Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic
Do you know what organic traffic is? It’s traffic to your site or profile that you didn’t receive through an advertising or paid promotional campaign. It’s those people who stumble across you because so-and-so told them about you, or because they saw something of yours online. That kind of traffic is called organic because it’s all natural—or non-GMO if you’d like—traffic that’s happening without the enticement of an advertising campaign.
What is PPC? That’s short for pay-per-click. It’s become commonplace for businesses to pay for PPC advertising (through Google Adwords, social media, etc.). So, let’s talk about PPC advertising a little bit more.
When you sign up for PPC advertising, the process includes a few steps which are a little different depending on which platform you’re on. But, generally, the steps go like this:
1. Create your ad.
2. Choose your desired audience by selecting a few interests, location, or demographic characteristics or a combination of all of those.
3. Choose the keywords that are most relevant to what you’re offering.
4. Choose your budget.
5. Hit submit, wait for approval, and then watch your ad as it goes live.
Some social media platforms allow you to choose how they charge you. You can select per click, per conversion, or just a daily or project budget. On social media, you can generally put a daily cap on the amount being spent even if you’re choosing PPC. You’ll also be selecting the date you’d like the ad to begin and end.
What Happens Next on Social Media
If you’re advertising on social media (this includes Boosted posts), then your ad’s content and your business are evaluated. The target audience that you selected is also evaluated. Somehow, the two are plugged into an algorithm. The algorithm then produces information so that the social media bots can then determine who else is running ads that are targeting the same audience and how your ad compares.
They (as in the bots) then put you and the other businesses against each in an auction-type situation for each user that meets the criteria of your target audience. The winner of each bid gets their ad put in front of that user. This process is repeated hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands (depending on your ad budget) of times every day (or even hour) that your ad is live.
The result is that you may or may not reach the estimated audience that you were shown when you were selecting your budget. It all depends on who else is advertising at the moment and how active users meeting your target audience criteria are.
The more people pay for advertising, the more expensive it becomes for everyone.
Google or Search Engine Ads
When you advertise through a search engine, you are bidding against others who are using the same keywords or categories. You’re bidding on at least a national level, if not international level. There are more bidders in this auction, typically, and $5 per day is a minimum spend. To rank in the top three spots for many popular keywords, you’ll have to fork out upwards of $5. That means that you’re paying premium prices for your ad to be seen by a user who is completing a relevant search. That doesn’t mean that they will click it, just that they will see it.
Because not everyone will click, you will then end up paying that $5 fee several times over before anyone clicks on your ad. This means that you might end up paying $70 per click, or more.
You also need a place to send these visitors. Where are you going to funnel them? Most of the time the answer if your website. So, if you don’t have a website or don’t have a website built for a great user experience, then you’ll also need to pay to have one built or spend the time building it yourself if that’s part of your skill set.
For organic traffic, you’ll be paying whatever it cost you to build a website and create content. You’ll be paying the cost of social media posting.
But that isn’t a cost you’ll have to pay for every single visitor. If you make an investment in a website and great content, it will pay for itself in added organic traffic.
To get a better idea of what an organic marketing strategy can do, take a look at the case study from Annie Hurst at Off-Center Design. She details her approach to helping one client in particular extend their organic reach. She also shares the results of those efforts.
You’d Like to Give Advertising a Try
Should you? Where do you start?
Start with typing your business.
Yes, Doctor, it’s an O+. While your business is like a living, breathing, sometimes bleeding, thing, that isn’t really what I meant. What type of business do you have? Do you have a business that offers products and services to the general public? Or do you work with other businesses and professionals?
If you market to the general public, this could be beneficial or really frustrating to paid efforts. If you market to other businesses or professionals, then you might be able to narrow down your target audience.
The next thing you need to determine if is you are trying to reach local customers, or if you plan to compete nationally, internationally, or a mix of all three. For me, I can do what I do without ever meeting a customer face-to-face. So, I could potentially work with anyone in the world. And I do work across the globe. But, do I want to target paid ads to those around the world, locally, or nationally?
