3 Ways Organic and Paid Content Work Together to Drive Results

Creative Noggin  |  April 19, 2024

This was co-written by Director of Digital Services Jackie McGinnis and Content Specialist Kelly Giese.

There are so many unique types of content that can make up a customer journey, including organic and paid content. We in the digital realm often hear different forms of these two questions from our clients:

  • Should we just focus on organic content marketing?
  • Why shouldn't we only run paid ads?

There is a lot of confusion around the value of organic and paid marketing content. It seems like everyone has their bias about which approach is the best use of time and budget. They might have a greater appreciation for organic content, which can help you build up an audience and brand awareness that can lead to later conversions. Or, they may be the type to prefer paid ads, which can reach your potential audience members right when they are most likely to complete your desired action.

So, what is the answer for your organization? Should you pursue organic content or paid content?

Spoiler alert: The answer is often "both." Organic and paid content can be excellent individually, but they're even better together (more on this later).

Before we dive into those intersections, let's brush up on what constitutes organic and paid content.

What is organic content?

In digital marketing, organic content is naturally discovered and shared by users without paid promotion. It gains visibility through its relevance, quality, and engagement rather than through paid promotion.

Some examples are:

  • Organic search/SEO
  • Organic social 
  • Emails (such as a welcome series or newsletter) 

What is paid content?

By contrast, paid content refers to content that is promoted using monetary investment. Choosing your audience through demographics, location, interests, and habits allows you to increase the size of your audience, reaching people outside your current contacts and followers.

Examples include:

  • Boosted post 
  • Paid search
  • Display ad 
  • Retargeting ad

3 Ways Organic and Paid Content Work Together

Let's explore three examples where organic and paid content join forces to drive business results.

1) How Organic Social Media and Boosted Posts Work Together

Organic social media content is the foundation of your social media strategy. It allows you to cultivate a follower base by posting valuable content designed to engage, educate, and entertain your target audience members. By consistently publishing this valuable content, you foster awareness, relationships, and credibility, all of which make your followers more likely to take a desired action.

Building on this, "boosted posts," or paying for your organic content to become an ad, offers targeted advertising opportunities to extend your reach beyond your followers. This tactic increases the ROI on the time and resources you spend creating great content. That's because it helps your content get seen while people are curious and exploring, which is often when they are most amenable to taking an action like looking at a product, following your brand, or signing up for a free trial. And refined targeting helps us ensure that your post is not boosted to just anyone but to the right people.

In short, joining the forces of organic and paid social media helps your great content reach even more of your desired audience.

2) How SEO and Paid Search Work Together

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a long-term investment that helps get your website shown and clicked in SERPs (search engine results pages). Good SEO involves producing high-quality, optimized content that will help you reach and engage more audience members organically over time.

Paid search (also called search ads) is more immediate. Unlike the long-term investment of SEO, paid search can allow your webpage to be seen in mere minutes in exchange for a CPC (cost-per-click).

By investing in both SEO and paid search for keywords your target audience is searching for, you set your organization up for success in the short and long term. Your content can be seen and clicked by those who prefer to click one of the first few results (which is often paid) and by those who are more discerning and prefer to scroll a bit first.

Additionally, you can try promoting your high-quality organic content with a search ad campaign. When you have great content, people will interact with it more. Search engines love it when your promoted content receives a lot of interaction, so your CPC will decrease. In other words, promoting great content means that you'll engage your audience members at a lower cost. We've seen this time and time again with our clients at Creative Noggin.

3) How Web Content and Display Ads Work Together

Web content is a key element of your online presence. It provides valuable information, resources, and engagement opportunities for your audience. It keeps visitors returning to your website and encourages them to explore further.

Display ads, on the other hand, enable you to promote your products, services, or brand to a broader audience extending beyond your website visitors. They can appear on websites and platforms across the internet, catching the attention of users who may not have encountered your brand otherwise. You'll want to reach each user many times. Consider the rule of 7: On average, a customer isn't ready to make a purchase until after they have encountered at least 7 messages from your brand.

Web content and display ads are synergistic. Use your display ads to link to your great web content—for example, a persuasive landing page that answers their burning questions and addresses their pain points. In the other direction, retarget your website visitors with display ads to remind them of your brand and offering.

These two tactics work hand in hand to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and ultimately convert visitors into customers.


An Example of Paid and Organic Content Working Together

Now, it's time for the exciting part: When all of your paid and organic tactics come together as part of your customer's unique journey. Let's look at a granular example.

Dave wants to have a luxury custom home built in Sacramento, California. While scrolling through Facebook, he encounters an ad for your homebuilding company. Your ad reached him because you targeted the location he is in and interests related to buying a house.

Your thoughtfully-crafted ad catches his eye, so he clicks the button in your ad and explores your landing page. He likes what he sees, but isn't ready to request a consultation yet. Instead, he takes a smaller action by providing his email address in exchange for your PDF guide: The Top 10 Luxury Home Trends of 2024. He also follows your Facebook page to keep an eye on your content.

