Organic marketing can be a confusing phrase. You know what organic means, and you know what marketing means. But what is organic marketing?
In this guide, we cover the definition of organic marketing, contrast it with other popular terms, and show you plenty of examples.
Plus, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to help you develop your own organic marketing strategy.
What’s in this guide:
- What is organic marketing?
- Organic marketing VS paid marketing
- Organic marketing VS content marketing
- 9 organic marketing channels [with examples]
- How to develop an organic marketing strategy
- 5 organic marketing ideas to try
What is organic marketing?
Organic marketing is an umbrella term for all of the marketing activities you do that don’t require you to pay for access or exposure to an audience.
Typically, organic marketing refers to organic digital marketing like social media and blog content. But hosting events could be considered a form of organic marketing as well because you’re creating your own stages and platforms rather than paying to access someone else’s.
Organic marketing VS paid marketing
With organic marketing, you don’t need to pay a third-party platform like Facebook or Google to get views and clicks. (Of course, you’ll still need to pay your employees, marketing agencies, and freelancers for their creative, analytical, and managerial work.)
Paid marketing offers the benefit of being able to boost your exposure, whereas with organic marketing you need content promotion and social media algorithm best practices to reach your audience.
On the flip side, paid marketing requires you to pay for reach, but organic marketing allows you to use your own marketing skills and creativity to win over new leads and customers.
The real difference lies in the results. Organic leads can convert at 14 times the rate of paid channels. That’s because organic leads are typically further down in the buying process and are already interested in your products and services.
Organic marketing VS content marketing
Content marketing is very similar to organic marketing. Most forms of organic marketing rely on creating great content to attract and convert your audience.
The only difference is that content marketers often use paid channels to promote their content, so while content marketing is usually made up of 80% organic efforts, it does involve some paid promotion to distribute that content more widely.
9 organic marketing channels [with examples]
You need the right channels to drive leads, subscriptions, and purchases.
Here are some of the best organic marketing channels:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media organic marketing
- Lead magnets
- Email marketing
- Live events and webinars
- Digital PR
- Content partnerships
- Affiliate marketing
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is an important strategy for businesses of all types. Showing up in Google search results for relevant keyphrases can drive targeted, steady traffic to blog posts, landing pages, and product pages.
Check out 9 SEO best practices for 2023 that will help you get to the first page.
Interestingly, SEO is very popular for B2B companies, which see an average of 70% of their revenue coming solely from this channel. B2B companies tend to focus heavily on SEO because it produces great ROI and it offers an alternative to expensive PPC search ads and competitive social media algorithms.
To win with SEO, make sure to use a keyphrase research tool like Ahrefs to target a strategic mix of keyphrases based on their competition score and estimated monthly search volume. Additionally, you should use a platform for content collaboration and SEO optimization, like StoryChief.
With StoryChief, you can plan, assign, review, optimize, publish, and promote your SEO content all in one place that’s easy to use for managers and freelancers.
Here’s an example from our own SEO content. This post on content creation strategy ranks for a few different keyphrases.
The post has a 90 out of 100 on our SEO optimizer score.
As you can see from the backend, when you write a blog post with StoryChief, you get an SEO score based on how well you use your target keyphrase throughout your subheadings and article.
2. Social media organic marketing
93% of marketers engage in some form of social media marketing. That’s unsurprising because 4.7 billion people around the world use at least one social media platform regularly.
Marketers work hard to get their content in front of their target audiences on social media. They might encourage their email subscribers to follow them, or employ hashtags and audience engagement to grow their social media audiences.
Social media is great for staying top of mind through fun, simple posts and for promoting bigger pieces of content like ebooks and webinars.
In this example from the e-commerce platform Shopify, we see the company doing an excellent job of appealing to its entrepreneurial audience.
B2B content can tend to be boring or overly promotional, so this serves as a great example of how to engage and inspire your audience in a more human way.
