social media - organic vs paid ads

Digital Marketing: Organic vs. Paid Advertising

When you're ready to market your business, you want to be sure that you're using the most effective tactics available. Does that mean using organic marketing or paid marketing? Understanding the difference between organic and paid marketing can make it easier to reach your overall marketing goals as well as driving you to make more effective decisions about the type of marketing strategy that's right for your company.

Understanding Organic Marketing

Organic marketing is marketing that occurs naturally as you build your brand. Organic marketing, also referred to as inbound marketing, is advertising that costs little to nothing to create and distribute to potential customers, though you may have to pay people to put in the work producing content. Ideally, when you create organic content, you want to meet your customers where they are, whether they're browsing social media or turning to a search engine to answer common questions.

Popular Organic Marketing Channels

Organic marketing may take a number of forms. Some of the most common, however, include social media platforms, search engine marketing(SEM), building your blog, and your website.

Most often, when you think of organic marketing, you probably think of Facebook or Instagram posts. These are good social media resources that are continuously growing, but organic marketing also relies on other social channels, SEM, and referral marketing. SEM is a great tool to improve rankings on search engines through the production of blog content and other audio, visual, or written content.

The Benefits of Organic Marketing

Organic marketing offers a number of advantages for most marketers! A good organic marketing strategy can give your company the extra push it needs to build a following and save a little money in their marketing budget. Let’s go over some of the best things organic marketing has to offer!

It's free and natural. You don’t have to pay to have your company and its message reach your target audience. Organic marketing allows you to reach out to your customers right where they are, whether that be through social media or when they are looking for answers on a search engine.

It helps build brand awareness. Through organic marketing, you can get the word out about your business, the products and services you offer, and what sets your company apart in your industry. Many customers need multiple points of contact from your brand before they're ready to make a purchase, and organic marketing helps make that possible.

It helps drive traffic. When you want more people to see your website, a solid organic marketing approach can help drive traffic and generate cold leads – people at the top of a marketing funnel who have just become aware of your company. Organic traffic is able to grab the attention of people who would not otherwise have seen your website and need a little convincing before they purchase.

It builds trust and authority for your brand. You want customers to trust your brand so that when they have a need in your industry, they'll turn to you. Through organic marketing, you'll find that you're able to build that trust and authority for your brand. Quality content that is designed to genuinely help your readers is more likely to generate high levels of trust.

Organic marketing drives permanent traffic. As you work to build your content library, you'll find that you're ideally positioned to keep bringing readers back to your website, which keeps your brand fresh in their mind. The more relevant your content is for the reader, the more likely they are to keep consuming the content you produce and create a lasting relationship with your brand.

The Drawbacks of Organic Marketing

While organic marketing has many benefits, it also has several key drawbacks that should be considered as you're determining how you want to build your marketing strategy.

Organic marketing is slow-paced. It builds sales over a long period of time, rather than generating immediate sales. If your business is looking for immediate sales, organic marketing will not achieve your goal. Despite no immediate return, it does help to create long-lasting followers that will eventually become buyers.

It can be difficult to track. Most of the time, a single piece of organic marketing content doesn't lead to direct sales, which can make your inbound marketing efforts seem less valuable. It is not easy to know which organic tactics lead a customer to buy, but you are able to track the traffic to each piece of content which will give you some insight into your customer base.

It can be time-consuming. Since organic marketing takes time to generate results, you may feel as though you're spending a lot of time creating content for little overall return. It can become discouraging, but as long as you are providing relevant and engaging content, it will be worth the effort in the long run.

Search Engine Optimization tactics are constantly changing. What works today may not work tomorrow, which means that you'll need to constantly change and update your inbound marketing strategy. Staying on top of SEO can feel like an endless endeavor, but the return is worth the hassle and SEO can be used to improve other aspects of your marketing strategies.

