Why Marketers Must Look Beyond Pay-Per-Click and Social Ads for Sustainable Results

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Pay-per-click (PPC) and social advertising are powerful tools in a marketer’s toolkit. They’re quick and attention-grabbing, and they can produce a surge of web traffic. It’s quite the thrill watching the clicks roll in. But when the ad campaign wraps up, that traffic dwindles — and you find yourself back where you started. 

Sure, you could launch another campaign and get it back. But like the first time, it goes away when the campaign is over. You quickly find yourself trapped in this cycle of dependency, having to continually feed the ad machine. But there is another way. Marketer, meet inbound marketing.

Think about your marketing strategy as a Zillow listing and your potential customers as house hunters. Digital ads are like clever home staging that makes your property look appealing in photos. Sure, it attracts plenty of window shoppers (and ideally some genuine prospects), but no one buys a house solely based on the fresh coat of paint. Buyers are going to scrutinize the fundamentals — the solid foundation, the upgraded furnace and the building’s structural soundness. That’s inbound marketing.

Many marketers lean too heavily into the staging while ignoring the gaping cracks in the foundation. PPC may draw people in, but it’s inbound marketing that sustains the relationship and seals the deal. Top-notch digital marketing strategies embrace both PPC and inbound, but they respect the balance.

This post will delve into the power of inbound marketing, its pros and cons and how to use both PPC and inbound to maximize your marketing efforts and results. 

How to Supplement Inbound Marketing With Paid Online Advertising

The benefits of inbound marketing are clear, but you don’t have to completely abandon your ad spending to generate more leads. In fact, you can use both inbound marketing and paid advertising to attract audiences, gain more leads and convert more clients. Here’s how to leverage PPC and social ads as part of your inbound marketing strategy: 

Give content a boost. You’ve spent months developing blog content and videos, but they aren’t reaching as many people as you had hoped. That may be because it can take about six months for content to rank on the first page of Google. You could use PPC ads to promote your content to broader audiences (and, in the meantime, work on improving your content quality and SEO to earn more organic traffic over time). 

Social advertising can also promote your content to wider audiences on social media platforms. Just make sure you’re creating high-quality content before paying to promote it — you don’t want audiences to click on ads only to be disappointed by the content on the page.

Target audiences. PPC and social advertising can be tailored to target audiences. While very few people (less than 2%) actually click paid search results, the ads can put your brand front and center. When you combine ads with high-ranking organic content like blog posts, users are more likely to click through and stick around. 

Seek out keywords. Using advertising tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, you can use PPC and social ads to see the keywords people are searching for and review forecasts for how those keywords are expected to perform in the future. You can also review competitors’ keywords to help determine if there are any gaps in your own content.

Use ads for A/B testing. PPC and social advertising provide quick but short-term results. Use this to your advantage by using ads while A/B testing for the most impactful components of your content. Maybe you’re torn between two different calls to action, or you’re not sure which headline is more intriguing for a blog post. Use results gathered from PPC and social ads to quickly determine which is most effective.

Here’s a quick refresher on how inbound differs from outbound marketing: 

Marketing Terms Defined: Inbound vs. Outbound 

Inbound MarketingOutbound Marketing
Definition:Focused on creating valuable content that attracts and engages a target audience, fostering trust and connections with a brand.Employs broad, unspecific methods such as advertisements and cold outreach to reach a wide audience, with less emphasis on personalization and relationship building.
Target Audience:Specific, tailored audience segments actively seeking information or solutions. A wide audience that may or may not be interested in the advertised product or service. 
Best for:Building trust, nurturing leads and establishing thought leadership. Generating brand awareness, reaching a large audience quickly. 
Examples: Blog posts, webinars, videos, ebooks, infographics, organic social media posts. Billboards, direct mail, ads (TV, radio, digital), cold calling. 

Pros and Cons of Inbound Marketing

While there are pros and cons to inbound marketing, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks. You can also supplement inbound marketing with other strategies, including paid online advertising, for a comprehensive marketing strategy that draws in more client leads. 

Pros:

  • Less cost upfront. Inbound marketing costs less on average than outbound marketing.
  • Better ROI. Each inbound marketing dollar spent generates about three times more leads than each dollar spent on outbound marketing, making it a cost-effective strategy with great ROI.
  • Relationship-based. Inbound marketing helps build long-term relationships with clients by building trust. Well-researched and optimized content can go a long way in answering clients’ questions and presenting yourself as an authority in your field.
  • Leads are already warm. Inbound marketing, by its nature, engages a group already searching for (or interested in learning about) your product or service. 
  • Less invasive. Inbound marketing can come across to target audiences and future clients as less invasive and more natural.

Cons:

  • It takes time. Because inbound marketing is meant to foster long-term relationships, it requires time and dedication to set up content that is self-sustaining over time. (But stick with it: five months of consistent inbound marketing can result in an 80% decrease in the cost per lead.)
  • It takes expertise. There are a lot of skills required, from learning SEO best practices to designing user-friendly and easy-to-read blog pages to producing and editing videos. You may benefit from hiring content marketing professionals to take this hefty task off your plate.
  • It’s a crowded field. Think of all the top-ranking blogs, beautifully designed and helpful ebooks and viral videos out there. There’s a lot of competition! Working with a team who understands SEO and the art of crafting high-quality digital content is key to standing out from the crowd with your inbound marketing strategy.

How to Get Started in Inbound Marketing

The inbound methodology can be approached in three stages: attract, engage and delight. It all starts with attracting strangers in your target audience, engaging these new leads and ultimately delighting the customer after converting the leads.

Attract, Engage, Delight

Attract. The attracting stage is all about pulling in members of your target audience by meeting them where they’re at. You want your optimized blog post or handy guide to be among the top results when people are searching for certain keywords related to your brand. To do this: 

  • Define your audience. This starts with creating buyer personas. This tactic helps you nail down the various needs of people within your target audience.
  • Create awesome content. Using your buyer personas as a guide, build out a well-rounded content strategy that includes different types of valuable content — from blogs to videos to social media posts. 

Engage. Now that you have peoples’ eyes on your content, how can you get them to stick around for more of what your brand has to offer? The next step of the inbound methodology is to engage users, turning strangers into leads. To engage, you’ll want to focus on what solutions your brand’s products or services can offer to potential clients. 

Include calls to action at the end of the content you’ve made. For example, say you’re reading a super helpful post on the value of inbound marketing, and you want to learn more. The savvy inbound marketer will direct you to, say, subscribe to an awesome content, no filler blog or download a handy e-book. (Wink.) 

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You can also engage leads with promotions, discounts, exclusive content or other perks to encourage conversion.

Delight. After finding your blog and buying your product, a person has gone from stranger to lead to customer. Now it’s time to use inbound methodology to increase client satisfaction and secure a long-term client who loves your brand and is happy to make repeat purchases and even recommend you to others.

Some examples of delighting the customer include providing video tutorials to accompany purchased products or services, sending out satisfaction surveys to check in with how they’re feeling about their purchase, or even planning digital or in-person events for clients.

Essentially, you want to make sure clients feel heard and attended to, even after they’ve made a purchase. With 81% of customers saying that positive customer service experiences make it more likely they’ll buy from a company again, the importance of the delight stage shouldn’t be overlooked.

Inbound and PPC, Better Together

Neither PPC nor inbound is the end-all-be-all solution to driving lead generation — savvy marketers make the proper use of all the tools in their toolkits. Ultimately, if your company is looking to generate more leads and gain repeat customers, you’ll want to focus on strengthening your inbound marketing strategy and then supplementing with PPC. 

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Paige Bennett

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