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SEO for Growth

MYTH: Growth Marketing Should Always Include PPC

Do you actually need PPC to grow your brand? Nope! PPC can work, but it can't deliver the long-term results organic growth marketing can.

6 mins read time
Jeanna Barrett
Jeanna Barrett

Jul 31, 2021

We’re not going to tell you not to use Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. That would be futile because PPC can work, and there is a place and time for it.

But is your growth marketing strategy doomed to fail without it? Certainly not. 

In fact, in many cases, you will get the best results from using organic growth marketing strategies alone. Let's discover when skipping PPC will mean greater ROI and what tactics to replace PPC with when you do.


When Should You Forgo PPC as Part of Your Growth Marketing Strategy?

While a carefully optimized PPC campaign can yield excellent dividends, the trouble is PPC rarely leads to long-lasting results and should be used tactically — for example, when promoting a new product launch.

Traffic from PPC is very much a here-today-gone-tomorrow thing and it's not the ticket to the sustainable growth that you're looking for. For such an unsustainable marketing tactic, PPC is comparatively quite costly, particularly if you’re targeting any competitive keywords.

This is not to say that there is no merit to using PPC. If you’re targeting the portion of your audience that is ready to buy, PPC is an excellent tactic.

But for newer brands, it's just not going to be the best way to spend your marketing budget. Here’s how to tell if you should be thinking less about PPC and a lot more about organic growth:

You Don’t Have a Large Budget

If you can afford to use a mix of PPC and organic growth tactics, then you should. But if you have to prioritize one, the question you should ask is, which offers the most residual value?

Organic growth marketing won’t lead to a significant increase in traffic overnight, but unlike PPC, even when the marketing dollars dry up, the stream of leads won’t!

You’re Not Yet Sure of Your Product-Market Fit

For any innovative products or services, you can’t be entirely sure of your product-market fit till you go to market. This makes PPC a risky proposition. What if you expend your budget on advertising to the wrong market segment? The result will be high traffic with low conversion and almost no return on investment. 

Your Brand Has a Loyal Following 

In this case, you really don’t need PPC. Effective content marketing will turn a community of loyal customers, no matter how small, into an army of brand advocates. 


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So What Are the Alternatives to Google AdWords and Other PPC Tactics?

We’re glad you asked!

Here is the growth marketer's approach to growing a brand organically — with stable, scalable market penetration.

1. Focus on the Data

When it comes to growth marketing, data is king. Sorry, content marketers, but this is the truth. Content does have its place in growth marketing, as we’ll demonstrate later on, but growth marketing is a data-centric discipline.

Data tells you who to target, where to target them, how much their willing to spend, and so on. A data-driven strategy leads business leaders to a detailed understanding of who their prospects are and how they should be interacting with them.

When you initially get started with a growth marketing strategy, you won’t have all the data, but with time, this will be rectified. Be sure not to ignore what the data tells you about the market!

2. Focus on SEO Fundamentals

Search engine optimization makes it easy for the people who really need your products and services to find you. Here’s why SEO is a better tactic for a growth marketing campaign than PPC is. When you do PPC, you are essentially putting your products and brand in front of the people you think need it the most.

You could be wrong, especially if you are operating off assumptions that are not backed by reliable data. With effective SEO, however, the people who need what you offer, and are already searching for it, will come to you and you can be sure they will stick around longer. 

3. Use Content Marketing Effectively

Content marketing and SEO frequently share some areas of overlap, but they are not quite the same thing. SEO is used to make your content rank well in search engines, but content marketing is more about meeting the needs of your prospects at all the different stages of the growth marketing customer cycle.

To use content marketing effectively, you need to understand these six stages of the growth marketing funnel for your prospects and the kind of content you should be creating at each stage. It's also called the "pirate funnel," and we're sure you can see why:

pirate funnel for growth marketing


Awareness - Your prospects are just becoming aware of your brand or your offerings. What sort of content should you create for optimal engagement? These will be blog articles, social media content, and other types of content that help to generate some initial interest in your brand.

Acquisition - At this stage, your prospects are aware of your brand. They might have some interest, but it’s likely to be superficial at this point. Effective use of content marketing at this stage would be to offer some deep content that proves your technical authority and hooks your prospects. These could be ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, etc. 

Activation - At this stage, prospects undertake some action that partially commits them towards an eventual purchase. This could be a free trial, using a demo, etc. At this point, messaging that includes strong social proof could be crucial to moving the prospect through to the next phase. 

For a new brand, more traditional models of social proof, such as customer reviews, might be somewhat hard to come by; however, you can make up for this by using other forms of validation, such as influencer reviews.

Revenue - At this stage, the prospect becomes a buying customer. This is one of the most critical points of the customer lifecycle in any growth-oriented marketing strategy. If the customer is delighted, they will be retained and may refer other clients. This could lead to exponential growth without any further investment in top-of-the-funnel tactics.

Retention - Repeat business is good business. At this point, the quality of the product or service is really the most important factor, but you still need to create great content to support it. This would include, for example, emails, newsletters, or gated content, all geared towards helping the customer make the most of their purchase while ensuring that they feel like a part of your brand community.

Referral - At this point, you will be looking to turn your customers into advocates. A lot of the previous content types will work, but you also want to create lots of shareable content that can be posted on your social media channels.

To PPC or Not to PPC? 

PPC is a great tool for growth marketing, but it's not indispensable. When you’re just getting started, it’s almost always better to play the long game by driving sustainable, scalable, long-term growth using organic growth marketing strategies. 

The three drivers of this approach will be meaningful data, strong SEO, and effective content marketing. The best way to bring it all together is to use a powerful content management system like the Hubspot CMS. For the best results, you should consider working with a Hubspot Agency Partner like First Page. 

Get in touch to learn how we can help!


Grow Your SEO  The right SEO strategy can drive thousands of qualified leads to your site.  Our SEO strategy has grown organic traffic by 400% and revenue by 300% for  clients – see what First Page Strategy can do for you.  Learn More

Jeanna Barrett

Jeanna is the Founder & Chief Marketing Expert for First Page, an award-winning, fully distributed marketing agency. Jeanna has a combined 17 years of inbound marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies and Fortune 500 companies, with an expertise focus on business and tech. She's been named 'Top 40 Under 40' of brand marketers and 'Best in the West' for financial technology marketing. In 2016, Jeanna left the U.S. to lay roots and build her business in Belize, and in 2021 First Page was named #43 in fastest growing private companies of Inc. 5,00 Regionals: California.

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