Improve Online Marketing ROIEvery entrepreneur, start-up founder, or webmaster of an online shop has a crucial goal to reach on his or her path to success: increasing the company’s (online) visibility, thereby increasing the number of visitors and eventually sales – on the basis of a proper website, of course.

To master this increase, there are countless marketing disciplines like pay-per-click (e.g. with Google Adwords), Affiliate Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Display Advertising, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Online PR, E-Mail Marketing, and many more sub-disciplines.

Every discipline can be useful during different phases of your evolution and offers its own advantages and disadvantages in relation to risk, predictability, return-on-investment (Online Marketing ROI), speed, and complexity.

In this piece, I want to deep-dive into the differences between a sustainable increase of traffic via SEO, Online PR, and Content Seeding in comparison to such often heavily budgeted channels as pay-per-click.

According to the Forrester Interactive Report from 2012, eight times as much budget goes into PPC, even though the channel generates only 10% of the traffic, while inbound marketing is responsible for 90% of the traffic. Also, speaking from the experiences of my company, the inbound marketing channel is often able to convert much better. So it is about time for CEOs and founders to have a closer look at this particular channel, and to understand the metrics and developments relevant for business.

Increase Your Online Marketing ROI: 2 Paths to More Traffic via Search Engines

SEA (Search Engine Advertising) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are the two relevant paths to attract visitors via search engines, and differ as follows:

Paids Ads (pay-per-click)

Sustained Growth in Online Marketing ROI

  • Generate directly targeted visitors and immediate sales
  • Revenue and expenditure are precisely measurable by sale/lead
  • Very scalable
  • Often very expensive (low ROI) and there is strong competition
  • One pays for every visitor, once the cashflow stops, the sales drop to 0

SEO, Link Building, and Content

Sustained Growth in Online Marketing ROI

  • Generate directly targeted visitors
  • Once you reach good rankings, you can hold on to them with little effort
  • Links on relevent websites (e.g. with their own rankings for important keywords) can generate a lot of long-term traffic
  • You invest over a certain period and then benefit long term from the sales
  • Enables you to save on PPC budget
  • It takes longer: long-term positive effects only after 3 to 12 months
  • Not precisely calculable, because the budget cannot be put up directly against the return – thus more difficult to scale

Due to the mentioned properties of these two disciplines, often the first and middle-term choice is pay-per-click. But it should not be the long-term goal to pay upfront for every new customer, the way it is done today in many PPC-areas. Organic traffic can be a deciding factor to get your hands on inexpensive and sustainable traffic that converts well. The following example illustrates the priciple behind this idea.

The Crucial Difference for Your Marketing Efficiency (Online Marketing Example Calculation)

e.g. AdWords (pay-per-click)

Pay-per-click fosters a direct dependence of the number of visitors on the budget invested. In general, the ROI stays on a similar level (immediately positive or negative with less margin to cover costs and only positive by customer lifetime value), but can be improved by optimization of the campaign.

e.g. SEO and Content Seeding

SEO and content on partner websites create long-term traffic sources, while the costs stay pretty much the same. The ROI of this marketing channel develops long term and can thus be very profitable.

SEO and Content Seeding Put Simply:

Your content (e.g. high quality articles in your company blog, your white papers, exciting infographics, videos, interesting studies) are spread on relevant websites, who in turn link to your website as the source of the content. Through this you generate direct traffic (referral traffic via backlinks), and increase by way of high-quality links your long-term rankings in the search engines.


Such a process could, for example, play out like this:

  • create a high-quality piece of content you want to market to your target audience (maybe you already have unique content at your disposal?)
  • spread your content (content seeding) and generate high-quality backlinks on other websites
  • increase the visitors via search engines as well as through topical websites (blogs, forums, web portals, etc.)
  • increase the visibility of your brand as well as its trust on the internet and place your content in reach of your target audience

We preach: “SEO and Inbound Marketing is like building a house instead of renting a hotel room!”  

If done correctly, Inbound Marketing and SEO can help you to:

a) increase your organic traffic (SEO, online PR, links, etc.)

b) to create the brand awareness and solidify the reputation of your company

c) to increase your online visibility within your target group

d) take the step to be more independent of paid ads (like Google AdWords)

Online Marketing Opinions: Experts and Studies are on the Same Page…

Customers for B2B as well as B2C can be won via organic visitor channels like, for instance, SEO in a less expensive and more efficient fashion:

– Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (Demand Metric)

– Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate. (Hubspot)

– 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)

– 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)

Take the Next Step for Sustained Growth in Your Online Marketing ROI!

As a CEO, you should think about using SEO more efficiently, and as an Online Marketer, you can use this article as another point when making your case for implementing new traffic sources in your company aside from Google AdWords!