Search Engine Marketing – Paid Traffic vs. Organic Traffic: Who Generates More (and More Qualified) Leads?

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As an inbound marketer, I believe that non-intrusive organic traffic is at the heart of the future of marketing. It’s the best way to become a thought leader in a global digital society and connect with prospects and prospects at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

But I also see the many benefits of relevant paid traffic efforts that drive visitors to high quality content. Such advertising can be an undeniably successful part of a marketing strategy.

Paid traffic is not about click bait or spammy links. This can be a healthy method of reaching new audiences if you feel your brand and solution is getting lost in the spider web of the internet.

So, in the paid traffic versus organic traffic debate, who wins?

Fundamentals of paid vs organic

Paid traffic comes in many forms – some of you may instantly imagine spam popups circa 2004, others may think of affiliate links in blog posts, influencer marketing, or online ads. pay per click.

It all boils down to a simple concept: via an “intermediary”, which you pay, you place your marketing content in front of an audience that is not necessarily looking for you. This can be an effective tactic for reaching people who haven’t yet found your site or those who are buying from competitors.

Organic traffic, on the other hand, results to a large extent from the practice of creating search engine optimized (SEO) content that generates high ranking links in search results. You appear when prospects throw their “net” into the sea of ​​Google, looking for answers to their questions.

In principle, these two types of marketing are often in competition. In the case of one of our clients, they clashed. Here’s what happened when our tech client compared paid blogging coverage and organic traffic in the same marketing campaign.

From theory to practice

Our client is a relatively new product line of a global brand with several million users. It is in the early stages of building your own web presence and gaining traction in the corporate data security industry. While investing in inbound marketing as a constant driver of high quality content and organic growth, he also wanted to test paid blogging coverage or a “programmatic campaign” approach. He partnered up with a secondary agency that would put them in the relevant links section of larger publications, like the Huffington Post.

While the team members knew that this type of marketing action would focus primarily on driving traffic, not leads, they still hoped that the thousands of new visitors would create at least a moderate amount of qualified leads. Instead, we instantly saw the website’s overall conversion rate drop. The handful of prospects who converted on the blog posts were largely unqualified or using fake emails.

At the end of the 60-day campaign, we achieved the following results:

  • Overall website conversion fell 86%.
  • Paid blogging traffic converted 0.1% while organic traffic converted 2.0%.
  • Organic traffic, while lower in absolute numbers, generated more leads than paid blog traffic.
  • The sales team also reported that leads from natural traffic were much more valuable as almost all of the leads from the paid source were unqualified.

How to test your strategy

We have learned a few lessons from this campaign that can help you improve your paid marketing strategy and ensure the success of your own tests:

  • The most important: it is essential to see the two practices less as a confrontation and more as a complementarity. Although organic traffic takes time to build and achieve higher rankings, it is a central element of a successful future digital marketing technical. Paid traffic can be a bridge in helping you gain traction in your space while you wait for organic traffic to kick in, and can even increase the number of looks on your most converting content. Marketers need to start testing how the two work together, without asking, “But which one should I use?” “
  • Following: keep an open mind when you start to experiment with winning tactics. Your unique customer personas, industry, and content will influence all of your results, and they require continuous adjustment until you reap the benefits of paid tactics.
  • As well: don’t give up your organic progression in favor of a 180-degree turn to paid traffic. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy that combines paid and organic traffic. Start small with your paid search efforts, maybe running a 30- or 60-day campaign that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, instead of investing your entire marketing budget in a method you’re not sure about. that it will work for now. Better yet, combine your paid and organic efforts.
  • Finally: Be diligent with the details of your paid traffic efforts. Make sure every piece of content you direct paid viewers to is relevant and has an engaging call to action. You might even consider creating a landing page form specific to those unfamiliar viewers. Consider not allowing those with accounts with free email providers (such as hotmail) to complete the form; examine the leads with one or two more questions than you usually can ask an organic viewer. Force those likely less qualified prospects to provide real information, and eliminate spam leads that didn’t find you naturally. Learn how to qualify your leads via the sales funnel.

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When you’ve found a rhythm and a combination of paid and organic effort that works for your business, stick with it (but keep testing to make sure it stays in effect). Instead of asking “Who wins the race, organic or paid?” let’s ask, “How can our marketing win by using both practices?” “

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