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Paid media vs organic - which gets me better b2b leads?

Jenny Reardon | 26 July 2016


In the need for leads, which is king? Organic media or paid media? If you asked a room full of marketers, you’d get some very varied answers. But, that’s because each type of media has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, I’ll outline these factors and explain how you can use them to come up with a lead generation strategy that works for you.

Organic media

The advantages of organic media are that they are free and more trusted by searchers. Most professionals realise that paid listings appear at the top of page only because their owners have deeper pockets than others. For this reason, they tend to favour search results that have earned their ranking.

The disadvantage of organic media is that acquiring a top ranking requires much time and effort, especially if your website is new and you are only just starting to use content for lead generation. Only a consistent stream of quality content will improve your site’s authority, and even then, you have to choose the right keywords to rank for.

It’s clear then that there’s more to organic media than paid media. To produce the content needed to meet your lead generation goals, you have to employ strategists, designers, and writers, all of whom need to have experience in content marketing. This approach is not something that you can only dabble in if you want results.

Paid search

Besides the trust problem, the big issue with paid media is that you have to pay for it. Here, it’s useful to draw an analogy between lead generation and your living arrangements. Organic media is like building a house – it takes time, but then you can live in it for as long as you like without paying anything else (provided you don’t have a mortgage). Paid media, on the other hand, is a lot like renting – in that you get kicked out as soon as you stop paying.

Seen this way, organic media seems like the better option. Why would anyone pay for PPC when they could be investing in organic media? The answer has everything to do with time. Sometimes, you just aren’t able to wait for results. In these situations, paid media comes into its own. 

Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation in which you have identified a gap in the market, and you want to jump on that opportunity while it’s still hot. The problem is that it’s going to be a while before you rank organically for your new keywords. The solution here is to use a PPC campaign to drive traffic to your landing pages. As if activated by an on-off switch, paid media gives you leads when you need them and shuts off the flow when you don’t.


The right solution for your lead generation operations depends on your time constraints and resources. For instant results, paid media is your best option, but it would be a mistake to ignore the potential of organic media. Yes, content takes time, and yes, it requires a greater deal of strategy and skill. But in the long run, it will deliver greater ROI.

To learn more about how content can be used to deliver impressive ROI in an inbound marketing strategy, download our inbound marketing guide. New Call-to-action

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