My answer to this is fairly straight forward. The most cost effective media for advertising direct are…
1. Postal campaigns – especially where a trial run is undertaken to ensure that the campaign works at the level required.
2. Email campaigns using the direct email address of the person you wish to reach (i.e. going straight to a named person, not to “sales@” or “office@”.
3. Blogs, in which one writes a regular commentary on the issues surrounding the products or services one sells, which conclude by linking to your own sales site, and which and which also invite the reader to write in or phone, to discuss issues further.
However I have often been asked whether one should not also use Google Ad Words – particularly in situations where options 1 and 2 are difficult to explore because of the lack of a good mailing list.
Hamilton House has worked on list creation, experimented with a wide variety of blogs and web sites, and used Google Ad Words for a range of products and services. I’ve no doubt that as a result of this experimentation one can say that pound for pound spent blogs out perform Adwords every time.
Of course part of the issue relates to one’s ability with each medium. Google Ad Words are so small that it is hard not to get them right, but this is not the case with blog campaigns. With this in mind we have researched extensively what makes some postal, email and blog campaigns work, and others fail. Many of our results now appear on the Direct Marketing Theory site – details below.
But back to this experiment. We created our lists and blogs, experimented with Ad Words and reached the conclusion that for every pound spent we got far more sales through emails, the post and blogs than we did with Ad Words.
And that is where the story stayed until in one of the most excellent pieces of research I have ever seen relating to selling on the internet MarketingExperiments.com produced a report in which it compared hiring an employee to blog and create content, with the much simpler approach of using Google Adwords to drive targeted traffic to the web site.
The research took place over 12 months and in summary the research showed that the blog approach yielded more than 93,207 unique visitors at a cost of $3600 (the salary of the employee who wrote the blogs).
This was compared with a 30-day test of Google Adwords, bidding up to 75 cents per click on a variety of keywords related to the test websites which drove 2,047 users to the site at a cost of $1,250.
Thus we can see that each visitor to the web site sent via Google Adwords cost around 61 cents, whereas each visitor to the site via the blog cost just under 4 cents.
Or as Marketing Experiments.com points out, the blog approach yielded a 1427% greater return on investment than the GoogleAd approach.
As the report says, however, pay-per-click advertising was a much easier to run and was much quicker, to produce results, but it was much more expensive and gave a much lower return on investment.
It is probably because Ad Words seems so easy and will deliver results within an hour or so of starting that it continues to be so widely used. But that should not mean that one does not address the issue of running a blog at the same time. If you need customers today, and you don’t mind how must you want to pay, start the Ad Word process running. But meanwhile what you should do (in my opinion) is start working on the blog.
The key point here is that Google Ad Words and blogs work in very different ways. Ad Words only work when you are paying for the contract – the moment that you pause the campaign, clicks stop. But with blogs, each blog article can stay on line for as long as you wish. Indeed I know that on one of my blogs, an article I wrote four years ago still gets around 2000 hits a month. The cost of my writing that article was paid for four years ago (as part of my salary) but it still generates enquiries to the Hamilton House office each month.
Thus the Hamilton House research and the Marketing Experiments Journal research both clearly show that blogs are a far more cost effective way of getting the potential customer who is searching the internet for information to go to your site. Not only does it cost a fraction of the Ad Words cost, it also delivers far more readers.
To show you how this works in practice, here are some links to blogs we have created, with a brief note in each case.
www.blog.hamilton-house.com – a blog about direct marketing. Five articles a week on direct marketing. 17,000 hits a month.
www.blog.emiratesstadium.info – “Football from an Arsenal perspective”. About 10 articles a week. Between 500,000 and 750,000 hits a month. Although one can argue that football (and Arsenal) are popular topics, the fact is that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other Arsenal sites with whom this blog is competing. So we made some specific editorial decisions early on. Call me if you would like to know more.
www.blog.schools.co.uk – a blog which reprints advertisements from our customers that are transmitted by email. Despite its lack of original content or editorial, it gets around 50,000 individual readers a month. The site is never advertised or mentioned elsewhere – all the hits arrive through people searching Google or similar sites, and then clicking on the link to this blog.
www.blog.educationmarketing.org.uk – a blog about selling to schools – 33,000 visits a month.
www.bob-dylan.org.uk – one post a week, each of which reviews a Bob Dylan song. Around 30,000 visits a month. As with the Arsenal site specific decisions were taken to differentiate this site from other Dylan sites (of which there are many).
www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk – a blog which focuses on the history of Arsenal FC. No contemporary news, so it is described by some of my colleagues as “geeky” and “nerdy”. Fair enough, but it gets over 120,000 visits a month.
These figures take time to grow – which is why I suggested above that using Google Ad Words initially to help drive people to the sites may be worthwhile. But – and this is the big point – even if you use Ad Words you should still start work on the blog now.
Marketing Experiments – who undertook the detailed research mentioned above are at Digital Trust Inc. 412 First Street North Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, USA
If you would like to know more about blogs, creating them and writing them, please do call 01536 399 000 or email Tony@hamilton-house.com