Both organic marketing and paid ads are strategies that can help brands across all industries reach more customers and improve sales. If used properly, organic marketing and paid advertisements can open up countless growth opportunities and help build brand recognition, even if you’re in a crowded industry.
Today, we will define these two terms, provide examples of each, and finally answer two questions many want to know:
- Which strategy is more important?
- When should you implement organic marketing or paid ads?
What Is Organic Marketing?
The primary goal of organic marketing is to build rapport with potential customers and drive traffic to your website.
In most cases, organic marketing is a slow burn. You won’t see a significant boost in sales overnight, nor will you see your traffic explode by 1000 percent in less than a week. Instead, this strategy requires patience and persistence.
Broad examples of organic marketing include:
Examples of Organic Marketing
- Creating plenty of high-quality content for your blog
- Focusing on building your search presence
- Improving your email marketing campaigns
- Spending time engaging with users on social media
The four strategies mentioned above can help you establish your brand as an industry leader and connect existing customers and prospects, which will increase organic growth.
Here’s a real-life scenario so you can see how this strategy works in action. Let’s say you’re the owner of an electronics store and you’ve published two blog posts on your website per week for the past year. You’ve managed to rank on Google for top keywords in your industry, like “Best New TVs for 2022.”
Over time, your target audience, meaning those interested in buying a new TV, type the term mentioned above into Google. They see your website at the top of the page, which means Google sees you as an authoritative source on that topic. So, they click through to your website and find your blog post. From there, they might subscribe to your mailing list — or better yet, buy a TV from you.
This situation has layers of organic marketing. The search position, the top-notch content, and the option to join your email list all contribute to organic growth.
In short, organic marketing is natural, helpful, and more personal than paid marketing.
What Are Paid Ads?
On the other side of the coin we have paid ads. As the name implies, this marketing strategy involves paying to reach your target audience.
You can use this technique to reach users on multiple social media platforms and other websites, which helps introduce your brand to potential customers or convert users who browsed your site but didn’t place an order.
Paid advertisements are an excellent way to improve e-commerce conversions because they allow you to quickly and easily connect with people who need your product or service.
It’s worth mentioning that each paid ad usually has one very specific goal. In other words, business leaders and marketers create these promotions to do things like:
Uses for Paid Advertisements and Promotions
- Drive traffic to targeted landing pages
- Convert customers who left their site with a full cart
- Improve event attendance
- Convince people to take advantage of limited-time offers
These advertisements are meant for quick results and typically are not viewed as a long-tail strategy. You’ll see a surge of engagement and traffic while the ad is running, then things will quickly drop off when the campaign is over.
Now, let’s go over a case where these ads can come in handy. You’re planning a value-packed webinar next week, but only 40 people have signed up. Your goal was to get at least 100 attendees. If used correctly, paid ads can help you reach this milestone.
In this situation, you could create a social media ad that’s shown to people who have visited your website or are interested in your industry. If you’ve properly researched your target audience, you can significantly improve attendance and hit the 100-person mark by the end of the week.
After the event is over, there’s no more need for that ad. It ran its course, and you were able to reach your goals.
Which Strategy Is Best, Organic Marketing or Paid Ads?
In truth, organic marketing and paid ads have pros and cons. If you use these techniques together, you can mitigate some of the negatives of both methods.
For instance, building traction with organic marketing takes a long time. And as we mentioned earlier, paid ads work quickly but don’t have the longevity of hundreds of high-value blog posts. But together, you can bring new users to your site through paid marketing, then keep them around with your organic content.
If people decide to spend time and money with your business because they clicked on a paid social media ad, this will affect your organic growth.
When to Implement: Use Cases for Organic Marketing vs. Paid Ads
Now that we’ve defined organic and paid marketing and established that they are both pivotal for your success, let’s look at when you should implement one or both of these strategies.
Creating and Promoting Content
You can use organic marketing and paid advertisements to create and promote content for your business.
On the organic side of things, high-quality content will naturally draw people to your website. Every audience has a list of specific goals and pain points. When people want to learn more about these issues, they search the internet. If your posts are helpful, easy to read and offer tangible value, you can bet that many first-time visitors will return to your website. Once you uncover your top content, you can create paid advertisements on social media and other platforms designed to guide people to these specific posts.
