Ecommerce Marketing: Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned

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Marketing can be confusing. You decide which combination of creation, content and promotion leads to the best conversion or the best ROI. How to allocate advertising or manpower? Should an online retail business focus on search engine optimization, content marketing, or something else? How do you address your audience of potential customers?

To deal with the potentially mysterious side of marketing, the industry has developed media models to organize, measure, and improve marketing campaigns. One of the most popular is called PESO – Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media.

This model makes it relatively easier to determine who creates the promotional content, who develops the audience for which the content is intended, and who controls the distribution of the content.

Understanding how a model like PESO organizes marketing can help ecommerce businesses better plan their marketing campaigns.

By organizing marketing tactics into paid, earned, shared, and owned media, you gain a better understanding of who creates the promotions, who owns the audience for the promotions, and who controls the distribution of the promotions.

Paid media

Perhaps the most obvious category of the PESO media model is that of paid media. It describes promotional content that a business creates but which is distributed or promoted by someone else, usually to an audience belonging to the other party.

For e-commerce, pay-per-click advertising is a common example of paid media. You create a simple text ad that appears when someone searches Google. The ad copy is your creation, but the means to reach potential customers belong to Google and the potential customers are Google users (customers).

Another example could be a video ad on YouTube. Again, your business is creating the video, but the platform is YouTube’s and the audience is using YouTube. Buying an ad in a newsletter or on a website is paid media, just like an ad on Hulu, Pandora, or in a local newspaper. With paid media, you buy the right to communicate to an audience created by someone else on a platform that someone else owns.

To measure the performance of paid media, advertisers typically track conversions, views, clicks, or more.

Media won

Word of mouth marketing, customer submitted reviews, and posts about your store are all examples of acquired media. Earned media is content about your business that others have created and distributed.

Your business can promote a press release or volunteer to be interviewed for an article or podcast. When the reporter or podcaster posts content that mentions your business, you’ve gained that visibility.

Earned media can also take the form of market notices. If you sell the X Widget on the Amazon Marketplace and customers write reviews for the X Widget and your business’s ability to deliver it, those reviews are deserved mentions.

Media gained can be measured in mentions or share of votes.

Shared media

When you post to Facebook, Pinterest, or similar, you are sharing content. Shared media describes content created by your business and distributed to an audience that your business has developed through a platform that someone else owns or controls.

Shared media can take many forms. You can post a promotion on Facebook or answer a question on Twitter. You can use shared media to distribute content or communicate directly with buyers.

To measure shared media, you can count subscribers or track conversions.

Media held

Blog posts are one of the most common examples of owned media. For the most part, a business creates blog posts, controls the platform on which those posts are posted, and creates the audience that will read the posts.

The company owns or controls everything from one end of the tactic to the other.

Other examples of media held in the context of e-commerce and retail might include onsite banner ads, a small brochure inserted into a mailing box, or to some extent your e-mail marketing list. -mail. Product packaging can be owned media just like signs in a physical store.

Media owned can be measured in terms of site traffic, newsletter subscriptions or sales conversions, for example.

Mix media in your campaigns

The PESO model organizes promotions around who creates the content, who develops the audience for the content, and who controls the distribution of the content to a particular audience. Once we understand what each of these media does, we can mix them together to create a marketing campaign.

Media Content Public Distribution
Paid Your business creates the content, advertising or promotion. A third developed the audience. A third party controls the delivery of your content.
Won A client, business or journalist creates the content. The client or journalist has developed the audience. The client or journalist controls or influences the broadcast.
share Your business creates the content or the promotion. Your business has grown the audience. A third party controls the delivery of your content.
Possesses Your business creates the content or the promotion. Your business has grown the audience. Your business controls the delivery of your content.

There are many ways for an ecommerce business to use each of the PESO media types to support a single marketing campaign.

Here is an example. Imagine having an online t-shirt store, selling designs around a beard, smoking cigars and pipes, and eating bacon. Your main clients are men aged around 35 to 45 who wear beards. You want to create a new marketing campaign to increase t-shirt sales by 5% in the next six months.

GOAL Increase t-shirt sales by 5% over the next six months.
PUBLIC Men aged 35 to 45 interested in casual fashion and the bearded lifestyle.
CANALS Blog Youtube Reddit Pinterest Facebook Public relations
PAID Banner ads on major men’s magazine sites that link to the blog. Ads featuring video stories. Ads promoting specific products. Ads supporting the blog and ads showing products.
WON Ask influencers if they would give their opinion on t-shirt designs. Ask influencers if they would give their opinion on t-shirt designs. Ask influencers if they would give their opinion on t-shirt designs. Ask influencers if they would give their opinion on t-shirt designs. Volunteer information about the t-shirt industry on HARO.
SHARE Share buttons to encourage distribution. Post company videos. Participate in the beard-related Reddit community, offering beard tips and advice. No sale. Maintain beard and t-shirt boards. Participate with others. Post trailers for all blog posts.
BELONGING Publish useful blog posts. Have a news section with current press releases.

Plan a series of blog posts, some “story” videos, social interactions and a public relations campaign. Outline your plan and assign activities to each of the media types.

At the start of your campaign, monitor and measure each activity. If something is underperforming, change it or cut it. If an activity generates a relatively better return on the time or money invested, do more.


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