Is Pay-Per-Click Still Relevant in the Age of Inbound Marketing?


Here at Unbounce we’ve got one foot on each side of the marketing divide. We know that sending paid traffic to unique, campaign-specific landing pages is the key to smarter marketing. But we’re also true believers in the power of inbound marketing and have built our own audience through our monthly webinars, our awesome social media and this very blog.

So when tasked with creating our latest ebook, The Ultimate Guide to PPC Landing Pages, this content marketing evangelist had a crisis of faith. Thankfully, I was able to call upon our trusty panel of conversion experts to help me answer the following question:

“Is pay-per-click advertising really still relevant now that content marketing, inbound marketing and native advertising are all the rage?”

What I learned is that paid and inbound marketing aren’t as disconnected as you might think.

Peep Laja – The only way to scale fast

PPC Expert Peep Laja
Peep Laja, ConversionXL

“PPC can still drive massive amounts of traffic. Facebook and Google have both recently made it more difficult to reach people organically and have enhanced the options to reach audiences through paid means. And while PPC costs have been rising each year, I have a ton of clients who make A LOT of money through PPC.The question is never Inbound vs. PPC. They are not excluding each other. PPC is another channel to reach targeted audiences. If you’re not tapping it, you’re making a conscious decision to not use all the channels at your disposal. Sometimes PPC is the only way to scale fast.”

If you’re not using #PPC, you’re making a conscious decision to not use all channels at your disposal. » Tweet this Peep Laja quote «

Iain Dooley – Marketing training wheels

PPC Expert Iain Dooley
Iain Dooley, Decal Marketing

Paid search can be a lot like learning to ride a motorcycle. You first learn to do it inside a parking lot where you learn to balance and stop and change gears. Those skills learned patiently at low speeds are transferable (read: “scalable”) when you get out on the highway. In PPC terms, you can start with a small spend, learn about your market and then take that learning and feed it back into other channels.”

Paid search is a lot like learning to ride a motorcycle. » Tweet this Iain Dooley quote «

Matt Hessler – Bottom of the funnel

PPC Expert Matt Hessler
Matt Hessler, Trada

“PPC marketing campaigns can be deployed more quickly than inbound and their effects are often much more immediate. With PPC being a more mature medium at this point the data is more granular and there are several robust tools including the AdWords platform itself to get meaningful data quickly from your campaigns. I still believe there is no substitute for the ability to market to a user searching for your exact product or service. At the bottom of the funnel search still has the strongest demonstrable results.”

There’s no substitute for the ability to market to a user who is searching for your exact product. » Tweet this Matt Hessler quote «

Christian Nkurunziza – So long as Google is around…

PPC Expert Christian Nkurunziza
Christian Nkurunziza, Tenscores

“Any form of promotion that brings customers to businesses will always be relevant. In terms of PPC, it will be relevant so long as Google makes over $30 billion with it. That will be the case for a long time because it’s such an effective form of marketing. You buy clicks on keywords, people buy your product, you lose money or you make money. How much simpler can it get?”

#PPC will remain relevant as long as it is making Google $30 billion+. » Tweet this Christian Nkurunziza quote «

Brad Geddes – Content amplification

PPC Expert Brad Geddes
Brad Geddes, Certified Knowledge

“PPC could be considered a channel within inbound marketing as it can be used as content amplification. There is no channel other than PPC that can give you reach, scale, control and consistent results day-over-day like paid search. It can be a very predictable channel to supplement the highs and lows that are often associated with content marketing.”

#PPC is the only channel that will give you reach, scale, control & consistent results. » Tweet this Brad Geddes quote «

Ashleigh Bunn – Direct targeting

PPC Expert Ashleigh Bunn
Ashleigh Bunn, Cardinal Path

“When it comes to online marketing, there will always be options. No single strategy provides all the answers. Smart marketers understand that successful online marketing is fertilized through diversification. The benefit that PPC marketing has over other online marketing strategies is its direct targeting opportunities. No other form of online marketing allows you to speak directly to a user’s need or interest. Couple that with the power of re-marketing and PPC becomes the leader in direct marketing online.”

Successful online marketing is fertilized through diversification.
» Tweet this Ashleigh Bunn quote «

Brian Rotsztein – Useful and immediate

PPC Expert Brian Rotsztein
Brian Rotsztein, Uniseo

“The most powerful part of PPC remains that you’re getting website visitors who are actively looking for your products and services. Contrast this with individuals who are passively seeing an ad while playing on Facebook. People use search engines to find something useful to them at that time. That useful item could be the opening and closing times of a retail store, directions to a restaurant, product specifications, reviews and so on. The fact of needing something useful and getting it immediately via organic search results but also by way of PPC makes it relevant, even with all of the competing marketing approaches that have emerged.”

People use search engines to find something useful to them – that makes #PPC relevant. » Tweet this Brian Rotsztein quote «

Theresa Baiocco – The fastest way to test

PPC Expert Theresa Baiocco
Theresa Baiocco, Conversion Max

PPC advertising is still the fastest way to test assumptions, headlines, offers, keywords and landing pages. By finding out what does and doesn’t work with PPC, businesses can discover where to prioritize efforts for other marketing endeavors.  For example, it’s better to find out which keywords and landing pages perform well with PPC before spending the time and money trying to rank for them organically.”

#PPC is the fastest way to test assumptions, headlines, offers, keywords & landing pages. » Tweet this Theresa Baiocco quote «

Igor Belegolovsky – Few things are more powerful

PPC Expert Igor Belegolovsky
Igor Belegolovsky, Clever Zebo

“If you go to the hardware store looking for wood screws, you’re damn likely to leave with some wood screws. Sure, you might scope out the scroll saw demo they’re doing in aisle seven. Maybe you’ll think about building a birdhouse – maybe you’ll even buy the materials for one today. But you came searching for a specific item and that remains a very powerful indicator that you’ll buy that item. Search is the same way. While inbound marketing and content marketing are incredible sources of leads for many businesses, few things are more powerful than a (wo)man on a mission, searching for a specific thing.”

Few things are more powerful than a (wo)man on a mission searching for a specific thing. » Tweet this Igor Belegolovsky quote «

Two sides of the same conversion coin

The common thread running through all these quotes is that paid and inbound marketing aren’t mutually exclusive.

Sometimes PPC can be used to amplify our free content. At other times it can help us identify whether it’s worth investing in that content in the first place (because let’s face it, just because it isn’t “paid media” doesn’t mean it’s cost free to our companies or clients).

As smart marketers we can’t afford to be partisan when it comes to inbound vs. PPC. Conversions come in all stripes.

If these quotes resonate with you, then you should check out our new ebook on PPC landing pages. You can grab it by clicking on the CTA below. Let us know what you think!

— Dan Levy

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About Dan Levy
Dan Levy is Unbounce's former content director, heading up our company-wide content strategy and the awesome team behind it. A journalist by training and a marketer by accident, he previously served as Editor of the award-winning online magazine Sparksheet, as a political reporter in Washington and as a research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. You can follow his musings on media old and new on Twitter: @danjl