Paid marketing is one-third of the holy trinity of digital marketing, and arguably the most important one to get right. A good digital marketing strategy will use paid marketing alongside earned and owned marketing, so it’s important to understand what each of these means.
- Paid Marketing: As the name suggests, this is marketing that you pay for. Examples include paid ads on social media, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) through search engines and display advertising on other websites.
- Earned Marketing: If you produce valuable content that people want to consume — whether it’s videos on YouTube, posts on Facebook or blog articles that get shared — you have earned the marketing that comes from these views, clicks and shares.
- Owned Marketing: You own your website, social media pages, blog, and potentially other web properties that you can leverage for marketing. If you have a shop, you own that and can market within it too.
Paid marketing is distinct from the others, as it’s the only avenue that carries a direct and identifiable marketing cost. But, it is worth it. When done right, paid marketing can be used to provide quick results and improve your return across earned and owned channels. Here’s how…
Paid marketing pros
Get eyeballs fast
By running paid digital marketing, you are buying attention. You also have some degree of control over how much attention you buy, what you pay for that attention and where you direct that attention to go. This makes paid channels like PPC the quickest and easiest way to increase brand awareness and, ultimately, convert sales. Paid marketing is extremely accessible, with very few barriers preventing small businesses from getting involved.
Drive earned and owned marketing
As we touched on before, your paid marketing efforts can have a positive impact on your earned and owned channels, too. By purchasing clicks on to your website, you can get more out of your owned media. Similarly, by driving traffic to your social media channels, you can increase your earned marketing reach. Paid marketing could be likened to a sports car’s supercharger — it helps the rest of your marketing ‘engine’ (your earned and owned media) do more work and improves the engine’s overall performance.
Easy to track ROI
It can be difficult to gauge the impact that views, likes and shares have on bottom-line sales. And traditional paid marketing — in newspapers, radio or TV — is equally difficult to track back to actual investment. But with paid digital marketing, ROI is easily traceable. By targeting certain demographics, running split tests, and monitoring those all-important cookies (among many, many other things!) you can get a crystal-clear view of what’s working and just how well it’s working, too. You can get a real-time overview of what you have spent across your different campaigns and how much this investment has brought you in terms of sales. You can also see reach, number of impressions and a host of other metrics; used to improve your results over time. But understanding how all the numbers hang together and which levers you should pull to improve your paid marketing performance isn’t easy, so you might want to consider working with a paid marketing expert — that’s a smart investment.
Paid marketing cons
You want your spend to pay off
Understanding how paid marketing channels work — and how to get the most out of them — requires experience. If you’re new to paid marketing, there’s a good chance you’ll pay out a lot of money and fail to get the result you want. The other side of this coin? Your paid marketing is so successful that you’re overwhelmed with interest, and you’re not set up to cope with the response. Working with an expert to forecast, budget and then optimise your paid marketing will ensure you avoid these pitfalls though. A modular marketing approach works particularly well here — allowing you to scale your efforts up and down, depending on internal and external factors.
Because paid marketing is so accessible and offers such great benefits, a large number of businesses are already doing it. This makes it fiercely competitive — not just between small businesses, but businesses of all sizes. You can thin out the field of competition by narrowing down your target demographic and being smart about which keywords and search terms you bid aggressively on. Again, enlisting expert advice to run tests and identify exactly where you should focus your budget will improve your results dramatically.