Effective content marketing. It’s what we’re all striving for as marketers. To be able to produce high-quality leads for our sales teams via search engine optimisation instead of spending our hard-earned marketing budgets on search engine marketing.

Companies worldwide continue to invest billions of dollars per year in paid search lead generation. 2016 revenues, according to eMarketer, was forecast at $542.55 billion.

However, when comparing paid search to content marketing effectiveness, efficiency and ROI, it is no contest.

Effective content marketing wins hands down.

But before we jump in, I want you to bear these stats in mind:

  • The first position on Google search results has a 34.36% click-through on desktop and a 31.35% rate on mobile (Advanced Web Ranking, 2015)
  • For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them (Econsultancy, 2016)
  • 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search (Google, 2015)
  • 55% of B2B marketers say they are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like (Content Marketing Institute, 2015)
  • 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report, 2016)

The following is a look at several primary reasons why you should invest time and resources in content marketing, rather than paid search alone.

The Cost Comparison

The investment in producing effective content marketing is the allocation of your time. In contrast, you must dedicate both advertising dollars and your time – a lot of it – in paid search. Yes, you can outsource it, but that just adds to the overall cost.

The costs for lead generation through content marketing are 38 percent of costs through paid search.

The recurring value of well-executed content is one reason for the lower cost structure. After you invest in the development of content, it continues to perform as long as you reach your audience.

In fact, Hubspot claims that 75 percent of their blog views and 90 percent of their blog leads come from old posts.

In contrast, you pay for search campaigns every time someone clicks through on your ad. The costs occur for each click-through regardless of whether the lead pans out.

Lead Generation Results

Not only does it cost less, but the ability to drive leads with content is much higher than with paid search.

On a dollar-for-dollar basis, content marketing investments generate three times more sales leads than you get through paid search. Kapost in partnership with Oracle put together a great eBook called “Content Marketing ROI”, details of which are at the end of this post. I highly advise you to read it.

Take a look at this image from the ebook:

cost per lead effective content marketing v paid search

When you combine the relatively low costs and the much stronger results, the return on investment for content marketing stands head-and-shoulders above ROI for paid search.

The People Factor

The value of content marketing extends beyond a simple comparison of financial results. It is also important to realise the influence that compelling content has in motivating people to react to your messages.

An inspired, qualified lead is more likely to convert. In the current search-driven era, people have a genuine interest in learning about companies and products through content. 

In fact, 70 percent of those surveyed indicated just that, as shown via this infographic from MDG Advertising. (Click on the infographic for full size.)

The Shift to Native Advertising

Also, 68 percent of people said they would read content produced by a brand that interested them.

Other interesting stats about how people respond to content marketing include:

  • 78 percent of individuals believe that quality content signals that a company wants to build a healthy relationship (Neil Patel)
  • 73 percent of us prefer genuine content for information over paid advertising (Neil Patel)
  • 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement (Content Marketing Institute)
  • 69 percent trust brand content
  • 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
  • 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
effective content marketing

In-depth content allows you to better prepare your prospect with information in advance of the consideration and decision stages of the buyer journey.

Wrap Up

On both a financial and influence basis, effective content marketing outperforms paid search advertising.

The costs of investment are much lower, and the lead generation results are three times greater. The downside is that it takes longer to achieve those results.

Plus, the data demonstrates to us that, it is consistent and clear that people value quality content, and use it to develop an affinity for particular brands.

However, that does not mean that you should substitute one for the other. Over time, your content marketing can negate the need for some paid search terms and will come into its own.

For further reading, check out this PDF from Kapost & Oracle called “Content Marketing ROI”. It is an excellent read.


Interested in getting more leads from your content marketing? Talk to us about content syndication.