Organic marketing is the foundation of any successful online presence. While paid advertising is valuable in driving immediate and targeted results, and is an important tool for many businesses, when you turn off the tap, the leads stop coming in.
Organic marketing is a long-term strategy. It’s the strategy that, when done right, will bring in leads and traffic for years to come. For example, 25 percent of Google searchers click on the first result.
Getting to the first page on Google, much less being in the first spot, doesn’t happen by accident. It happens as a result of effective and successful use of the organic marketing tactic, SEO. However, organic marketing isn’t just SEO. Your organic marketing strategy will include many platforms and mediums that allow you to provide value to your audience.
If you’re ready to reap these benefits and connect with your audience, learn what organic marketing is and what you need to do in our complete guide to getting it right.
What Organic Marketing Is
Organic marketing is an umbrella term for nearly any marketing that doesn’t push ads in front of someone. That means, all of the following fall under organic marketing:
- Blog and website content creation
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Non-sponsored link building
- Podcasts and speaking
The channels you use depend on your audience and brand. CMI’s 2020 B2B Benchmarks report found the top 3 organic content distribution channels for B2B marketers are:
- Social media
Regardless of the channels and platforms you choose, organic marketing is based on creating and providing value, rather than directly pushing ads to your audience. Though you might be including a call to action to buy or connect, the overall goal is to provide value.
What Organic Marketing is NOT
While organic marketing can be facilitated on nearly any budget, it doesn’t work if it’s not done right. Organic marketing isn’t just creating content to create content or being on social media just to be on social media—it requires intention and expertise.
A blog post that’s just 300 words, not SEO-optimized, and poorly written will do more harm than good. It looks bad for your brand and is a waste of your time because it likely won’t rank in Google or drive traffic to your website.
That’s why, for every piece of organic content you create, share and send out to your audience, you need to be clear on:
- Why is this valuable?
- What is the goal?
- How can we measure impact or ROI?
- Does our audience/ideal clients care about this?
Organic marketing requires clarity and intention, regardless of which platform or medium you’re using.
Organic Marketing in Action
When we worked with Selz for link building, we had total clarity around one main goal: increase organic traffic to key pages on their blog, FounderU. Selz consistently provided us with new pages that were already SEO-optimized and we set out to earn high-value links for each of them.
In the six months we worked together they saw a 99 percent increase in organic traffic. Content Manager, Kristen DeCosta, shared:
“Our visitor numbers, sign-ups, and sales are all averaging at an all-time high right now. All of the backlink work we did together made a HUGE impact on this! Our organic numbers are STILL rising and our posts are still being impacted by the SEO juice we’re still seeing from many of your links.”
Learn more about the value they saw in our link-building case study.
The Value of Organic Marketing
Companies often struggle to see the value or invest in organic marketing because, unlike ads, the return isn’t immediate. Organic marketing takes time to work, but, unlike paid advertising, the greatest value is that the benefits—including leads, sales, traffic, brand impressions, and brand authority—don’t stop when you no longer have a budget to feed ads.
While paid advertising is valuable in driving targeted leads quickly, organic marketing is the long game. Organic marketing is about putting in time and money now to reap the benefits for years down the road.
This is because organic marketing helps you create a foundation for generating leads, connecting with your audience, providing value, and building a consistent flow of traffic to your website. Ultimately, with organic marketing you:
- Provide value that keeps people coming back.
- Start ranking for keywords that allow you to reach your ideal client through Google search—and those keywords continue to grow and rank as time goes on.
- Don’t just sell, you connect.
All of this leads to an engaged audience that knows, likes, and trusts your brand, which in turn leads to more sales and conversions. Pairing organic with paid advertising is a winning combination for brands who want to see results now and are ready to put in the work to keep those results coming, even after the ads are no longer being run.
