Search engine marketing or maybe better to say AdWords is a very popular channel for online marketing. Traditional the Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is low if you compare the CPA for example with display, affiliate or other forms of Pay Per Click/Acquisition marketing. It is not so strange that it is very effective because visitors of Google are looking for “something”. If “something” fits to your offer the change is much bigger that there is a match between question and demand. If you make it very targeted it is a way of inbound marketing.

Using AdWords as Inbound marketing is explained in the following figure from Hubspot.

paid-search-outbound-vs-inbound
Source: 4 Ways Paid Search Can Support Inbound Marketing by Drew Fortin

Forms from interruption or outbound marketing like display or affiliate marketing in general the costs per acquisition is much higher. Brian Halligan of Hubspot explained outbound marketing as follows:

When I talk with most marketers today about how they generate leads and fill the top of their sales funnel, most say trade shows, seminar series, email blasts to purchased lists, internal cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, and advertising (like display and affiliate). I call these methods “outbound marketing” where a marketer pushes his message out far and wide hoping that it resonates with that needle in the haystack.

I think outbound marketing techniques are getting less and less effective over time for two reasons. First, your average human today is inundated with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions per day and is figuring out more and more creative ways to block them out, including caller ID, spam filtering, Tivo, and Sirius satellite radio. Second, the cost of coordination around learning about something new or shopping for something new using the internet (search engines, blogs, and social media) is now much lower than going to a seminar at the Marriott or flying to a trade show in Las Vegas. (source: Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing by Brian Halligan).

The message of Brian is to stay away from Outbound marketing, move to Inbound or content marketing. I do not completely agree because there are cases that you can use display also very effective.

Coming back to AdWords in comparison with Inbound or content Marketing,  is AdWords a short term investment which can lead to fast results (if you do it well). On the other hand content marketing like blogging, video, newsletters etc which works very positive on SEO and can be well supported by Social Media, is investing (time) before you get results out of it.

The best is to look for a combination of channels. Channels that support each other. Invest in short- as well in long term channels. Short term for direct results, long term to build a brand and make your cist per acquisition lower.

But where to start?

For fast results start with AdWords search. Besides of fast results you can do excellent research. Test combinations of keywords with promotions, offers or products. Based on this experiments you can collect search queries as base for your content marketing.

Important is to have actionable metrics. Metrics that are the base for actions.

Some examples are the Digital Analytics from “The ladder of Awesomeness” from Avinash Kaushik (see Noob Guide Vs Ladder Of Awesomeness/Sustainable Success) or for example Dave Mc Clure’s Pirate Metrics.

Pirate Metrics helps you perform quantitative and comparative analysis of your business by tracking 5 key metrics:

  • Acquisition: You acquire the user.
  • Activation: The user uses your product, indicating a good first visit.
  • Retention: The user continues to use your product, indicating they like your product.
  • Referral: The user likes your product so much he refers other new users.
  • Revenue: The user pays you.

It is up to you to find the right metrics for your content marketing and keep focused to improve them.

AdWords is a very good starting point of content marketing.

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