This is also a great example because it is an organic post with completely native content. There are no links to external resources. It’s important to post content that doesn’t link to outside URLs because social media platforms want to keep people using their apps. So, by creating native content, you can please the algorithm and ensure that your content keeps showing up.
If you only promote your content links, that platform will eventually stop showing your content to your audience.
3. Lead magnets
Lead magnets are an essential strategy for organic marketing. While they’re not really a channel in themselves, they are worth mentioning because they can positively impact your success on other channels.
You can use lead magnets to turn blog readers and social media followers into leads. For this reason, they’re considered to be part of the middle of your marketing funnel. SEO and social posts deliver traffic, lead magnets convert that traffic into leads, and email marketing and nurturing convert those leads into customers.
Lead magnets can come in a variety of formats:
- Video courses
Check out this example lead magnet from TravelPerk, a business travel management platform. The travel policy template is an actionable, helpful resource that prospective customers can adapt to their own company.
The template comes in an online Word Doc format. Customers can download the Word Doc to modify it or continue working in the cloud.
Here’s what it includes:
The template does a good job of selling TravelPerk, because it mentions that companies should build their policy into their travel booking software.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing is another great organic marketing channel.
Typically, email marketing is utilized during the lead nurturing phase to convert leads into buyers. Marketers will offer lead magnets in exchange for email addresses, and then follow up with nurture sequences full of helpful content.
However, you can also promote your email content without a lead magnet. For example, you might have a landing page featuring positive reviews of your email newsletter and use that page to convert more people into subscribers.
In this example from Userpilot, the email content is framed like a lead magnet. Their 5-week email course is called Product Adoption School.
Of course, after the email course is finished, they continue to send great content weekly to stay top of mind and convert leads into users.
5. Live events and webinars
Live events can be in-person, virtual, or hybrid. While they require a lot more effort than many other organic marketing strategies, they can be a great way to serve up more advanced, in-depth content to your audience.
A webinar is typically 30–90 minutes in length and covers just one topic, while a live event might have a variety of speakers and panel sessions.
To be successful, your content should take center stage. Make sure your content solves real problems for your audience—otherwise your attendance and participation will suffer.
Drift hosts large, in-person conferences as well as virtual webinars. This example webinar promises to share sales plays for inbound lead nurturing, outbound prospecting, and deal management.
Leads from webinars can then be vetted and passed onto the sales team, who can prioritize and nurture the highest quality leads.
Podcasts are an excellent form of organic marketing because they hit multiple goals at once, especially if you use them to interview your target audience.
Here are some of the benefits of hosting a podcast:
- Create high-quality content with real-world stories
- Approach target buyers by asking them to be interviewed
- Reach more of your target buyers when interviewees share the links to their features
- Generate content that can be repurposed for social media, lead magnets, and blog posts
Proof, a website personalization tool, has a top-notch podcast with a standout name. The Scale or Die podcast regularly features entrepreneurs and marketing leaders from some of the most successful B2B SaaS companies in the world.
Of course, a variety of industries need website personalization, but because Proof’s target industry is software, they make sure to keep their podcast focused on that vertical as well.
7. Digital PR
Digital PR refers to the work your team does to get your CEO and other company leaders featured on other websites and platforms.
Some popular forms of digital PR include being a guest on a podcast, speaking at a virtual event, publishing a guest post on a relevant website, or being featured in digital publications like Forbes and Bloomberg.
Essentially, you’re accessing other companies’ organic audiences instead of relying completely on your own.
Guest blogging is one of the most effective digital PR strategies because you can increase your brand awareness on popular platforms while driving backlinks that help with SEO.
In this example guest blog, SaaS marketing specialist Anna Sarayna shares best practices for SMS marketing.
She can drive new leads and clients from this exposure organically simply because Copy Hackers has such a big audience. She can also share this guest blog with her audience to showcase her authority in the space.
