Organic Marketing: Your Guide to Getting Results
29th May 2020
A pattern has appeared over the past years. Many of the most successful companies - especially in software - have dwarfed their competition by focusing on organic marketing.
In reality, it’s not an either-or choice between paid and organic marketing… Companies should be using both methods alongside each other.
In this guide we’ll look specifically at how to attract leads with organic marketing. With a focus on creating content for your social media plan and building a brand, we’ll help you build a healthy flow of leads that grows over time, rather than rely on advertising for expensive leads.
(Looking to calculate your organic engagement before you get started? Check out our engagement rate calculator)
Organic marketing means attracting new customers through non-paid marketing channels, such as content, email and social media marketing.
We think of it as ‘healthy marketing’ because everything you invest in organic marketing compounds over time.
That basically means that when you create a blog post, that blog post can consistently attract five leads per month, for more than a year, as it climbs the rankings in Google search.
That’s one example.
Another less directly lead gen-focused example would be that every social post or guide you put live that offers something useful makes them warmer to what you do. So when it’s time for them to use your platform, you’re their obvious choice.
In other words, the goodwill you earn with your prospects becomes a groundswell, then a wave, then - maybe - a tidal surge.
So as you can already see, organic marketing works across the funnel. It provides a complete way to attract, nurture, and - finally - activate leads.
Let’s break down each of the different organic marketing channels to see which is the most effective.
Content marketing is the granddaddy of all organic efforts.
Content works at every stage of the customer acquisition funnel. From attracting new audiences with search-optimised blog posts, to encouraging trial users to convert to paying customers, it’s one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal.
That means it’s the only place to start when you’re planning to focus on organic marketing.
Read our dedicated guide for putting together a content creation strategy.
Email marketing oils the funnel that brings leads closer to your business.
As soon as you’ve got a lead’s email - and the correct permissions - you’re able to send your leads more of what they love. And we can’t emphasise that enough. They need to love what you’re sending.
You also need to ensure your email comms are focused, so your customer knows exactly why they should open the next one.
That means you should split your email comms into different lists, so you can send personalized content that’s relevant to them. Remember, you’re taking your prospect on a journey - where each email builds on the relevance of the last - but they can also dip into at any point.
Here are some great examples of the mix of emails you can send customers from Outfunnel.
Did you know that ContentCal used to be a social media agency?
Social media marketing is where it all began for ContentCal and it perseveres as one of the most influential ways to reach new customers.
Because all social media platforms works differently, we’ve done a run-down of the main social channels.
LinkedIn and Tikok are easier channels to work with as their algorithms are favourable to content from new users, and you can get great engagement without many followers.
Twitter and Youtube have algorithms that rewards quality content and creators over time. Putting the work in could see you go viral.(Compare the algorithm of Youtube vs IGTV when it comes to video content)
Reddit and Facebook do not tend to respond well to posts from companies due to Facebook's algorithm, limited reach, Reddit's community, and limited interest.
We’d recommend dedicating to an ‘easy’ channel & developing a ‘medium’ channel. Whether you choose to take on a ‘hard’ channel is up to you.
Want to get the most engagment from your content as possible? Find out what your optimum posting times are. Check out our blog detailing the best time to post on Instagram and if you are in the UK, then best time to post on Instagram UK is there too.
Google is probably the most powerful marketing tool on the planet. There’s AdWords, of course, where you can list ads in Google’s search results page.
But with a bit of know-how, your blog posts and landing pages can reach the first page of Google & drive 1,000s of views to your blogs every month.
This is a quick list to help you understand the potential for your content to rank. For a more detailed guide, we’d recommend reading Neil Patel’s guide.
When you’re able to get your blogs on page one consistently, you’ve found the holy grail.
That means you’re bringing prospects to your site at a much lower cost than paid advertising. And that growth continues month-in, month-out, without you spending any more on advertising.
Here’s a graph from investor Tomasz Tunguz which shows how organic traffic grows each month. He has his own overview of how this works here
Public relations is probably the most misunderstood aspect of organic marketing.
