Imagine, if you will, you open a bar. You’re fully stocked and ready for business. The big sign over the front door is bringing lots of people in – lots of traffic. Great. The problem is, not everybody who comes in stays. Some just take a quick look and leave, while others stay a while, but don’t buy anything. In fact, very few people buy a drink at all – only a tiny percentage. On top of that, for every person who walks through the door, you have agreed to hand over some money to another company. Does that sound like a good business strategy to you? Me neither.
This is a basic analogy, but it is something that is happening every single day with a huge number of businesses who are using Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising as part of their online marketing strategy. Far from being the golden ticket to increased online lead generation and sales, it more often than not turns out to be a major drain on resources that damages your ROI and brings you no closer to achieving your digital marketing objectives.
How does PPC work (or not work?)
With such an immense volume of content being posted to the internet every day, getting your business noticed is becoming more and more difficult. The number one source of website traffic is search, with powerhouse Google accounting for more than 90% of organic searches, according to emarketer.com, so in an effort to be placed as high as possible on search results, paying for search advertising has become common practice. The method used is often Pay-per-Click, which means that in order for your search to rank highly, you either pay for a banner ad containing those magical keywords that will then feature prominently on a search result page, as with search engines, or pay for your keywords to rate above others by buying your affiliation with them through prices based on competitiveness.
The more competitive the keyword, the higher the price, with search engines using a bidding system that sometimes means only the biggest companies can afford them. The more prominent your position, the more chances you have of directing traffic to your website. In return, every time somebody is brought to your site via these keyword search results, you pay the agreed amount. So far, so simple. However, there are many problems with this method of marketing, and below we outline some of the main ones that can seriously damage your online marketing objectives.
1. Every click does not equal a sale
This is the obvious one to start with. The very nature of the internet means that people can, and will, click on content, but just as quickly leave it, having done nothing, as seoblog.com explains. People browse, just as they would in a shop, with no intention of buying. However, unlike in a shop, the business with PPC advertising actually has to pay out money every time they get a visitor. Even if your content is great, and your website optimised to bring potential customers to the best possible landing page, you are still not guaranteed a sale.
2. PPC can get very expensive
Searches are the biggest drivers of online traffic, so all businesses want their content to be top of the search pile. Everybody wants to be first in line to increase the chances of their content being visited, but with that competition comes high prices as companies bid on the cost of PPC banner ads or high-rank listings. The fact of the matter is that the likes of Adwords have become very expensive, very quickly, and not everybody can afford to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds/euros on a campaign.
Paying for highly-competitive keywords or ads can burn a hole in your pocket from the start, with no guarantee on returns from non-profitable PPCs, and many people also forget that those charges will keep on coming, even when leads and potential sales don’t. Mistakes are costly too – simply forgetting to turn off an ad means you continue to pay for the all the clicks, but get none of the benefits.
3. PPC is a bit too much like advertising, and people don’t like being confronted by ads
When people go online, they are looking for helpful and informative content, or to engage with others on social media. They are there to browse, until they find something that interests them. The bottom line is that they are in the position where they make the choices on what to read, look at, or consider paying for. What they don’t want is to be faced with ads, even if they include good content, unless they choose to look at it. Just look at this blog from our good selves about adblocking as an illustration of how online advertising is seen by consumers. They know they are being sold to, just when they are doing something they relate with not being sold to.
Consumers have become, at best, jaded by and numb to advertising, and at worst, sceptical of it, and are now tending to avoid anything PPC-related. Some 85% of people now ignore PPC content or paid for listings, according to a Google study. In other words, this marketing method is not even working that well.
4. PPC is difficult to master
We don’t all have the luxury of being able to hire staff dedicated to PPC advertising, or even to digital marketing, and having to take time to learn not just what to do, but how to do it effectively, takes away from the time needed to do the more important things, like actually running your business. Not only is getting the basics right important, but so too is keeping abreast of the constant changes to how PPC and search ranking works. Not to mention keeping up a good Adwords Quality score.
And it doesn’t stop there. You also need to know how to integrate your PPC activity with your website to optimise it for conversions by sending them to the right piece of content at the right time in their buyer journey. If you don’t, and clicks bring visitors to a generic homepage, that’s more money down the drain.
So what should you invest in instead of PPC?
A truly effective and efficient online marketing strategy needs to turn inbound. This means focusing on creating great content that ranks high in searches because of its optimised content, integrated with your optimised website to drive the right kind of traffic to the right areas of your website in order to deliver high conversion rates that will bring in more leads and ultimately more sales.
SEO content on your website and blog, promoted through social media, that provides helpful and relevant content to the right audience at the right stage of their customer journey, if created correctly, will drive visitors to your content without you having to pay for every visit. By contrast, it won’t cost you money, it will make you money.
An inbound strategy will also mean you are tracking every visit, every action, every click-through, every download, so that you can capture, analyse and assess how well your campaign is doing, revealing real ROI.
Learn more by visiting us at www.getfocusedonmarketing.com