In the digital era, online marketing methods like Adwords (ie. Google’s pay-per-click programme) and content marketing have became important marketing tools for SMEs globally. This is especially the case in a highly digital and connected country like Singapore.
In this article, ReadyCEO compares these two core marketing strategies to help you understand the strengths and limitations of each. And hopefully to help you discover the best approach to online marketing that will bring success to your business.
Let’s begin with discussing the key differences between Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (eg. Adwords) and Content Marketing. It is important to understand their fundamental differences because even though they seek to do the same things – to generate leads, brand exposure etc – they in fact work very differently.
With PPC, you create marketing material (ad copy, banners etc) and pay the ad network (eg. Google Adwords, Facebook Ads) to push them in front of your target audience. You enter a bidding war with competitors and pay for the resulting clicks on your ads. Your ad visibility and costs per click varies depending on the amount of competition.
With content marketing, instead of creating advertisements, you create valuable and relevant content (blog posts, white papers, curated content, video etc) on your website and social media pages. Your goal is to attract leads and fans from search engines (organic search traffic) and social media to your business through great content that educate, entertain or are solutions to their pressing problems. Your costs are only in the initial production and distribution of the content.
In a nutshell, PPC pushes your sales pitches out with the hope of catching people’s attention (and clicks) as they go about their other online activities. Content marketing pulls in people who are actually seeking for and found you (through your content) through social engagements, search engine organic results and digital word-of-mouth.
Now that we’ve discussed the strategic difference between PPC and Content Marketing, let’s take a look at how they apply in real business situations.
- Lead Generation: The most important advantage of content marketing over PPC is in its ability to produce long-term, sustainable lead generation. When you create your own content and publish them on the internet, all your content stays there indefinitely, continuously working to generate leads and brand awareness. There is no ongoing investment aside from the cost of hosting your website. This is different with PPC – stop paying for the ads and the leads (and sales if you are relying too heavily on PPC) immediately stop coming in. Because of the ongoing (high) costs involved, PPC is therefore more suitable for shorter-term campaigns like product launches or event sign-ups.
- Brand Authority Building: The basic idea of content marketing is to inform and educate your customers and audience about issues relevant to your business, products and industry while addressing common questions. In content marketing, your audience engages with your content on a deeper and more emotional level, which solidify the relationships between your brand and your fans and believers. With PPC, the purpose is to redirect a click to an optimised landing page with minimal distractions, designed to convert that click into an immediate action – like signing up for an event, making a purchase etc.
- SEO & Social Media Visibility: To have your business website rank well on Google (and other search engines), you need fresh valuable content. Period. Great content also means that more people will be sharing them on social media, which in turn helps you rank better on search engines, creating a virtuous cycle. On the other hand, PPC is just that, pay per click. The only way to remain visible online (and continue getting traffic or leads) is to continue to run (and fund) the ads indefinitely.
- Cost: Almost all of the time, PPC campaigns (eg. Adwords) cost much more than content marketing, lead-for-lead. In fact, PPC is a very expensive online marketing strategy. It might be hard for you to manage your marketing budget when you are using PPC, especially if you’re just starting your business. And be reminded that PPC requires ongoing funding to sustain it, while content marketing works for you indefinitely at zero ongoing costs (disregarding hosting fees).
For a closer look at how content marketing can help your business, see What Is Content Marketing
Both PPC and Content Marketing have its own pros and cons. PPC provides a quick way to bring your new products and services to market. But if you want to have an online marketing strategy that enhances your relationship with your online audience and brand followers, enables you to enjoy sustainable long-term results, helps you outrank your competitors on search engines and at the same time costs much less (see our pricing), then content marketing is the answer for you.