Running a successful online campaign is not only harder than it has been in the past, but you could easily argue that this has never been more important for a business than it is here and now. The problem is that there are many different ways to get attention and even then, an umbrella term like “SEO” or “social media marketing” could refer to many different actions. However, a good online marketing plan must start with understanding what each of these methods can bring to the table, the pros and cons of both, and deciding which one is better for your situation and your business.
In this article, we will discuss what each of these internet marketing methods are, what they entail, the pros and cons of both, and what factors you need to look at to decide which one is better for your specific business and marketing strategy.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most popular methods of online marketing, and it makes sense. Most businesses, or blogs, that look at social media and paid advertising as an important part of their online efforts usually also have a long-term SEO plan of some type in place.
Investing in an organic SEO campaign means investing in the content, design, and the technical services needed to create a high ranking website that Google and other search engines love. This will cause them to rank your website higher and that means more free traffic, in addition to looking like a top authority in whatever niche you’re in.
There’s a lot to love about SEO, especially if Google decides to make you top dog. The problem is that SEO takes a long time, sometimes years before you fully see the results you want. In addition to this there is going to be a lot of competition in some of the larger niches and it can be especially hard for small companies to compete with the budgets of the larger marketing giants.
Organic SEO Pros:
– Ranking for top terms in Google guarantees a constant flow of free traffic (and customer leads)
– Effects keep working after investment stops
– Builds natural authority/trust
– Builds authority and brings natural awareness to your brand
– Generally speaking, the highest converting leads come from search engines
– Traffic keeps on coming, often for years after
Organic SEO Cons:
– Can take a long time to start seeing results, and can often have a long timeline for before you notice impressive ROI numbers
– No guarantees, especially in ultra competitive niches
– Takes a lot of time and investment – especially in competitive markets
– A single Google update can wipe out a lot of work
Social media marketing is using paid and unpaid methods (although almost certainly both, and the majority of most campaigns, will be paid to get the momentum you need) on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others.
This is meant to get a lot of brand attention where a large number of customers spend the majority of their time online. It can also help to improve brand awareness and create the type of trust and authority that will contribute to more leads and the type of reputation that can start producing leads on its own.
Social media marketing might not have the direct conversion power of SEO but there are many reasons why it is popular. For one, there are going to be measurable results. PPC can be good or leave you with absolutely nothing. SEO takes a lot of time and there’s no guarantee you’ll end up #1, but with social media marketing you’re going to get views, likes, shares, subscriptions, and more.
Social media marketing is also very fast. The effects begin immediately as soon as the budget is set, it is on-going, and it can also reach a huge audience – one that you can narrow down to meet the demographics that you actually want to reach out to instead of the old fashioned “scattergun” approach that hits a little bit of everything.
One of the biggest challenges with successful social media marketing is having a competent social media manager as well as narrowing down the field to which outlets will do the most work for your business. Pinterest is an amazing outlet for picture-based or highly photogenic fields, but that’s not all fields. Their user base is also 90% female which is great for some niches and not so much for others.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are considered by many to be the big four right now (although this is always changing every few years) but the strategies, style of ads, and budgets needed to make a big dent in each of these social media platforms is going to be radically different. Choosing to focus on the wrong 1 or 2 platforms can result in serious problems.
Social Media Marketing Pros:
– Heavy control on who you pitch your ads to
– Get attention where people spend the most time online
– Often the best view per dollar cost ratio available
– Fast attention from large audiences possible
Social Media Marketing Cons:
– Many social media leads aren’t “active buyers” or leads
– Need to match platforms to your business brand
– Very hard to define clear ROI
– Less control over how message takes off
There is definitely a time and place for both of these strategies, and many companies choose to incorporate some or both, but if the budget demands one or the other, which is better? The problem is the answer is going to come down to: it depends.
Generally speaking, you want to go with organic SEO if:
– You have the budget to last a long time
– You’re striving for long-term organic leads to come your way
– You want to be able to scale up business while scaling back the budget at some point
– You can wait for major results
Generally speaking, you want to go with social media marketing if:
– You need results now, not later
– You have social media-savvy individuals on staff or know where to hire them
– You are going to be active with a very specific area or demographic
– You need to get your brand out there without busting the budget
In an ideal world, you can run both but when it is one or another, understanding those factors and what each style represents will help you to make the right decision for your business.