We see PR as an amplification channel, rather than an acquisition channel in itself. If you’re doing something great, it’s often a good idea to use PR to expand your reach & build your brand.
PR is also misunderstood because people often over-value what they produce internally. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, so don’t have any patience for an underwhelming or irrelevant pitch.
Hopefully these Top Trumps-style cards will help you prioritise which elements of organic social media marketing content you want to focus on most.
Organic marketing starts a conversation with your prospects that gets them increasingly excited by who you are and what you do.
You’ll want to develop a connection with your customers and prospects before you encourage them to buy from you. It’s a careful balance between attracting customers, engaging them with content, and promoting what you do.
Don’t push too hard for your prospects to buy from you - just expect that they will when the time is right, and will send a couple of referrals your way til then.
Your focus needs to be on providing content that your prospects want to read. There’s not much more to it than that. Some of this is based on gut instinct, some of it will be research. The best thing to do is to start writing and see what results you get.
When you get going, you’ll find your niche, and develop your company’s site as though it’s a media company.
So instead of posting about your company, you post about your industry. You don’t have to be an expert either. Bring the community together and draw from their knowledge.
An authoritative tone doesn’t mean much if what you’re saying is bland, or something you can find everywhere.
Overall, we’ve found that success with organic marketing relies on three things:
- You have a powerful brand
- You have a friction-free user journey
- You understand what your prospects want
By developing a powerful brand, we don’t mean putting your logo in all-caps.
We mean a brand that can inspire your prospects to trust and engage with your company and the materials that your company is putting out.
Decide what is your brand and what isn’t. This can be as simple as putting together a brand book with the following:
- Vision - what does your company want to become
- Mission - what does your company do
- USPs - what makes you special?
- Voice - what does your brand sound like
- Visual guidelines
If all of this is clear and you want to take it to the next level, we’d recommend taking a look at this brand book from Gumroad. This example is so good because it works extra hard to convey the personality of people at Gumroad.
A strong brand is important because, without one, you’ll struggle to get people excited about what you do.
You may produce amazing content from your content calendar that they bookmark, but if your company doesn’t excite them or motivate them to learn more, then they’ll never take the next step towards being a customer.
That takes us on to the second must-have for organic marketing: a clear idea of the user journey involved.
Start by keeping things simple. Have a few user acquisition journeys and a clear understanding of how you deal with prospects that come through those channels.
This could be something like > Facebook ad takes email > email is sent weekly newsletter > weekly newsletter includes offer > Prospect starts trial from there.
When you’ve set up a couple of these journeys, you’ll realize that they don’t really work that wel. So you need to tweak them. You may end up with a user acquisition journey that looks something like this:
Linkedin post encourages user engagement > you send user content & ask to add them to a mailing list for more > they accept and receive mailing list each week > you invite them to webinar where you discuss their problem > they get in touch with you because they now know your platform can solve their problem.
That’s great, because you know what works. Now you need to figure out how to make that funnel more simple and more scalable.
This is an important one, because it has an impact all the way down the funnel.
Understand what your customers want is essential to attracting new prospects - otherwise what motivation will they have to engage with your content?
Just as a direct response ad will hone in on a customer’s pain point, and how their product or service can solve it, a blog post or social media marketing post will do the same.
Instead of asking for one mega decision (aka. Buy what it is that I’m selling), you’re setting up a series of smaller decisions that lead to that big decision - but each of them have much less value.
That could include things like downloading a guide, watching a short course, listening to a podcast, reading a social post.
But what does that have to do with your business?
Well, that’s up to you. Position your business subtly and non-intrusively alongside the content to ensure that you’re thought of when your prospects are trying to figure out what exactly they need to do.
Often your customers will get sick of trying to learn everything themselves and take on your product or service to help them reach the next level.
Because you’ve made it so easy for them to start their journey to become experts, your business will be the next obvious choice.
