Converged Media Requires Converged Metrics

A local digital marketing program that combines paid, earned, and owned will not only attract customers but also deliver a breakthrough benefit in the form of a blended cost per lead (CPL). I’ve written about the convergence of paid, earned, and owned media before, but this is the first time I’ve linked that convergence to a key performance indicator (KPI) that spans the three areas to measure overall performance – or a “blended CPL.”

For context, let’s provide clarity on the meaning of “paid, earned, and owned media”:

Owned media consists of channels managed directly by a brand, ranging from your local listings, Google My Business, and your Facebook pages. With owned media, brands need to pay close attention to laying a foundation with correct name, address, and phone number (NAP) data as well as unique local content that differentiates the brand. As mobile continues to grow, it’s critical that your owned media is optimized for the mobile experience – think responsive design, Google Maps, Apple Maps, Siri, etc. Optimizing for mobile will help ensure your brand is visible in those “mobile moments” of truth where and when people are looking for you.

Paid media consists of any form of advertising that involves a media buy, an example being paid search. Many brands are still figuring out the right role for paid media in their marketing mix. Some brands make the mistake of ignoring paid media, clinging to the false belief that compelling content on a listing will speak for itself. Brands place too much emphasis on paid media, overlooking the reality that 85 percent of click volume on Google is local and organic, not paid. In fact, there is a huge disparity in the marketplace as it relates to budget allocations for paid media as opposed to earned and owned. Brands should neither ignore paid media nor over-invest in it as a standalone tactic. I believe the answer is to complement your earned and owned media with paid media to amplify your content across search, mobile, and social.

Earned media consists of user-generated content regarding a brand that others create and share. Earned media accumulates via social shares, likes, and comments. Your earned media strategy should definitely elevate customer reviews on your owned media. For instance, your local listings should contain a customer reviews section. Moreover, you should give customers easy ways to share their feedback. You might offer customers an option to use their Facebook accounts to rate and review your business on your Facebook business page, to quickly leave reviews via their Gmail accounts, or to simply leave comments on your Facebook page or leave a +1 on your Google+ page, to cite a few examples. All of those mechanisms for providing feedback are important, but customers don’t necessarily take the time to share their opinions unless you show them how to do so easily. Brands should leverage technology to syndicate these customer reviews across multiple channels. Earned media is really about obtaining influence. An earned media plan should also encompass a PR strategy.

A Blended CPL Metric

A brand that embraces paid, earned, and owned can redefine the way it tracks success. With a comprehensive local strategy, you stop taking an isolated view of metrics such as cost per lead (CPL) for paid media and you start taking a more holistic view of more impactful metrics such as your blended CPL and/or cost per acquisition (CPA) across all of paid, owned, and earned media. For instance, here is some client data demonstrating a blended CPL model:


Working with a paid media agency partner, this client started with an $80 CPL for PPC advertising. More importantly, by implementing a comprehensive local strategy, this client achieved a blended CPL of $31.67. Obviously, the blended CPL is much better than the $80 CPL for PPC advertising.

What is even more interesting about this analysis is that 63 percent of the lead volume was coming from owned and earned media not paid media.


This example perfectly demonstrates how a multi-location brand can maximize local marketing via paid, earned, and owned media approach. Our experience has been that the local marketing opportunity, and the impact of owned and earned media as part of a comprehensive strategy, is much larger than most brands realize.

What to Do Next

As you move along the Local Marketing Adoption Curve and become more sophisticated with paid, earned, and owned media, it’s likely you will need access to the right tools such as marketing automation, analytics, and a social CRM — especially if you are a large brand with multiple locations. But first things first: create great content worthy of an integrated strategy and leverage technology to scale it across the organization, platforms, and locations.

Many large brands are faced by challenges as a result of silos – with different and sometimes competing objectives and metrics – within their own organizations. A blended CPL provides a model for integrating a comprehensive local marketing strategy into an existing enterprise-marketing stack. The goal is to work horizontally across the organization to break down the silos. By taking a horizontal approach, large, multi-location enterprise brands can deliver superior omnichannel customer experiences and measure success with shared KPIs.

Successful execution of a blended CPL model will require the chief marketing officer, the chief technology officer, and everyone in between to work together to break down the silos within their respective organizations. This approach can help organizations unite behind a common goal as well as drive better customer experiences across the enterprise.

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