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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Jul 13, 2016 10 min read

How Long Does Inbound Marketing Need To Wean You Off Pay Per Click?

As Long As It Takes To Ramp Up Inbound Marketing Lead Generation

Inbound Marketing Helps Shift From PPCAlmost everything with inbound marketing is relative, so the answer to this question has more to do with you than with inbound. If you have a pay per click program running now and you want to get off it, then you can aggressively plan to have other, more inbound-oriented, tactics pick up the slack in as little as 30 days.

If you’re more skeptical about inbound and reluctant to turn off your current source of new website visitors, then you can design an inbound plan that allows you to ramp up inbound more slowly and, at the same time, slowly decrease your PPC efforts. How and when you do this is all about your strategy and plan.

Here are more details about how you might go about weaning your company off pay per click for lead generation and moving to more inbound tactics.

Earned Attention Vs. Rented Attention

The big difference between outbound marketing and inbound marketing is the concept of renting an audience vs. earning it yourself. Almost every outbound marketing tactic involves renting an audience. You go to a trade show; you’re renting the attention of the attendees by paying an entrance fee. You buy a print ad; you’re renting the audience of readers by paying for the insertion. You run Google AdWords; you’re renting the attention of the people searching for the keywords you selected.

Earned attention means you’ve created something that got the attention of the audience you’re interested in attracting. It could be content on your website, a message you posted, a video you shot or a talk you gave at an event. But you had something interesting to say and people expressed interest by paying attention, and you have their attention until they decide to take it back. In contrast, rented attention is only there as long as you continue renting it. You'll never get a list of trade show registrants or magazine subscribers, or the email addresses of everyone searching on your keywords.

Understanding this difference is key to making the best decisions about how much of your marketing budget should go toward a renting tactic like pay per click, and how much should go toward earning tactics like inbound marketing.

Balancing The Budget

Speaking of the budget, consider balancing it to start. Spending dramatically more on pay per click and less on inbound won’t support your desire to wean your company off pay per click. For example, we had a client who was spending $40,000 a month on Google AdWords and only $10,000 a month with us, but expected us to generate more and more leads. They didn’t care about the quality of those leads or the outcome of those leads, it was simply a "fill up the top of the funnel" exercise and whatever comes out the bottom comes out the bottom.

Balanced_Marketing_Tactics.jpgThere were a lot of opportunities to optimize the funnel and improve conversion rates all across the funnel. The net result would have been the opportunity to reduce the PPC spend to $20,000 a month and increase our budget to $20,000. This would have produced a net savings of $10,000 a month, as well as significantly increasing the number of sales opportunities for the company, but they chose not to do it.

Every action has a reaction, and the budget is almost always a key component of properly aligning activities with results.

PPC Is Like A Drug

Unfortunately, many marketers are searching for the quick fix. PPC appears, on the surface, to provide that instant gratification: Sign up and start getting leads. Once you start getting leads, it appears – again, on the surface – as though the more you spend the more you get. That’s how one small software company ends up spending $40,000 a month on Google AdWords. However, if you understand AdWords, you know that the individual cost per ad often increases over time as other people bid against you to to improve their position. The increasing cost per click means you have to keep increasing your budget or be prepared to get fewer leads.

Does this sound at all like the drug trade? Start with samples, get hooked and then the price keeps increasing over time, with few, if any, options to get off.

We don’t want anyone to be stuck on a marketing tactic that doesn't support their long term strategy.

Looking At A Holistic Marketing Strategy

Pay per click campaign management is actually only one marketing tactic in what should be a portfolio of tactics. Yet many companies lean on this so heavily that it becomes all they do.

Instead of just relying on pay per click, take a holistic view of your marketing strategy and balance this tactic with other inbound tactics.

The result will be new leads coming in at all stages of the funnel, not just the top.

The other result is an ability to move levers across all these tactics day in and day out. Instead of relying on one tactic, we recommend you rely on several, all working together to produce a compounding effect on your results.

This approach enables you to measure the effectiveness of all tactics across all campaigns. When we talk about effectiveness, we’re talking about results, but we’re also talking about the cost of acquisition. This number sometimes gets lost in the cost of a comprehensive pay per click effort. Yes, the cost per click and cost per impression are obvious in all pay per click programs, but without the same data on other tactics, it’s difficult to compare them to pay per click.

Tests And Experiments

Finally, one of the most interesting aspects of inbound marketing is the ability to test and experiment with different configurations and different aspects of individual tactics, and optimize the entire program across a variety of different tactics. For example, if blogging isn't producing the results, downshift on blogging and increase the frequency of original content publication, coupled with aggressive content sourcing.

Pay per click does offer you the opportunity to test and experiment within the tactic, which gives you data and insights. We recently found ourselves looking at a client’s campaign every single morning until we had it producing the desired results. Not to take anything away from pay per click, we think you want to apply this same "analyze, review, respond and act" approach that we apply to all our client engagements.

So how fast can you get off pay per click? The answer might not be as straightforward as you hoped. Or perhaps you realize the answer is 100% in your control. If you build up your other lead generation tactics around it, you can migrate off pay per click quite quickly. If you fund your other tactics at the same level as, or even higher than, your pay per click investment, you can also move off PPC quickly. In both of those scenarios, 30 to 60 days is very reasonable.

However, if you proceed with fewer complementary tactics or you hold back the budget on the supplemental tactics, you should expect to need more like 90 to 120 days to build up the assets necessary to duplicate the number of leads generated from your current PPC efforts.

In short, every client is different, every program responds slightly differently and every situation requires an "assessment, plan and deployment" strategy to ensure success.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.