PPC vs Inbound Marketing: Which Should You Invest In First

PPC vs Inbound Marketing - Which Should You Do First

What do you do when you’re not getting as many leads from your website as you think you should? Should you advertise more? Should you activate PPC (Pay-Per-Click advertising) or should you focus on creating outstanding content marketing to drive inbound marketing leads?

It’s a classic chicken and egg discussion — one that I just had last week with a prospective client who owned a regional office furniture supply company. So is there a single answer to this common b2b marketing quandary? I think there is… and today I want to lay out my argument for your consideration.

Good PPC Makes Bad Sites Fail Faster

There’s an old adage in advertising — good advertising makes bad products fail faster. It makes perfect sense. Good ads drive purchase of said product and as more folks buy it faster, they figure out the product really doesn’t live up to the advertising and thus become disenchanted, which drives negative word-of-mouth.

Toss in social media’s ability to spread bad news like wildfire and you have the perfect storm for product failure.

The same principle holds true for inbound marketing only the bad product is a poorly designed website and PPC ads take the place of social media.

Anyone can buy effective PPC ad buys that will drive more traffic to your website. But lack of traffic is usually not the biggest problem poorly converting websites suffer from. They suffer from poor design. Visitors become lost, frustrated and decide doing business with you just isn’t worth the effort when the competition is just a click away.

So you can toss PPC ads into your mix but then you’re just going to drive more traffic that still isn’t efficiently converting. Unfortunately, the law of numbers says that if you add 1,000 new visitors a day, some percentage will convert, which may wrongly convince you that your PPC strategy is working.

Use Content Marketing To Drive More Conversions

If you’re website isn’t converting at the rate you’d like, look first at your content and website design. Ask yourself these three questions. If you answer no to any of them, focus on fixing that issue before you invest a dollar in PPC.

  1. Is your website funnel optimized? If it’s not, you’re lead funnel will leak like a sieve and you’re going to waste money on lead generation tactics like PPC. 
  2. Is your content optimized for search engines? PPC is the marketing equivalent of crack cocaine. Once you’re on it, it’s really hard to get off of it because it works. PPC drives ROI and it gets very hard to justify reducing a PPC budget to fund new tactics that may prove less effective in the short run but will drive far better ROI in the long run. But if you can optimize your content to appear naturally in search vs having to buy your way to the top, you’ll realize far better ROI over the long haul.
  3. Are helping or selling? Web surfers are self-educating, invisible buyers and your site has to either provide that educational material or risk losing that prospect to a competitor.

Inbound Marketing is an Inside Out Process

Traditional advertising and lead generation thinking is outside in thinking. You do things on other platforms (attend trade shows, buy ads in magazines, buy ppc ads online, etc) that are designed to get someone to raise their hand to identify themselves. Then you put them into a database and start your sales prospecting process. And that works when your goal is to “get a call” or “get a meeting” with a prospect.

But inbound marketing isn’t about getting “a” call or “a” meeting. Inbound marketing is about getting the “right” call or meeting with a pre-qualified prospect. The goal of your inbound marketing program shouldn’t be leads, but qualified leads. Thus, you have to think inside out. You have to make sure that every prospect that hits your website has everything they need (information wise) to convert into a truly qualified lead.

If you don’t have that in place, then you don’t have an inbound sales prospecting machine. And without that machine, you can drive as much unqualified traffic to your website as you like — you’ll never develop the kind of high efficiency painless prospecting machine that every company really wants to deploy.

So what do you think? What would you have told that prospect on the phone last week? Go with the PPC strategy or invest in a funnel optimizing his site and filling it with helpful content?

photo credit:  “The Wanderer’s Eye Photography”

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets that helps digitally challenged companies create innovative and effective digital marketing strategies. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Connect with him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. B2B Unfiltered says:

    Tom, you jumped to a conclusion that the post doesn’t support, even if the conversation did. The answer is pretty simple:

    If you have a solid conversion rate, use PPC to increase volume.
    If conversion sucks, fix that first. But content marketing isn’t the only way. It could be page design too.

    Today, the goal of “lead generation” isn’t to get just any meeting. Marketers are increasingly sophisticated in nurturing and the goal of those programs is to get qualified leads, not grandma on the phone.

    Good points about content, but you have mischaracterized the other side in trying to make a stronger point.

    • Actually I didn’t. In fact website design was the FIRST question I suggested anyone having conversion issues address.

      “If you’re website isn’t converting at the rate you’d like, look first at your content and website design. Ask yourself these three questions. If you answer no to any of them, focus on fixing that issue before you invest a dollar in PPC.

      Is your website funnel optimized? If it’s not, you’re lead funnel will leak like a sieve and you’re going to waste money on lead generation tactics like PPC. ”

      Agree the goal isn’t meetings but qualified meetings. Quality over Quantity which a properly funnel optimized site loaded with helpful content can and should generate IMO.

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