Next, let’s talk about which method works best for improving your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. In this instance, we’ve found that organic marketing is the way to go.
When writing content, building landing pages, and optimizing your brand, using the right keywords is a must. You want to establish your brand at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) so new visitors and existing customers can easily find your website.
The alternative is to use paid ads to highlight your website when users search for specific phrases. However, everyone can see you paid for the spot and didn’t earn the position. This is not an effective way to grow your business. We found that 70-80 percent of people will ignore sponsored results in favor of organic content. The reason behind this trend isn’t hard to figure out. People see businesses with real, relevant results as more trustworthy than those who pay to get their name at the top of the list.
Business leaders across all industries want to grow their website traffic. They often struggle when deciding whether to use paid or organic methods to get more eyes on their site. Both strategies can help, but your focal point will change based on factors like your current traffic and the age of your business.
Established businesses should lean more towards organic methods for boosting traffic. If you already have a dedicated audience, more top-notch content will bring them back to your site, resulting in new traffic.
On the other hand, if you just opened your business and are still struggling to get more than a handful of eyes on your site, paid marketing can help. You can encourage more people to land on your site if you properly introduce yourself through a YouTube video ad or by targeting prospects who may have never heard of your brand through other marketing channels.
Growing Your Lead List
A big part of boosting conversions involves having people to reach in the first place. If you hope to thrive in your industry, you’ll want to grow your email list and social media followers.
The good news is with paid ads and organic marketing you can grow both of these pivotal marketing channels.
Your content and SEO will naturally bring people to your site. Now, you can use on-site email signup forms or a button that invites visitors to follow you on social media. Because these forms are static, you’re bound to see steady growth once people traffic picks up.
If you’re looking for a quick way to grow your lead list with paid ads, consider creating limited-run campaigns explaining why new users should sign up or engage with you on social media.
When using paid methods, you don’t have much time or space to get your point across, so think carefully about what you want people to know when they discover your brand for the first time.
Engaging With Email Subscribers
The next marketing example we will discuss is engaging with your email subscribers. There’s no question; in this case, organic marketing is the way to go. Email gives marketers a unique opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with customers and prospects.
You don’t want to take the personal element out of the equation because you will see a significant drop in your open rate and click-throughs. For context, research shows that four out of five shoppers want brands to send more personalized offers and content. This fact is particularly true with email.
The only real way to use paid ads in email is to buy an email list, which we strongly advise against. You won’t be able to connect with these people because they didn’t ask to be affiliated with your brand. More importantly, this practice is illegal in some parts of the world. Plus, globally, this practice is frowned upon by business leaders and consumers alike.
You’ll also lose the opportunity to try other marketing strategies, like A/B testing. It’s impossible to gauge whether your campaign changes work because these people have never shown interest in your brand.
Increasing Social Media Engagement
Finally, let’s discuss increasing social media engagement with organic marketing and/or paid ads. This is another case where both can help you get more value from your social media marketing strategy.
Let’s start with this fact; over 4.62 billion people use social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. If you want to grow your small business or maintain the growth of your established brand, you have to stay in touch with your existing audience and potential customers through social media.
If you’re interested in organic outreach, the key is to get involved with people who are passionate about your industry. This could mean responding to comments on your posts or videos, answering relevant questions, joining industry-related groups, and hosting events designed to educate and entertain your target audience.
Earlier in this post, we discussed paid social media ads, and those tips hold true here. Create relevant ads for different segments of your audience, and publish them through each platform’s paid advertising tool.
For example, you could create a campaign promoting your blog’s pillar content. This strategy will help you connect with people who’ve never heard of your company. Once they make it to your site from one of your top posts, they will likely continue exploring and find content that matches their needs.
You should also consider the benefits of using paid ads to target visitors who land on your site but don’t take action. We like to offer these users an exclusive discount if they click our ad and complete their order.
As your brand grows, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to reach your audience and provide value naturally. At the same time, you can use paid ads to connect, or in some cases re-connect, with prospects and turn them into loyal customers.