here to boost your vanity metrics. Finding content that has really resonated with your audience and paying to show it to new eyes is perhaps the simplest and the most ROI-centric approach to start with paid advertising.

This is often considered as an entry-level tactic because it is low-risk—you do not need to create an ad, let alone an ad campaign. But, most social media experts will tell you that when they recognise they have a hit on their hands, it's time to start backing it with expenditure.

For example, everytime you run your analytics report, you could start by assigning a little budget to the top weekly or monthly post. Pay attention not only to likes, but also to conversions, profile views, and so on.

Target your ads to people similar to your organic audience

The more organically you've established your social presence, the more information you have about your potential clientele. Where do they live? How old are they? What do they care about? What difficulties are they currently experiencing in their lives? How are you helping them?

Capitalise on all this information as you build your ads. This is the place where all your hard work building quality relationships with your audience pays off.

For example, most social platforms allow you to construct lookalike audiences based on your best customers' descriptions.
Perhaps these are your email subscribers, people who have interacted with your profile or content, or those who have purchased a product in the last year. A lookalike audience is made up of people who share similar demographics and behaviours but haven't yet been exposed to your brand.

Use retargeting ads to stay connected to your organic audience

Retargeting campaigns can be highly effective at a relatively low cost, because you’re reaching out to people who already know your business. Often, these are people who’ve come to your social or web presence organically. Maybe they visited your profile or website, or even abandoned a shopping cart.

The idea here is that they may just need a reminder to come back and convert, and the right ad can convince them.

Automate as much of your daily workflow as possible

Combining paid and organic social means more money, more time, more know-how, more assets, and simply more posting.

Whether you're a twelve-person team or a lone-wolf consultant, the idea is to keep the busywork to a minimum so you can focus on what matters. To that goal, automate as much of your daily workflow as possible.

Use A/B testing to optimise each of your postings.

Split testing is a step that is far too frequently ignored, despite the fact that its a primitive step to using digital advertising.

Run test copies of the advertisement in front of a smaller audience to determine its viability before allocating your entire social media budget to it. Test your CTA, wording, aesthetics, ad placement, format, and audience targeting. Before committing to a greater budget, you can test it out across various audience categories (age, region, etc.). A more successful, engaging, and memorable advertisement for your audience will also be less expensive for you.

In the meanwhile, you can create manual split tests for organic postings and monitor their progress by adding UTM parameters to your links.

Even Organic posts can be used for Promotion

Only pay for ads if they can assist you meet your KPIs and, ultimately, your business goals. On social media, advertisements aren't always the best solution. (And even if they were, never underestimate the impact of an organic post that people want to share.)

For instance, anytime you announce anything new—whether it's a collaboration, a pivot, or a new edition of your flagship product—you must educate your existing followers. A creative, original, organic campaign will build buzz all on its own. Craft a compelling post, pin it to your profile or drop it in your Stories highlights if it’s big enough news.

Here is an example of Netflix using Organic content to promote an upcoming show.

All of that being said, if your organic activity is not achieving the desired reach or impressions, it may be time to open the (corporate) pocketbook.

Organic Search vs. Paid Search

Organic search vs. paid search — it’s an ongoing debate in the digital marketing community.  Which is superior? Which produces more substantial results? The term "ecosystem" refers to a group of people who work in the construction industry.

The short answer is that it depends. There are other aspects to consider, such as how quickly you require results, the type of traffic you want to bring to your site, and the exact goals you have in mind.

And in fact, the correct answer for most brands is frequently both.

Similar to social media, a combination of organic and paid search marketing is the best recipe for success long term.

How are organic search and paid search different?

Organic search and paid search are primarily distinct from one another in terms of cost. As might be inferred from their names, organic search yields free results, but sponsored search costs money to appear in prominent SERPs.

Organic search works as follows: businesses utilise content marketing and SEO methods to rank on SERPs for keywords, phrases, and themes related to their brand. The term "ecosystem" refers to a group of people who work in the construction industry.

Paid search pays to appear above organic search results.

It is typically executed using a pay-per-click (PPC) approach, in which a corporation pays the search engine each time someone clicks on the ad.

Here’s how they look in Google SERPs:

There are various advantages provided by both organic and paid search, and each has its own distinct advantages. Let's dig a little deeper.

