PPC Vs. Content Marketing: Which Offers The Best ROI?

The Impact Of PPC Vs. Content Marketing On Your ROI

On the surface, determining the best marketing approach for your eLearning organization seems pretty cut and dry. All you have to do is calculate a budget for each option, then see which one gives more profits, right? Unfortunately, things aren’t always what they seem. Case in point, the cost of pay-per-click is fairly straightforward in dollars and cents. Conversely, the cost of content marketing is time, since an inbound marketing campaign can take months to break even. So, compare PPC vs Content Marketing to find out which marketing strategy offers your eLearning organization a better deal.

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1. It's Not As Simple As Converting Clicks Into Currency

The input and output of PPC ads is simple. Put up the ad, count the number of clicks, and compare it to sales volumes. Pit that against the initial cost of the ads to confirm return on investment. There are other considerations though. When you’re invoicing a PPC campaign, you have no context. Yes, you can count the clicks, but did the customers actually consume the content of the ad? Did they click to "Learn more" or did they just glance at the page and move on? Was it a deliberate click or did they accidentally hover or swipe and end up on your ad landing page? Site analytics can answer all these questions for you, but it makes no difference to your ad biller. A click is a click and you’ll still have to pay, even if the clicks don’t result in direct sales.

2. Time Is Money

On the other hand, content marketing can be a time-consuming process. Populating a website with articles, guest posting, and social media updates requires resources and planning. You have to form partnerships and collaborations with other platforms. You need to come up with an idea, strategize, and spend hours in execution. It’s difficult to estimate the cost in cash, but man-hours can pile up and get quite expensive. The issue becomes what you value more – your time or your money. PPC ads cost more, but content marketing often takes longer. You could pay premium to set up paid ads, or you could take the slow and steady approach of inbound marketing strategy.

3. Visible Results

Both PPC and content marketing will give you visible results. Pay-per-click will give an immediate boost in web traffic. It will offer you finite number of clicks over the period of the promotion. But you have no way of figuring out the quality of that traffic. Content marketing will take longer to build up, but the results are easier to judge. The level of engagement in terms of likes, shares, comments, and responses will show you whether your message really makes sense. Plus, the most rewarding result of inbound marketing is watching your brand rise in the search engine rankings.

4. Dollar For Dollar

A survey done a few years ago suggested the average monthly cost of content marketing is between $1,000 and $5,000. Conversely, a traditional advertising campaign could run from $50,000 to $500,000. Of course, these campaigns will include a 360 degree approach, and "pay-per-click" will be just one element. If we focus on just the pay-per-click part of things, we’d have to consider online behavior. The average internet user has become immune to advertising. They use ad blockers to prevent pop-ups and have become adept at spotting ads. Sometimes their eyes skip right over them. It’s like they’re not even there. Today’s internet user will deliberately side step anything that remotely resembles a sales pitch. This makes them pretty much impervious to PPC approaches.

5. A Different Kind Of PPC

Some brands are making big strides in pay-per-click. However, their success is in using a content marketing model. Rather than developing overt pop-ups, they create consumable user-generated content. Clients click because they have no idea that these are ads. The content is so entertaining and informative that even when it’s branded, the client doesn’t begrudge it. They key is to offer the reader real value, so that they become familiar with your messaging and online presence. They begin to trust your tips and advice, and you gradually become their go-to expert in the niche. Content marketing is about building loyalty instead of trying to rack up as many clicks as you can.

6. Short Term Vs. Long Term

Most PPC campaigns come with a sell-by date. Their nature requires that they run for a limited time. You place the ad, wait for a set period, then the ad comes down and you get the bill. Content marketing, on the other hand, is forever. As long as you keep paying domain and hosting fees, your websites and social media platforms will stay up indefinitely. Your customers and prospects can continue to consume the content years after the fact. And as long as customers are viewing your content, you’re generating more and more leads. If you look at it this way, the return on investment on content marketing is virtually unlimited.

In choosing what marketing option is a better bet, consider both the cash value and the time factor. In the short term though, pay-per-click gives you a higher click rate. But just remember that the numbers don’t necessarily guarantee sales. In the long term, content marketing gives you engagement and interaction you need to build your client base. In addition, it continues to give results long after your pay-per-click ad is a distant memory.

Are you interested in exploring the basics and benefits of content marketing? Download our free eBook The Ultimate Guide To A Winning Content Marketing Strategy to get more tips and tricks on how to determine your KPIs and measure your marketing success, as well as tips to qualify your leads, and tap into the power of smarketing.

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