If a brand has a limitless marketing budget, it can advertise itself globally on every digital platform at all times of the day. But if you don’t have that big of a budget, you ought to be asking one simple question: What is organic marketing?
Organic marketing, in short, covers all outreach practices that companies can use to connect with a targeted audience for free. Of course, nothing is truly free: Organic marketing requires substantial time and patience to garner the same impact as a paid advertising campaign with the same messaging. As a result of this effort, you’ll connect with current and future customers in ways that you simply can’t with paid ads.
In general, marketing experts don’t choose one or the other. For the most effective digital marketing strategies, most companies will combine a mixture of both organic and paid strategies. This addresses the marketing concept of the “Rule of Seven.” This states that a person must see a brand seven times to transition from a first glance to a hot lead to a sale. The constant hard sell of paid ads might not work seven times. Therein lies the power of organic marketing.
With this digital outreach approach, it’s possible to build and strengthen relationships that have a foundation of shared values rather than simply sales — even if your business goal is to enhance your bottom line. When you put effort into building a brand in a customer-focused manner, you create the ability to gain loyalty and, in turn, greater sales.
Organic Marketing 101
Organic marketing works digitally and traditionally, meaning it would be an organic strategy to submit free articles to the local newspaper. But let’s focus on digital marketing since almost everyone looks for products and services online today.
The goal of organic marketing is to generate traffic to a website or landing pages in a manner that is different from pay-per-click digital advertisements. But it’s important to understand that there is still a cost associated with organic marketing. However, it's not a cost that goes directly to advertising platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or paid copy placement anywhere on the internet.
Indeed, you’ll still need to pay for blog writing by a professional or someone to monitor social media posts. The difference is that the money is transferred behind the scenes, which creates a very different psychological response from a viewer. If someone clicks on a blog because it’s interesting and helpful, that feels different from scrolling past the same ad repeatedly.
Definition and Principles of Organic Marketing
Organic marketing is a relational strategy that relies on the concept of trust building and brand awareness to naturally attract customers that share similar values with the company. It refers to the sharing of free tools or information, known as organic content, that attracts prospects into a marketing concept known as a sales funnel.
This free content is considered “top of funnel,” meaning it can serve as a bait to initiate the start of a customer journey. The people who click on your organic content are searching for a way to solve their problems. With that click, you have an opportunity to lead them to purchase the goods or services you offer to help with their problem. Not every lead will be converted, which is why the funnel is large at the top and gets smaller at the bottom.
Understanding the value of organic lead generation and how to improve it is the first step to crafting an organic digital marketing strategy. Four principles to know are:
- Free: Organic marketing is free to post and free to receive. Consider it a gift to your future customers.
- Strategic: Whatever you post should include a call-to-action, or a CTA, or be given only after a prospect shares an email address.
- Targeted: This is a customer-first approach and will not work if you do not have a clear understanding of your target audience.
- Long-term: This strategy can take time to boost brand awareness and draw an audience. Patience is necessary.
Organic Marketing vs Paid Marketing
Paid marketing involves designing digital advertisements that cost money every time someone clicks on them. It can also involve paying a social media platform to boost posts.
Anytime you “pay to play,” you can consider it paid content marketing. These types of ads usually run for a short period of time within a specific campaign. It can provide an excellent reach — if your budget is big enough. If it isn’t, organic growth is essential to success.
What is organic growth? It works more slowly. Over time, you build rapport with your audience. Think of it like word-of-mouth marketing, which lets your customers do your pitching for you. It requires significant creativity to stand out from the competition to build brand awareness. But in the end, it can be worth it.
Organic marketing examples include:
- Case studies
- YouTube videos
- Social media posts
- User-generated content such as reviews
Paid marketing, meanwhile, could include:
- Ads of all kinds
- Sponsored social media posts
- Boosted posts
- Paid webinars
- Content that is hidden behind a paywall, such as an e-book
As social media companies get more sophisticated with their advertising methods, organic vs paid social media can be hard to differentiate. Often, regular posts have a limited reach. This is why publishing both paid and organic content creates an ideal and comprehensive marketing strategy.
Strategies for Building Your Brand Organically
Now that you can answer “What is organic marketing?” it’s time to integrate these marketing strategies into your day-to-day business. Schedule a time with the leaders of your company and marketing team. Before you begin creating content, you must craft a marketing plan that everyone can refer to.
A successful content marketing strategy is a dynamic document that lays out your outreach work in a clear and actionable way. This document should include a look at the market and what sets your company apart, as well as the values you wish to share with your customers.
Take time to brainstorm a customer persona, then create an editorial calendar. This will outline not only what type of content you’ll offer as part of the organic strategy, but also when you’ll post it, where you’ll post it, and who will be responsible for the work.
