SEO v PPC: Which Is The Best Driver Of Website Traffic?

SEO vs PPC - What is the best tactic for you?

SEO v PPC: Which Is The Best Driver Of Website Traffic?

When it comes to driving traffic to your website, there are really only two options: pay-per-click (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO).

While there are other online marketing channels (social, email, and display), SEO and PPC are likelier to drive large numbers of highly qualified visitors to your website. Of SEO and PPC, which is better?

The answer is dependent on your goals.

Short Term Goals: PPC

PPC is perfect for short-term testing or particular events as you can create an ad campaign in minutes and literally begin driving traffic to your website immediately. SEO, on the other hand, often takes at least 90 days to improve website traffic.

Long Term Goals: SEO

No digital marketing channel generates long-term traffic, leads, and sales better than SEO.

Search engine optimization is the best source of sustainable traffic to your website because it delivers (1) high-quality traffic with intent to buy and (2) increases ROI over time.

SEO vs PPC - What is the best tactic for you?

The latter benefit is key as to why SEO is a better long-term investment than PPC. According to a Covario study, last year advertisers paid 23% more per click than they did the previous year. The data shows that the cost to acquire each new visitor or customer via PPC is increasing and will continue to do so.

Higher PPC costs result in a lower ROI. We hear this from companies every day. PPC is not a sustainable traffic source in the long term because of the escalating cost per click. With SEO, ROI improves over time. Time and monetary investment does not increase from month-to-month but traffic, leads, and customers do.

SEO’s ability to drive traffic at a decreasing cost per visitor long-term makes it a much more valuable marketing channel than PPC. Studies demonstrate that, on average, SEO is 12% of a typical marketing budget and generates 14% of leads. PPC, on the other hand, is 8% of the marketing budget but only generates 6% of leads.

Marketing Spend closely tracks led generation rates

Long-term ROI is not the only thing that makes SEO so attractive to marketers. The fact that users trust organic listings more than they trust PPC also makes SEO more enticing. High search rankings imply industry authority and leadership, making searchers likelier to trust and click the website. In this way, SEO drives more high quality traffic.

When asked for the average percentage of leads converted to sales by marketing channel, marketers sighted SEO as the most effective marketing channel, with PPC coming in 5th place.

If your marketing goal is short-term, then PPC is a great source of immediate traffic, but if you want a traffic source that consistently drives high quality traffic long-term then SEO is the answer for you.

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Want More Live Conversions From Your Google Ads?

Google Ads Call Tracking

Want More Live Conversions From Your Google Ads?

Years ago I was talking with a client about a new campaign we were launching. I asked him how he would measure success. He pointed to the telephone and said “that will ring more often!”

Fast forward to today, business owners still want their marketing efforts to make the phone ring. Nearly half of all marketers say that driving phone calls from paid search ads is their top priority. Today Google Ads allows us to build “connect to call” features right into your ads. These ads are perfect to make it easier for potential customers to reach you. Would you like to get started? Let’s Start Strong together! Start Strong is our new Economic Recovery program to maximize and optimize your marketing efforts.

What is Google Connect To Call?

Google’s Connect To Call feature (also called Google Ads Call Tracking) allows you to track the number of prospective customers called your business after seeing or clicking one of your paid ads. Paid ads include Google search ads, Google call only ads and Google My Business listings.

 Why implement Google Ads Call Tracking in your ads?

Did you know that 43% of all search-related conversions happen over the phone? And that 65% of businesses find their most valuable customers are calling them because they are ready to do business?

People actively searching for your products and services are doing their research. When they are ready to buy, they are ready to talk. You can make it easier to start the conversation using Google Ads Call Tracking features.

What are the benefits of Google Ads Call Tracking?

In addition to providing you with a reliable, accurate and quantifiable way to track the effectiveness of offline conversions and phone conversations, Call Tracking also gives you actionable insights and comprehensive reporting on the true return of PPC investment – leads.

Google Ads Call Tracking allows us to:

Types of phone call conversions you can track

There are three types of phone call conversions you can track via Google Ads:

What’s possible for your business if the phones ring more often now? Would you like to get started? Let’s Start Strong together! Start Strong is our new Economic Recovery program to maximize and optimize your marketing efforts. Let’s have a conversation!

Not sure if you are ready to advertise yet? Then check out our post on 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Advertising Right Now.

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Why Longer Content Is Smarter Content

Why Longer Content Is Smarter Content

According to a recent report from SEM Rush long form content (3000+ words) get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length (901-1200 words).

In a study of over 700,000 articles, the research shows that shorter articles (300-900 words) are 4.5X more likely NOT to be shared that long form content of 3000+ words.

Content Length: Impact On Performance

Long form content: Impact on Performance

Key Takeaway:

 In comparison with articles of average length (901-1200 words), long form content (more than 3000 words) has:

Shared Articles By Length

non shared articles by length

What is remarkable about this study is that 88% of articles over 3,000 words get share. While a shorter article (under 600 words) is shared less than half the time.

