Marketing – Paid VS Free – Know Your Risks

Marketing – Paid VS Free – Know Your Risks
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Grow Your Website Visitors as Fast as Possible

Horse racing is big on the sports scene for several weeks every spring when the Kentucky Derby kicks off the “Triple Crown” events.

I can’t tell you which horse you should bet on that will give you the most value, but I can tell you that the horses that finish in the back of the pack will be far less valuable to their owners than the winners.

Why? One simple reason: The winning horses are faster.

In almost everything I can think of, we value speed over slowness and higher value means a higher cost, when you’re on the purchasing end of the deal.

This is certainly true in digital marketing. If bringing prospects and buyers to your website is your goal, then bringing more of them across this “finish line” faster is going to cost you more.

Let’s examine the faster and slower ways to market your online presence so you get a feel for the tradeoffs and can find a strategy or mix of tactics that fits your business goals as well as your budgetary constraints.

I’m not going to spend too much time on the lower-cost side of this topic. There’s much to be said, but I want to focus more on the higher-cost-faster-results side of the topic.

Social Media and Content Marketing

If you want to stick to the lowest possible marketing program – and still actually have a marketing program – you’ll be doing content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing. Solopreneurs with the right set of skills often do all of these themselves, so there’s no cost other than time.

The goals are to “organically” drive traffic to your website via social media posts and constantly improving placement within search engine results pages. Occasionally a website owner will hit a homerun and have some content go viral or get written up on a website with huge traffic. They’d be rewarded with a lot of prospects/customers fast – but this is rather rare.

Building your traffic organically usually takes time. However, if you don’t have time and have some money to spend on marketing, you can drive people to your site much faster by using:

  • Search engine marketing (SEM), and
  • Paid media ads, including banner advertising.

Search Engine Marketing

We all see SEM virtually every time we search for something on Google. The text ads that appear at the top of the search results are SEM. The best known of these is Google’s AdWords program.

Create a list of keywords that are your best prospects to search for when customers come to Google. Know your advertising and marketing budget. Decide how much to spend each day and put in bids on your keywords.

Sounds simple, and the mechanics of doing it are simple. However, if you don’t understand the market and keywords, you can easily spend all your budget with no results.

To be successful you have to know a few things:

  • Your conversion rate. How many visitors convert to customers.
  • Your cost per conversion (total $ spent on ads/number of conversions).
  • The lifetime value of your customer.

If your customers have a high lifetime value, then you can afford a lower conversion rate or higher bids. If they usually make one purchase and you never hear from them again, you need a killer conversion rate.

Tip: Consider testing keyword strategies on Bing before stepping up to Google. The traffic is lighter and the competition for keywords is less stiff.

Paid Media Ads

There are many other places you can put your ads. Google AdWords has a display ad element to its program. You can have your ads placed on other websites, for example. We would certainly include the traditional banner advertisement here, however there are still more options.

For example, your business might do well with an ad in a popular email newsletter. The owner of a boutique hotel in Maui could probably find a popular Hawaii travel newsletter that would perform well in terms of driving visitors to the hotel website. If you have a good feel for the major players in your market, you might be able to approach them directly and talk about advertising and marketing opportunities.

If you watch any YouTube videos, you have seen the ads that are shown before the video starts. This is another place your paid media ads could appear. The possibilities for paid ads is virtually endless and includes all the major social media platforms today, such as Facebook and Twitter.

When Website Traffic Misleads

Now let’s take this back around to where we started our discussion, because this is really the most important point. While you can drive visitors to your website much faster with paid programs, that speed is meaningless if you’re driving the wrong people to your site or driving them to a poorly designed landing page.

Many website owners have looked on as the number of visitors to their site jumped dramatically with an AdWords campaign, for example, and then later realized that those visitors spent virtually no time on their site and never became customers.

Be sure you understand your prospects and send them to landing pages that convert. This will virtually always require some A/B testing.

Do you homework before jumping in with both feet.