8. Content partnerships
Content partnerships are similar to digital PR but are typically a bit more strategic. Companies typically work together on a more in-depth level in order to produce a piece of high-quality evergreen content that can be shared with both companies’ audiences.
The companies might share the leads from the content with each other as well.
In this example, Starbucks partnered with Spotify to create a variety of playlists. When the partnership launched in 2015, Forbes called it “digital co-branding genius.”
Today, companies from all industries are working together to create content and experiences that satisfy their mutual audiences.
9. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is another great organic strategy because it allows you to tap into the organic audiences of coaches, influencers, and other small business owners.
This strategy is popular amongst e-commerce companies, SaaS companies, and other digital-first businesses.
Here at StoryChief, we have our own affiliate program. Our content marketing platform is used by content marketing agencies and internal teams to streamline collaboration. Many content influencers and experts use our affiliate program (which offers a 20% commission on recurring sales) to monetize their social media content, email newsletters, and other forms of marketing.
How to develop an organic marketing strategy
Without a cohesive strategy, you’ll be spinning your wheels without a lot of results to show for it.
Try this step-by-step process for coming up with your own organic marketing strategy.
Step 1. Research customer needs and competitor content
The first step is to do your research. Any good strategy needs to be grounded in a deep understanding of the market landscape.
Try sending out a content research survey to your customers and interviewing a few of them as well.
Here are some questions you might ask:
- What are your top goals when it comes to [topic]?
- What are your biggest problems relating to [topic]?
- Do you use any resources, companies, or websites to resolve these problems? If so what?
After you conduct this research, make sure to condense and analyze it, so it’ll be easier to use for future content ideation and planning.
You should also conduct competitor research.
Make sure to analyze your competitors for:
- Their top organic channels
- The content themes and topics they explore on organic channels
- Any data you can find about their success and approach (for example, any interviews or social posts where they share behind-the-scenes information)
- Their SEO rankings
- Their top-performing social content in terms of engagement
Step 2. Choose your channels
The next step is to choose your channels. For example, you might choose SEO blogging, Twitter, and LinkedIn to drive traffic to the top of your funnel. Then, you might use lead magnets and email marketing to convert that traffic into leads.
Make sure to start with just a few channels, and then build out from there once you’re sure you have enough resources to do so. If your marketing team is stretched too thin, you’ll struggle to drive leads organically, because organic channels need a lot of care and attention to beat search and social algorithms.
Make sure to start with just a few channels, and then build out from there.
Step 3. Plan your content themes
Next, it’s time to start planning your content.
Consultant Dan Martell recommends coming up with 5 “Hot Button Topics” that really matter to your audience—the problems they desperately want solved. You can then make sure that all of your content ideas can be mapped to those topics.
Or, you might use competitive SEO research to find out what topics your competitors are tackling.
Make sure also to include bottom-of-the-funnel content ideas. What do prospective customers need to know right before they buy? Maybe they want to see your product in action. Or maybe they want to compare your products to those of your competitors.
For example, CRM software Nutshell has a guided tour of their product, including basics on how to use it and a sales automation workshop that walks viewers through how to start automating their sales process for the first time.
This example is a great reminder that organic marketers need to be satisfying the full spectrum of the buying cycle, not just generating top-of-funnel leads.
Step 4. Improve your internal collaboration processes
Before you start generating leads and customers through organic marketing, you need to take a good hard look at your current internal processes.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you use too many disparate systems and platforms each day?
- Are you doing a lot of unnecessary manual work?
- Are marketers often confused or lost in the process?
- Do you struggle with productivity?
These are all good signs that your collaboration processes aren’t up to par.
Try implementing StoryChief so you can streamline your workflows for organic marketing. With StoryChief, you can plan, brief, assign, publish, distribute, and promote your organic content in one place.
Step 5. Create a content execution and promotion plan
Once you’ve decided on your content, your channels, and your collaboration system, you can move on to the next step, which is planning out how you will actually execute and promote your content.
