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What’s Holding Back B2B Earned Media Efforts?

B2B marketers are looking for new ways to drive demand, increase brand awareness and bring more prospective customers into the pipeline. Paid, earned and owned media channel strategies have been practiced for some time, but earned media is growing more and more appealing as the price of paid efforts increases.

We recently worked on new research with Cision, which shows that 79% of marketers are prioritizing earned media over traditional paid ads, which have become less effective. Also, 70% said that increased cost is a major factor, while 41% said it has declined in performance.

While marketers understand there is some value to earned media strategies, the study shows that there are multiple factors limiting them from maximizing ROI on their efforts. Here are a few of the bigger challenges with earned media and how practitioners are overcoming these hurdles.

1) Find The Right Industry Influencers For The Job

According to Cision’s research, more than half (57%) of marketers said one of their biggest challenges with earned media initiatives was identifying and connecting with key industry influencers. This is critical to earned media success, since building relationships with the right influencers ultimately puts your content in front of your ideal target audience.

While it is considered a major challenge to earned media marketers, there are many ways to grab the attention of influencers. Survey respondents noted these priorities to make their efforts more effective:

  • Creating share-worthy content (77%);
  • Optimizing the use of social channels (59%);
  • Generating case studies/success stories (52%); and
  • Sending press releases regularly (50%).

2) Integrate An Earned Media Strategy To Better Track Activity Across Channels

Close to half (46%) of the survey respondents said that tracking buyer activity across channels was a major challenge to understanding earned media impact. This challenge isn’t new to B2B marketers; they have always strived to find new ways to tie aspects of their campaigns — across multiple channels — to closed business.

Many marketers are finding that some of the solutions to avoiding siloed campaigns can be used in an earned media mindset. Close to one-third (29%) of respondents said they have integrated their earned media initiatives into their overall demand gen strategy, adding it as a potential touch point for prospective customers to engage with their brand. Ultimately, tying earned media efforts to the big picture of their demand gen initiatives positions marketers to better understand if their earned media strategies are driving ROI.

3) Tie Earned Media Impact To Demand Gen Metrics

Seventy-percent of respondents to the Cision survey said that they would leverage earned media even more than they currently do if they could track ROI effectively. Again, integrating earned media into your demand gen strategy can help identify exactly what your efforts are driving into the pipeline.

Others are looking to specific metrics to understand what success truly looks like, including:

  • Number of leads generated (54%);
  • Organic referral traffic (41%);
  • Conversion rate (30%); and
  • Revenue impact (24%).

The new research from Cision has a plethora of deep insights into how B2B organizations view their paid, earned and owned media efforts. I highly recommend any of my colleagues interested in learning more about the topic to check it out.

Brian Anderson

An avid B2B journalist with a knack for all things trendy in the POS, mobile and social space.