Organic Marketing in Action
We’ve been creating value-based content and facilitating high-value (relevant, low quantity, high-quality) link building for more than three years for Elena Carstoiu, COO of Hubgets and 4PSA. When asked about the value of this organic marketing work, she said:
“Jessica helps us drive more organic traffic and improve our SEO score by writing industry-targeted blog articles. The increase in organic traffic results in a higher number of leads, which ultimately means more business for us.”
Key Organic Marketing Factors
Not all organic marketing is created equal. A low-value social media post or a poorly written email will not drive leads and allow you to connect with your audience. To reap the benefits of organic marketing, you need to consider a few key factors. In my ten years of doing organic marketing, I’ve found those key factors to be:
Organic marketing is all about value. While ads are meant to drive immediate traffic and sales, organic marketing does the same thing over time by building connections with your audience. But that only works if you take a value-first approach. This human-centered way of thinking about marketing is necessary if you want to leverage the long-term benefits.
However, don’t let this mindset keep you from optimizing for search engines or reader engagement. For example, in terms of content creation, some people in marketing say: “Focus on the reader and forget about things like SEO.” I say: “Start with the reader and back it up with the SEO.”
A value-first approach refers to getting the value for your company and while also giving value to your audience.
Organic Marketing in Action
We also worked with our client, College of Exercise Science, to create four SEO-optimized articles each month for 10 months. We started with their ideal clients and users and used SEO keyword research to optimize every piece of content so it actually reached the people we had in mind.
In our time working together, they increased student applications by 49 percent. What’s more, their organic leads were the highest quality leads coming in. You can read the full organic marketing case study here.
Organic marketing only works if you know your audience. It won’t work if you simply rely on your hunches and assumptions. This means you can’t ignore the research. When you take time to do competitive research and analysis or audience research, you know who you’re speaking to, what gaps you fill, and how you can provide the value that organic marketing makes possible.
Back up your content plan, social media posts, email blasts, and keyword choices with the data you find. Some areas to do research include:
- Best email send times
- Subject line best practices
- Best time to post on social media
- Where your audience lives (I.E. which social media platforms do they use?)
- Audience wants/needs on social media
- Keywords for blog content
- Content gaps within the industry
- What your competitors are doing
How do you know what’s working if you’re not testing? The bottom line is, you don’t. As with any other area of your business or marketing, you need to live and breathe the mantra: always be testing.
Organic marketing is never a one-and-done process. It’s an evolution—as your business evolves and consumer needs change, so does your marketing. This is why getting clear about your intention for every piece of content you create and share is critical. When you know what the goal is, you can then test to see if you achieved that goal.
The best way to keep testing at the forefront is to make monthly reporting a priority. At JTC, we provide a monthly report that includes metrics like changes in organic traffic, leads earned (if we can see this data), top-performing content, social media growth, and more.
This is so important because when you track the data over time you find patterns. These patterns tell you what’s working and what’s not and you can use that data to optimize what you’re doing.
Organic Marketing in Action
When I worked with the College of Exercise Science, we had some assumptions about the type of content that their community would like to consume. In following the data, we realized that we were wrong so we started creating more of the content they did like.
As a result, we continued to see organic and direct traffic increase month over month. In the 10 months we worked together, their organic traffic grew by 4,369 percent which led to a 9 percent contact to customer rate; the highest of any channel.
Slow and Small Steps
With organic marketing, quality trumps quantity every time. This is why I always recommend starting small and building from that stable foundation. For example, don’t try to be active and engaged on five social media platforms right from the start.
Instead, do the research about where your audience is most active and start there. Master that platform by taking time to create content that resonates with your audience, test what’s working, and most importantly, engaging regularly—and then add in others.
The start small philosophy goes for all of your organic marketing, like creating blog content or doing link building. Your frequency and consistency should depend upon how much you can do well, not how much you can do just to do it.
How to Make Organic Marketing Work for Your Business
Organic marketing isn’t as simple as sending out a half-hearted email once a month, posting on social media every once in a while, or creating blog content to check a box. To make it work and see ROI, you have to do it right. This means investing time, money, and resources into the various mediums where organic marketing can be most valuable for your brand.
