Paid search marketing is good. It’s good because it offers real time measurement of results. You can see what you spend, see what you get back and go from there. There aren’t grey areas really, not when compared to other forms of marketing.
The problem with paid search marketing is that its expensive and the costs haven’t yet shown any signs of slowing down. The costs place pressures on margins and thats not so good.
The other not so good thing is that it’s not confirmed paid search advertising builds your companies brand or customer awareness. In fact, it may harm customer loyalty.
So what are the alternatives? well, its helps first to understand what one really wants to achieve. For the purpose of this post I am considering;
- Traffic to my website
- Generating repeat visits.
- Micro Targeting: Not applicable to all businesses but targeting very specific post codes which match the demographic you’re looking for. Once identified then a multi channel approach can be taken even including the ‘old’ methods of direct mail, local sponsorship of events, teams etc.., TV advertising (yes, this can easily be split by much smaller groups now when considering digital channels.
- The TV Long Tail: With the advent of digital TV and You Tube the means by which to target particular clusters of potential customers has never been easier. TV advertising is much more affordable due to a) its much cheaper to make a good quality ad as the price of the gear has come down and b) you’re not hitting the entire country so the eyeballs have come down also pushing price down.
- Radio Advertising: Radio is coming into it’s own these days on the back of podcasts and mobile devices allowing the population to litem while on the move. Whilst seen by many as not as powerful as TV it’s underestimated and thus can be cheap. Mailchimp sponsored the podcast Serial. This became the most downloaded (31 million and counting) and listened to podcast to date in the world. The deal Mailchimp signed was based on hundreds of thousands of users, they got a bargain.
- Bilboard Advertising: Lastminute deals here can be cheap. The problem is they don’t really work unless there is more advertising happening at the same time in the shape area, its a supplementary channel (in my view).
- Social: This includes Facebook, twitter etc.. whether these channels work in there own right is yet to be seen and it’s not far off paid search but with more segmentation. Facebook ad revenues are going through the roof according to their earnings reports in which case one must assume it’s working for advertisers. Not so for Twitter.
- App Display: a relatively new channel allowing display ad’s on apps.
- Print: PRINT!! I said it. It still works. I see companies advertising daily in my morning paper and monthly in the various magazines I buy (Yes, I still buy magazines).
- Endorsement: More popular now as one can find someone who has a following (celebrity, huge followers on instagram, twitter, facebook etc think Zoella). This can be costly but if you get in early can yield great results.
- SEO: This one falls ingot he Dark Arts territory. I haven’t yet met one person who really understands how to execute a successful SEO strategy. Seems to me one must produce rich and relative content which a person likes and tells others thus generating organic traffic which the search engine takes notice of. If successful SEO can be great but one must be careful not to become complacent. I have seen a business die as they relied on SEO traffic, once the algorithm moved and traffic fell away….
- Affiliates: Getting others to advertise and give them a share of revenue. Can be ok but they might cannibalise your channels i.e.: you’d have got the sale anyway. Having said that you only pay for a sale in which case it can be a successful route to market. Does this drive brand though?
- PR: PR can send a brand stratospheric (see Virgin). The trick is to generate a personality for the business which encapsulates the business values. Many You Tube stars have built audiences / customers on their personality and subsequent PR. It is possible so long as one has conviction.
There are more but as you can see the choice available present somewhat of a task deciding what to pursue and what is best left alone. Each business is of course different and so the mix would certainly change. One element is clear, a marketing strategy must have a balance across channels, No business can afford to be exclusively dependent upon one channel, the risk is too high.
Paid search adverting ideally plays a minority part in your overall strategy. Not all businesses can manage this at the outset and not all want to all as they become obsessed with click through rates and ROI (as I once was).