As previously described, earned media is analogous to organic product placement in a sitcom – it’s the online media version. This stands in stark contrast to contrived, paid placements like banner ads, native advertising or advertorials. Sort of like the difference between SEO and PPC – natural versus paid.

EmbraceMost inbound marketers are well aware of the value of earned media. They’re even cognizant of the benefits of online media outlets linking to and writing about their content and brand. However, few spend the purposeful time to construct and deploy a digital PR strategy that optimizes potential earned media coverage and earned content placements.

Below are the seven benefits realized for the few who purposely and successfully use true digital PR to optimally earn their media.

1. Website Traffic and Conversions

Earned media containing links to owned web pages and landing pages help drive traffic and conversions. The incremental increase is proportionate to the size and scope of the publisher’s online community. For example, an op-ed written for the New York Times that links to a branded whitepaper could drive over 100,000 unique visitors and tens of thousands of conversions for years after publication.

2. Social Media Buzz

Content that is published by reputable online media outlets is often consumed, cited and shared by industry influencers. It’s these influencers who will help grow and multiply the brand’s social graph.

3. Search Engine Optimization

Earned media with the appropriate link attribution from trusted sources is the most powerful, Penguin friendly, off-page SEO around. Couple that with the social graph buzz above and earned media will certainly grab the attention of the search engines.

4. Opt-in Email List Growth

It’s amazing how much of an effect earned media can have on email list growth. In only two weeks one earned media link increased site-wide email conversion rates from 3.9 percent to 9.4 percent while driving over 800 new email addresses.

5. Retargeting Audience Acceleration

Online ad retargeting is a popular nurturing tactic deployed today and usually starts with a visit to an owned web property. Once a new visitor arrives a cookie is dropped on their browser and ads related to the content consumed are served up on other web properties – nurturing through relevance and context. Earned media click-throughs can drop hundreds of thousands of cookies on browsers over time.

6. Online Community Building

Earned media, for many, represents a content consumer’s first impression of a brand. It is also a gateway and/or introduction to the brand’s online community. Expect incremental community growth over time if a brand’s content is good and prudent enough.

7. Brand Awareness

Kai Ryssdal of NPR’s Marketplace recently reported on how one earned media placement can be a game changer for a business. An article written by Farhad Manjoo of Slate.com – This is the Greatest Hoodie Ever Madetells the story of a San Francisco-based apparel startup called American Giant. Manjoo’s article drove so much traffic and so many conversions that the company was forced to increase manufacturing output 20 fold to meet demand. How’s that for earned media’s effect on brand awareness?

Rather than earned media being a cross your fingers and hope we get some type of strategy, inbound marketers should set measurable digital PR goals, develop a strategy and deploy tactics. The rewards highlighted above are too great to ignore. Just look at what earned media did for American Giant. Earned media doesn’t have to be a derivative of luck. It should be an active component of any inbound marketing deployment.

To see how earned media can create huge spikes in traffic and conversions download our latest case study.

Image Credit: Jason Pier in DC