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Inbound Marketing Blog

    4 Reasons PPC Doesn't Work for Everyone

    Posted by Pat Owings

    Are You Throwing Your Marketing Dollars Away?

    While pay-per-click ads are considered a form of inbound marketing, they might not be the solution you seek. Sure, the whole point of these ads is to show up when someone searches for terms that fit your products or services, and sometimes those ads appear on third-party sites, which kind of sounds like the perfect way to stay visible to your potential customers. Before you get excited and start throwing money at one PPC campaign after the other, consider some of the reasons this particular technique might not work for you.

    1. Cost

    What’s that? You’ve already researched the cost of PPC ads and it doesn’t really seem that expensive? Well, that might be the case, if you never expect your ads to show up in search results. Think about it: When you conduct a search, how many of the sponsored ads show up at the top and down the right side of the Google search result page? Not nearly as many as in the results list, that’s for sure. What really happens when you plan a PPC campaign is that you’ll bid on certain keywords. Unless your company is the only one in the world that does what you do, you can expect your competition to bid on similar keywords. There are only a limited number of spots available, so the one who pays the most shows up in searches the most. That’s just the way it is.

    Sure, your ad will probably, maybe, sometimes show up after a search, but you can be sure the money you spend on that PPC ad isn’t enough to get amazing results, unless you have enough to make sure your bid on those keywords is always the highest.

    2. Lack of Attribution

    Sources show that 57.6% of companies use a last-click attribution model and 24.2% don’t track where their customers come from at all. Chances are, your company falls into this category. Unless you’re using a sophisticated attribution model, you may never know how many of your clicks resulted in sales. Why would you pour hundreds or even thousands of dollars into a PPC budget when you’re not even sure it’s working?

    Once you have a sophisticated attribution model in place (hint: HubSpot has a great platform), then you can see if your PPC campaigns are doing anything for you.

    3. Relevance

    While bidding the highest on keywords is a great way to show up in those searches, you do still have the possibility of showing up on third-party websites. That means someone who’s shown some interest in your product before will see your ad when he or she is surfing on completely unrelated websites. The concept sounds pretty cool—kind of like a TV commercial that interrupts someone’s favorite show, right? Well, wrong. Interruption marketing, and consumers’ general disdain for it, is the whole reason you’re doing this inbound marketing thing to begin with, isn’t it?

    That means random ads showing up during their surf session might not be welcome, especially if those ads have nothing to do with what they’re looking for at that moment. You might strike it lucky once or twice with a well-placed PPC ad, but you’re more likely to turn someone off permanently.

    4. Creep Factor

    In addition to the cost of bidding on those ads and the likelihood of them showing up at random and irrelevant times, you also have to deal with the “creep factor.” Essentially, consumers’ computers are spying on them. Studies show consumers want a relevant experience while online. To get a relevant experience, they have to be somewhat okay with their information being used, but not everyone is cool with how marketers go about it.

    When they express interest in a product or service by visiting the website or a similar company’s site, cookies record that visit. Later, after you’ve paid for a PPC ad, the cookies use the information provided from previous surf sessions to plug your ad into their next surf session. If you want to consider it in personal terms, it’s kind of like a guy following you after you browse a clothing shop and then handing you a brochure two days later outside a tire store.


    Now, don’t take our word for it. Sometimes those PPC ads can really pay off, especially if you can devise clever keywords that people just might search. If your product is unique enough that hundreds of other companies won’t be vying for the same spots, the campaigns could also work for you. If you’re one of the majority, however, you’ll probably find that these four reasons are enough to convince you that other forms of marketing are more effective.

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    image credit: sdmania/freedigitalphotos.net

    Topics: Inbound Marketing