KPIs for Marketing

KPIs for Marketing: earned media reach

Learn about the importance of earned media reach as a key performance indicator (KPI) for your marketing strategy.

As a marketer, you are tasked with the challenge of measuring the success of your marketing efforts. One key metric to keep in mind is earned media reach, which refers to the number of people who are exposed to your brand through channels other than paid advertising. In this article, we'll explore what earned media reach is, why it's important, and how to measure it effectively.

Understanding Earned Media Reach

Before we delve into the metrics and how to measure them, let's first define earned media reach and explore its importance in marketing.

Earned media reach is a crucial aspect of marketing that can help your brand gain exposure and credibility. It refers to the extent to which your brand is exposed to audiences through channels that your company does not own or control. This includes coverage in traditional media outlets, social media shares, and backlinks from other websites.

When your brand is mentioned or featured in media outlets, it can help to establish your brand as an authority in your industry. This can lead to increased trust and credibility with your target audience, which can ultimately lead to increased sales and revenue.

Importance of Earned Media Reach in Marketing

Earned media reach is important because it represents valuable exposure for your brand that you don't have to pay for. When consumers encounter your brand through channels that they trust, such as social media or news sources, they are more likely to be receptive to your message.

Additionally, earned media can help to build brand awareness and increase your reach to new audiences. When your brand is mentioned in a publication or shared on social media, it can reach people who may not have otherwise been exposed to your brand.

Building a strong earned media presence can also help improve your overall SEO and organic search ranking, which is critical for driving traffic and leads. When your brand is mentioned on other websites and social media platforms, it can help to increase the number of backlinks pointing to your website. This can improve your search engine rankings and make it easier for potential customers to find your brand online.

Earned Media vs. Paid Media vs. Owned Media

It's important to understand the difference between earned, paid, and owned media to effectively measure earned media reach.

Owned media refers to channels that your company owns and controls, such as your website or social media accounts. This type of media can be used to promote your brand and engage with your audience directly.

Paid media, on the other hand, refers to advertising or promotional content that you pay for, such as PPC ads or sponsored social media posts. This type of media can be effective for reaching new audiences and promoting specific products or services.

Earned media occupies the space in between, representing exposure through channels you don't control but haven't paid for. This type of media can be difficult to measure, but it can be incredibly valuable for building brand awareness and credibility.

In conclusion, earned media reach is an important aspect of marketing that can help your brand gain exposure and credibility. By understanding the difference between earned, paid, and owned media, you can effectively measure your earned media reach and use it to build a strong brand presence online.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Earned Media Reach

Measuring earned media reach can be challenging, but it's essential to evaluate its effectiveness accurately. Here are some of the key performance indicators you should track:

Social Media Shares and Mentions

Social media shares and mentions are some of the most critical KPIs to track when evaluating earned media reach. Social shares show how many people are exposed to your brand through social media channels, and social media mentions indicate how often your brand is discussed and talked about on these channels.

It's important to note that not all social media shares and mentions are created equal. Some social media users may have a larger following and more influence than others, so it's essential to track the quality of these shares and mentions as well. For example, a share from a social media influencer with a large following may have a more significant impact on your brand's reach than a share from an individual with only a few followers.

Backlinks and Referral Traffic

Backlinks and referral traffic are other important metrics to consider when measuring earned media reach. Backlinks occur when another site links back to your website, which can improve your SEO and organic search ranking. Referral traffic represents the number of visitors who come to your site through these links.

It's crucial to track the quality of backlinks as well. Backlinks from reputable and authoritative websites can have a more significant impact on your SEO and organic search ranking than backlinks from lower-quality sites. Additionally, referral traffic from relevant and engaged audiences can lead to higher conversion rates and more significant business impact.

Organic Search Rankings

Organic search rankings can also help you evaluate the effectiveness of your earned media reach. A strong earned media presence can help you rank higher in search engine results, driving more traffic and leads to your website.

It's important to note that organic search rankings are influenced by many factors beyond earned media, such as website design, content quality, and technical SEO. However, a robust earned media strategy can help improve your overall online presence and contribute to higher organic search rankings.

Influencer and Brand Mentions

Mentions from influencers and other brands can help boost exposure for your brand and improve your reputation. By tracking these mentions, you can evaluate the success of your earned media efforts effectively.

It's important to identify the right influencers and brands to target for your earned media strategy. Consider factors such as relevance, audience demographics, and engagement rates when selecting influencers and brands to work with. Additionally, building strong relationships with these influencers and brands can lead to more significant and impactful earned media opportunities in the future.

Press Coverage and Media Mentions

Press coverage and media mentions are perhaps the most traditional form of earned media reach. Tracking mentions in newspapers, magazines, and other publications can help you evaluate the performance of your earned media efforts effectively.

