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Determining Whether Content or Paid Marketing is Most Effective
  • 11 October 2017
  • Eric Michaels

Determining Whether Content or Paid Marketing is Most Effective

As a small business owner, you may wonder whether to focus your resources on content or paid marketing. The ideal strategy will combine these tactics to reach your target audience most effectively. While engaging social media posts and relevant content are powerful resources when it comes to customer recognition, you may also need to leverage paid marketing strategies in order to really grow your business and overall awareness for what you do.

Paid marketing

You have to be able to build your reach organically by gaining your audience's loyalty and trust. However, as a small business owner, you may not have the luxury of building a following over the next few years—you need sales now. This is where paid marketing comes into the mix.

There are various forms of paid marketing tactics to choose from. You can leverage pay-per-click advertising to increase traffic to your site for anyone searching for targeted keywords related to your business. You may also consider affiliate marketing (e.g., paying for leads to your website), online banner ads (e.g., paying for real estate on established websites) and/or social media ads to help get your message in front of a larger audience. Depending on the product and your target audience, you may choose to go after more traditional paid marketing activities like print, television or radio. No matter which method you pursue, it is important to test your ROI on a regular basis to ensure the gains are worth the associated cost. Determine which tactics your audience responds to most positively, and consider increasing your investment there to make your initiative even more effective over the long run.

Content marketing

By creating engaging, informative content geared toward your target audience, you can introduce prospects to your products and services in a much more organic way. When you have the right strategy in place, you can create meaningful posts that your customers will share—helping you expand your reach. By leveraging the following strategies, you can make your content marketing initiative increasingly effective:

  • Establish relationships with social influencers: Reach out to influencers in your space to see if they may want to form a partnership with you. Send them a link to your blog so they give it a read. If they like what they see, they may even share an article with their network. Getting a shout out from someone with, say, 500,000 followers could help you increase your reach in a relatively short amount of time.

  • Optimize your website: When your target audience makes their way to your website, it’s crucial that they have a good experience. Your site should be fully functional and easy to interact with, regardless if someone is looking at it from a desktop computer or a mobile device. Be sure that your website includes information about you and your company as well as how to contact you. Whether it’s a button to “Read our blog” or “Sign up for newsletter” or even “Shop” – you need to make sure your key conversion points are clear and simple for the visitor to interact with. As a best practice, you should upgrade your website on a regular basis to address any glitches and explore new advancements in technology.

  • Become an industry force: When planning content, turn off your selling voice. While you can reference your products and services in a more subtle way, your main goal in content marketing should be to increase your overall engagement with your audience. Oftentimes, readers and visitors will be attracted to your articles because your company—and your writers—are an authority in your space. Stay informed with what is currently happening in your industry and choose future topics accordingly in order to keep readers coming back for more.

Prioritize according to your overarching goals

While the ideal strategy will offer a combination of these content and paid marketing initiatives, budgetary restrictions may force you to prioritize one over the other. It’s important to think about your company's objectives and current pain points. If you’re trying to improve your ranking in search engines like Google, you might want to prioritize paid marketing efforts for the next six months to a year. On the other hand, if you have a solid base of customers but you’re looking to improve conversion rates, you might be more effective focusing on content in order to deliver a more personalized experience – through your own channels as well as via influencer relationships you establish.

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