Content marketing is a relatively new addition to the business world, but one that has made a huge impact and is likely here to stay. With content becoming king, many people are asking whether paid advertising still has a place within online marketing. Whilst some believe that content should be the way forward, others would rather stick with tried and tested methods such as banner ads. The truth is that the issue is more complex than a simple decision between the two and there is no one right answer. With this in mind, we will take a look at both types of marketing and their respective strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your own circumstances.
There are many forms of paid advertising, across a wide range of platforms. The general idea is that the company pays a fee in order for their advertisement to appear, either on Google, social networking sites or just general websites. One of the main forms of paid advertising is PPC or pay per click, in which businesses only have to pay for the advert if a person clicks on it. The amount that the company has to pay varies but it’s usually based off of the keywords that are utilised and how valuable they are within the general marketplace.
PPC advertising is very useful when you want to create a direct link between potential customers and a particular product or service. It can also be somewhat cost effective as you are only paying for clicks as opposed to the ad itself. PPC and paid advertising in general is also really easy to track in terms of metrics. This allows businesses to collect invaluable data on factors such as which ads perform the best and how often clicks lead to sales.
Another type of paid advertisement which is less well known but still extremely prevalent is retargeting. When a person visits a website or blog, a cookie attaches itself to the user and follows them around the web. Utilising this cookie, providers such as Adroll can display targeted advertisements to this user, on different websites. Retargeting can be particularly successful because it’s more of a personalised approach. It also allows companies to target their ads at specific users, rather than waiting for consumers to come to them
Although paid advertising has many benefits, there are also many drawbacks to consider. For example, customers are much savvier and prefer a more passive approach to marketing. Some consumers may be put off by such a direct interaction and could even assume that the banner ad is some sort of scam. Customers are also very aware of the value of their personal information and would rather it be kept private. Therefore, the method of retargeting is often seen by online users, as untrustworthy and in some cases, data theft.
In terms of finance, PPC advertising doesn’t always deliver a return on investment because a click does not guarantee a sale. Another problem is the sheer volume of companies online who are all competing for the same traffic. This competition can inflate the price of clicks on your adverts, in some cases to a figure that would be too high to justify.
Thanks to the popularity of the online world and the prevalence of smart devices, content has become more relevant than ever before. The business sphere has recognised this trend and there has been a very noticeable shift from traditional advertising to content marketing. This type of marketing involves the creation of some sort of content, whether it be blogs, articles, videos or even gifs or posts on social media. Consumers interact with this content and are made aware of a certain company or product, with the overall goal being the conversion from a consumer to a customer.
The overall process of content marketing follows a more natural approach when compared with paid advertising. Consumers aren’t told what to buy but they are given the information needed so they can make the decision themselves. This type of marketing is much more suited to the world we live in today. There is so much mistrust of corporations and content allows businesses to create meaningful relationships with consumers which are no solely based on sales. Successful content marketing can also facilitate a higher placement within Google’s search engine results, which can have a substantial effect on business.
The main downside of utilising content marketing is that it isn’t quick and easy. It can take a while to build up a strong portfolio of material and therefore you may not start seeing results for a long time. In order to connect with consumers, content needs to be high quality and this means investing in creative people, whether in-house or freelance. Therefore, the time and expense involved should also be factored in to your overall decision.
The truth is, content marketing and paid advertising both work and the argument of which is better isn’t really that relevant. Companies who are looking for a quick turnover on their investment, without any hard work, should look in to paid advertisement. It may be expensive at times but it’s a sure fire way of streaming users to your website.
Those who would rather play the long game should look into content marketing. It often requires a greater investment of time, resources and in some cases money but it will provide a much larger payoff. Whereas paid advertising may boost the visibility of a single product or service, content marketing has the potential to showcase your company as whole.
It should also be pointed out that it is possible to utilise both content creation and paid advertising, at the same time. In fact this could be an incredibly powerful marketing strategy as they can counteract each other’s weaknesses.
When choosing the best way to market your company, there is no standard right or wrong answer, only what is right for you.