The Business Impact of an Owned Media Initiative

The Business Impact of an Owned Media Initiative


Marketers are having a tough time creating sustainable growth these days.

Social media makes it easy to reach the masses—but at what cost? With data privacy changes and rising ad costs, today’s marketers are often left scratching their heads when translating their efforts into business outcomes they can report to leadership.

The reality is: Social media platforms and third-party networks like YouTube and Spotify, which drove Web 2.0 growth, don’t offer the engagement they once did. They’re getting expensive, competitive, and increasingly complicated to use.

That’s why businesses are now embracing a different solution: owned media.

The Breakdown of Paid Media

A lot has changed in recent years when it comes to paid media.

Social media advertising budgets, for example, are expected to double in five years. That’s not all: more organic marketing methods are also getting more competitive. For example, 60% of experts at a roundtable agreed SEO is harder than it was five years ago.

This leads to a few problems with paid media:

  • Expenses. Rising ad costs in social media and third-party networks indicate demand is also increasing. For marketers, this means paying higher ad costs to secure the same reach and engagement they used to get for cheaper.
  • Focusing on transactional channels. Say you acquire a customer via PPC or a digital ad. There’s a reason these aren’t called organic transactions; businesses have to pay to acquire these customers. This cohort of customer revenue will always be at risk given the transactional nature of how they were acquired, ultimately becoming one of the highest churn/lowest LTV cohorts in the funnel.
  • The cookie-less future. Due to new legislation, third-party ad trackers are going away. Companies won’t be able to retarget traffic based on previous browsing history. Now, they need first-party data to optimize conversions.

What does that mean for the future of performance marketing?

Enter Owned Media: Controlling Distribution

Owned Media means creating content you distribute through channels and mediums your brand owns. This can include blogs, resource centers, email newsletters, podcasts, etc.

Other types of media can still provide leverage for this content. You can use social media, for example, to amplify owned media. The goal? Use high-exposure platforms to drive traffic to your high-converting media.

Many forward-thinking companies are already doubling down on building their owned media platforms; a survey of content marketers found that owned media already slightly outpaces investment in paid media.

Here are a few recent examples of this shift in the wild:

  • HubSpot acquiring The Hustle—a newsletter with over two million subscribers
  • Salesforce’s Salesforce+, a pseudo-Netflix-for-sales-professionals
  • MailChimp Presents, a selection of webinars, shows, and podcasts distributed directly through MailChimp

The Benefits of Owned Media

So why are companies like HubSpot building or buying media outlets? There’s more than one answer:

  • Controlling the narrative. Owning your media platform means you get to drive the conversation.
  • Controlling distribution. When you distribute your own content, you’re not beholden to anyone else. Not Google’s cost-per-click. Not TikTok’s trends or Twitter’s algorithm changes. It’s just you and your audience.
  • Controlling the data. New legislation means third-party data will be harder to come by. You drive exponentially higher engagement by owning your data. With an owned media platform, you can choose your channels, analytics, and first-party data collection strategy.
  • Building a community. An engaged, active community is a competitive moat. A competitor may draw inspiration from your product or even copy functionality right down to the pixel. Products, in general, are all on the path to commodization, but no competitor could ever take away your community, thought leadership and brand IP.

The Full-Funnel Impact of Owned Media

It might seem that owned media is strictly a bottom-of-the-funnel enterprise. You use social and paid media to bring in the eyeballs, then your content to convert. In truth, owned media impacts almost every business outcome.

Consider how it affects each of the following steps of the sales funnel:


If you build an owned property on your domain—think MailChimp Presents—it can do more than create a community. And it can even go beyond generating higher engagement. From an SEO perspective, it accomplishes everything you might have hoped organic promotion would accomplish. That includes more organic traffic, a higher average time spent on page, and even a lower bounce rate.

Pipeline Creation

As it turns out, owned media is the most sustainable way to grow pipeline creation. Imagine having a large list of subscribers. Looking at the fit between your engagement data that no other third-party platform will give you and the firmographic fit of your audience, you’ll be able to understand which subscribers are best for your sales outreach.

The trick to creating that sustainability and maintaining that trust? Avoid alienating your customers by learning what they want. People who sign up for your newsletter for the content don’t want the heavy sales pitches.


What about content later in the sales funnel, like customer stories and case studies? When you own your distribution, these are easy to publish. Even better, they can help accelerate your pipeline towards closed revenue. With owned media and your community, you can create email nurture campaigns, enable your sales team to leverage the right kind of content, and get more value out of the content you create.

Product Usage

Even after a customer has purchased from you, you can still create content to engage your customers. Write tips for getting the most out of your product. Answer the most frequently asked questions to your customer support team. Create free guides that help customers enjoy your products or services even more.

This is especially powerful if you can unlock your community and get them to contribute their own content. This has a multiplying effect: it helps people get better with your products (leading to more adoption) and incentivizes more people to join your active, engaged community.

Renewals and Expansion

If your community views you as a thought leader, they’re happy to engage with you. This can lead to higher NPS scores, a more stable retention rate, and ultimately help your customers buy more of your products down the line. When it comes time for them to renew a subscription or expand to a new product, you’ve earned their trust.

Lean Into Owned Media in 2022 and Beyond

None of this happens until you lean into owned media. Times are changing, and so should your media strategy. At AudiencePlus, we champion the return of owned media by creating content and community that helps marketers become their own channels for content distribution.


The Business Impact of an Owned Media Initiative

Popularized by companies like HubSpot, Marketo, and others, we thought of content primarily through the lens of performance marketing – writing content optimized for search that increased organic traffic and drove inbound demand for our products and services. We repurposed and distributed content in third-party channels like social media in order to drive more engagement.

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