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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Mar 15, 2016 8 min read

Inbound Marketing Helps Social Media Pay-Per-Click Outflank AdWords

Inbound Marketing Needs Better PPC Options Like Social Sites Provide

Social Media PPC Works Better Than AdWordsInbound marketing has long debated whether pay-per-click is a part of the inbound methodology or not. I’ve been on both sides of the argument more than once. I see this as a gray area, but today, I think we can safely consider pay-per-click (if applied correctly) an inbound tactic.

Yes, technically pay-per-click is interruptive in that you’re pushing ads in front of people. But, here’s where the gray area is your friend: Those people are searching for information related to your ad. In essence, it’s helping you get found, which is a very specific step in the inbound methodology.

And, it gets better. If we continue to offer educational information and don’t go for the promotional ads, pay-per-click campaign management gets even more inbound. Once you add in some of the segmentation and ad packaging options available with the social sites, I’m comfortable using pay-per-click in a deliberate and limited way in our inbound engagements.

Here’s how to optimize social media pay-per-click for inbound engagements.


Social media marketing sites have so much information on all of us, and marketers should be able to leverage it to deliver a very targeted and personal message to users. Since inbound is all about educating, advising and guiding prospects through their buyer journey, the ads you’re serving up via social sites should be equally educational and highly targeted, making them much more valuable than the mass media marketing approach.

If you’re a doctor in a family practice with a specialty in radiology, and you’re located in the tri-county area, have a dog, are married, have two college kids and love vacationing at the beach, we can create a very targeted ad campaign one that delivers highly personalized content with a much better chance of connecting, resonating and generating an action than a more generic ad. This kind of segmentation is very useful in marketing  especially inbound marketing, for which the educational content has to carry the day.

Targeted Company Marketing

You can take this approach one step further and advertise to a specific business. Do you have an upcoming sales call with a big potential client at a Fortune 500 company? Head over to LinkedIn and start a pay-per-click campaign to the 10 people you know will be at the meeting, plus all their bosses and all their subordinates. Then, when you show up at the meeting and introduce yourself and your company, everyone in the room will have already heard of you. If your ads were compelling, they will have probably already visited your website and downloaded some of your content.

Remember that your goal is to get them to know, like and trust you. You’ve achieved the know part, some of the like part and even a little bit of trust. That situation is so much better than walking in cold as a stranger whom no one has even heard of prior to the meeting.

Follow Marketing Or Remarketing

Ever see something in your Facebook feed that you didn’t do anything to request  and it is surprisingly related to something going on in your life? Before I even told anyone I was interested in a Range Rover, their posts started showing up in my feed. How do they do this? With remarketing.

The site I visited deposited a small cookie on my browser, which allowed Range Rover to serve up ads and sponsored updates that follow me around until I get annoyed enough to turn off the cookies feature on my browser.

Remarketing or follow marketing can work well, but only if marketers (who tend to ruin everything) don’t become pigs about it. While I don’t have 10 stories about how remarketing helped my clients, and I generally don’t recommend this to many of them, it can be used effectively in select situations and with discretion.

Higher Return On Investment

When you compare social media pay-per-click with AdWords pay-per-click, you get two very different ROI stories. Our experience (and this might not be everyone’s experience) is that social sites provide a very high return on relatively low investments. They give us the ability to tweak and optimize every campaign to produce results that, at the very least, allow us to decide if we want to continue or suspend campaigns.

They have higher click-through rates and a lower cost per click than most of the general search engine optimization efforts we’ve seen. This data makes them a better option for us when it comes to these types of programs. Google and other search engine optimization PPC programs typically come with diminishing returns as you compete against yourself in their auction process.

Now that Google has eliminated the right column from its display, advertisers are competing against each other for the final four slots, and the cost of those slots is going to get higher and higher every single day. This is not the sustainable type of tactic that inbound marketing people typically recommend.

Search Engine AdWords Strategy For Inbound Marketers

Speaking of AdWords, there are opportunities for this to be part of an inbound program. Typically, clients have very high expectations for the performance of their inbound marketing. Anyone who’s practiced inbound for more than a month or two knows that it takes time for the tactics, messaging and analytics to gain enough traction to drive results  and even more time to optimize the program to drive dramatic results.

AdWords can support the slow, up-and-to-the-right movement, artificially propping up the program until the rest of the inbound tactics take over. This allows you to lower your investment in PPC as the other, more organic tactics come online. We’ve had success executing this type of tactic, and while it does require a higher level of investment from the client, the results are almost always better.

Social Media Strategy For Professional Services Firms Start Today Tip – Make sure pay-per-click is part of your inbound campaign. Your first move should be to select the social platform that offers the biggest bang for your buck. If you’re selling to businesses, LinkedIn or Twitter is probably your best option. If you are selling to consumers, perhaps Facebook or Instagram is the way to go. Either way, start small, with microsegments and low budgets. Run a series of tests to get started, and as you see results, double down on those areas with the highest return. Over a period of a few months, you should be running a very successful social pay-per-click campaign. Keep optimizing to improve performance, as you can almost always do better.

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.