Create Compelling and Valuable Content
To attract organic traffic to your website, you’ll need to create blog posts and other content that will be of value to your potential customers. Start by brainstorming what kinds of common questions your current customers have. If you have a product or service that needs explaining, consider offering a free video series teaching people how to use it.
Think about creating what is known as “evergreen content.” This is the kind of blog content that can be useful throughout the year — like an evergreen tree that never drops its leaves. It is a journalism phrase to describe articles that can be published at any time and remain relevant. The longer the shelf life, the more value it has in your organic marketing strategy.
Leverage Social Media Engagement and Authenticity
Social media marketing is a powerful complement to organic marketing because social media platforms are the modern-day office water cooler. Remember how people would linger around the water cooler at work and chat about new things? Your goal with your organic marketing is to share such interesting and valuable information that people will want to tell their friends about it.
This free organic reach is important because people trust what their friends and family say more than an advertisement — even if it’s the same message. Think about it. An ad says, “This product is the best!” Then, your friend says the same thing. You’ll respond to both statements differently. Encourage followers to share your blogs to get this free word-of-mouth advertising.
Implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Organic Visibility
SEO, or search engine optimization, means implementing specific keywords and other best practices to make search engines like Google rank your page as high as possible on the results page. Understanding organic search engine traffic can be complicated, so start adding keywords to your content.
Use a free keyword research tool, like Google Keyword Planner, and build your content strategy around the keywords or phrases. This is how organic SEO works: People type certain words into a search bar, and if your blog contains those words, it’s more likely to get to the top of the organic search results page.
Build Strong Relationships
Although SEO and keywords are important, they’re not as vital as connecting with your customers on an authentic level. The goal of all inbound marketing is to strengthen relationships for both current customers and prospects. The more they trust and respect your brand, the more they’ll want to do business with you. If you know of influencers or experts whose audience overlaps yours, you can also build on those relationships by offering guest posts.
Many business owners who are new to digital marketing don’t want to “give away” information, but that’s exactly the point. When you inform or entertain, you create opportunities for people to want to come to you.
The Benefits of Organic Marketing
Although it does take work, organic marketing has benefits that paid marketing does not. In particular, it offers a level of trust ads do not, and the efforts provide a foundation on which your brand can grow. Let’s take a closer look at both.
Establish Trust and Credibility
For years, marketers understood that organic marketing is more effective than paid methods for establishing trust with customers. A 2022 global study found that 88% of consumers trusted recommendations from friends and family over anything else. In this ever-cynical modern world, that percentage is likely even higher.
By offering beneficial, engaging, and well-written content for free, your company is showing customers that you are an expert in the industry. These free “gifts” prove that you care more about helping than about making a dollar. This kind of credibility can’t be bought.
Long-Term Brand Equity and Sustainability
According to a 2023 Forbes Advisor report, 42% of businesses in America fail after five years. One way to stay on the bright side of that statistic is to invest in the long-term sustainability of your company. To do this involves connecting deeply with your customers with a long-range vision that demonstrates repeatedly how you are “first, better, or different.” That simply won’t happen if you put all your marketing efforts into ads.
How to Measure and Evaluating Organic Marketing Efforts
Part of any comprehensive marketing plan needs to be a definition of success. Outline the goals and objectives in a strategic, measurable way. Then, schedule a quarterly meeting to assess the results. If you’re not meeting your goals, pivot and adapt.
Key Metrics for Organic Marketing Success
Choose one or two metrics to determine success, rather than all of them. Remember, the answer to “What is organic marketing?” requires a long-term perspective. Key performance indicators could include:
- More traffic to your website
- Increased brand awareness
- More followers on social media platforms
- More comments and likes
- Increased sales
- Cost per lead
- Customer satisfaction scores
Analyze and Optimize Organic Marketing Strategies
If you haven’t seen success within a year, you may want to consider other avenues for marketing strategies. One way to see if your content is resonating with customers is to ask them. A survey can help you see if you’re on the best social media platform or providing the best and most helpful content.
Be open to new ideas and technology, but also use them wisely. For example, artificial intelligence has grown in popularity. While that may seem like a simple solution for crafting blogs, beware: Customers and search engines can tell the difference between content produced by a computer and that created by a human. In fact, Google labels AI-created content as spam.
Elevate Your Brand Growth with Powerful Blog Articles
You never want your organic marketing to sound salesy. The whole point is to create free information that offers value without asking for anything in return. This is how to truly cultivate trust with your customers.
Professional writers can help balance that fine line. To learn more, connect with Compose.ly’s blog writing team of experts who are ready to help launch your organic marketing strategy right away.