According to AdGooroo, Amazon reputedly spent $54 million on Pay Per Click advertising during the first half of 2012. However 96% of businesses that use PPC spend on average less than $10,000 per year, and many of these are now seeking alternative marketing methods to deliver ‘more bang for their buck’.
Today’s most successful companies (we’re talking businesses of all sizes here), are fast recognising that continuous engagement with their target audience is the best way to keep their brands front of mind.
Such organisations are only too aware that advertising is a one-way medium – a marketing platform which offers no direct engagement with the audience. And as such it can be an expensive experiment.
Content marketing – and plenty of it.
A New York Times article (published 17 October 2012), reported on the considerable impact of PPC costs on small businesses, with one insurance company revealing that their original bid of $1 on the term “life insurance” had increased to a prohibitive $20 per click over a 10- year period.
At the other end of the business spectrum, CNN Money reported that since 2010, Nike has cut back on its traditional advertising (TV, print, radio) by 40%, in favour of creating content built around digital communities and high-profile sporting events. This cost-efficient direct communications strategy has seen Nike’s net income rise by $500 million and its company revenues by $3 billion.
Tips for reducing advertising spend in favour of content marketing:
- Set up a business blog and post new articles regularly (at least twice a week). Encourage your audience to post comments and initiate discussions.
- Produce an ebook and give it away as a free download to customers who sign up to your list on your website or squeeze page.
- Create your own YouTube channel and harness the power of video to attract more customers or clients.
- Launch a digital magazine (premium or freemium model). Many online magazine providers like Issuu offer a free trial of their software.
- Start a company newsletter (if your target audience is local you may wish to extend your offering to print).
- Create a fun app for your business. You don’t need a large budget to hire a freelance developer online from oDesk, Elance or AppBooker. (Ask the developer to sign an NDA if you are concerned about your concept being shared).
These are just a handful of the dozens of ways your brand could engage with its audience on a weekly basis.
Whilst content marketing can never be considered a quick fix; done well it amounts to a long-game strategy that could pay considerable dividends. At the same time, no-one is suggesting that businesses should stop running advertising altogether – that would be foolish. Many successful companies combine several elements in their marketing strategy. Ultimately, any activity that works for your business is worth repeating over and over.
Acclaimed US author and online advertising expert Perry Marshall says on the subject of PPC versus content: “AdWords is still doable and reasonably profitable for local businesses or those that have narrow niches and high barriers to entry. But you cannot put all your eggs in one basket. The ultimate goal for any business should be to drive as much unpaid traffic to their site as possible.”