Before you set those budgets – A word on Pay Per Click marketing

One of the most scrutinized positions within any corporate environment belongs to the IT professionals. On paper, Information Technologists are always a loss. Not because they actually are, but because they are identified with operational expenses, and not connected to revenue. Without them, no business in this age of technology could run, but IT always find themselves having to build a case for their value. The bottom line is, without question, they are the unsung heroes of the standard corporate environment.

As a PPC expert, I have come to realize that I am seen by most clients the same way IT is seen by company accountants. Paid search costs money after all, and to the eye of an individual obsessed with squeezing every drop of ROI out of their various channels, PPC is one ugly duckling.

There is one truth in digital marketing however that needs to be expressed, and here it is: PPC is the most consistent, efficient, and ultimately profitable marketing strategy available. It is now, and it has been for the last 7 years. Now before everyone grabs their torches and their pitchforks, give me a moment to explain that statement.

For over ten years now I have been working on, in, and around SEO, PPC, and Social Media. Over that entire time, only one of those has been a consistent source of return for clients.

A new launch for a client looking to have a proper, effective marketing strategy always begins the same way. “We’ll run PPC at first, while we build up the SEO and work on the social campaigns. Six months from now, we should really see the benefits of the SEO and Social Media work, but the PPC will help ensure we get customers now.” The problem there is the assumption that, at some point, it’s time to stop the PPC campaigns. Absolutely, organic traffic is a wonderful means by which to grow your bottom line, and any business not striving for natural rankings is simply working to fail, but here lies the true value of PPC.

First, gaining organic rank is tough work. It’s been my experience personally that out of the thousands of people I meet who call themselves an “SEO” roughly 10 percent of them actually know what they’re doing. Those who do know their stuff are not cheap, and shouldn’t be expected to be. Keeping in mind that organic rank is a constantly moving target, with algorithm changes almost every other week, they have their hands full.

Social media on the other hand requires almost the same amount of commitment as SEO does to work on gaining traffic, and just like SEO; social media experts have their hands full with constant changes to platforms, updates to policies and the like.

While these groups battle to gain their clients “Free Traffic”, they cost the client money. There is no such thing as free traffic because you are still going to pay to get it.

Meanwhile, PPC experts can tell you they haven’t seen the same fluctuations. Traffic is always there, and although slight changes are made in the systems paid search runs on, those changes are gradual and have very little to no impact on the success of a PPC campaign. This is simply another case of “follow the money”.

Adwords, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and the rest rely on the revenue they get from their Pay Per Click clients. Natural search is great, and most of them concern themselves with trying to find ways to make their organic listings as relevant as possible, but they know enough to make sure the bills get paid. This means that they take care to give their PPC experts plenty of notice, they make sure they have tools, and they also make sure they have all of the data they could need to build solid, successful campaigns.

This also translates into devices. Tablets are the next wave of personal devices rapidly making the laptop obsolete, every SEO/Social expert is cramming to try and learn “what happens now?” Meanwhile, paid search experts already know what to do for each device. Companies need PPC experts to understand these transitions, because the engines and their respective partners cannot afford to lose their primary sources of revenue.

So if you’re contemplating how to setup your marketing budgets for this coming quarter, or for the year ahead, consider for a moment if this was your money, and you were looking to invest it for your own purposes. You wouldn’t put all of your money into the medium to high risk portfolio would you? It’s a great way to make return, but what if significant changes occur in the market? The people who know how to invest their money for the long term know that at least 50% of their investment needs to go into the low risk/guaranteed funds to ensure they have a strong foundation for their future.

PPC is the same thing. You absolutely should be building out your SEO rankings, and social media presence, but make sure you invest a significant portion of your budget where you know the market is going to make sure returns stay strong. If it makes sense for your own investments, why doesn’t it make sense for your company?