It’s no secret that businesses need to advertise. However, with the average small business spending close to $10,000 a month on advertising, many companies are looking for alternatives. That’s one of the reasons why so many businesses are turning to organic marketing.
So, what is organic marketing, how is it different from paid marketing, and which is better? Glad you asked! Let’s settle the great debate, organic vs paid marketing; which is right for your business?
Essentially, organic marketing is attempting to drive traffic to you without a prompt. Organic traffic finds you, not the other way around, but there are still ways to facilitate and direct this type of traffic.
The most popular example of this is search engine optimization (SEO), which attempts to optimize a website’s content to rank higher on Google searches. However, there is also app store optimization (ASO), certain social media strategies, and plenty of other organic marketing examples.
The reason organic traffic is so valuable is that most users tend to skip right over advertisements and go straight to the organic results on search engines. Organic marketing helps you establish a note of trust early on in your users’ and customers’ journeys.
So, when is organic marketing appropriate? Well, let’s imagine a small camping supply business that relies heavily on Amazon. Of course, there are thousands of different tents or camping stoves that you can buy on Amazon. Many have excellent reviews, great prices, and recognizable brand names. How is a new company going to compete with that?
Well, over time, a new company will have to develop and implement a strategy to rank higher on Amazon searches like “tent” or “camping stove”. However, that takes a lot of time and strategy to develop. Maybe they’ll reach for lower-hanging fruits in the meantime like “4-season backpacking tents” or “lightweight propane camping stove for backpacking. Sure, these keywords have a lower search volume, but they will still drive highly relevant traffic to their products.
Paid marketing attempts to bring paid traffic to your site through advertising and other means. For example, when you buy pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you’re finding the users, the users aren’t finding you. Of course, advertising has been widely used by every type of business and organization for over a century, and it’s still widely used today for many reasons. The average American now sees 5,000 ads or more a day.
However, they’re used for a reason. Paid marketing has withstood the test of time because it’s an effective way of bringing in customers, acquiring sales leads, building brand awareness, and making intended conversions.
So, when is paid marketing used? Well, all the time. It used to be newspaper ads and television ads that were so highly sought after, but the market has changed. Now, companies compete more heavily with Facebook and Google ads (Search Engine Marketing or SEM), which offer incredible conversion rates and reasonable startup prices. Nearly every business, big and small, uses some form of paid marketing in its strategies to help drive revenue.
Every business owner should incorporate organic marketing into their strategies in some form or another. However, some may not see a reason to yet. Well, here are some of the biggest benefits of organic marketing.
If there’s one major benefit of organic marketing like SEO, it’s that results tend to last. Returns on investment (ROI) tend to be very high for a successful organic marketing campaign. Once you have the foundation built (most often your optimized website or app), it requires more strategy than capital. Also, the benefits tend to last for a long time. Ranking in the top 3 on a high-traffic (relevant) Google search could single-handedly keep your business afloat for years to come, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Once you’re at the top, there is virtually no upkeep required. Updating your website every six months to two years and maybe updating some of your website content will help solidify your position at the top, but little more is needed. Unlike PPC ads, you don’t need to keep pouring money in if you want to see results.
Moreover, organic traffic establishes a foundation of trust with your users. People trust search engines, app stores, and other algorithms to offer them the best of the best upon their search. Hence, building positive associations and brand awareness is a great side effect of organic marketing.
Lastly, anybody can implement organic marketing with a little research. If you’re able to build an effective-enough website, learn the ropes of content marketing, and implement the right strategy, you could carry out an organic marketing strategy almost entirely for free. However, if you do choose to pay, there is at least an end in sight for ongoing payments. Consider it a “buy once, cry once” investment.
We all know that nothing is perfect, right? Of course, organic marketing is no exception. No matter what type of organic marketing you’re using, whether it’s SEO, ASO, eCommerce searches, or building an organic social media following, they all take time to develop. It could be months or even years before you ever see a significant return on your investment.
Not only do results take longer to come to fruition, but they’re not even guaranteed. Of course, no ad campaign offers guaranteed success either, but there’s a much bigger guessing game with SEO or ASO. Luckily, it’s made up for by the smaller investments, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
Lastly, there is a lot that is out of your control with various organic marketing techniques. Search engines, social media outlets, and app stores can harm your growth prospects with the click of a button, and you have little say in the matter. However, if you conform to their rules and follow typical best practices, you are unlikely to face these concerns.
