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Adwords, Social Ads or Organic Search
Where should you focus your budget and attention?
Digital marketers have a seemingly endless set of tools available to drive traffic and build audience. What is definitely not limitless is the budget that we have to work with, or the resources and focus we have to dedicate to the task.
To drive web traffic, we generally have 3 options available to us:
- We can BUY traffic, through SEM Adwords
- We can PROMOTE traffic, through Social activity
- We can NURTURE traffic, through organic search
When clients ask us to help them allocate budget and develop digital strategies, we find it helpful to review how each of these tools fit into the customer journey, and deliver against specific goals and objectives.
Different tools are better at delivering different goals, so make sure you are using the right tool for the intended outcome. Don’t waste your budget trying to get the wrong objective from the wrong tool.
There are parables that can be drawn from the dating world. There are lots of different methods and tactics to meet a romantic partner.
Use the wrong ice-breaker in the wrong environment, and you are probably end up having a lonely night.
To illustrate, let’s take a look at 3 broad toolsets, and see how you can apply them to your digital strategies and programs:
- Search Engine Marketing tools such as Google Adwords
- Social Ads like Facebook and Instagram Ads
- Organic Search Engine Optimization efforts.
Adwords & SEM
The critical thing to remember about a Google search is that it is initiated by your prospective customer. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important distinction. The user is looking for a specific answer or result.
This is a bottom-of-the-funnel, intentional activity, undertaken to satisfy a specific need.
If this was the dating world, SEM Adwords are like Tinder;
- This is immediate, efficient and transactional.
- It’s intentional and specific.
- The user is not looking for a long-term relationship, they are looking for results.
Imagine replying to a hot Tinder profile with a provocative message about connecting this evening, and the person suggests you take it slow and asks about your parenting plans — or doesn’t reply at all. You will quickly swipe left and move on.
So when you include SEM Adwords as part of your digital campaign, make sure you keep this in mind, and build a program that will leverage the platform for success;
- Deliver a quick hook-up.
Don’t dump a user on your home page and make them find what they were looking for, or make them jump through hoops with complicated forms. Give them a quick pay-off, and satisfy their specific requirement.
- Keep it efficient.
Adwords are immediate and effective. And they can also get expensive, and you are paying for every connection. Ensure that you are getting value and ROI from this traffic by having clear conversion goals and tracking metrics in place.
Are you using the right tactics to court your traffic?
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While search activities are intentional, social activities are exploratory. People are in social channels to connect with friends and be entertained. They are not there to learn about your offering.
Users accept that advertising is a necessary component to pay for it, and advertising campaigns that are less disruptive and more aligned to the user's goals are going to be more successful.
Social activities and ads are more like Match or eHarmony;
- Users want to be "woo'd"... have conversations and build connections.
- Engagement and entertainment will win out over a hard sell and quick close.
- This is a 2-way street; offer value and display genuine interest in the users concerns, and you'll be rewarded with their attention.
- Yes, people are here to date and join relationships, but they want to get to know the other person first.
We all know that person at a cocktail party that talks about themselves, and tries to 'close' a little too aggressively -- and you're just there to hang out and meet some cool people. Don't be that guy.
When planning a Social campaign, ensure that you are building a program that leverages the advantages of social channels;
- Focus on "Discovery".
Remember that your message will be placed in the users path, interrupting their conversations, so give them something to discover and explore that is worth their attention and distraction.
- Build the Conversation first, and then the Close later.
Plan out a customer journey and a message funnel, and utilize the right analytics to track peoples progress through that journey -- and then ask for the sale in a respectful way once you've earned their attention and trust.
Think of organic search traffic in much the same way as Adwords, with one very important distinction -- IT'S FREE!
Though, while it might be free, it sure ain't easy. There is no magic bullet or secret code that can get you listed on the first page of your cherished search terms.
It takes planning, persistence, and sweat equity to create valuable, engaging content, build back-links, develop domain authority, drive traffic, build audience, and rate consistently high in search results.
In this way, Organic Search is like an Amish Courting relationship;
- It takes time, effort and commitment.
- This is a long-term relationship and process.
- if you put in the effort, the results are long-lasting and have solid foundations.
Sometimes this requires a change in mindset or culture within your organization, and it definitely requires an understanding of the process and time commitment. Like any long term relationship, it requires good communication, attention and nurturing. You need to avoid distractions and periodic hiccups but the long term benefits and momentum will build sustainable value.
To deliver a successful Organic Search program;
- Take the long view.
This is a long-term commitment, not a quick fix. If you need a quick fix, see other options above.
- Create a plan
Build a plan, and give it the appropriate time and resources to play out.
- Pivot as necessary
Don't assume you can set it and forget it. You'll need to track results, keep an eye on competitors and market factors, and adjust as necessary.
Play the Field.
Unlike dating, you can - and should - employ all these methods to help build traffic and drive your digital strategies.
When you do, make sure that you are using each tool appropriately and leveraging their strengths to court your audience.