Most business owners assume the primary purpose of their marketing is to drive sales and revenue. While of course this is important, it is an end result, not the overarching goal.
Your most important priority in your marketing is to build a database of customers and potential customers that you can continue to nurture through marketing efforts to generate not only initial sales but also repeat sales and referrals. This is called owned media, or the audience that you own.
In the ever-evolving marketing landscape, it’s crucial for businesses to understand and leverage the different types of media at their disposal. Among these, owned media stands out as a cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. In the next three editions of Scaling With Shannon, we’ll explore the differences between owned, earned and paid media.
Today, I will highlight the critical role that a customer database plays in modern marketing.
Understanding Owned Media
Owned media refers to the digital assets and channels that a business or organization has complete control over, including content, messaging and user experience. Essentially, owned media is any platform or property owned and managed by your brand.
The hub of this is your customer database, and also can include your website, email lists and mobile apps. It also includes your social media profiles, but to a lesser extent because the social media companies also have control over your audience there. In fact, we encourage businesses to regularly work to convert social media followers into email subscribers so they can be added to your customer database and/or email list.
The Triad of Media: Owned, Earned and Paid
To fully grasp the significance of owned media, it’s essential to differentiate it from earned and paid media, as they all play distinct roles in your marketing strategy:
Owned Media: As mentioned, owned media encompasses your customer database and all the channels and properties you control. It is the foundation of your online presence, providing a platform for building and nurturing your brand identity. Through owned media, you can tell your story, engage your audience, and showcase your products or services without relying on third-party platforms.
Earned Media: Earned media is the result of organic exposure generated by others. It includes mentions, reviews, shares, and user-generated content that people create about your brand. Earned media is essentially word-of-mouth marketing amplified through digital channels. It often carries a higher level of credibility because it comes from independent sources.
Paid Media: Paid media involves any advertising or promotional efforts for which you pay, such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, display ads, influencer partnerships, and sponsored content. While paid media offers immediate visibility and reach, it can be costly and lacks the authenticity and trust associated with earned and owned media.
The Importance of Owned Media
Owned media is essential for several reasons:
Control: With owned media, you have full control over your messaging, branding and content. This control is crucial for maintaining a consistent and authentic brand image.
Audience Engagement: Owned media platforms enable you to engage with your audience directly, fostering relationships and building a community around your brand.
Cost-Effective: Although developing owned media assets may require an initial investment, the benefits often outweigh the costs, making it a cost-effective strategy in the long run.
Long-Term Asset: Unlike paid media, which stops generating results when the budget runs out, owned media is a long-term asset that continues to provide value over time. Your customer database (or for some businesses, their email list), is your most valuable asset because you can continue to nurture this group to buy from you, buy from you again, and give you referrals. Ideally, you are also continually adding prospective customers to your list or database, and continuing to nurture them on a regular basis.
Email List vs. Customer Databases
While an email list is a critical asset, it differs from a customer database in several ways. Many businesses start building customer lists with contact information first because it is relatively easy, and can be done in a tool as simple as the contact list in your email. However, growth and scale companies that want to be able to drive results with their marketing long-term should invest in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database tool. This database is a collection of customer information, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, purchase history and preferences. Here’s why it’s critical:
Personalization: A customer database allows you to personalize your marketing efforts, tailoring content and offers to individual preferences. This personalization leads to higher engagement and conversion rates.
Retention: It’s often more cost-effective to retain existing customers than acquire new ones. A customer database enables you to nurture and retain your customer base through targeted communication and special offers.
Data-Driven Insights: Analyzing customer data can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, allowing you to make informed marketing decisions and refine your strategies.
Segmentation: You can segment your customer database based on various criteria, allowing you to send highly relevant messages to specific groups, further increasing the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Owned media is the linchpin of a successful digital marketing strategy. By having control over your digital assets and leveraging them effectively, you can build a strong brand presence, engage with your audience, and ultimately drive business growth.
A well-maintained customer database empowers you to connect with your audience on a deeper level, providing personalized experiences that lead to increased loyalty and revenue. In today’s competitive landscape, owned media and customer databases are not just important—they’re indispensable.
Because of owned media’s value as a long-term asset, helping customers build their customer database and email list, and then develop strategies to nurture them has become the heart of our services at Dream Local Digital. In our work with growth and scale companies, we work to not only drive sales, but to develop this critical asset that will produce results over the long-term.
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