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When done correctly, over time, content marketing (aka inbound marketing) has the best return on investment (ROI) when compared to pay per click marketing.
This is not an apples to apples comparison, though…
Inbound marketing results take time. PPC marketing results are immediate. Inbound marketing is “forever”. PPC marketing is driven in shorter, measurable bursts. Inbound marketing costs “time”. PPC marketing costs cash and time.
Because of the time only aspect of inbound, it has been the favorite of bootstrappers and progressive chief marketing officers for years.
For “laptop lifestyle” seeking bootstrappers, inbound marketing was the key to success as a work from home, side-hustling solopreneur.
The Golden Age of Inbound Marketing
The period from 1998 to 2018 was the golden age of inbound content marketing…. For 20 years, if you were a dedicated, niche content marketer, you could be successful at only that.
Making money was relatively easy.
You could follow a 12 step formula for inbound marketing and, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, “It just worked”:
- Buy a domain name and hosting
- Build a website
- Do keyword research on a topic of interest
- Develop an SEO plan
- Write an initial 10 unique blog posts on your topic
- Optimize the posts and pages of your site for the keywords you wanted to rank for
- Create an AdSense account or affiliate relationship
- Build an “info” product, such as an e-book, to sell using PayPal, Authorize.net, or 1ShoppingCart, etc.
- Acquire a few inbound links from mid-high Page Rank sites
- Regularly repeat steps 3-5 and 10
- Make money
Now, however, it’s a very different story.
Inbound is not dead… But inbound is no longer the sure thing it once was.
Depending on your niche, you may still need to invest in inbound marketing… And get comfortable with PPC.
The truth is a rude awakening for smaller inbound marketers. Today, the Internet is “pay to play” if you want to make money.
This blog post from DiscoSloth on the importance of PPC summed it up nicely.
Identifying The Right Inbound vs. PPC Ratio
The same company that wrote the blog post, DiscoSloth, also published a free Beginner’s Guide to PPC.
You can download it here: https://www.discosloth.com/beginners-guide-to-ppc/
From someone who’s been “all in” on inbound for so long and has alway struggled to determine the return on investment from PPC, it’s a good read.
It’s good for understanding how you can start to do some experiments with PPC, even if you’re a content marketing guru.