PPC vs SEO: Which is a Better Strategy for eCommerce Success?

Even if you know very little about operating an ecommerce store, there’s a good chance you know one thing for sure: Your business needs sales, which means your website needs visitors. As simple as it might sound, this really is what running a successful business online is all about. Of course, it’s always easier said than done.

Whether your business is online or has a physical store, online marketing is essential for success, both long-term and short-term. Not only does creating a presence online expose your business to a (much) larger target audience, but it makes everything you do in terms of marketing more efficient. And, when efficiency equals money, that’s key.

Online marketing is both cost-effective and measurable, making it a smart choice for small businesses and start-ups in particular. By tracking every penny you spend and knowing exactly what works and what doesn’t, you can zero in on your marketing efforts to ensure that you’re never wasting money. And, when you find a winning strategy, you can start making incredible returns on your investment.

Still not sure if online marketing is right for you?

No other type of marketing gives you the same capacity to interact and learn from your audience. By better understanding your audience, you can save money – reaching more customers and without spending a fortune. And not only does getting to know your audience make your marketing more effective, but it allows you to create a real connection with them, which makes them more loyal – and more likely to come back.

If you’re looking to sell online, then online marketing really is the key to success for all businesses. And, when you’re ready to get started, it all comes down to knowing which strategy to implement. 

Online Marketing Strategy #1: PPC

PPC, or pay-per-click, advertising is exactly what it sounds like: You pay for clicks to your ads. These ads, which will take potential customers to your website or product pages, are considered paid traffic, which means you’re actually buying visits to your ecommerce site. While lots of online businesses spend their resources trying to earn organic visits, PPC advertising shortcuts the process, sometimes giving stores unheard of results faster than ever thought possible.

As you can imagine, PPC is super popular, especially on search engines, it’s one of the best ways to sell on Google. By buying an ad that shows up every time a specific keyword or phrase is searched, you can drive traffic to your store, which would otherwise be buried in results.

Online Marketing Strategy #2: SEO

If online marketers aren’t doing PPC, then they’re doing SEO. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, works to do a few things, mainly increasing the number of people to your website. Of course, just getting people to a site really doesn’t matter. What matters is if those people turn into customers, which is why good SEO focuses on the number of people and the quality of people (i.e. how likely those people are to buy, click, sign up, etc.). The magic of SEO is getting lots of quality people to your site through organic search results. That means you’re paying for services to increase your online presence, not paying for the ads and their placement themselves.

SEO works by understanding (or attempting to understand) the algorithms used by major search engines, like Google. These algorithms are basically the brains of the crawlers – the little bots that go from site to site and page to page gathering information. When you understand the algorithm, you can do things to your website to make the crawlers like you and, therefore, improve your online presence and overall business success.

Still need more information?

Here are the basic pros and cons of both strategies…

Pros and Cons of PPC

PPC is a great strategy for online businesses, especially one-click ecommerce stores. The biggest downsides, however, are that it costs money (and sometimes a lot of it) in order to really be successful. In order to get PPC marketing right, you have to invest both time and money upfront. And, for some businesses, these aren’t resources that can be spent lightly.

But, when you start to look at the pros, you realize why so many businesses are willing to play the game.

First and foremost, PPC is one of the most effective ways to start generating instant traffic to your site. And, once you learn what works for your business and your audience, you can bring the cost down a lot, dramatically reducing the cost per acquisition and improving ROI.

PPC is also the way to go when looking to dominate page position in search results and control what your audience really sees – after all, you’re paying for the advertisements.

Pros and Cons of SEO

One of the biggest disadvantages of SEO is that it can take quite a bit of time to start seeing results. Even more of a disadvantage? If you try to do SEO the wrong way, it can really backfire, hurting your store’s ability to rank and in some cases even getting yourself banned from certain platforms and services.

Not participating in SEO, however, can be even more dangerous.

Even more so than PPC, SEO has an incredible ROI – you just have to do it right. Not only does good SEO provide you with constant growth, but the growth is unlimited, especially when you leverage the power of content marketing. Smart SEO can be the number one way to build brand awareness and develop the type of credibility and trust your customers are looking for.

PPC vs SEO: Which is Right for Your Business?

If you were expecting a simple “this” or “that” answer here, then you haven’t been in business long enough. Really, it’s impossible to answer the PPC vs. SEO debate without really diving into the subtleties of your specific business. While a super localized business in a non-competitive niche might thrive on a few leads generated from some homegrown SEO, an ecommerce brand battling for position with some of the world’s toughest competitors (ever heard of Amazon?) would require a very different strategy.

When looking to make the decision between PPC and SEO, you need to understand what your business needs to succeed.

• Would a few leads tomorrow change everything?

• Are you focused on long-term brand results or short-term success?

• Who are you up against online?

• What are people paying for PPC in your niche?

• Who are the online authorities in your market in terms of content?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you want your marketing to pay off big time, then you need to understand exactly the type of results you are looking for. Otherwise, online marketing really will become a huge money drain.

The best advice? When possible, choose a combination of PPC and SEO. When it’s not possible, know your business and choose wisely based on what you need to succeed.

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