It is not the easiest task in the world to choose the correct marketing strategy for your SaaS business. There are plenty of articles dedicated to this matter, but none offers a better solution than hiring a team of knowledgeable marketers.
But the digital agency your company hires has to offer several ways of delivering traffic to your website.
This all comes down to the battle of two three-letter abbreviations SEO (Search Engine Optimization) versus PPC (Pay Per Click).
Organic Search or Paid Advertising: A Rough Comparison
If you are building SaaS business, you are very well aware of your options in the sector of online advertising. Perhaps, you even know when you need to start a PPC campaign and why SEO is the option that is perfect for your developing startup.
PPC is perfect when your company launches a new product, for instance. You will get tons of potential customers as they will click on the paid ads targeted directly to them. Great visibility due to quick entry is guaranteed.
PPC is easy to measure and track; you remain in control of things in order to stay within your budget, for instance. It also works just great in combination with other marketing channels. And by saying that, I mean mostly in combination with SEO.
SEO, in turn, will provide your business with better potential return on investment as it is essentially free.
However, paying top-notch copywriters and SEO specialists for their hard work creating high-quality content could cost way more than the average PPC campaign so… you need to make calculations in the end.
I see you’re getting more and more confused about the choice and might think the article won’t help you. Let’s move away from rough comparisons and try something metaphorical.
Metaphors to Describe SEO vs. PPC
We all like metaphors, analogies and real-life examples. Here is how I see SEO vs. PPC in real life. Well, maybe the described “life” is not that real but more like the one from some novel or movie about the Prohibition era in American history.
Let’s call your SaaS company Bootlegger Bill and let your software be booze.
You can advertise your moonshine in the district in two ways with the help of your friend Selina (SEO) or your semi-pro boxer friend Peter Parcer; pun intended, no copyright infringement intended, though; PPC.
Read more: Is It Worth Running AdWords Campaigns Even If Your Website Is First in the Google Organic Search Results?
Selina is a perfect solution for you to start with zero investments. She will not charge her friend Billy for telling all her friends and acquaintances about the business. But the rumors do not spread too quickly.
At first, you will definitely be losing to the competing bootleggers in the area. In a couple of weeks or even months, people will come to you to talk about purchasing a barrel of your majestic firewater.
You’ll be lucky to get a few customers in the first week of operating though.
Peter, on the other hand, won’t give you too much of his friendly love. He has a boxing match this week. You should make him an offer. Bootlegger Bill has to pay his own friend for advertising.
Peter is ready to shout as loud as he can: “My best friend has the best booze in the area. Buy from him.” By the way, the price of the ad very much depends on the exact words Peter Parcer has to say. This is how it works.
There are several issues with this approach. If they are fans of your friend Peter, expect a long queue to your little bootlegger’s shop after the match. The euphoria after the fight will bring the customers to you.
It is a one-time thing. They won’t keep coming back. PPC only works while you’re paying. Next time if you don’t pay Peter, he won’t give you ads, and the clients won’t show up. No money, no honey.
So, who would you rather choose? Which approach do you like the most? Can you use both Selina and Peter to advertise your product? I guess, from here on we should wrap up with analogies.
SEO vs. PPC in Numbers
The article that I am about to refer to will have its 10-year anniversary next year, so you will probably doubt if it is relevant in 2017. Wait until I make some conclusion on it. But let’s wait before drawing conclusions.
According to the study of currently out-of-business analytics Enquisite:
“For every 1 click on a paid search result, organic results generate 8.5 clicks. Paid search clicks convert, on average, at 1.5X the rate of organic clicks. So from the numbers above, we can see that the opportunity from organic search is 5.66X that of paid search.”
At the same time, spend on SEO is 1/8th of PPC. You can do the math, right? If you are bad with numbers, the title of the Moz’s article will help you – “PPC Agencies Make 45X What SEOs Do for the Same Value”
Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of Moz, writes on Enquisite’s data:
“Because PPC is easier for advertisers and agencies to value, agencies and businesses are spending many multiples of dollars to get that traffic. Is SEO a good investment? Considering the data above, it’s exceptionally hard to argue otherwise.”
Selina winds hands down. SEO is the best bet. Forget about PPC. It’s too expensive anyway. Why did you even consider spending cash for EVERY CLICK ON YOUR AD?
Well, we don’t live in 2008 anymore. Enquisite went out of business. I am not saying that these results led to it.
Fishkin is still alive and kicking in the world of SEO and is one of my personal favorite writers. Oh, and we have new studies now. Results of those surveys will make your eyes pop out.
Larry Kim, contributor at wordstream.com, writes:
“Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!”
The studies of Wordstream , a successful PPC software developers’ agency, show that the world has turned upside-down in terms of clicks on paid search results.
The same study says that 45.5% of people could not identify paid ads on the search engine results page.
Oh, there is one fun fact about the company I’ve already mentioned. It is a PPC AGENCY.
Should we trust the results of their surveys? I am not saying that are wrong or misleading. The results are just very suspicious. We need to find a more credible source of information.
SEO vs. PPC – Final Decision
Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO at Rankings.io has an opinion on these two SEM strategies.
“We can’t say SEO is better than pay-per-click advertising or vice versa…. Each technique has its place in online marketing. A thoughtful, comprehensive approach is better than a laser-beam focus on one channel.”
In my opinion, there are three major factors you should consider when making a final decision on which approach to SEM is the best for your SaaS business: money, time and the convertibility of your product.
If you are short on time, you should definitely consider a PPC campaign. It will attract your potential clients. If your software has shown a great convertibility in the past, a rapid flow of newcomers is just what you need.
If your SaaS product is not the perfect bait for an immediate purchase and you feel like your business has some time for steady growth, SEO is what you need.
You may not get too many visitors on your website right away, but in three, four, or sometimes six months they will definitely come to you should your SEO campaign be conducted by pros.
Instead of Сonclusions
Articles like this always end with blah-blah-blah about finding a compromise decision. They also start with “It depends.”
In a perfect world where you can find a great SEO/PPC agency, they will show your SaaS company how to advertise your company correctly for a reasonable price. SEO and PPC are both hard to master, let alone a combined version of them.
I would like to sum up my thoughts with these three simple sentences:
Loads of money to spend on marketing – choose PPC.
Plenty of time for business to emerge – choose SEO.
Just watched Trainspotting 2 – choose life.
Make calculations to figure out what would be better for you and try to make an educated guess-about which bet is perfect for your SaaS Company in terms of the future profits.
What do you choose for your company: SEO or PPC or both? Please, share your opinion in the comments section.