3 steps to build a digital brand that drives sales

April 23, 2021

Identifying a target market has never been easier. Digital tools can find a single potential buyer with the accuracy of a smart missile.

But getting that person to actually spend money with you? The online noise of 353 million Twitter users1.2 billion websites, 2.7 billion Facebook accounts, and $41 billion spent on U.S. Google ads makes that timeless challenge harder than ever.

We want to help you succeed, so in this post we’ll explain the three types of media necessary to build a great digital brand. We also recently published research on this topic at Forbes.com.

The three medias – paid, earned, and owned

The best digital brand uses three digital medias to reach your target markets, build brand credibility, and begin the sales funnel.

Paid media is advertising – paying money to put your product, service, and name in front of potential buyers. Digitally, it’s what people see first when they Google your company and keywords.

Earned media is getting in the press. Because you’re not paying for it, you have to earn credibility to be in the paper, on the podcast, or on the TV. Done right, it increases the quality of your digital presence when potential buyers search for your company and industry keywords. It also increases the value of your advertising because your target market is more likely to click an ad that has a credible media outlet’s name attached to it.

Owned media is the unique content on your company’s website. It’s what people see when your paid and earned media drive them to your company’s digital home. Done right, it improves your company’s digital presence when potential buyers search for your company and industry keywords.

Together, these three forms of digital media drive more sales and build a great online brand.

Create customers with the right digital media strategy

The best digital strategy:

  • Targets potential buyers and algorithms with relevant website content (owned media)
  • Drives decision-makers and their influencers to your website with advertising (paid media)
  • Increases your brand credibility and improves the value of advertising with press (earned media)

The equation for digital success is different for each person and company. Some companies don’t need all three forms of media. A restaurant or home services company with a local market may primarily rely on word of mouth, paid media, and owned media. A relationship-based company like a law firm, accounting firm, or PR firm may need just earned and owned media because paid media is most valuable for commodity and product firms.

For example, our research included an interview with Salesman Podcast host Will Barron. He hosts has the biggest business-to-business sales podcast in the world, and focuses on paid and owned media. Advertising “initially helped people see our podcast,” but now – five years later – “our podcast drives its own credibility, and advertising amplifies it.” Barron’s podcast is downloaded 750,000 times each month, driving 17,000 website clicks each month – and driving more than half of his company’s revenue.

But for those companies that have a combination of services, products, and intellectual property, the right strategy uses all three types of media to identify your target market, reach your target market, and then convince a critical mass of your target market to become paying customers.

Once your strategy is in place, there’s just one thing left to do…

Invest early, continuously, and substantially

Branding 101 tailors your message and specific offerings to your goals and target markets. The next step is to ensure that your investment happens early, continuously, and deeply. “Users must be exposed to a brand or message seven times to consider taking action,” Joy Riot ad agency founder Jessica McCarthy explained in the Forbes.com article. Those seven touches require substantial investments over a long period of time – even during slow seasons and economic downturns – with:

  • Paid media to drive initial website visits and algorithm recognition.
  • Earned media to drive user and algorithm credibility and to drive greater value for paid media.
  • Owned media with what McCarthy described as “keyword-rich” content to maximize the value of algorithms that connect your website to your target markets.

Many effective digital strategies take at least six months to begin producing more sales. In the meantime, the sales funnel should be taking shape through metrics such as:

  • Greater reach into target markets.
  • More website clicks.
  • More social media followers.
  • Greater engagement with social media content.

Turn potential buyers into paying customers

Paid, owned, and earned media are the Three Musketeers for digital branding success. Read our research at Forbes.com, look at our digital branding services, and contact us to turn your potential buyers into paying customers.

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