If you’re a business owner and you’ve been thinking about trying SEO or PPC, let me give you a little push. Now (as in right now) is THE best time to invest in SEO and PPC. I’ve been in the business of tracking advertising for companies for nearly 10 years, and I’ve never seen a pair of advertising strategies that come close to matching the return possible with SEO and PPC (in this order).
From my vantage point, SEO and PPC are like an amazing bull market in the early stages. You can’t make money watching from the sidelines. You’ve got to get in the game. And also like a bull market, this run isn’t going to last forever. There WILL be a crash—it’s not a matter of if, but a question of when (more on this later).
So why is now the best time to invest your marketing dollars in SEO and PPC?
The biggest reason is that there are A LOT of other businesses sitting on the sidelines. Again, it’s like the housing market several years before the peak. It may feel like all your competitors have already gone “all in” with online marketing, but they haven’t—far from it. There are home service companies that used to spend $60,000 per month on print Yellow Pages advertising (without even tracking their results), now spending just a few thousand dollars a month on SEO and PPC combined! There are plumbing companies getting leads from PPC for $30 per lead, and yet they’re not maxing out their budgets. I’ve seen companies “pause” their investment in content marketing (SEO) in order to save their money for another (totally unproven) marketing strategy.
All of this is total insanity. These companies are leaving hundreds (in some cases thousands) of low-cost leads on the table!
Why not make their loss your gain?
Let me explain to you what is going to happen in the SEO and PPC arena. Eventually, everyone really will be “all in” with it. When this happens, the prices (cost per click, advertising “spend,” etc.) will go up, and the return on investment (ROI) will go down. Google and many other ill-informed internet marketing companies are saying this won’t happen, but I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. Their theory (on why SEO and PPC will always be profitable) has to do with analytics and the fact that everything online can be so easily tracked and quantified. Google and the other internet marketing companies believe that business owners and marketers will use analytics to determine the most they can afford to pay and limit their bids to the sweet spot where they get the greatest number of leads while maintaining a profit.
I think some smart people at Google must have come up with this as a way to convince Wall Street that PPC has nowhere to go but up. The scenario makes sense in theory, but this is an instance where theory and life diverge sharply. The reality is that there are WAY too many stupid people and stupid internet marketing companies for this to ever represent reality.
It’s a joke.
Think about it … what percentage of home service companies track the phone calls associated with their PPC and SEO campaigns? From everything I’ve seen, that number is in the single digits. A handful of companies track their PPC calls and almost no one tracks their SEO campaign-generated calls. Yet, the typical flooring, plumbing, HVAC, or roofing company gets 4-5 times as many phone calls as they do web leads. By not tracking the phone leads from their PPC and SEO campaigns, they are missing MORE THAN HALF the picture of advertising performance.
When I try to explain the insanity behind what they’re doing (or, said differently, what they’re NOT doing), they rationalize it. The idea that small businesses and marketers will use analytics tools to make data-driven decisions; that companies will only pay per click what they can afford to pay per click; that companies will recognize that by optimizing their website’s conversion rates, training their CSRs, and improving their sales staff, they’ll be able to pay a higher cost per click and get more leads, IS NUTS.
I hope I’m wrong about all this, but I don’t think I will be.
So NOW is the time to get in the PPC and SEO game. Grow your business using two of the most profitable advertising strategies in the history of advertising. Grab as many low-cost leads as you can while your competitors (many of them much larger than you) waddle along cluelessly. Buy up as much online real estate (SEO) as you can … while your competitors are still spending their marketing dollars on YP print ads and bitching about the fact that they just had their website built 5years ago (expect to build a new website every 2-3 years OR continually improve your website and do a major re-build every 5-7 years).
If I’m right, the opportunity is NOT going to last forever. You’ve got 3-4 more years—maybe a few more, but maybe a few less. You might be asking yourself, what will I do (and tell my clients to do) if and when the PPC/SEO armageddon comes?
Easy—I track everything. My clients track everything. We had DrinkMore Water out of the print Yellow Pages back in 2007 and all in with SEO and PPC. Their competitors still had full-page ads in the YP books and most didn’t even know what PPC stood for. We’re going to do the same thing when the SEO and PPC market overheats. We’ll have seen the cost per lead going up and the leads going down, and when things reach the tipping point, we’ll be all in on (or at least testing) something new—something you won’t even recognize (unless you’re on our team—wink, wink).
That’s the thing about analytics. Better data really does equal better results. The key is to see the opportunity (and the impending bubble) before the next guy.