Being in business, you know time is money. So when it comes to driving traffic to your website it can be complicated to determine the best approach. Should you purchase ad space on the search engines (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing Ads) or should you grow your audience and your business through creative blog articles and social media connections? The answer is not always easy to determine and sometimes it is just Yes, Both!
Evaluate Search Ad Cost Versus Blogging and Social Media Cost
If you can't measure it you probably shouldn't be doing it (at least in business). Use the following process to evaluate the costs of search ads and then determine what the comparable results would need to be if you were engaging with blogging and social media.
Understand Business Position Prior to Deciding on Ads Versus Blogging and Social Media
This article I am writing now stems out of research I am doing for a client where we are evaluating this exact concept. Here are some of the facts to get you thinking:
- They recently launched a new website
- They are already on the first page of Google and Bing for the regional keyword expression we were targeting
- They are not currently writing blog articles so the site is remaining static - though it has a lot of good information on it
Understand the Market Capabilities Prior to Deciding on Ads Versus Blogging and Social Media
Here is some information on the current market research for the keywords they would be interested in their area
- There are approximately 50 searches per month on the expression they are interested in
- If the target area is increased they would pick up more searches but it is a regional business and limited in radius reach
- The cost per ad click are right around $1.00 / click
- This is a relatively "cheap" cost per click, in the software / web industry it can be as high as $12.00 - $14.00 / click
Break Ad Costs Down to Anticipated Return on Investment
The best way to analyze the Return on Investment is to use a tool like Google AdWords or AdWords Express where you can determine anticipated market reach. Here is the resulting analysis on AdWords Express for the above scenario:
As you can see, you can set up your budget to cap it as you see fit. The important information here are the numbers.
- A budget of $152 / month is anticipated to get you 212 clicks / month
- Assuming you get a 10% convergence (may be high as some industries get 5% though some get higher than 10%) where the website visitor actually purchases your product, this would be about 10 clients per month
- This means, you would get 10 clients for $150 or $15 / client
Break Blogging and Social Media Costs Down to Anticipated Return on Investment
As we saw, for this scenario, $15 / client was approximately what you could expect for purchasing ads. The same type of return on investment analysis should be performed on writing a blog and engaging on social media. Unfortunately, these numbers are harder to come by without any past data. We can, however, work at it in reverse by looking at the information we do know to determine out what our effective rate would need to be for blog articles and engaging on social media. Let's continue on with the following assumptions and goals.
- Assume same 10% convergence as above
- Goal is to determine what it would cost to get 212 clicks / month using blog articles / social media
- If you haven't already purchased it, adding in blog functionality with Endless Mountain Solutions runs around an extra $13 / month for unlimited blog articles
- In other words, you are encouraged to write as many blog articles as you can since the price does not increase
- The other fixed cost is your time. Yes, you need to properly charge for your time for this to make sense. I will randomly take $20 / hour as the value being placed on time (use your own number to check the math)
- Assuming it takes you 1.5 hours to write and post a blog article you are up to $30
- Assuming you write one blog article a week and four weeks in a month you are up to $120 / month
- Assuming you spend 15 minutes a day for 30 days in a month on social media you are up another $150 / month
- As you can tell, and contrary to everyone's opinion, blogging and social media are not free
- Under this type of analysis your monthly cost would be about $283 / month
With this number in hand you can reverse this to say that for $283 / month you should be getting 394 clicks. Is that realistic for the market? While that is not easily answerable, at the least you now have the knowledge to make an informed decision.
Decide on Search Ads Versus Blogging and Social Media
To summarize the information above:
- Paid ads should get you 212 clicks / $152.00
- Blogging and Social Media would need to get you 394 clicks / $283
- A better way to express this may be 394 clicks / 13.5 hours of your time
So what to do? The other factors that I would express are that blog articles and social media work for you LONG after the month has ended so they have an ongoing value that is even harder to measure. My personal recommendation is
- Evaluate your time to see if you have anywhere near the 13.5 hours (or something comparable) to commit to building up your content and your following
- If you do, then run a 6 month test where you measure the success of your blog articles and social media efforts
- Armed with the knowledge from above you know what conversion you would need to reach to be comparable to an Ad campaign
- Finally, if you have the money and want the best of both worlds, choose to run paid Ad campaigns until your organic / natural search results from your blog articles and social media efforts overtake your paid ad campaigns
I hope this helps you as you evaluate whether to run search ads or to write blog articles and engage on social media. As mentioned at the start, the answer is sometimes Yes, Both! Our team is here to help you grow your business so feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly with any questions you may have.
P.S. If you are reading this and have further experience that can benefit other readers, please share in the comments.