This all sounds like it will take a long time, doesn’t it? It takes a lot longer than direct response advertising, it has to be said.
But when you start to get results, you’ll see a tideswell of leads, rather than just a blip. And those leads will already be more likely to buy, less likely to churn, and more likely to refer you.
Because you’re helping them do their job properly, you’re making their lives better, and they like you because of that.
It’s not as easy to find the ROI of your organic marketing efforts as it is to find the ROI of paid methods.
However, it is still possible - and you need to be doing this.
Here’s the minimum you should be doing:
- You track lead source. Ie. the channel where your lead first interacted with you
- You track activation source. Ie. the channel which caused your lead to show intent to buy from you
- Tracking the spend of each of your campaigns
Everything else inbetween we can forget about for now. Although it’s important, it adds a layer of complexity that takes away from the clarity that lead & activation source offers.
How are you supposed to do the above?
You track lead & activation source with Google’s Campaign URL builder, which you use to build custom links and track via Google Analytics. You’ll track spend in a good old-fashioned Google Sheet.
Soon you’ll be looking at a basic - but highly effective - version of your organic marketing ROI report.
We recommend running a marketing activities report alongside this report, which looks into engagement across your campaigns - this doesn’t need to be immediately linked to ROI.
In the short term you should be looking for engagement, in the long term you should be looking for ROI.
Paid marketing is a great way to reach new audiences and bring in more traffic. Don’t get us wrong, we use it ourselves.
However, it’s not sustainable by itself. For one, you’re subject to the rising and falling costs of customer acquisition, which vary from platform to platform. Secondly, as soon as you turn off paid advertising, it stops working for your business.
So while paid traffic is almost certain to bring your business leads, it’s typically a short-term measure associated with higher costs.
Of course, there are exceptions to this - and you should go out and find them.
Organic marketing is a little different. It takes longer to get going, however, when you’ve built an organic engine, you’re going to reap the benefits for months and years to come.
Why is it so different?
Well, organic marketing is a completely different mindset. It assumes that your customer wants to engage with your brand in many more ways than just clicking on an ad. And by giving your customers what they want, some of them will start to want to work with you.
That means the funnel from becoming aware of your company to starting to work with your company is longer than an ad - which assumes intent. It takes longer for your audience to become a customer.
We wouldn’t recommend doing only organic [/). Just like we wouldn’t recommend doing just paid marketing.
You need a mix in your social media marketing calendar. But you should always start with organic marketing.
Here’s why: Paid marketing is an effective way to get traffic, organic marketing converts.
You should always have a high-converting CTA in place before driving traffic. That’s looking at a small level of detail, but it counts when you expand up to look at your strategy too.
Do you have:
- An understanding of your prospect person
- A powerful brand
- Effective messaging
- Knowledge of what your audience wants?
That’s what converts.
And those aspects of your strategy will always be where organic marketing shines, because organic marketing is more interested in all of your audience’s motivations, not just the motivation they have to sign up to your product.
You might be looking to give them a free resource, an answer to a question on Quora, or a gif that makes them laugh. All of these are examples of meeting your audience’s motivations.
Here’s where paid marketing comes in.
You’ll know when you’ve got a brilliant piece of content from the likes, shares and backlinks you generate through organic campaigns. You’ll also know how well that content converts prospects into leads and customers - if your tracking is set up properly.
That content has already been tested - so you know it’s likely to perform well on paid.
You’ll generally choose to do that in two places:
- At the top of the funnel, when you’re trying to reach new audiences
- In the middle of the funnel, when you’re trying to convert audiences
So - it’s not an either-or.
Organic marketing and paid marketing work both work well. But it’s best to build the foundations of your business with organic marketing.
A little patience, a lot of testing, and a clear idea of who you’re speaking to will take you a very, very long way.
It’s tough to get right, but it’s well worth figuring out. A social media calendar will help keep you organized. You’ll attract more leads in the long-term, they’ll be more likely to convert, and your cost per lead will be much lower.
And then you can start to mix in paid advertising.