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  • Writer's pictureErica Warfield

Organic Marketing Isn't Free Marketing

Organic Marketing Isn’t Free Marketing

Are you using only organic marketing to promote your brand or product to save yourself money? Unfortunately, it could actually be costing you money.

You’re thinking, “How is organic marketing not free? I’m not spending any money on it.”

That’s true. You aren’t using dollars. But that doesn’t mean it’s free or a better investment than paid ads when starting your business.

Let’s look at this scenario to illustrate this:

Charlie just started their own online business where they sell handmade, naturally scented, soy candles. They’re excited to start selling but the cost of all the candle-making materials has got them in a pinch. They have very little room to spend money on marketing efforts. But that’s okay - they’re going to use Instagram to reach their audience organically.

They start by gathering all their candles and taking photos of each product. They edit each photo to match their branding. Then, they place their photos into Canva to add some design elements and text to the post. They use a content scheduler to create the posts and time them to publish on each day, add a caption, and research hashtags. They do this 15 times to get 15 days worth of content. On the days they’ve posted they have reached about 1,000 people total. About 50 of them have interacted with the posts. About 20 of them have followed the account. And none of them have made a purchase.

I’m not making these numbers up. These are calculations for the average reach, engagement, and follower rate for Instagram organic posts for new accounts. Assuming you’re not an Instagram marketing expert, these numbers could be lower. If you are an expert, they may be higher. Let’s assume you’re average.

Charlie just spend about 20 hours preparing posts and 15 days waiting for the content to earn a conversion. That’s a lot of time. More importantly, that’s a lot of money! That’s half a month of hoping that the post has reached the right people and that the content was captivating enough to engage and get people to purchase. Meanwhile, in order to make adjustments to account for what they’ve learned through the lack of conversions, Charlie has to make another X amount of posts and wait. On and on it goes.

For every day that a post is not earning a sale, they are losing at least $20 (assuming 1 candle costs $20) plus their own time which is however they value it. It could be $10/hour. It could be $50/hour.

Charlie has probably spent hundreds of dollars in time, energy, research, and waiting only to gain very few insights about their customers or earn any of it back through sales. The amount of time and money that was used to create 15 posts is not lost, however, it does point out that the investment in organic was not free.

Let’s say Charlie invested $50 to run a paid social media campaign for 15 days. They take the photos and use them to create a few ads with variations of ad copy, variations of audiences including retargeting, plus research of course (nobody is becoming an expert in paid social in a few days). Now, these ads are running for 15 days collecting data, generating interest, getting people to the website, and probably earning a sale or two. The data being collected can be useful to make frequent optimizations to the ads to become more effective. If they made just 2 sales at $20 per candle, they’ve already almost covered their ad spend cost. The return on investment with ads in this case is far higher than posting organically.

Meanwhile, those 15 days could also be spent posting on Instagram organically and building up an organic audience. The ads also help increase visibility into the profile which earn even more followers, likes, and engagement. These people can then be retargeted through ads which eventually convert into a sale.

So, when it comes to deciding whether to invest in organic vs paid social, do not immediately assume organic means free. The effort of creating and waiting for the organic content to reach the right people is far slower (not worse, just slower), than paid ads. The best strategy is to use both organic and paid to help each tactic grow. This is a sort of symbiotic relationship.

It’s also worth noting that paid social and organic social are not to be viewed the same. They operate completely differently, have different roles, different results, and are both extremely valuable for many reasons. While they may be using the same channels, they operate vastly differently.

Always account for your time and energy when creating a marketing strategy because you don’t want to use all your time and energy resources thinking that it’s less expensive than spending some dollars.



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