This way, you’ll have every step of the process nailed down.
Here’s an example workflow for a blog post:
- Content strategist delivers content topics to the content manager.
- Content manager creates a content brief in StoryChief and assigns it to the writer.
- Content writer submits the blog post to the content manager.
- Content manager reviews and comments on the blog post and requests edits as needed.
- Content writer addresses comments in StoryChief.
- Content manager approves the content and writes social media snippets and emails.
- Content manager pre-schedules the blog publication date, social media posts, and email (adding multiple posts for evergreen content).
- Content manager logs into StoryChief to review results.
All of the above steps take place in StoryChief, improving the productivity and efficiency of all collaborators.
Step 6. Optimize your organic marketing funnel
Once you’ve been regularly releasing organic content, it’s wise to take a step back and optimize your funnel.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you need more middle-of-funnel content?
- Do you need to do a better job of directing traffic to your lead magnets?
- Do you need to do a better job of converting the traffic on your website and pulling them deeper into your funnel?
- Does it take too long for the sales team to get back to leads?
Get creative and think outside of the box. For example, you might include a video chat pop-up like this one on Kubrio’s website. Parents considering the homeschool platform can get a feel for the founder’s style and discover useful information in the pop-up.
In this blog post, we gathered 3 helpful content marketing funnels to kickstart your brainstorming.
5 organic marketing ideas to start getting better results right away
Ready to improve your success?
Here are some organic marketing ideas that can increase your results from every channel.
1. Utilize industry experts
To create better organic content, try finding better subject matter experts to give you their hard-earned advice (instead of just researching by reading other articles)
Here are ways to find these experts:
- Internal colleagues - Interview your internal colleagues who are in the same role as your target customer or who interact with customers daily.
- Customers - Interview customers to get their input on your content. You can compensate them for their time or offer an incentive, such as a discount.
- Podcast interviews - If you can’t use the strategies above, try listening to podcasts where experts are sharing their tips.
- YouTube videos - Watch keynote speeches and other videos with expert advice to get a unique spin that will impress your audience while catering to Google’s helpful content update.
2. Test different formats to stand out online
Experiment with new formats to you can see what yields the most engagement. Each platform and audience will be different, so you’ll need to try 3 - 6 content formats for each channel to see what works.
- Written text - Written text is popular for Twitter, LinkedIn, and of course blog posts.
- Video - Videos can help you stand out on LinkedIn and Instagram. They can also help your blog content rank higher and get longer dwell times, satisfying these channels’ algorithms.
- Images - Images are essential for making your blog content stand out, and for getting more attention on primarily text platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Audio - Audio content is great for engaging with your audience while they’re driving or walking. Podcasts and podcast snippets offer a deeper connection with your audience than text alone.
- Slides - Slides (called ‘documents’ on LinkedIn) tend to get tons of engagement on LinkedIn and are a great way to stand out amongst a sea of standard, text-only posts.
We recently released a free tool called the Twitter Thread Designer. It automatically turns your Twitter threads into attractive slides you can share on all social media platforms.
3. Repurpose your content
To get the most out of your organic content, make sure you’re repurposing as much of it as you can.
For example, you might turn a podcast into a blog post, a Twitter thread, a Twitter thread slideshow for LinkedIn, and an audio snippet for Instagram. Here are 12 ways to repurpose content for social media.
4. Activate more ambassadors
To get more organic leads, you need to think beyond yourself.
How can you get more influencers, colleagues, partners, and affiliates on your side? To win, you need a whole army of organic marketers, not just the people within your marketing team. So spend some time finding, incentivizing, and training ambassadors for your brand.
5. Improve your organic marketing workflow
Without great collaboration, your organic marketing will flop. It’s easy to get caught up in the strategies, without taking the time to fix your collaboration.
So make sure to update your process so you can be more efficient and ultimately drive more leads. Better processes come with better results.
To streamline your organic marketing, start your free trial of StoryChief.