Understanding Paid Advertising

Paid advertising allows you to generate more traffic and reach a wider audience in a short time period. Through paid advertising, you'll be able to push your business into higher visibility. Paid advertising is available on both social media and search engines, so you’re able to target people more specifically on the same channels you use to promote organically.

Common Channels

Both social media and search engines offer the ability to use pay per click advertising, which increases your visibility. Most social media platforms offer some form of paid advertising, whether in the form of sponsored posts or sidebar ads. Facebook Ads, for example, allow you to choose where your ad shows up.

Paid advertising through Facebook allows you to highly customize your audience, which means you can create more specific content just for those individuals. Paid ads through search engines like Google put you in the "sponsored" area near the top of the page, which increases search visibility.

The Benefits of Paid Advertising

While paid advertising may be more expensive than traditional organic marketing, it offers a number of advantages that make up for the price difference. Paid advertising opens up options that you do not get with organic marketing, and allows you to produce campaigns to guide a customer’s experience, such as retarget customers that showed interest but didn’t purchase. Let’s dive into the benefits of paid advertising!

Paid advertising generates instant traffic. You'll be able to see your results beginning immediately, rather than having to build your audience over time. You’re able to get more detailed analytics on paid ads and you can see the direct financial return on your advertising efforts immediately.

You can get quick sales. Often, paid advertising generates warm or hot leads that are already prepared to jump in and make a purchase. If advertising on search engines, people generally are looking for your products or services at the time your ad is relevant enough to show up. This has a higher potential to lead to a sale because you’re directly satisfying a customer’s need.

You can target your advertising more effectively. With paid ads, you can get your ads directly in front of your target buyers: the individuals who are most likely to make a purchase. On social media and other advertising platforms, lookalike audiences help you target people that have the same interests and demographics as your current customer base. This specificity helps to get your company in front of people that would be genuinely interested in becoming a customer once they learn about your brand.

It's a more controlled customer journey. You can move customers through your website exactly the way you want, rather than allowing them to start at their own spot. You can send customers to specific pages through paid ads and push them through a marketing funnel much easier. Taking over control of their customer journey allows your company to be involved and engaging every time your target customers come into contact with your brand.

You have a variety of ad options and ways to capture customers. Often, the targeting options available within these ads will help drive more clicks and, ultimately, more sales. The customization options for paid advertising allow you to really specify your audience and create many different types of ads that are curated for each customer type. Also, most advertising platforms show only the most relevant ads to your customers and only charge you per click, so you’re only paying for ads that are actually successful.

The Drawbacks of Paid Advertising

For all its benefits, there are some key drawbacks to paid advertising. Fortunately, paid advertising is a great option for most businesses, but startups and marketing novices may be confused and frustrated by paid ads. Some of the negatives of paid advertising include:

Cost. While cost can be controlled by carefully choosing your options and managing your campaign, paid advertising does come with a cost. For companies that don’t have a large marketing budget, paid ads can easily take up most of this. Also, companies that are in an industry that is highly competitive will have to invest more in paid advertising to appear more often.

Paid advertising can quickly become very involved. Depending on your customization choices, it can take a long time to manage your paid advertising. You can't just set it up and forget it; rather, it requires constant analysis and updates. Paid ads have to be checked regularly and updated to stay relevant, otherwise your ads won’t be relevant enough to show up. It takes dedication and an understanding of how quickly things change in digital marketing and online in general.

You need to understand and track metrics. This can be confusing for marketing newbies, startups, and small business owners without marketing experience. It takes a long time to learn about what metrics you need to track, especially since it varies by industry, and how to tweak your ads to actually improve them. For novices, it can feel like you’re drowning in information to help you quickly brush up on marketing metrics.

Ultimately, in order to create an effective marketing strategy, you need both paid advertising and organic marketing to work together. These two forms of marketing balance each other out and allow you to cover all of your bases when they are used together. Also, when these efforts are combined, you can effectively create funnels and more advanced marketing tools; this, in turn, will enhance the customer journey and drive more relevant traffic to your website.

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