With companies increasing their marketing spend online many of them are hearing different things like "pay per click" or "SEO" or "pay per lead". The problem is that most companies don't know what to do. So in this post I'm going to explain the difference between these three along with the advantages and disadvantages and then end with my overall recommendation.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Let's start with pay-per-click. This is a form of advertising that Google made famous through their Adwords program. It's a revolutionary form of advertising that never existed before Google and has helped companies better target their audience. The idea is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad... unlike traditional marketing where you throw a bill board up and hope and pray your target audience sees it and takes action. With pay-per-click you only pay when your audience actually clicks on your ad which means they are interested in what you are offering.
Now, back in 2006 pay-per-click advertising was the wild west and clicks were cheap so companies who were using this marketing strategy were making money hand over fist. But then everyone caught on and today the cost per click can be quite expensive. So the competition if fierce and a lot of companies that don't have the right tools or digital experience will end up throwing a lot of money at it and not see results.
Does that mean you shouldn't do pay per click advertising? No, not at all... in fact, if done correctly it could be one of your best forms of marketing. The disadvantage is that clicks can be costly and you need to know what you are doing. The advantage is that it is scalable and predictable traffic.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
Alright let's move on to our next type of marketing through search engines... SEO! SEO is the art and science of getting a website ranked higher in the organic results of a search engine (mostly Google since it controls over 85% of the market). SEO can be extremely rewarding if you actually manage to get your website into the top 3 or 5 spots. Just think about how valuable that real estate is! Anyone searching for what you offer is finding you at the top of Google... there's nothing better than that! Remember, this is not an ad... people trust the organic results more than ads. So SEO can be extremely powerful and effective.
But there's a big downside... it takes a long time and nothing is guaranteed. So you might be investing thousands of dollars for a year and not see any results during that time. And in the end if you don't have a really good SEO company you might not ever reach your goal of top 5. So it can be quite risky but the pay-off is huge if you manage to do it. In my opinion, SEO cannot be ignored and every company should be engaging in some form of SEO. It is best if you take a balanced approach between pay per click and SEO. They compliment each other very well since one is instant, predictable traffic and the other is long-term and unpredictable. You might be wondering why even bother with SEO? Because any company who has actually done it right can attest there's nothing like it. Pure organic, targeted traffic is like cocaine... once you experience it you can't stop!
Pay Per Lead
What is pay per lead? Well, it's when a company decides to let a digital marketing agency do all the work in order to get the final result... a lead. With pay per click advertising or SEO you aren't guaranteed leads. If you do them right of course you will get leads but so many companies don't do them right. So pay-per-lead is a way a company can reduce their overall risk and simply pay for the leads they get. This might seem like a "no brainer" but it doesn't always work well for every industry. If a lead isn't worth very much in your industry then pay per lead advertising probably won't work well.
The way it works is that the marketing agency will design the landing pages, setup and optimize the ads (pay per click) and maybe do some SEO. We actually go one step further and provide a custom lead management tool that automates some of the marketing and keeps track of all the leads. But the company doesn't need to do anything other than follow up and manage the leads coming in. At the end of the week or month the company is billed for any real leads they get.
It's a less risky way for a company to get what they really want... more leads. Does that mean you should only do pay-per-lead? No, in my opinion a combination of everything listed here is ideal. But, if you were to pick just one thing pay-per-lead might be the best strategy simply because all the guess-work is removed. You are guaranteed leads. The only disadvantage is that you don't know how many leads you will get. Don't let the cost per lead throw you off either... remember, to do pay-per-click advertising and SEO properly you will be spending a lot of money. So the cost per lead is probably higher doing it on your own than paying for the lead from a company who specializes in lead generation.