No matter what type of marketing you’re using, it’s best to remember that outsourced marketing services will always help your campaign reach its maximum audience for the best price. Either way, here are the biggest benefits and downsides of paid marketing.
One of the key benefits of paid marketing is instant returns. When you run an effective ad campaign, you could start making conversions within mere minutes. If you need to drive quick growth or revenue, especially during the early days of your business, then advertising is the best way to do so. For a smaller initial cost, you could begin driving the revenue your business needs to survive in the least amount of time possible.
Another benefit of SEM is scale. As a business owner, you can scale your ads to as much or as little as you like. For example, do you need an early boost to your new startup but you’re low on funds? $200 could be enough to get you your first sale $1,000 if you play your cards right. Then, if you happen to have enough on hand, $100,000 could get you a lot more traffic.
Conversely, there is no question that advertising has saved thousands of businesses from failure when short-term revenue was needed. Also, there are plenty of different ads to choose from. When you try to build organic traffic, you have to play by the rules of tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon, or the major social media outlets.
However, when advertising, you can choose between thousands of different advertising companies, both online and offline. When you’re paying those companies, you have more leeway than when you are abiding by their rules and regulations. For local businesses, you have newspapers, affiliates, bulletin boards, online directories, chambers of commerce, and dozens of other outlets to help you spread your reach. That’s not even including all of the digital ad tools that larger businesses receive. Possibilities are endless with paid marketing.
Of course, one of the greatest downsides of paid marketing is that, well, it’s paid. While you may sink money into an organic campaign, paid marketing doesn’t have an end goal to eliminate payments. However, as a short-term driver of growth, it is extremely effective. There’s also no guarantee that your conversions will pay for themselves. Believe it or not, the average eCommerce advertisements see conversion rates of only 2 to 3%.
It isn’t just eCommerce. Many companies see conversion rates well under 2% and if you’re using a highly competitive keyword for your ad, you could be spending over $100 every time someone clicks on your ad and doesn’t follow through. If you aren’t clearing more than that with the conversions you make, you wind up losing money.
Finally, advertisements are often highly restricted. Think about search ads, where you only get 60 to 100 characters for a title and ~160 characters for a description. Display ads allow you to show one picture with a small amount of text, and video ads give you 5 to 15 seconds to display your product.
With content marketing, you have more control over what you show your viewers than you do with advertisements. However, forced haste is often a blessing in disguise, as shorter text and a greater reliance on visuals are more captivating for a potential audience.
Every business is different and some of us are further along in our strategies, so there’s no clear winner out of the two. Both types of marketing have their place in today’s world, and they are both very effective for their purposes.
For driving long-term growth and sustainability, organic traffic offers the highest potential returns for the lowest cost. Every business should be striving to achieve organic traffic. However, it comes with a fatal flaw. It takes too long to build from the ground up, and many businesses (especially new ones) can’t sustain themselves during that unpredictable wait.
Consequently, paid marketing is incredibly useful for driving short-term growth. Sure, it gets expensive over time and becomes a burden, but businesses should allocate 7 to 8% of their revenue for marketing. If combined with an effective organic marketing strategy, the need for ongoing paid marketing will decrease over time. Essentially, paid traffic can help your business reach short-term goals and drive early growth while working toward a more sustainable strategy. Also, the two can help each other grow when used strategically.
For example, when you pay for SEO services and have your website optimized, you may see higher conversion rates on your ad. When users click on an ad and see a poor landing page, long load times, or difficult navigation systems, they may leave. Improving your SEO also means improving your user experience (UX), which will ultimately help with your ad campaigns.
Not only that, but your ads can help boost brand awareness, leading more users to click on your website or app when they recognize your brand’s name. Overall, using both paid and organic strategies in tandem yields the best results, even when one is highly effective.
Now that we’ve settled the differences between organic vs paid marketing and how to incorporate them both into your marketing strategy, you can use them together for the best results.
Remember, no matter what type of marketing you’re using, professional help will always yield the best results. Stay up to date with our latest marketing news and feel free to contact us with any questions or if you need any help!