For many inbound marketing enthusiasts like myself, using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can commonly cause an internal battle. Is paying for ads really inbound marketing? When executed right, yes, a PPC strategy really can complement your existing inbound tactics.
Let’s start off by clearing the air. Pay-per-click works. Many small-to-medium-sized companies have been burned by poor PPC strategies and/or execution. But more and more research is showing that when executed well, paid advertising can generate positive returns. In fact, a recent study by AOL found that marketers that allocate ad spend to social channels see a nearly 25 percent lift in the number of sales generated by advertising, compared to sales generated by organic, non-paid marketing channels.
In order to stay true to your inbound roots, here are three principles to build an effective PPC strategy:
Promote Content, Not Yourself
One of the core philosophies of inbound marketing is to be authentic and helpful. Content shouldn’t be overly promotional or “salesy.” PPC is no different. Instead of writing ad copy that talks about how great your brand is, try to promote a piece of content that will help solve your prospect’s problem. Branded campaigns do have a place in most strategies. For example, branded terms may allow you to capture leads that are nearing conversion. Ultimately though, the focus of your campaigns should be on helping the end-customer.
Map Content to the Buyer’s Journey
The thing that makes paid advertisements (outbound marketing) annoying is when you’re promoting something that people don’t want or need. The trick to providing relevant content to people when they are actively searching for solutions is to map your content to the buyer’s journey. For example, if you’re buying top-of-the-funnel terms, make sure your ad copy and content offers align. When somebody is searching “do I need life insurance?” it’s not a great user experience to throw an ad up that says, “Get a quote. Contact us now!” This is where you might promote an informational e-book or whitepaper.
Test, Test and Test
A well-thought-out PPC strategy can be a high-performing lead generation channel. But even the best strategies don’t always work 100% of the time. The best part of PPC is that you’re collecting tons of data from the minute you start a campaign. Use this data to test new offers, tweak keywords, make changes and optimize your landing pages. Like many inbound tactics, PPC isn’t “set it and forget it.” Continuing to test and report on your campaigns will lead to higher conversion rates and higher quality leads.