The data proves the hypothesis that people are more driven and engaged by blog posts containing more information. These studies have also shown that long form consistently outperforms short-form when it comes to shares:

The most frequent objection we hear when we recommend to clients that their content marketing strategy needs to include more long form content is that nobody will read it. The data shows that a well written long-form article will not only be read, but it will be shared also.

Should I Never Write A Short Form Post?

These findings don’t mean you should avoid using short-form content at all. We want to make a crucial caveat here — content length should vary depending on the user’s intention in the first place and, secondly, on the type of content.

We would never make a blanket statement that you should never write short-form content. The following content topics may work well (and even better) as short-form content:

Subjects that can’t meet the word count of long-form content, which is 1200 to 2000 words or more, should also get the short-form treatment. If you come across these topics, reassess their potential value to your company and your target audience.

FAQs about long-form vs. short-form content

What is long form content?

Long form content describes content with a 1200- to 2000-word count. This kind of content offers users more value because it takes an in-depth look at a topic, answering a user’s initial question and then their follow-up questions.

What is short-form content?

Short-form content describes content with less than 1000 words. This kind of content offers users a brief overview of a topic by answering their initial question and sometimes directing them to content that answers related questions.

What is the difference between long-form and short-form content?

The simplest way to explain long form vs short form work is this: Long form is longer and requires critical thinking; short form is short and can be skimmed or scanned.
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How Many Social Media Platforms Should You Focus On?

Social Media Logos

How Many Social Media Platforms Should You Focus On?

One of the challenges that a lot of B2B companies struggle with is what how should they handle social media? Should they be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat? Do they need to be on TikTok?

Do they need to be on all of these platforms, or should they just focus on one and just do a really good job on there?

To answer these questions I turned to social media expert Amanda Fountain and this is what she had to say.

What Are Your Social Media Resources?

What you are asking is actually two questions rolled into one because what you are really asking is what are your resources and where is your audience?

Social media can open a lot of doors for businesses, but if you don’t have the right resources, it just becomes harder. Harder to manage, harder to see results, harder to feel good about what you’re doing on it. Harder to see results if it’s not overwhelmingly good.

And that’s usually what happens, when you have limited resources, you do the best you can, but it’s not great.

It’s just the best that you can possibly do. And that can hurt. Which is a weird thing to think about, but it can hurt if it’s not great for social. Because there’s so much that’s happening, that your stuff has to stand out.

When I say great, I don’t mean like the highest quality videos are the highest quality graphics, it’s just great content that is really
well tailored for your audience.

That’s the ‘great’ that you’re looking for. It doesn’t have to be highly produced content, it just has to be really well tailored for your audience.

Social Media Logos

Where Is Your Audience On Social Media?

The second part of your question is where is your audience? If you know that you have limited resources and you know that your audience is most active on Twitter, for example, spend your time there.

This is a much better strategic approach, to find where your audience is, and put your time and effort there, rather than trying to separate your time across every single platform.

Maybe claim profiles and have a regular cadence for occasionally posting on other places, but put your time and efforts to where your audience is.

And then the next phase of that is if you can get a good cadence of producing content that your audience likes and engages with, then you can look to expand your social media presence to the platforms where your audience will be.

One of the things I always think about is who is my next audience, right? Because people grow up in their careers.

The people who are decision makers now, are maybe not, maybe not big Instagram users, but the people who are in their twenties and thirties who have them, will eventually be a decision maker

It’s a platform they’re used to using and seeing. So you can’t ignore it forever, but think about when you need to start kind of getting in front of them.

That’s why it’s more important to have a regular cadence, even if it’s only occasional, in order to be in front of those other audiences.

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What is Programmatic Advertising?

programmatic-advertising

What is Programmatic Advertising?

This is a question that we get when we are reviewing paid media plans with clients. What is programmatic advertising? It’s a great question and I turned to paid media expert Tom Burke  to answer that question. This is what he had to say.

Programmatic advertising is the use of automated technology for media buying (the process of buying advertising space), as opposed to traditional (often manual) methods of digital advertising. Programmatic media buying utilizes data insights and algorithms to serve ads to the right user at the right time, and at the right price.

In other words, as Tom points out, programmatic advertising is simply another way to buy advertising or media.

How is buying programmatic advertising different from traditional ad buying?

With traditional or direct ad buying you purchase advertising space on a website or in a traditional publication directly from the publisher.

You negotiate the price, pick the placing and the date the ad will run, and for how long the ad will be shown to the publisher’s readers. It involves people talking with people, and the process can take time, as ad copy is sent back and forth for approval. Results are calculated manually and provided to the buyer when they become available. Ads are optimized manually based on the data.

