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3 marketing facts you forgot you already knew

3 marketing facts you forgot you already knew Seth Dotterer
Spoiler alert! I'm going to tell you three things you already know about digital marketing, but are still messing up.

  1. Paying for a click is the least effective way to drive visitors to your website

  2. PPC and social are woefully inadequate when it comes to generating leads on actual customers

  3. Email and organic search are the real ROI rock stars

Of course, you knew these three things already. So you might as well just skip ahead to the infographic below, share it with your team and start drafting a memo to your boss about ending your organization’s foolish addiction to paid media. But before you do that, it’s probably worth understanding why these three things are true.

What’s wrong with paying for a click?

Paying for a click isn’t new. In fact, it’s one of the oldest online advertising tactics out there. It’s also one of the most troubled. To begin with, fraud is a real problem in that space. Last year, AdWeek reported that fraudsters were stealing $6 billion from advertisers. That’s billion with a “B.” And it’s not just foolish advertisers who are getting burned, it’s all advertisers. Consider how a marketing exec at Kellogg recently put it: “Imagine you buy a dozen donuts, and you open the box and there’s one donut. I want to understand what I am getting for the money.” No wonder The Wall Street Journal recently reported that one-third of all ad traffic was “bogus.”

Now, let’s focus on the two-thirds of traffic that is legitimate. After all, the vast majority of ad networks, publishers and ad exchanges are run with honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, the advertising product still stinks because most consumers don’t click on ads. Sure, you may only be paying for what people click on, but when you consider how low click through rates are, you realize that a PPC strategy ignores the larger audience, because your focus is on the very small percentage of people who actually click on ads. To make matters worse, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that most people aren’t even seeing your ads because of ad blindness.

But if you really want to go ahead and spend money on clicks, I think you need to be able to honestly say that you click on ads. And if don’t click on ads, then why would you expect others to do so?

Why don’t PPC and social generate actual customer leads?

We’ve explored a lot of the problems with PPC, so it’s really not all that surprising that PPC underperforms when it comes to generating actual customer leads. But when you consider just how much love social gets these days, it might surprise some of you to hear that a strong social media following isn’t necessarily the same thing as a strong pool of customer leads.

Yes, your customers do spend a lot of time updating Facebook, reading tweets, posting photos on Instagram and connecting with friends—both real life and virtual—across all of these really cool platforms. But those activities are first and foremost about friendship, not commerce. That’s why they call it social media, not commercial media, right? And if it were the other way around, Forbes would measure wealth by followers, not dollars.

Of course, advertisers are spending more on social media. But if those marketers think their social media spend will generate new customer leads, they should probably ask themselves when they last became a customer because of a social media interaction with a company? More than likely, if they interacted with a company at all, it was in a customer service context.

Are email and organic search the real ROI rock stars?

In a nutshell, yes! Both email and organic search far outperform all other marketing channels when it comes to what really matters—ROI. True, neither channel seems to get as much attention as social or PPC, but so what? Do you want to spend your marketing budget on the thing that works, or the thing that’s getting a lot of the hype right now?

To cut through that hype, we created an infographic that illustrates exactly where the real ROI is in digital marketing right now. It’s our infographic, but the data doesn’t come from us, it comes from you.

We asked three questions:

  1. Which marketing channel gets the most visitors?

  2. Which marketing channel gets the most customers?

  3. Which marketing channel gives you the most bang for your click?

Whether the goal was increasing visitors, boosting leads or maximizing ROI, organic search and email consistently outperformed social and PPC. You can dig into the details in a second, but before you do, remember that it’s critical for marketers to account for every dollar. Almost every marketing channel has a role to play, but it’s time we start understanding these roles in context in order to align our attention and spending with reality.

Seth Dotterer leads the marketing team at Conductor, responsible for branding and communications, marketing strategy, demand generation and strategic product positioning of Conductor’s SaaS SEO platform, Searchlight. With over 15 years of...

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