Whenever I’m pitching the value of paid search marketing aka pay-per-click (PPC), inevitably one of the greatest concerns people have is with the cost. They think that it’s too expensive to use Google Adwords or they’re addicted to getting free stuff and only want to focus on organic traffic. Although you do have to pay for the traffic you receive from paid search and the traffic does stop when you stop spending money, PPC has tremendous upside. PPC can be unique from other digital marketing tactics in that you get high quality visitors. These are people who’ve already expressed significant interest in the products and services you offer.
If you aren’t immediately sold, that’s okay. The world of investments can be used as an analogy to help understand PPC’s value. The Hershey Chocolate Company, sells a great product. No, it’s not as flashy as other products, but they have a strong customer base. Hershey has also performed quite well on the stock market.
If you had bought 100 shares of Hershey stock in October of 2009, it would have cost you around $4000. Want to take a guess at what those shares would be worth today? $9,000! That’s a return of five grand! Additionally, the stock price didn’t simply grow. Hershey also issued 20 dividends over the last 5 years, which means that not only did your investment become more valuable, but also Hershey paid you to use your money. I don’t claim to be an investment expert, but I’d say that’s pretty good. What you see is that although buying into Hershey did take a significant initial investment, the benefit of doing so was tremendous.
How does PPC fit in? Paid search is like investing in the Hershey Company; it’s predictable and reliable. The basic principle here is that you must spend money in order to make money. The long term benefit of doing so combined with the short-term growth and dividends made it well worth the investment.
Most people know that search engine optimization (SEO), deals with trying to earn free traffic. It’s different from paid search in that you make adjustments to your website, web listings, and backlink profile in order to generate results. No money is spent on clicks. You might change some elements of your website to be more search friendly or you might publish a lot of original content through a blog. There are lots of things you can do, but the point is that you are spending time, not money on digital marketing. The only problem is that this can be a major gamble. Why? Quite frankly, your efforts might not do anything to generate more traffic. Furthermore, you could be competing with larger, more established companies that have more resources to do SEO. This could make it possible to receive no value from SEO at all.
Back to investments, SEO is often like investing in penny stocks. It may cost you next to nothing in terms of cash and there are success stories, but the value generated is usually sparse. Of course, that’s not to say you won’t succeed in generating a return, but I’d like to warn you to prepare for failure. The return on your time investment just may not come to fruition.
The question then becomes a matter of what a smart business owner with limited resources should do for digital marketing? Should they come up with some money for paid search (a predictable model with guaranteed results)? Should they take a chance on SEO and spend a lot of time with something that might not do anything? The first step is to examine the limitation a business faces. Sometimes, there’s legitimately no money to spend (that includes pulling money away from other marketing tactics like mail inserts or one sheeters). Other times, the business is in crisis mode and needs instant results. There are plenty of variables that will impact the answer to “what makes sense?” Nevertheless, the truth is that if the money is available, it’s quite likely that paid search is the best investment.
Read the original version on the imavex blog.