The most common example of traditional ad buying is buying ad space on a site like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Boston.com. Everyone who visits these websites will see your ad, regardless of whether they could be interested in your product/service or not.

Purchasing programmatic advertising, on the other hand, is very similar to Facebook or Google where the ads are bought and sold through an automated process through a dashboard. Real-time optimization occurs and KPI data are available as it comes in. There is no need to interact with any salespeople at the publishers.

Unlike in the first example, your ad is only shown to the website visitor who matches the behavioral or demographic characteristics of your ideal customer, increasing the likelihood that they will click on your ad.

Programmatic advertising misconceptions

One of the common misconceptions about programmatic advertising is that the quality of the ad inventory is not top tier quality.

That is completely incorrect because today you can buy almost any type of ad programmatically. In the last twelve months, companies we have worked with, have bought TV advertising on Hulu programmatically. They have bought streaming audio on both Pandora and Spotify programmatically. And they have bought ads on major websites like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.com all programmatically.

When you can target your ad buy so that your ad is only shown to someone who matches your ideal customer profile, why would you not be using programmatic advertising?

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How To Pick A PR (Public Relations) Agency

PR Agency

How To Pick A PR (Public Relations) Agency

This is a really difficult time for businesses from a publicity standpoint. A global pandemic, mass layoffs and a presidential election are taking up most of the media space, both online and offline.

What should a business owner, who is looking to get publicity for their business do? Should they keep their PR in-house, or should they go and hire a PR agency?

To answer that question, and talk more about how do you pick a public relations agency, I spoke to PR expert Karyn Martin from Golden Thread Agency.

Do you stay in-house with a PR team or a person or do you bring in a PR agency? There’s a number of factors to consider here in making that decision. Certainly budget, bandwidth… 

Whether you’ve got somebody in-house or an agency team or person, there’s a financial commitment there that you’re making to public relations.

Certainly I’ve been an agency person for decades and now I’ve stepped out on my own, and I’d like to think that the position that I’m in now I’m best suited to be helping clients make decisions like this, to suss it out based on those factors that we can look at.

And while I do think that financially it’s going to be probably less expensive to go with an in-house person, you have to look at the trade-offs for that.

One of the trade-offs is losing the technology resources that a PR agency has access too. If you manage your PR in-house, can you afford to invest in the tools needed to accurately measure the success of your PR efforts? That’s why you have agencies who spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands when you get to the bigger agencies on technology.

Hybrid Model

One popular option is to hire a consultant or small PR agency to work with internal teams. The Consultant or agency can develop the strategic approach and PR blueprint, that the inside team can then go and execute against.

Six Questions To Ask Before Hiring A PR Agency

1. Is there a fit?

Your PR agency is your voice to the outside world so who will be working on your account is critical. In a big agency, the top manager pitching the agency’s service may not be working directly with you. The agency may assign the job to less experienced professionals. Ask to meet all team members who will work on the account to examine their backgrounds and track records. Meeting all the personnel will give you an idea of the chemistry that will evolve between the agency and your business.

2: Big agency versus small agency?

There are advantages to both small and large agencies. Small pr agencies offer direct, personal service. Small firms are usually more flexible on pricing. The individuals who actually do the work are usually the same individuals who pitched you. Larger firms usually operate in teams that offer more viewpoints, varied talents and experience, flexibility and manpower. They usually take on clients with larger budgets.

3: Agency and Industry Experience.

Does the PR agency have proven experience and results working with similar companies to yours? A PR agency that has experience in your vertical will be able to get results quicker, than someone who has not worked in your market before. Beware of conflicts of interest if other clients are direct competitors, and agencies that cannot differentiate your company from competitors in the sector.

4: Media Connections

Has the agency achieved the type of media placements that you expect to get across print, broadcast and online media? Is the agency well-versed in managing remote media interviews?

5: How do you incorporate social and digital media in your PR campaigns?

PR is now closely integrated with social media. Look for a PR agency or consultant who is familiar with these trends and, more importantly, knows how to harness them for PR. Ask for specific examples of how they’ve used digital or social to help a client reach their goals.

6: How do you measure success?

How will you and the agency measure success? Learning what metrics they prefer will help gauge their PR measurement abilities. High-quality PR agencies now use PR metrics such as share of voice, message resonance and changes in brand sentiment over time.

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How Do You Select A Social Media Agency?

Social Media Agency

When To Select A Social Media Agency

One of the questions that we get asked a lot is when is the should I use a social media agency for social versus when should I do it in-house with the people that I have?

It’s a great question and I turned to social media expert Amanda Fountain to answer that question. This is what she had to say:

Hiring A Social Media Agency

One of the reasons why a company would consider using a social media agency is to develop a social media strategy.

A social media strategy is one of the key building blocks to being successful on social media. A strategy identifies who your target audience is. What social networks they are on? What messaging they respond too? What types of messaging they do not respond too?