Consider what you need to do to make organic marketing work for your business.
To do organic marketing right, you need support, which might require you to hire help. The same 2020 CMI report found that half of B2B and B2C marketers reported having a small or one-person marketing team. With one or just a few people running your entire marketing department, you may struggle to see results and therefore lose sight of the value.
This may be why half of B2B marketers and 49 percent of B2C marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity. Outsourcing can be an affordable way to get your organic marketing right while also saving the costs of hiring full-time W2 employees.
Whether you outsource link building or content creation, you’re also hiring experts who specialize in one area or another, which can lead to greater results. Even better, you can outsource nearly any element of your organic marketing, including:
- Content creation and strategy
- Link building
- Email marketing
- Social media management and strategy
- Podcast and speaking outreach and management
- Video creation
Organic Marketing in Action
At JTC we work with clients specifically on organic content marketing. We provide intentional, data-based content strategy and execution for mid-size B2B and B2C. We take quality very seriously, treating your brand the same as we treat our own.
This shows in the work we put out and is why we can maintain such a large network of connections and editors, which in turn benefits all of our clients. Kellie Wong, Senior Content Marketing Manager of Achievers, someone we’ve worked with regularly for many years, said:
“Jessica always delivers content that goes above and beyond expectations. Everything from her writing style, tone, research, and formatting is exceptional. Our award-winning Engage Blog has benefited greatly from Jessica’s contributions. Jessica’s articles consistently perform strong and have become some of our top-read content. The most valuable aspect of working with Jessica is her unbeatable can-do attitude and positive energy. She not only delivers great content, but she is such a pleasure to work with.”
Set Up Attribution
A challenge with organic marketing is attribution. Did that sale come through because they read the blog post? Or did they see a social media post first? Or did they get your email blast? This is why it’s critical to think about how you’ll attribute as much of your organic marketing as you can with the tools you have—or by investing in new tools.
For example, CRM tools can help you track where new leads and contacts came from and you can use tagging features to make sure you’re tracking this effectively. Custom Google Analytics dashboards can also help you track the entire conversion funnel. Finally, full-suite content management tools, like Hubspot, bring this all into one easy-to-track location.
Create Workflows and Processes
Organic marketing doesn’t just happen. A proper editorial workflow, social media approval process, or email marketing content calendar will make it easier to execute while holding everyone accountable. Whether you hire someone internally or bring on a freelancer, agency, or contractor, it’s critical that you have the proper workflows and processes in place.
I like to remind clients that this doesn’t require expensive software or new tools. Google Sheets can be used to keep teams connected and make it easy to track and plan—and it’s free to use. Don’t overthink it, but don’t miss this piece either.
Focus on Content Development Processes
Content is the base of all organic marketing, whether you’re sharing it or creating it. This is why you can’t overlook your content development process. A well-executed content development process ensures consistency, quality, and relevancy, all of which play into whether your content is successful or not. Here are a few signs that your content development process needs an update:
- You’re not publishing blog content consistently.
- Users aren’t reading or converting.
- Organic traffic isn’t increasing.
- Social media posts aren’t being shared.
- You don’t update your content.
Gain Clarity Around Your Brand
Great organic marketing is built on a clear and solid brand. If you understand what your message is, who you’re speaking to, and what your values are, your content will stand out because it will be unique to you. Otherwise, you’re speaking to everyone and reaching no one. When that happens, you risk getting lost in the noise—and in marketing, there’s a lot of noise.
Before investing in organic marketing, gain clarity around who you are, which will translate into everything you do from brand messaging to the look and feel of your content.
If Your Ignore Organic Marketing—You’ll Lose
Organic marketing is a foundational element for any great online presence and will drive leads, traffic, sales, and audience connections for years to come. That is if you do it right. While it may be hard to track immediate ROI and attribution from organic marketing, the long-term benefits are clear as I’ve seen for me and my clients. If you don’t invest in this area of your marketing, you’ll lose. Don’t take the risk and focus on organic marketing now.