PPC vs Content Marketing: both are extremely popular. -And they’re undeniably effective marketing strategies. But B2B SaaS requires the right strategy and the right marketing mix. In this article, I’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of PPC vs content marketing. Most agencies will try to sell as much paid advertising as possible because it’s highly profitable for them. However, an overreliance on paid isn’t the right approach for B2B software companies. Here I will give you a non-biased look at the two strategies and their pros and cons.
What is PPC?
PPC ‘Pay-Per-Click’ Advertising refers to adverts that sellers pay for when potential buyers interact with them. If you search for a product on Google, the first result will typically be sponsored. This is an example of a PPC ad. Amazon and eBay also have PPC platforms. PPC can be extremely effective at increasing traffic to your site, but keep in mind you will be charged for that click whether or not it results in a sale.
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What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a type of inbound marketing. Where PPC, and things like cold calling try to go out and find customers, inbound marketing brings customers to you. However, it relies on high-quality content on your site. Let’s say your potential customer places a Google search for something relevant to your business. With an inbound marketing approach, you want your article to appear on page one of Google. What’s more, you want to answer their question and position yourself as a thought leader.
By providing value to the reader, you not only increase brand awareness but also begin to establish yourself as a thought leader. Content marketing is effective in large part because it targets customers at all stages of the decision process. A customer may not be in the position to buy the day they read that article, but they’ll have established a positive connection with your website, and may return when they are looking to buy.
On the other hand with PPC, you generally target the bottom of the funnel (people looking for a solution) and bid against your competition to get your ad shown.
Pros and Cons of PPC:
Con: Quality of Traffic Can be Underwhelming
PPC ads work by targeting those who are already searching for your type of product – which is ideal if your product solves a common problem or fills a gap in a popular market. But in the B2B tech space, your potential customers aren’t necessarily searching for innovative AI solutions in the same way. it can be hard to find relevant keywords, and broad ones won’t likely generate qualified leads – after all, AI is an interesting space. Plenty of people click links to tech sites just to browse. When you have to pay for that click, this becomes a problem.
Pro: Incredible Targeting Options
The visibility sellers can get with Google AdWords (Google’s PPC solution) is powerful.
So much so that Google estimated their ads to have a 200% ROI – that’s $1 for every $0.50 you spend. 50% more people were willing to buy after arriving at a site via a PPC ad than those who arrived through an organic link. It can be tempting to take away from this that ‘PPC converts better’ but actually, what’s likely going on here is that the PPC ads have been well placed to target customers already at the bottom of the funnel.
Con: Potentially Expensive
As we touched on above, you pay regardless of whether your ad results in a sale. Even if it does, you need to be careful about your bidding strategy to ensure it’s profitable in the long run.
Pro: Let’s You Take Advantage of Remarketing
PPC ads can be used to retarget customers that have clicked an ad for it previously, such as through abandoned cart targeting and display ads. This is powerful for B2B Tech companies who often need to run top of funnel campaigns pushing content and downloadable, and then either remarket or nurture the leads before taking a meeting.
Con: Competition for Attention is Incredibly Fierce
Ad blindness is very real: it’s been estimated that 92% of banner ads aren’t even noticed. While PPC can seem more straightforward than creating eloquent and informative content, it’s far from a set-it-and-forget-it option – you’ll need to continuously manage your keyword bids to stay optimized.
Pro: Can Start Small and Scale-Up
Luckily, it’s easy to test out campaigns with different keywords to figure out what works for your business. PPC advertising provides a great deal of data, which you can use to determine your best strategy. Furthermore, you can start as small as you like with the quantity and value of your bids, so PPC doesn’t need to be a major investment to test
Pros and Cons of Content Marketing
Pro: Lower Cost in the Long Run
The half-life of content marketing is much, much longer than that of PPC campaigns, which typically have set end dates. An engaging and informative blog on an evergreen topic can continue to drive customers to your site years after it was published.
Con: Works Slowly
Perhaps the biggest downside of content marketing is it takes time to see your ROI, typically 6-9 months. This makes it impractical to use on its own for some businesses, that are looking to fill their sales pipeline quickly.
Pro: Higher Conversion Rates
Content Marketing has been estimated to offer almost 6x higher conversion rates than other marketing methods.
Pro: Let’s You Go Up The Marketing Funnel
Content marketing lets you get in front of buyers who aren’t yet sure they’re looking for a solution. Put in marketing terms, you can target the top of the funnel and educate potential buyers setting the criteria by which they will judge all the solutions they look at.
Con: It’s a Lot of Work
HubSpot says you need to write roughly 4-5 articles per week and each article should be about 1,000 words. So that’s 5,000 words of content writing per week! Agencies like Nituno can help you augment your content writing capabilities.
Pro: Earns You Better Leads
By answering industry-relevant questions and using those answers to attract potential customers, you’re much more likely to get high-quality leads than curious browsers.
Using a Combined Method for Maximum Success
Ultimately, when it comes to PPC vs Content Marketing, the best strategy will depend on the needs of your business. PPC can give you an immediate traffic boost that Content Marketing cannot, and Content Marketing can establish trust in your brand that PPC can’t.
But used together, a world of potential opens up. PPC can be used to funnel customers towards your site, where excellent content leads to conversions. Strategic use of PPC will allow you to springboard your traffic and highlight short term promotions, as well as target highly-sought prospective customers. Once you’ve got those eyes on your page, you can prove your value and knowledge with quality, compelling content. For this reason, the best approach for most is to use paid as a performance enhancer for content.