SEO

The 3-3-3 Online Marketing Investment Model

A few weeks ago I was thinking about how companies seem to haphazardly invest in various aspects of online marketing. Some throw their entire budget at SEO, leaving no room for PPC. Other businesses put so much money in PPC that they leave little room for genuine SEO growth. While Herman Cain’s bold 9-9-9 tax plan may be as dead as his presidential ambitions, there is something that that we might be able to steal borrow to help frame a successful online marketing campaign.

I’ve read that the best way to win an argument is to tell a story, so I got one for you. Well, no. 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 potential to fail. The question is where to invest?

You have two options:

  1. Invest the whole pile in one place.
  2. 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 all that much different. Diversification is a good thing (unless you have very little to diversify to begin with, then you have to build up to that). 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, 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 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 SEO or PPC, ultimately your ROI will be a loooong time in coming, or you will find yourself outpaced by your competition that is investing in business growth.

Aside from the fact many businesses are not willing to invest enough in online marketing, the next biggest issue is having an unbalanced approach. Throwing your entire marketing budget at SEO may reap you HUGE rewards. But, you’re still missing out on a significant portion of business, and therefore profits, if you ignore PPC altogether. Similarly, if you throw everything at PPC and ignore SEO, again, you’re missing out on a lot of lower-cost conversions that SEO delivers.

Let’s not forget to mention that if all your money is in one and something goes bad, you have no secondary source to keep the revenue flowing! The key is to take a more balanced approach to your online marketing efforts. That’s where the 3-3-3 approach comes in. Or, as I like to call it, the 3-3-3 Online Investment Model. Catchy, isn’t it?

The 3-3-3 Online Investment Model

There are three key areas of online marketing investment:

  1. SEO – search engine optimization
  2. PPC – pay per click
  3. CSML – content, social media and link building

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 me 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 than SEO, when, in actuality it 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 cost 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, but 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. Often times, content marketing, social media and/or link building are wrapped into SEO. All three are tied closely together as linking is, or at least should be, a part of any successful SEO contract. The problem is, linking is difficult and time consuming so it can often get bypassed by the sexier on-page optimization aspects.

By using the 3-3-3 model, you are placing equal investment into linking as you are on-page optimization. Again, that is smart marketing. Take your $30,000 budget, put $10K to content, linking and social, $10K to SEO and leave the last $10K for PPC. That gives you a robost on-page, off-page and PPC marketing strategy that is drawing traffic and building reputation through not one, but three different sources, all adding to the value and overall growth of your business.

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Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading online marketing strategy company helping businesses improve their online presence since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences all over the US, and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and website marketing related articles. If you're looking to velocitize your web marketing, Stoney and Pole Position Marketing are the crew you need. Follow me at @StoneyD, and @PolePositionMkg.
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