While I can work across the globe, I have a much higher rate of success in landing customers who are local to me. That is to say within 100 miles of my location. The reason for that is people generally have to get to know me to build enough trust to make a purchase. Just because of the way we live our lives, I can reach local potential customers during my weekly routines. So, I stick with focusing on my local audience because I know I can more easily reach them across several avenues.
Now figure out your goals.
What is it that you want to accomplish? Do you have a burning desire to see some quick growth? How do you see your business growing? What’s worked well for you so far?
If your business sells physical products and you market those products to general consumers, then using paid advertisement to reach your goals might be the right choice for you. Or if you offer local services, then paid advertising can pay off in a big way. Why do I say that? Let’s break it down.
Determining where to find your target audience.
Potentially good candidates for PPC advertising:
You sell products (physical goods).
Selling products mean that most customers can typically look at the product and understand its use and value and the benefit it provides to them.
You market to the general public.
You have more people in the pool of your target audience from the start. It’s easier to find your clients because there are a lot of people in the world who fall into your target audience category. A potential downside to this is that the market might already be saturated with similar businesses, or you might have to educate them on a new product they’ve never seen.
You offer products or a service locally only.
This means you need to reach those who are close enough to walk into your location to receive your product or service. Or close enough that you can easily travel to their location.
You offer products nationally.
All you need is to send them to your online store to make the sale.
If you fall into at least two of the above categories, then give PPC a try if you’d like.
Not such a great candidate for PPC:
You sell a service.
The value and benefit of your services are subjective in that the exact outcome of purchasing your services varies for each client (versus purchasing a toothbrush, for example, which is good dental health if the consumer uses it). You have to be able to effectively communicate the value and benefit to your potential customer while building trust. This isn’t something that can typically be done instantly with an ad.
You market to other businesses.
You know who your target market is, but there aren’t as many business owners out there as you expected. Most people in any given area in the US are not business owners; well above the average number of Americans are employees. It’s hard to make enough noise to get their attention. And if you’re only looking for business owners who have been in a thriving business for a specified amount of time, or in particular field, it can be even more difficult to hit that nail on the head.
You offer a service locally, nationally, and internationally.
Well, you can work from anywhere, but you need to build trust with your customers before they will buy. This has been the pattern for your customers since the beginning. It typically takes you many points of contact over several weeks before you make the sale.
There’s always a caveat to everything, right? You should definitely consider PPC advertising if:
1. You have designed your website yourself with little or no design or development experience, or SEO knowledge, and you don’t have several pages of content that your potential customer will find helpful.
2. You need immediate traffic.
Once you have thousands of visitors to your website, you’ll discover your ranking will improve. This means your site will be more visible in searches. So, if you don’t have a plan or strategy in place to bring in a steady trickle of visitors organically, or your website wasn’t built by someone who implemented design and content strategy to optimize your organic reach, then PPC advertising is one option. Don’t mistake for a moment though that it is a very expensive option.
Another option is hiring a professional such as me to come in and take a look at your website to complete an audit. Once that happens, if you need a new website with new content, you’ll discover that you’ll spend way less in the long run than you would if paid advertising is your only means of driving traffic to your website.
Long-term, Big Picture
Content marketing is all about taking the long-term, big-picture approach. So, the ROI won’t initially justify the cost in most cases. But, the effects of having a long-term strategy in place that builds a foundation for your marketing efforts are priceless. You can reduce or eliminate (depending on your goals) PPC advertising with a properly executed organic strategy.
That means that you’ll be making money without spending loads of it every day.
For comparison, an ad budget of $20 per day, or $600 per month, is a suggested starting point for many PPC advertising campaigns. That doesn’t include the setup costs, and that’s $7200 per year (for the record, I do not offer PPC advertising setup or maintenance).
$7200 per year is more than (on average) you’ll pay me and Annie to build you a new website with all new content with an organic strategy. That’s more than you’d pay us for a new website and a year’s worth of blog posts.
So, before you click the button to run your ad, maybe consider instead asking an expert to complete an evaluation for you. It can be enlightening. There may be areas that you can improve organically with very little expense that will give you the results you’re looking for, or that will make your advertising efforts more effective.
Either way, if you don’t have a long-term marketing strategy that you’re operating from, then there is no time like the present to have one created.