Author’s note: It’s election season again, and if political candidates can run for office again and again on the same platforms, then I figured I can dust off my own online marketing investment platform for a whole new set of voters readers. You’ll find this post just as relevant today as it was when originally published in 2012.
I often think about how companies seem to haphazardly invest in online marketing. Some throw all their budget at SEO, leaving no room for PPC. Other businesses put so much money into PPC that they leave little room for social engagement. In 2012, Herman Cain, a quickly forgotten candidate for president presented what he called a 9-9-9 tax plan. Stealing from that theme I have created a 3-3-3 online marketing investment plan that will help you move forward strategically and successfully in your online marketing efforts.
I’ve read that the best way to win an argument is to tell a story, so I got one for you. Well, maybe not. I’m not a good story teller, but I can throw together a pretty decent analogy.
Let’s say you have a pile of money and you need to “invest” it. As with any investment there is the potential to fail. The question is, where to invest?
You have two options:
- Invest the whole pile in one place.
- Split it up and invest in multiple areas.
The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” comes to mind. After all, when playing poker, you usually don’t go “all in” on the first hand. You spread it around, (hopefully) winning more as you go.
Online marketing isn’t that much different. Diversification is a good thing. Before diversifying, you have to make sure you have enough to invest in one area to ensure its successful return on investment. If your budget is frog-butt tight (as a friend of mine used to say about hanging drywall), this post probably isn’t for you. If you have–or dream of having–a larger marketing budget, then keep reading. The good stuff is yet to come.
Diversifying Your Online Marketing Investment
I want to preface this section by repeating that you can only diversify your online marketing if you have enough budget to ensure the success of each. If you invest too little into just one area of online marketing while ignoring the others, your ROI will be a loooong time in coming. Or you will find yourself outpaced by your competition that is fully investing in business growth.
If you have a large enough budget, though, you do want to diversify. Throwing your entire marketing budget into one area may get the ball rolling and produce limited results, but you’ll never perform as strongly as you should. Not only that, but if all your marketing budget is invested in a single area, you have no secondary source to keep the revenue flowing if something goes bad. The key is to take a more balanced approach to your online marketing efforts.
The 3-3-3 Online Marketing Investment Model
There are three key areas of online marketing investment:
- SEO – search engine optimization
- PPC – pay per click
- CSME – content, social media, engagement
The idea here is to split your spending between these three areas pretty equally. If you have $30,000 to spend on marketing each month, as tempting as it may be, don’t throw it all into your PPC ad spend. It boggles my mind when I see companies spending that kind of money on PPC but only a couple thousand on SEO.
Why does this kind of discrepancy happen? I think mainly because PPC is so much more trackable than SEO. This makes PPC appear much more lucrative when it really isn’t. PPC accounts for only about 1/3 of the total clicks in the search results. Plus, it usually isn’t as cost-efficient, delivering conversions at a higher costs than you’d get with SEO. This means that it would be wiser to put more money into SEO than PPC.
I wouldn’t recommend dumping PPC for SEO entirely. Splitting up your budget between the two is smart marketing. You could easily get away with throwing $20,000 of your $30,000 budget toward SEO. But this doesn’t fit the 3-3-3 model. Or does it?
In a way, it does. Content marketing, social media and engagement are very intertwined with SEO. In fact, with today’s algorithms, SEO can no longer survive on its own. Content and social media marketing are essential for a successful SEO campaign.
By using the 3-3-3 model, you are placing equal investment into each of these three areas of online marketing. That is smart marketing!
Take your $30,000 budget, put $10K to CSME, $10K to SEO and leave the last $10K for PPC. That gives you a robust on-page, off-page and paid search marketing strategy that is drawing traffic and building reputation through not one, but three different sources, each adding unique value and growth to your business.