A second reason to engage with a social media agency is to produce more content.

A third reason is to listen and engage with your audiences on social media. Listening is an overlooked aspect of a successful social media strategy. The bigger you are as a company, the more risk you have of missing conversations about your brand if you don’t have someone monitoring and listening all the time.

“By providing great customer service through social comments, you not only retain existing customers but also win new ones.”

Handling Your Social Media In-house

When does handling your social media accounts in-house work best? If you know that your audience is not really active on social, that it is not where you want to talk to your audience then having internal resources handling your social media accounts make sense.

In this scenario, your in-house person just focused on posting content and responding to whatever comments are left.

Agency + In-House Model

The obvious best model is when you have a social media agency partner and someone -in house that’s your social media expert.

You have your in-house person who can lead what needs to happen, can share all that in-marketing insight from the other pieces that are going on, and help with the execution pieces of it.

Your agency partner then becomes your strategist, your person that’s there to tell you what’s happening, tell you what’s going on, counsel you to make changes or consider new things. To push you in new ways that if you’re in the trenches day to day, it’s not always easy to see those things.

So that’s a good model, having a social media agency partner who can be your strategist, and then the in-house person that can oversee implementation and execution of your social medium campaigns.

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How To Select A Programmatic Advertising Partner

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How To Select A Programmatic Advertising Partner

One of the follow-up questions we got from our recent post on programmatic advertising was how do I pick a programmatic partner? There are a lot of lot of companies out there in the programmatic space. How can I make sure that I am picking the right one?

To answer that question I turned back to programmatic expert Tom Burke from Centro. This is what he had to say.

When picking the right programmatic partner for your business or agency, here are two things to consider.

The first consideration are tactical, day-to-day media-based questions. These are a bunch of boxes you should check around inventory sources and supply-side, what exchanges are they integrated in, how many PNP deals they have, what type of data they have, etc.

11 Questions To Ask A Programmatic Advertising Provider

  1. What do you classify yourself as? A trading desk? A DSP? Something else?
  2. What DSP do you use? is it different based on inventory type (desktop, mobile, video)? Is it your own or a 3rd party?
  3. If you are a DSP, do you have a self-serve interface and if not, do you have any plans to put one in place?
  4. Do you have your own direct PMP deals or do you trade on the open exchanges?
  5. What split of retargeting vs prospecting are you proposing and can this be monitored ongoing?
  6. What are your fees and how are they calculated?
  7. What buy models do you support? CPM, CPC, CPA?
  8. What post view and post-click conversion window will you apply to my activity?
  9. Is there anything automated in your bid optimization process or is it managed by people?
  10. What third party data providers do you typically use?
  11. What level of transparency do you provide on reporting? Can I get a domain list including impressions served?

While you need to check these boxes, realistically the majority of the day-to-day work has become so commoditized at this point, that it would be a red flag if someone could not answer clearly any of these questions.

The second consideration is how does programmatic advertising fit into your business? This is the question that  I’d recommend, almost every agency – especially in the mid-tier – focus on answering.

The two questions I ask agency partners about choosing a programmatic advertising partner are:

The IAB released a study in May 2018 indicating that 18% of programmatic advertisers have completely brought programmatic media buying in house, while an additional 47% have at least partially done so.

If you are thinking about bringing your programmatic services in-house, here are four things to consider:

What’s does “in house” mean to you?

A closer look at the IAB data indicates that few advertisers are aligned on what “fully in house” means.

For instance, some brands viewed taking their entire programmatic process in house as working directly with a DSP instead of using a creative agency to help execute buying. To others, it meant having their agency of record provide them with a programmatic strategy while their in-house team performed the media buys. 

You Will Need an In-House Team

The number of people you’ll need to develop and execute your programmatic media depends on how much of the process you’re bringing in house. Some brands have brought in programmatic department heads, but continue to have an agency of record with whom their experts work to develop the programmatic strategy to execute buys. Others have essentially modelled the structure of a trading desk to manage strategy and execution. Any one of these structures can work, but all require that you staff up a team of programmatic experts.

In-House Programmatic Advertising Is About Data Management

Programmatic media buying requires tons of data—collecting, aggregating, layering, and swiftly drawing actionable insights from it. Depending on your strategy for taking programmatic in house, you may need to take some or full responsibility for managing your data, which would require an experienced (and expensive) data science team.

A Long-Term Programmatic Strategy Is a Must

As with everything in digital media, programmatic advertising buying will not remain stagnant. Technology, key players, channels, and formats will continue to change and evolve. Many companies have built their entire business model on this evolution. Therefore, your strategy needs to account for, and proactively address, the constant changes in the industry.

That means hiring exceptional talent that fully understands the landscape, and can act autonomously to address innovation. It also means providing employees with ongoing opportunities to continue their industry education.

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