More than anything, I wish there was one marketing tactic that worked better than all the others.
I wish I could say “This is the only tactic worth our time.”
But that isn’t how the web works (or the world, for that matter).
To deliberately grow a business, we must become competent with multiple tactics. Our strategies must be flexible. We must wield an entire toolbox.
Then we have to integrate all of those pieces together into a system that works.
You probably started with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising because it’s easy to dive into. You don’t need any technical skills or advanced knowledge to use AdWords or Facebook’s Ads Manager.
So when you find an ad that works, it’s tempting to leave it be or double your spend because it means sales right now.
But that isn’t enough anymore. That isn’t growth. If we settle for one-dimensional marketing strategies, our competition will overcome us.
We can combine blogging (one piece of content marketing, if you will) with paid advertising to create a system that’s better than the sum of their parts.
Let’s talk about why organic content and paid advertising well together.
1. PPC Can Compensate for SEO Challenges
Ideally, we’d rank at the top of Google for our target keywords using content optimized for SEO.
That’s the dream, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes getting a spot in slots one, two or three of Google’s organic search results just isn’t possible or takes too much time.
There are a lot of reasons why. Maybe your competitors has a big budget for SEO optimizers and link builders. Maybe their domain is older.
So in some cases, it’s easier to rank for whatever keywords you can and buy the ones you can’t.
If you can’t beat your competitors, just pay Google for a boost, right?
Seems easy, but you have to be careful here. This is one of the reasons you should always monitor your keywords.
What you don’t want is for your PPC rankings to cannibalize your organic rankings.
PPC cannibalization is when you purchase a paid ad, then sometime later an organic page rises to the top. In this scenario, you’re paying for spot #1 even though you would have it anyway.
In the survey Adults Media Use Attitudes Report, Ofcom learned that 50% of adults don’t recognize when they click an ad on Google search results. We can’t blame them, really. The ads look nearly identical to the other results.
And we know that people are more likely to click links that appear higher on Google’s search pages. The top link gets 33% of all traffic!PPC and blogging work well together because they both bring visitors to your site, albeit in different ways. But if you leverage them together, you can really drive your business’ growth.
So if you’re paying for an ad spot, but your page is also ranking organically right beneath, you’re spending needless money on a PPC conversion.
And if you’re on a budget, don’t buy your own branded terms (such as your company name) in your PPC campaigns because you probably already rank at the top for your company name.
How do you prevent this? Monitor your organic keywords with a tool like Ahrefs alongside your PPC data. If your pages rise to the top organically, reduce your cost-per-click bid on your paid ads to get more organic conversions.
2. PPC Can Fund Your Content Efforts
It’s no secret that content takes time to drive results. Sometimes it can be quite frustrating.
“Give your content time to gain traction and deliver organic results,” says blogging guru Neil Patel. “Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.”
Content Marketing Institute Joe Pulizzi found that it takes an average of 15 to 17 months of consistent content creation and distribution to create results.
But content creators, designers, web developers, researchers, technical assistants, managers cost money. For many businesses, it’s not feasible to dump thousands of dollars every month into marketing that won’t take effect for six months or a year.
PPC, however, can fund other marketing efforts after you get through its learning curve.
For instance, let’s say you bill for a $1,000 service. Without customers, you don’t have the cash to pay a content creator, but the content won’t bring in sales for six months at the minimum.
With PPC, you can “buy” some sales to pay the content team. Sure, a $1,000 sale may only bring in $850 of revenue after the PPC fees, but it’s better than nothing and it’s income you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Then once your content performs, you can cut your ad spend and make the full $1,000 on sales created by organic content, or continue both tactics and reap double the rewards.
3. High Performing PPC Ad Copy Can Improve Your Content
One question content marketers ask constantly is, “How is my content performing?”
Like I said, blogging takes time to show results. If you change or abandon your strategy too early, things could just take longer.
Paid ads help you solve that dilemma by speeding up the feedback process. More targeted traffic to your content = quicker insights to what’s working and what’s not.
For instance, let’s say you purchase an ad through a native ads network or Google AdWords and it gets a lot of traffic quickly. That could mean copy was effective and you should consider using it for your organic content.
If your ad doesn’t perform well, you should use AdWords to refine it. Once you find copy that works, create content around those phrases.
In this example, multiple campaigns are being run again to determine the highest performer.
Think of this as a method of vetting your copy. Instead of waiting six months or a year to see if your copy ranks and get clicks, you can pay a PPC platform to collect data for your optimizations in a short time.
Once you know what copy works, use it to craft headlines, meta titles and descriptions, image ALT attributes, and body copy of your organic pages. When those pages rank, cut your ad spend and enjoy the top spot for free.
This approach also works for optimizing images. If an image in a Facebook ad or a Twitter ad captured clicks, use it on your organic content. Admittedly, this tactic is hard to measure, so don’t base your strategy around it.
4. Content Creates More Opportunities to Convert
One visit to a page on your website is (almost) never enough to convert a visitor. In fact, most people need 7 to 13 touch points with a business before they’re ready to buy.
To secure a conversion, it’s smart to create multiple touch points so users can experience the value you have to offer before they buy.
Let’s say you’re an online coach who helps people manage their finances. You buy an ad for “personal finance coach” and point it to a landing page where people can buy a course on handling their finances.
