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  • Writer's pictureVincent Grippi

How to Balance Organic vs. Paid Marketing in Your Mix

Updated: Jan 22

Striking the right balance between organic vs. paid marketing strategies can be an ongoing challenge. It's not uncommon to see teams going all-in on one side while neglecting the other, or simply relying on a hit-or-miss approach (which is never a good idea).

No matter which way the scale tips for you, our aim is to eliminate the guesswork from your marketing mix. In this blog post, we’ve put together a straightforward strategy to help you achieve better balance with organic vs. paid marketing strategies, while improving the overall impact of your campaigns.

How to Balance Organic Vs. Paid Marketing

Why Balance Matters in Your Marketing Mix

"Balance" in your marketing mix means having a winning strategy for both paid and organic efforts that deliver on your business objectives both independently and harmoniously.

By achieving a perfect balance in your marketing mix, you set your business on a path to long-term success, ensuring that every effort and resource is utilized effectively, leaving little to no room for waste. This balance allows you to optimize results, reach your target audience efficiently, and sustain a strong growth trajectory.

But before you can determine how paid and organic work in tandem, you must first understand how you’ll use them on their own.

Building Your Paid Marketing Strategy

I’m a firm believer that paid marketing should be used to accelerate growth above all things. This means generating leads or sales. Using paid media for anything beyond growth is a luxury and can increase the risk of wasting your budget.

For smaller brands with limited budgets, it's best to avoid experimenting until the core paid strategy proves successful and allows for some flexibility. By prioritizing growth as the primary goal, you ensure greater business impact (read: ROI) and a more efficient allocation of resources.

Next, your marketing team needs to assess what it can realistically offer to support lead/sales generation. Think about the lead magnets you can offer, such as reports or webinars, or exciting product promotions like free trials, sales, and more.

With these conversion drivers in mind, your team can design ad campaigns that revolve around them, creating a compelling and targeted approach that aligns with your organic strategy and growth objectives.

💡 Tip: Use market research to determine which channels your audience spends most of its time on. This will help you allocate your paid media budget more wisely.

Types of Paid Marketing

Examples of Paid Marketing

  • Drive Sales with Promotions: Utilize paid marketing to advertise promotions, enticing customers with irresistible offers on your products or services.

  • Gather User Contact Info with Lead Magnets: By offering valuable content or resources, you can collect user contact information, building a valuable database for future marketing efforts.

  • Boost Webinar Registrations: Use paid marketing to promote webinars, encouraging more registrations that can be nurtured into becoming business leads.

The Cons of Paid Marketing

Paid marketing can be costly. A good portion of your paid budget gets burned on split-testing various elements like creatives, landing pages, and promotions. With 70% - 80% of users completely ignoring digital ads altogether, it can take a good deal of time before your experimentation starts to pay off.

Paid marketing as a whole is currently in flux over changes in data collection, privacy regulations, and economic factors. Due to these factors, many marketers are seeing a dip in performance from their paid marketing efforts.

Building Your Organic Marketing Strategy

Unlike paid marketing, which often focuses on short-term spikes in activity, organic marketing is all about playing the long game. It serves as the steady heartbeat of your marketing mix, constantly active, 24/7, 365 days a year, with no breaks.

Organic marketing is like taking care of a crop field – you've got to put in consistent effort, be patient, and nurture it. You plant valuable content, meaningful experiences, and authentic connections with your audience, and as time goes by, you'll harvest the fruits of increased sales and customer loyalty.

While paid efforts can offer immediate results, they often lack the enduring impact and personal connection that organic initiatives bring to the forefront. Embracing organic marketing enables brands to establish deeper connections with their audience, ensuring that their message resonates far beyond a fleeting moment.

💡 Tip: 70-80% of web users click organic search results instead of search ads. SEO should be a critical part of every organic marketing strategy.

Types of Organic Marketing

Examples of Organic Marketing

  • Using SEO principles to create a comprehensive pillar page covering a topic frequently sought after by your target audience

  • Producing a podcast mini-series built around a topic or event (such as a notable industry conference that your company will be attending)

  • Creating a social media community focused on a theme that’s near and dear to your brand and audience.

Cons of Organic Marketing

Organic marketing involves spending a considerable amount of time testing what resonates best with your audience. Another drawback is that the outcomes of organic marketing can be unpredictable because you are at the mercy of algorithms (social media, search engines etc.). Moreover, creating high-quality content can require substantial investment of time and resources, which may be scarce for your marketing team.

With algorithms severely limiting your content’s reach and rankings, how can you be sure that your target audience is even seeing your latest lead magnet or sales promo? Sometimes you just need a little boost from paid marketing.

A Framework for Balancing Organic vs. Paid Marketing

After you have figured out how you will leverage paid marketing and organic marketing independently, you can begin to solve for how they will work in tandem.

You can start this by building campaigns around your marketing objectives and pertinent “heat moments.” Heat moments are events or time periods that are significant to your marketing (e.g. holidays, industry conferences, the release of a lead magnet, product launches, announcements etc.).

We developed the Trapezoid Campaign Structure to make campaign planning more visual and direct.

The Trapezoid Campaign Framework for Balancing Organic vs. Paid Marketing
Fig. 1

The trapezoid in fig. 1 represents the entirety of a marketing campaign from start to finish. All 4 sides represent a critical stage in a marketing campaign.

The Ramp-Up:

This is the period leading up to your heat moment. In this phase, the goal is to leverage organic marketing to introduce your focus theme/topic to your audience and get them engaged for what’s to come. Blog articles and social media posts generally work very well at this stage.

The Apex:

This phase is all about focusing on your heat moment - the climax. The goal here is to release what you’ve been building up to and support it with a blend of organic and paid marketing. This can be the promotion of a lead magnet, such as an industry report, a product launch, or your company’s presence at a high-priority conference/trade show.

In this phase, you’ll want to amplify your core messaging and conversion point using your most impactful organic content such as email blasts, videos and even podcasts. Concurrently, you should be rolling out paid advertising to broaden the reach of your campaign and drive them to the designated conversion point - a submission form, a sale, an in-person conversation at your conference booth etc.

The Ramp-Down:

As your paid ads conclude and all of your organic content is published, it's time to wrap things up. Focus on managing campaign conversions in your marketing platform and CRM. Segment leads and new customers into lists and automated workflows. Hand over SQLs to the sales team and nurture MQLs through automated lead nurturing campaigns. Needless to say, this is phase all organic, no paid needed.

The Rake:

During this phase, the focus lies on analyzing data and converting it into valuable insights. While it may not be the most glamorous aspect of a campaign, it is essential for future success. By examining the data, you can draw clear conclusions that will aid in optimizing future campaigns. Pinpoint what worked effectively for both paid and organic, while also identifying areas that require improvement. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently fine-tune the balance between your organic vs. paid marketing strategies for better results.

The trapezoid framework is incredibly versatile and can be tailored to suit any business' timeframe. For some businesses, it works perfectly to divide the entire calendar year into 12 trapezoids, representing one campaign per month. On the other hand, businesses like Medicare Advantage Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs) can adapt the framework to encompass their entire business year, centered around a peak season like the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

A Balanced Marketing Mix is a Happy Marketing Mix

Achieving a successful marketing mix heavily relies on striking the right balance between organic and paid marketing strategies. While success rarely comes overnight, our Trapezoid Campaign Framework can help you find what works faster and calibrate accordingly, all while keeping your marketing efforts in perpetual motion.

Remember to set SMART marketing goals for each campaign, that way you can track your growth trajectory over time.

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