Since Dave interacted with your social media ad, visited your website, provided his email address, and followed your Facebook page, he then:

  • Sees more of your social media ads
  • Begins seeing your retargeting display ads across the internet
  • Receives your welcome email drip campaign (which he opted into when he downloaded the PDF guide)
  • Sees your organic social media content

Over the course of two weeks, he is reminded about your business on a regular basis. While he also sees some of your competitors' content, he doesn't see it as many times or in as many places, and the content doesn't speak to him like yours does. Finally, upon seeing one of your new organic Facebook posts with a great call to action, Dave decides to take the leap and submit his information on your website to request a free consultation.

This scenario would not have been possible without the combination of high-quality paid and organic content.

"Okay, so paid and organic content work well together. Does that mean that I need to use all of these tactics?"

Nope! The tactics that work the best for another organization aren't necessarily the tactics that will drive the best results for you.

Consider what goal you are trying to achieve with your content. That will help you plan out the customer journey and determine the right strategy.

Need help with this step? We'll help you design and execute a tailored approach. Book a free 30-minute strategy call.

Three Client Case Studies: Combining Organic and Paid Content

Moving away from the realm of theory, let's take a look at two real-world clients we impacted through a combination of paid and organic content.

Higher-Quality Leads for a Client in the Home Services Industry

This client knew they needed to expand their online presence and reach, but they weren't sure how. After we thoroughly audited their existing marketing mix, we identified two key areas of opportunity: SEO and paid search.

We created well-researched blog posts that were laser-targeted to the type of person they were looking to work with. These blog posts were written with SEO as a top priority, but still with the understanding that the end audience was not a search engine, but a human. Ranking was only one factor—we also had to provide value. By doing so, visitors spent more time reading the blog post and exploring the website. They also became more likely to take the desired action: Requesting a free quote.

On the paid search side, they received many leads, but most of them weren't qualified. Based on our marketing audit, we optimized the targeting by using similar keywords to our organic content in order to dominate SERPs for the most valuable search terms. We also put paid search media dollars behind optimized high-performing landing pages to address a variety of consumer needs.

Our information-rich blog posts and landing pages helped position our client as a subject matter expert, while the paid search element allowed that content to be instantly seen by more members of our target audience.

In combination with our other marketing tactics like paid social media to blog posts and landing pages, a welcome email series, and regular newsletters, our paid search and SEO efforts contributed to an increase in higher-quality leads within the first month we implemented changes.

109% YOY Conversion Increase for a Client in the Healthcare Industry

This client was looking to increase their conversion rate through digital marketing. We chose the primary tactics, both organic and paid, that would help them reach, educate, and engage their audience, and in the end, guide them to take the next step.

Over time, competition increased as other businesses entered the paid search arena, so we knew it was time to get creative on top of our existing tactics and optimizations. With this in mind, we recommended a display ad campaign to boost their brand visibility during a key period for their business type.

These display ads were shown to target audience members on various websites, increasing total ad impressions and brand awareness. The increase in ad impressions helped to increase clicks to the website from both paid search and display ads, which also increased conversions by 109% YOY. Even after the display ads were turned off and ad impressions decreased, clicks and conversions stayed high on paid search for the next few months due to the increased brand awareness we helped the client achieve.

Increasing Brand Awareness and Form Submissions from a Key Audience for a Nonprofit Client

We worked with this nonprofit client to create a four-month social media campaign to increase application sign-ups from an audience who may not have heard of their organization or be familiar with their offerings.

First, we crafted a landing page that spoke directly to the audience that we could use in the campaigns. We then crafted organic social media posts to educate the audience on the organization and addressed pain points as we encouraged them to sign up. Many posts linked to the landing page and offered the organization's phone number, prompting audience members to sign up for services.

We then expanded the reach of these posts by boosting them to the target audience. The client experienced increased phone calls and tracked greater form submission volume during this campaign.

Overall, the campaign nearly doubled the website traffic in these few months and increased organic Facebook reach by 141%. As engagement rose on organic and boosted posts, both Facebook and Instagram followers increased too. By combining a landing page with organic social media and boosting posts to expand the reach, we increased the nonprofit's brand awareness and application submissions from key audiences.

Next Steps for Maximizing Your Content Results

Building and optimizing an entire customer journey—including both organic and paid content—is no small task. It requires a lot of time and expertise.

Don't have the time or the expertise to DIY your content? There's a great solution: Working with an agency. But not just any agency.

You need an agency with the knowledge, experience, and creative gusto needed to capture, delight, and convert your audience members. One that includes specialists who understand how to read your data and optimize your approach. You guessed it: That's us at Creative Noggin.

Request a comprehensive Brand & Marketing Audit. We'll explore where your content marketing is now to identify your highest- and lowest-performing tactics. Then, we'll create a holistic plan focused around your unique goals.

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