Organic Search vs. Paid Search: The Benefits

Organic Search

Execution is free

Organic search marketing only costs time. That's because consistent, high-quality content — such as blog articles, ebooks, videos, infographics, and more – drives organic search rankings.

When you regularly generate and publish content and apply SEO methods, you build a content library that attracts the attention of search engines and appears on your audience's SERPs.

Companies can choose to invest in expenses such as freelance writers or an agency to handle content development, SEO tools such as SEMRush, or social media systems such as Hootsuite that can automate content sharing.

But, these expenses are entirely discretionary, and they are certainly not necessary to get started. To begin your organic search efforts, take these steps:

  • Set up your company blog
  • Perform keyword research
  • Create a content calendar with a list of titles and deadlines
  • Write your content and publish regularly
Attracts the right web visitors

By its very nature, organic search attracts users who are interested in the material you produce as well as the products and services you provide. Consumers visit your site because your content spoke to them for some reason, not because you paid for it to appear at the top of SERPs. In other words, organic search marketing builds connection with your audience that, over time, turns them into loyal customers.

Establishes brand authority

When you create high-value content covering relevant topics for your audience, it builds your reputation as an industry expert. In other words, it establishes brand authority, which occurs when a brand has high levels of trust from their audience, customers, and peers. Brand authority has a number of benefits:

  • Other brands share and link your content
  • Consumers proactively seek out your brand
  • Search engines know and rank your content
Earns compounding results

Long after it is first published, content posted as part of your organic search strategy still produces results. Great content will rise in the ranks and gain more views over time. Content may also be shared on social media by your brand and others, as well as linked on other websites.

This is especially true for evergreen content, which covers subjects that are particularly relevant to your company and has a longer shelf life than time-bound material (like news commentary or announcements).

So, which organic search marketing may take a significant time investment, you can expect it to pay off in spades over time.

Paid Search

Offers options for every budget

While paid search does need an initial commitment, there are solutions for every budget. You can determine your monthly ad expenditure across the paid search channels you utilise by creating a bespoke budget.

But, keep in mind that some businesses are more competitive than others when it comes to sponsored search, and not investing enough in your paid ads can result in wasted bucks. Take the time to understand your market and create a budget that will keep you competitive while keeping you within your budget.

Produces immediate results

Paid search yields immediate results, as opposed to organic search, which requires you to start producing content and then wait a few months for the results to appear.

You may expect platforms such as Google Advertising or Facebook Ads to accept your campaign request in a matter of days, and your numbers to increase shortly after your ads are online.

Attracts users with high Buying Intent

While both organic and paid search draw in pertinent audiences, more users with strong purchase intent are drawn by paid search. Consider it this way: If you're looking for more information about a subject or a possible purchase, you're probably going to scroll through the SERP results. When you're prepared to make a purchase, you're more likely to select the advertisement for the item you want at the top of the SERP.

For this reason, paid search is a wise choice if you need a quick boost in a specific area, like product sales.

The Final Verdict - Organic Vs Paid Search

You can undoubtedly see that the answer does in fact depend now that you are aware of the advantages of paid and search marketing. When a new company lacks the funding for sponsored advertising, organic search is the best option. Others may be engaged in businesses that are so fiercely competitive that some paid search activities are necessary to maintain their position in specific marketplaces.

As a general rule, every company should use organic search marketing because there are actually no drawbacks to it. It's unpaid. It has been demonstrated to be effective for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.

We advise implementing an organic search marketing plan as soon as possible if you're just getting started with search marketing. Step one is finished.

Once that is operational, think about where you might require an additional push. Consider what you learned from your keyword study and the areas where paid search marketing has the best chance of succeeding. Launch a paid marketing campaign following that to support your bigger organic search marketing initiatives.

The real response to the question of whether organic search should compete with paid search marketing is this: it shouldn't. Aim to combine them whenever you can to discover potential customers at every stage of the funnel and engage them where they are already present: on search engines.

Integrating Paid And Organic Strategies Into Your 2023 Marketing Plan

Organic and paid marketing complement each other like peanut butter and jam and generally function best when used in tandem.

But, you must devise a strategy for balancing the two tactics in order to maximise your ROI.

Tealbox Digital’s digital marketing services will help you understand the audience you’re targeting and how best to reach them. It would include a strategy that works for you over time, while maximising your use of the content that is created. Contact us today for a Free Intro Call to talk about optimising your 2023 digital marketing strategy!

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