When looking at marketing strategies for your business, it’s crucial to first thoroughly understand your options, and how they operate both independently and in tandem. Are you seeing good traffic metrics for your site, but not seeing those visits convert to sales? Or have you recently seen a decline in website visitors and want to see those numbers increase to their old level? Or maybe your numbers are fine, but you’re looking for growth?
Whatever your specific situation, there are so many marketing strategies out there that it can be hard to sift through them all in order to find the one, or the combination of ones, that’s right for your company. This post aims to define, then briefly compare and contrast, two of those strategies.
Those strategies are Content Marketing and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). Before we dive in for a more detailed view of these options and how they can interact for additional impact, let’s start with a quick definition of the terms.
Content marketing is defined as: “marketing that tries to attract customers by distributing informational content potentially useful to the target audience, rather than by advertising products and services in the traditional way.”
This has emerged as a rapidly growing field within the marketing world, with good reason, as it allows you to develop a relationship with your customers as a trusted resource and partner. We went into greater depth on content marketing in a previous blog post here.
Content marketing allows you to nurture this relationship with existing and new customers alike by creating informative content that brings them back to your website because they see it as a resource. This fosters interactions, which lead to conversions.
Pay-per-click, better known as PPC, is defined as: “a system used to set prices for online advertisements on a search engine or other website, by which the advertiser pays a small fee to the website publisher each time a user clicks on the advertisement.”
You've undoubtedly seen PPC ads when you've used a search engine like Google (I’ll be lumping all search engines under this universal term for brevity). At the top of a page of search results, you’ll generally see a small number of paid ads. These are there as a result of PPC: the company being advertised pays Google each time a visitor clicks their ad. PPC campaigns are increasingly showing up on social media platforms as well.
Now that you have the definitions, the question remains - which marketing method is right for your company?
PPC - Click Generator
As briefly described above, PPC involves paying a search engine such as Google to display your ad on their website. Each time someone clicks your ad, you are billed a small fee.
Much of the strategy in this method revolves around keyword use. The more specific keywords you use, the better targeted your ad will be, translating into the right people seeing your ad and clicking through to your website.
With PPC marketing, you can increase your visibility, at the cost of time spent researching keywords, ad placement strategies, analyzing metrics, and adjusting your preferences with each individual search engine. This strategy can often become expensive fairly quickly. Additionally, many savvy internet users have browser plugins that block these ads from even appearing or they prefer organic search results which are driven largely by our next marketing strategy - content marketing.
Content Marketing - Market Sustainably
Content marketing, on the other hand, works by attracting customers through timely, industry-specific content. With this strategy, it’s all about adding a value proposition for your customer, in this case, useful content, to keep them coming back for more. You want them to view you and your business as a trusted, reliable resource. There are a variety of content channels available: blogs, vlogs, ebooks, videos, and email newsletters for starters. Each of these plays a role in helping you create engaging content and feed the interactions that transform a first-time visitor to your website into a loyal, repeat customer.
It’s true that creating the content for this strategy to work will take time and resources. It will also:
help you grow your readership/followers,
inspire trust in your customers (new and existing alike),
Lead to them putting you in that coveted position as a trusted advisor
Creating fresh, inspiring content on a regular basis will also benefit your website’s SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This in turn improves your ranking in the organic search results on Google. According to MarTech, 70-80% of search engine users are only focusing on organic results. With better SEO, more searchers are bound to find you.
Decision Time - PPC? Or Content Marketing?
Now that you have a handle on these two competing, yet complementary marketing options, the question remains - which marketing method is right for your company? Inbound versus PPC?
The truth is, both are viable marketing techniques. The rest of the truth is that no amount of money spent driving clicks to your website is worth much if you don’t have quality content for visitors to see once they get there.
Therefore, the best bang for your buck is to start building that trust. Engage your customers and build that sense of trust within your industry. How? By creating high-quality, engaging, topical, and even inspiring content.
Then maybe as your company begins to see the associated growth of clients who love you and tell all their friends about you, it will be time to consider using PPC to drive even more customer eyeballs to that storehouse of knowledge you’ve created.
According to industry leader HubSpot, “Paid ad campaigns present an effective marketing channel when used strategically and in sync with other initiatives” (emphasis mine). PPC has the potential to drive new eyeballs to your website. Without a high-quality, informative, trust-inspiring content marketing strategy in place, these eyes won’t stay around long enough to convert.
As with any strategy, intent and focused attention are paramount. By creating a solid base of content for customers to read, watch, and interact with - you’ll create and keep customers for life.