How to improve your return on marketing

  • 27 Jul 2021

Make sure you get value for money on your advertising

By Angela Podmore, founder and CEO at Kinetic Communications

When planning your upcoming marketing activity, or deciding where to allocate your marketing spend, there are so many things to consider. Should you focus on social media, improving your website or gaining editorial coverage, for example?

Simply put, bringing together all of your media channels – including your social media, website and external coverage – to create an integrated and concerted marketing plan will result in the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Guide your activity with a clear set of measurable objectives, messaging and strategy, all focused on particular audiences, and you can create an integrated campaign generating value-for-money results, across your owned, earned and paid media. The more you integrate, the better ‘bangs per buck’ you’ll achieve.

So, what’s the difference between owned, earned and paid media? And how can each be best used to achieve your marketing goals?


Owned media

Owned media are the platforms within your control: e.g. your social media profiles and posts, website, livery, corporate identity or emailers.

Owned media are often incredibly cost-effective, as the majority of social media platforms are free to use, and once you have a website set up, it’s relatively simple to update it with new website pages and blogs. The costs associated with owned media will often only be monthly subscriptions for access to particular platforms, such as email marketing tools (and of course, your time in producing the content).

You are entirely in control of what you publish via your owned media, but make sure you have the controls in place to track what’s working and what’s not. Set up, and regularly refer to, the analytics for all of your owned media platforms, and use the insights from this to adapt your content where necessary to increase the effectiveness of your marketing via this media.

Earned media

Earned media refers to ways in which you can win engagement in various forms: likes, shares, comments, reviews and the powerful third-party conferred authority of editorial. In this age of user-generated content, it’s when customers, the media or the public share your content or speak about your brand.

Earned media often doesn’t have any associated costs, as you achieve it simply by carrying out your day-to-day business and delighting clients, as well as sharing content on your owned media.

An earned media campaign often revolves around gaining coverage in the media, through press releases, case studies or thought-leadership articles. The key is ensuring your content is newsworthy, helpful or advisory. That makes media outlets often happy to publish your articles for free, meaning you can use your budget to amplify the content to a wider audience, through online magazines, for example.


A word of warning: any editor of a media outlet worthy of a significant credibility rating will refuse to publish salesy or pushy copy. They consider that to be ‘advertising set to editorial music’.

Paid media

Paid media is when you pay for promotion on a third-party channel, such as sponsorships or advertising. Determining ROI is often more straightforward when it comes to paid media, as you have a clearly defined investment, and media and social platforms will often give highly detailed reports, as part of your investment. Your paid media strategy may include paid social media, a pay-per-click (PPC) or print advertising. 

The PESO model

The PESO model clearly defines the difference between paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) media. Shared media refers to your audience engaging with your content, including liking, commenting or sharing it on social media, but this can also often be referred to as earned media – as it is the reward of your owned media efforts.

An integrated marketing strategy – one that comprises PESO media – has a variety of benefits. These include:

1. Raised brand awareness

Many businesses make the mistake of either missing the point of their overall messaging or having various messages on different platforms. This can result in an inconsistent tone of voice, making it more challenging for your audience to find your business to be trustworthy.

By integrating your messaging and keeping them consistent across all of your media, you can gain trust from your audience and subsequently raise awareness of your brand.

Additionally, uniformity of message is incredibly powerful, as it puts your business top-of-mind when your audience is looking for the products or services you offer, as they clearly understand how you can help them.

2. Focused marketing efforts

An integrated marketing plan should have clear and overarching objectives. This ensures that all elements of your media and marketing activities are working towards achieving those goals. That way, your communications will be more focused and purposeful, rather than simply raising awareness of your business.


3. Streamlined budget

Creating digital components like written content, images, graphics or videos costs time and money. Integrating your efforts can help you to reduce the need for duplication, as you can repurpose these assets across your different media channels. This can help to convey a consistent visual identity too.

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