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With shifting media trends like rising advertising costs and lowering organic reach, marketers often have strong opinions on organic vs. paid content promotion.  You may either thing advertising is the answer or stand firm on the side of organic all the way.

The thing is, it was never either/or, and it’s increasingly important to experiment with both.

If you look at them as black and white, you may be more likely to give up on a tactic altogether instead of finding what works. You can get caught in a cycle of trying paid acquisition, not seeing the total transformation you imagined, and giving up. Then you go with organic for a while and that doesn’t do everything you need it to, and it all starts over.

Instead, you should have been spending that time tweaking how you use each to work together to meet your marketing goals, click here to read about efficient business marketing strategies for 2023. The right combination is different for every business, depending on things like your company’s goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

But why is that combination so hard for so many marketers to find?

Misaligned targeting

Many marketers are targeting their audiences in a way that makes paid acquisition misaligned with organic tactics. When they’re attracting completely different audiences, it’s hard to make them work together.

For example, despite having enough information and knowledge of your best customers to create focused organic content relevant to them, marketers still use lots of “spray and pray” approaches to paid like boosting Facebook posts with no targeting or loosely defining custom audiences.

Instead of targeting irrelevant demographics to attract random audiences, use website data from online tools. Using data from organic marketing to inform your audiences and messaging for paid helps them work in sync. You’ll be reaching the same audience via multiple mediums to have more of an impact and use insights from each to improve the other.

For example, being able to better understand and target paid audiences because of organic tactics can help you increase conversion rates and pull back on spend.

Managed by separate people

The next problem marketers face is silos, even within the marketing department, making it harder for individuals and teams to work together. Paid and organic can be managed by separate people who rarely talk or collaborate.

When you’ve divided advertising and organic traffic so much that the teams can’t work together, they can’t be expected to work towards the same goals. They miss out on insights from each other, like which topics or assets are performing best with which audiences and are therefore worth putting more resources behind.

You also miss out on the opportunity to marry the two to convert towards the same goal and audience. For example, retargeting organic website visitors with paid ads to nurture them towards conversion. Instead, scaling them together and treating them as a team instead of individual tactics helps them support each other’s growth.

A popular way to combine them is to use paid to fuel short-term and immediate results while using organic to tackle longer term goals in the background, for instance.

They’re in different phases of customer journey

Finally, part of the right media mix includes knowing when and how to target each stage of the customer journey. With poor communications and silos in place, you cannot understand your full marketing funnel and the best formats for moving customers from one stage to the next and can only focus on a limited area at a time.

Each side has its own strengths and weaknesses, so knowing what your marketing strategy is in need of is key here. If you don’t have a large organic audience, throwing your team into retargeting that small pool is focusing on the wrong part of the journey, you’d want to advertise to cold audiences’ fist to fill that funnel and retargeting pool.

Even within organic or paid, different tactics are best for different goals. Brands that don’t put in the time to experiment and mix channels can’t find what their strategy needs.

It’s not either/or

Ultimately, the brands trying to choose one or the other when it comes to paid vs. organic promotion won’t succeed with either. By looking for a better mix of them both, your goals can start to come into focus.

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