Getting leads is why you hire a marketing firm, but sometimes the leads aren’t what you expected, or the timeline isn’t the one you had in mind. Both pay-per-click advertising and inbound have their strengths and weaknesses, but both can be a vital part of your marketing strategy.
I know, I know. I’m here to expound on the benefits of the inbound methodology, but for a change of pace, let’s examine traditional pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. While you might not see too many banner ads these days because you installed an adblocker three years ago, they’re still everywhere, and still a lucrative form of advertising.
PPC marketing is an effective top-of-funnel way of marketing your product because it puts you in front of a broad range of people who may have never heard of your brand. When done right, PPC ads are simple, to the point, and visually interesting enough to make people want to see more. And they can be targeted to people who have visited your website, used your search terms, or even by IP addresses. In short, they’re an effective short-term way of building interest in your brand.
However. PPC advertising is expensive. It’s important to keep in mind the “pay” part of “pay-per-click;” when the money dries up, the leads go with it. And if your users have installed any adblocker software, they won’t even see your banners and buttons at all. You need clicks to make PPC advertising worth your while.
But inbound marketing is different. It’s not subject to the whims of those who may have installed adblockers, or limited only to clients who can continuously pump money into their marketing firms, or only capable of delivering a slurry of top-of-funnel leads. Inbound marketing puts relevant, interesting, permanent content on the internet for people who are looking for what you’re offering. The downside of inbound, we admit, is that it takes time to build up a content library and increase your search results organically, and when you need leads now inbound marketing can seem like too big a proposition to take on.
But inbound is like an avalanche. One pebble slips into another, and another, until entire mountainsides are careening toward the ground – or filling the first page of a search engine’s results with your content. Inbound marketing offers better, more focused leads than PPC can provide because your content will be shown only to people who are already looking for information relevant to the services you provide. Qualified leads are more likely to turn into sales, and because these leads are interacting with long-term content like blog posts and ebooks, inbound marketing is more cost-effective over time; there’s simply no limit to the number of leads a three-year-old blog post can generate, but your PPC banners remain in place only as long as the money keeps going.
Nonetheless, paid advertising can be an excellent supplement to inbound, it’s a great way to generate quick leads. It’s just not optimized for how the web actually operates, and doesn’t provide a foundation for long-term growth.
Good marketing takes a financial investment and significant time commitment, but it pays off to invest in a marketing strategy that takes care of you long term as well as short term.