It's important to note that securing press coverage and media mentions can be challenging, and it often requires a significant investment of time and resources. However, the benefits of earned media coverage can be substantial, including increased brand awareness, credibility, and reputation.

Setting Earned Media Reach Goals

Now that you understand the importance and KPIs of earned media reach, the next step is to set realistic goals for your marketing efforts. Here are some tips for setting effective earned media goals:

Identifying Your Target Audience

The first step in setting earned media goals is to identify your target audience. Who are the people you are trying to reach, and where do they spend their time online? Understanding your target audience will help you identify the best channels to focus on when evaluating earned media reach.

For example, if you are a fashion brand targeting millennial women, you might want to focus on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where this demographic spends a significant amount of time.

Additionally, understanding your target audience's interests and pain points can help you create content that is more likely to be shared and generate earned media reach.

Establishing SMART Goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When setting earned media goals, make sure they meet these criteria. For example, you might set a goal to increase social media shares by 20% over the next quarter or gain five new backlinks from high-authority sites in the next month.

It's also essential to track your progress towards these goals regularly. This can help you identify what's working and what's not and make adjustments to your strategy accordingly.

Aligning Earned Media Reach Goals with Overall Marketing Strategy

Earned media reach is just one part of your overall marketing strategy, so it's essential to align your goals with your broader business objectives. How does your earned media reach fit into your larger marketing plan, and what do you hope to achieve by increasing it?

For example, if your overall marketing strategy is to increase brand awareness, your earned media reach goals might focus on increasing social media shares and mentions or generating press coverage in relevant publications.

By aligning your earned media reach goals with your broader marketing strategy, you can ensure that all of your efforts are working towards the same objectives and driving meaningful results for your business.

Strategies to Improve Earned Media Reach

As a business owner, you're probably always looking for ways to increase your reach and get your brand in front of more people. One effective way to do this is through earned media, which is any publicity or exposure that you don't pay for directly. While it can be challenging to secure earned media, there are several strategies that you can use to improve your chances.

Creating Shareable Content

One of the most effective ways to improve your earned media reach is to create content that is shareable and engaging. This might include informative blog posts, entertaining videos, or eye-catching graphics that are likely to be shared on social media or other channels.

When creating shareable content, it's important to consider your audience and what they are interested in. You should also aim to provide value in some way, whether it's through entertainment, education, or inspiration.

Another key factor to consider is the format of your content. Different types of content will be more shareable on different platforms. For example, videos tend to perform well on Facebook and Instagram, while infographics might be more popular on Pinterest.

Building Relationships with Influencers and Journalists

Another effective strategy is to build relationships with influencers and journalists in your industry. By establishing a relationship with these individuals, you may be able to get your brand mentioned in their content or even secure media coverage that can help boost your earned media reach.

When reaching out to influencers and journalists, it's important to be genuine and authentic. Don't just ask for a mention or coverage right off the bat - take the time to build a relationship and provide value in some way. This might mean sharing their content on your own channels, commenting on their posts, or even sending them a thoughtful email or direct message.

Engaging with Your Audience on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for building a following and improving your earned media reach. By engaging with your audience on these channels and responding to comments, you can build a loyal following and increase the likelihood that your content will be shared.

When engaging with your audience on social media, it's important to be consistent and authentic. Don't just post promotional content - share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business, respond to comments and messages in a timely manner, and show your personality.

You might also consider running social media contests or giveaways to encourage engagement and increase your reach. Just be sure to follow the rules and guidelines for each platform.

Leveraging User-Generated Content

User-generated content can also help improve your earned media reach. Encourage your followers and customers to create content and share it on social media, and be sure to share and repost this content to maximize its impact.

When leveraging user-generated content, it's important to ask for permission before sharing someone else's content. You should also give credit where credit is due and avoid altering the content in any way.

Collaborating with Industry Partners

Finally, you might consider collaborating with industry partners to improve your earned media reach. This might include co-creating content, hosting joint events, or even partnering on social media campaigns.

When collaborating with industry partners, it's important to find partners that align with your brand values and target audience. You should also be clear about your goals and expectations for the collaboration, and make sure that both parties are benefiting in some way.

By using these strategies, you can improve your earned media reach and get your brand in front of more people. Remember, earned media takes time and effort to secure, but the payoff can be well worth it in the end.


Earned media reach is a critical metric to track as a marketer, providing insight into how your brand is perceived and shared across different channels. By understanding the importance of earned media reach, measuring it effectively, and implementing strategies to improve it, you can take your marketing efforts to the next level and build a more successful brand.