A user arrives at the page, reads your sales pitch, but decides not to buy yet. They aren’t ready to trust you with their money yet.
Your blog, however, gives them something free to explore.
By examining the free material, they can experience your teaching style, expertise and value. If they aren’t sure if they need personal finance training, your content can connect with their problems and position your service as a solution.
If you craft your content well with plenty of calls to action, you’ll educate the reader and create another opportunity to convert them into a customer.
In the above example, PPC made the customer aware of you and content helped them make a buying decision.
5. Site Search Terms Can Inform Your PPC Campaigns
You probably have a search box for users to find specific info on your blog like this.
The phrases visitors enter into your search bar can give you insight into what they want more of.
What are they looking for? What terms do they use to find it? What did they expect to find, but couldn’t? These words can give you insight, but only if you have pages (content) worth exploring.
Use those terms to inform your PPC advertising. Test them on AdWords and Facebook, or whichever PPC platform you use.
6. Content and PPC Can Help You Build a Narrative
Your company screwed up and now you’re getting bad press.
Or maybe you were a part of something amazing and you want the world to know.
By combining PPC and blogging, you can create or modify a narrative to affect how people feel about your business.
That’s exactly what oil and gas company BP did back in 2010 after they spilled oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP purchased paid ads through Adwords for terms like “oil spill” and “gulf spill.” The links directed searchers to a page on the company’s website that explained the steps it was taking to clean up the spill.
BP created a path for people who were looking for terms related to the accident. When those searchers sought information about the spill, their first result was a BP controlled page that mitigated the damage of their blunder.
This works to capture positive news, too. Say you were donating to the Red Cross for every order placed during a national disaster. You might buy the keyword “red cross donation” and link to a landing page explaining your event.
7. Blog Posts are Low Commitment Opportunities
According to Wordstream, Facebook ads only convert at about 0.9%.
Google ads are a little better, but they still aren’t exciting.
To capture more clicks through paid advertising, our job is to eliminate or minimize any barriers between the user and a conversion.
One way we do this is by targeting the people who show the most intent. Someone who searches “wordpress web designer for local business on a budget modern design” is far more likely to make a purchase than someone who searches for just “web designer.”
Another way we can improve the click-through rate is by easing the user’s commitment.
Ever seen an ad like this?
That ad is clearly asking me to buy something. Yes, it talks about the benefits of the product. But unless I’m already in the market for accounting software or have at least identified a need for a tool, the ad isn’t effective.
But what about an ad like this?
That’s an ad for a piece of content. It doesn’t ask me to buy anything. I get to “learn,” they specifically mention “[Whitepaper],” and the call to action is “download.” If I click to the page, I just sign up to receive the content.
I don’t have to make a commitment, but now I’m in UserTesting’s marketing funnel. Presumably they’ll send nurturing emails to convince me to buy their product.
In this case, UserTesting captured me with content. They’ve added value to my life. If they keep serving me content, I might become a customer.
Did the ad make a sale? No, but now I’m a lead they can nurture.
8. Content Makes You More Visible on Social Media
The social media landscape is noisy.
Just look at what’s happening every minute on social media:
Image: Smart Insights
Facebook has made it harder for brands to reach fans. When Facebook changed their News Feed algorithm in 2016, they prioritized content from one’s friends and family, even at the expense of brand visibility.
Why did Facebook pull a move like that?
In their announcement, they explain that their “priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.”
As Facebook users, we are the product they sell to advertisers, so it’s good they care about our user experience. However, it’s convenient that brands are now forced to buy more ads to regain the reach they lost.
Nevertheless, your fans and customers use social media, so you have to be there too.
Social media gives your brand something to offer social media audiences. Instead of dismissing your products, they’ll interact with your content and share it with their friends. By liking, commenting or sharing a Facebook post, your fans expand your reach.
This makes your content more visible. It forces your headlines, images and links in front of an audience you target (either by boosting a post to your fans or creating a special audience to solicit).
With paid ads, your content can exist off your website, exposed to be people who weren’t looking for it in the first place.
9. Content Gives You More Opportunities for Remarketing
Imagine if you knew the Facebook accounts of everyone who visited your website. You know they like your content, so they’re perfect targets for ads.
That’s called remarketing.
With a Facebook Pixel, you can track people who view certain pages (or all pages) on your website, then create a custom audience in Facebook’s Ads Manager to target them directly.
(You can also do this through Google, but Facebook remarketing is easier because people go their to browse and hangout, whereas they only visit Google pages when they have a need.)
Once you publish a new piece of content, you run an ad pointed at the custom audience. You’re likely to get a lot of clicks because you’re only displaying ads to people who have shown interest in your brand at one point.
But if you don’t have content for your visitors to enjoy, they won’t have any reason to come back to your site and re-engage your marketing funnel.
Pixels are remarkably sophisticated, so get creative.
For instance, you could create a custom Facebook audience of people who viewed a landing page, but didn’t sign up. Then you could send an ad with a link to the page to give them another opportunity to subscribe.
Good Marketers are Flexible
The web is always changing. The techniques that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. We have to voraciously learn new ideas, tactics and strategies.
PPC and blogging work well together because they both bring visitors to your site, albeit in different ways. But if you leverage them together, you can really drive your business’ growth.