Organic vs. Paid Marketing: What’s the Difference?

November 02, 2020
by Deanitra Kuminka

Imagine that you’ve just created the best product ever. The first thing you want to do is to share it with anyone who’ll listen and offer it to your company’s targeted audience as a solution to their most troublesome pain points. However, you can’t seem to gain traction or keep customers engaged. Many companies have trouble getting found by their ideal audiences. It doesn’t matter how great your product or services are; we all need a little help. And that’s where organic marketing and paid marketing come in. 

At first glance, the most significant difference between the two marketing methods is the cost. Organic marketing is free, whereas paid marketing is just that, paid for. But you’ll be interested in knowing that the differences go much deeper than the surface. In the following sections, we’ll dig a little deeper into the differences between the marketing methods, weigh the pros and cons, and help you decide which one is the better approach for you.

Organic Marketing

When we think of the word organic, our minds often think of food. We think natural, homegrown, and without enhancements. Organic marketing, which is also called inbound marketing, is similar to organic food in this fashion. This marketing method uses search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and quality content, among other tactics, which work together to naturally drive traffic to your site and improve your rankings on the search engine results page (SERPs).

Organic marketing has a whole host of uses, no matter if you’re an entrepreneur with a team of 10 or fewer to large enterprise companies with hundreds on their team. It’s an excellent way to develop your brand’s voice, define and learn about your target audience, and authentically grow your client base by building relationships with them. These interactions are achieved through educating clients and subscribers through various outlets, including blogs, email marketing campaigns, and your website. This, of course, allows leads to find your business naturally while driving traffic to a designated landing page or directly to the client’s website.

Many businesses engage in organic marketing, and they aren’t even aware of it. Every time you post on social media about your business, create and share a blog, or update your website, you’re engaging in organic marketing. In fact, this blog you’re reading is considered organic marketing! You can also track the analytics tied to each content marketing effort and use it to tweak your marketing process identifying which blog posts drive the most traffic, which ones are found organically, and much more.

Paid Marketing

On the other hand, paid marketing is just as its name suggests, is marketing that paid for. Paid marketing is also referred to as paid advertising, PPCs (pay per clicks), or paid search. Where it differs from organic marketing is that with PPCs, advertisers pay a small fee each time they get clicked. It’s a popular method to buy the visitors who come to your website instead of earning them organically.

Traditionally, paid marketing took the form of physical advertisements like billboards, posters, or print ads. Nowadays, they’re more prominent online, which allows for more places to influence buyers. When you’re browsing social media pages or reading an article on your favorite website, the ads that appear along the sidebar are often paid to advertise. The sponsored posts and results that you encounter on Instagram or spot at the top of SERPs? All paid marketing.

This marketing method is incredibly popular amongst businesses looking for a short-term way to grow their business and beef up their website traffic quickly. Unlike the many purposes, organic marketing serves, paid marketing is primarily used to boost a company’s online presence through paid rankings. Instead of using SEO to boost their rankings and earn them prime real estate on SERPs, that prominent spot is paid for. Those paid efforts also help drive web traffic and with it ready-to-buy leads.

Below, we’ll break down a few pros and cons of each marketing method.


Organic Marketing

Sky’s the Limit

Some of the best things in life are free, and organic marketing is one of them. The no-cost price tag of it also means you aren’t locked into one marketing strategy. You can tweak your approach as needed. If your company doesn’t have the funds to dedicate to an ad, you can still use SEO rankings and optimized content to achieve the same results an ad would over time.

You also can choose whether or not you want help with making sure your organic marketing strategy is bringing in results. You can even hire a digital marketing agency to help bring your company measurable growth and keep money in your pocket. According to HubSpot, organic marketing costs 61 percent less per lead than outbound marketing, plus you can ensure that you’re attracting relevant leads.

Boosts Credibility

Organic marketing is an effective way to gain trust from your subscribers and potential leads. Using targeted keywords throughout your campaigns and blogs boosts your SEO ranking on search engine sites like Google. When people are scrounging the internet, they tend to only focus on the first page of results. If they search for a product or a question and continuously see your company in the results, it increases your brand’s credibility as the best option. Providing quality content on various outlets that appear organically nurtures trust and inspires brand loyalty.


Another pro to using organic marketing is its longevity. You don’t have to worry about your content disappearing from the internet should your budget run out. Your content exists and is available forever. This allows potential leads and customers to come across your content and use it as a resource long after you’ve written it. Even years later, your content can continue to draw in more leads and sales. Providing extraordinary content also supports longevity in your organic marketing strategies because it generates a lot of traction and exposure. By boosting your SEO rankings organically, you can guarantee that your leads are authentic.

Paid Marketing

Fast Results

The number one pro to using paid marketing is how quickly it can generate traffic. As soon as your ad goes live, you are instantly visible and can start receiving targeted traffic with a higher chance of conversion anywhere from 24-72 hours afterward.

Attracts Ready-to-Buy Leads

This also factors into audience customization. With paid marketing, you have some control over who sees your ads. Depending on who your ads are through, you can target geography, language, and specific interests.


Organic Marketing

It Takes Time

Organic marketing can be a gamechanger, especially for smaller businesses. However, if you’re looking for results, you have to be patient. Organic marketing isn’t a short game; it’s a long game. The length of time it takes to get results can range from a few months to a few years in extreme cases. 

Paid Marketing

Paying for Each Click

The most common con of paid marketing is, of course, that you have to pay for each click. And these clicks come from everywhere: viable leads, competitors, or people who accidentally click on your ad. Sure, it’s only a few dollars per click, but if you run a successful ad, those clicks can start to add up. Paying for clicks is only half the battle. There are other pieces that go to the puzzle, including making sure your keywords and ads are targeted to your desired audience. So, if a part of your strategy is out of order, you can wind up losing money and your lead. 

Paid Ads Aren’t Guaranteed

Another con of paid marketing is that paid ads don’t always guarantee clicks. The average consumer ignores sponsored ads. Approximately 85 percent of people doing online searches are more likely to click organic listings than the 10-15 percent that take their chances with PPC ads.

Your Budget Matters

Lastly, your visibility being dependent on your budget is a huge con. During these uncertain times, your budget might not be as robust as it was pre-COVID, and that’s where problems can arise with paid marketing. As long as you have the money, your listings stay front and center, but once your budget disappears, so does your listing.

Which One is for You?

Paid marketing might be quicker and easier, but organic marketing offers more longevity and a greater reward. While there are aspects of both that overlap, including engagement, acquisition, and conversion, the strategy that yields the best results is one that combines both marketing tactics, with a heavier emphasis on organic marketing.

Before you decide which approach is better for your business, consider your company’s needs, and identify your marketing goals. Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Or maybe you’re trying to grow your target audience. Whatever the motivation behind your goals, make sure your marketing plan matches.

Joseph Studios: Transforming Your Business with Organic Marketing

If you’re looking for a way to grow your business using organic marketing, Joseph Studios can help! We proudly use organic marketing to boost your company’s online presence, SEO rankings, and generate leads that convert into brand-loyal customers. Our passionate team of marketing experts is eager to help you see results using their specialization in one of our many services.

Are you interested in learning how to upgrade your marketing game? Contact us today to learn more!


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