Is Pay-Per-Click Inbound Marketing? We Think So, If Applied Properly
Is pay-per-click considered inbound marketing? It’s a question we’ve been asking for a while, and honestly, our answer has changed over time. Not because we’re fickle or we’re hedging, but rather we’ve figured out how to infuse pay-per-click into our clients’ inbound programs. This has allowed us to answer the question as follows: Of course, pay-per-click is part of inbound marketing.
OK, but isn’t pay-per-click interruptive advertising? I guess so if you look at it logically. When you change your lens, however, and start marketing educational content with a highly personalized user experience, as well as use the micro-targeting available from social sites, you get a very effective inbound tactic that drives leads for clients.
Let’s look at this in more detail. I think you’ll see that with a few minor adjustments and the application of inbound thinking, adding PPC ads to your program can work, too.
Prospect-Focused, Not Company-Focused
So many companies are running ads that look like the one shown here. This ad is product-focused and company-focused. It’s all about them and not at all about their potential prospects. This is a common mistake with pay-per-click.
Instead, consider making your headline and your offer more prospect-focused. Understand that people who might potentially be buying a John Deere tractor are having repair issues with their old tractor, are interested in the new technology associated with the new model of mowers available or have cultivation requirements that changed and now they’re looking for a new riding mower.
In contrast to the ad pictured above, this alternative delivers a more prospect-focused message and a much better click-through rate. This ad also caters to a much bigger, broader audience of potential customers.
Notice that the first ad is for people who are ready to buy a new mower, but this ad is targeted to people who are looking for lawnmower tips. They might already have a mower, or they might be looking for ways to make their lawn look better after mowing. All of these needs can be delivered with a new mower. Don’t worry, we want to sell new mowers, too. But, first we want to get the contact information for anyone interested in mowing their lawn. Then we can nurture those people, pull them into the story and offer additional content to move them through the sales funnel.
Educational Content Instead Of Company Content
If you look carefully at the two ads, you’ll notice that the first ad promotes a specific product from a specific company with their general website home page. The second ad offers educational content around mower-related topics (in this case, lawnmowing tips).
Here’s a question: Do you think there are more people looking to buy a lawnmower, or more people looking for tips on mowing their lawns? You better answer with the second. Graco, which manufactures strollers, produces much more content around birthday party ideas than they do around actual stroller content, for the same reason. If you’re interested in lawnmowing tips, there is a very good chance that you’re also interested in lawnmowers, so anyone downloading this is a prime prospect for John Deere and our dealer client. This is how we dramatically improve the performance of PPC programs by applying inbound thinking.
Landing Pages Instead Of Home Pages
You should also notice here that the pages promoted on the two ads are different. In the first ad, it’s the company home page, but in the second ad, it’s a dedicated landing page for this particular ad. With the second, we get much better tracking data, as well as conversion data for all of the visitors on this page, an opportunity to optimize the landing page over time in order to drive even more leads and the ability to personalize the visitor experience, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
The data is in, and it’s a hands-down knockout. Pay-per-click campaigns that use landing pages convert three times the visitors into leads. Remember, your goal is not to get a click to your site (that’s Google’s goal), but to get a click to your site that turns into a lead. And, there’s more. A study done by Unbounce found that PPC campaigns that use landing pages typically get higher quality scores from Google, which means your cost per click is going to be less and your potential ranking is going to be higher. That translates to more ads for the same amount of money. Another major win.
Personalized Experience And Micro-Segmentation
The more personalized you make the online experience, the more people you’ll have continuing the journey. While that might be challenging with AdWords, it’s much easier with social pay-per-click. For instance, if you want to target a specific company, start promoting content-based, educational sponsored updates to only the execs at that organization. You can create content that’s personal to their role, their industry or their company and present it to them via social network pay-per-click.
You could profile a very specific type of buyer and create unique content, personalized landing pages, custom lead nurturing and a highly personalized experience guaranteed to turn prospects into leads. Take our John Deere dealer example from above. If we use Facebook to target people who live in suburban areas where the typical homestead is over four acres and the net worth of their home is over $700,000, there is a very good chance that these people need riding lawnmowers, tractors, Gators and other landscaping or property maintenance equipment.
Provide these people with a constant stream of educational material and the personalized landing pages to go along with it, and you’ll quickly see the benefits of micro-segmentation and personalized marketing. You might not have hundreds of new customers, but you will have hundreds of people sharing their contact information with you. Now you have the ability to continue the conversation with them on their terms. Once their pain becomes acute or they decide they need that equipment, their first move will be heading into the store or onto your website. This is exactly how inbound marketing can be applied to pay-per-click.
The last piece of guidance I’ll give you is that when your inbound marketing program is working well, you’re getting the visitors you need to your website and you're converting those visitors into leads, you might not need to invest money in pay-per-click ads. Or, you could consider reducing your level of investment over time as your other tactics gain traction.
You know that with pay-per-click, you are competing against other businesses for the listings of those ads. The nature of auction marketplaces is that over time, the cost to advertise will go up. So, pay-per-click should probably NOT be a long-term tactic if you’re looking for more cost-effective marketing. In the short term, however, and for companies that have no initial website traffic or want to drive dramatic increases in website traffic, pay-per-click does provide you with an opportunity.
Start Today Tip – Today’s tip has everything to do with evaluating your current situation as it pertains to pay-per-click. Do you need dramatic increases in website traffic? If the answer is yes, this tactic might be right for you at this time. If you’re already executing a pay-per-click program, look at how you’re doing it. Are you making some of the common mistakes identified above, and if so, how quickly can you adjust your campaigns to take advantage of best practices and proven techniques? Once you make the upgrades, track the performance and continue to actively optimize weekly. Your numbers will continue to go up and to the right.
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