Quality Content vs Online Advertising – Where Should You Focus Your Budget?

Published on January 7, 2014

At the start of 2014, many businesses, small and large, are re-evaluating their strategies to reach new customers and promote their brand.

Often, question usually boils down to this:

Should we focus our budget more towards online advertising (SEM) or bolster our content to develop organic results?

The one that will get you the most bang for your buck is, hands down, the generation of quality content.  Here's why:

1. Quality content = quality interactions

The first, and perhaps most stark contrast between quality content and advertisements is the generation of quality interactions between company and customer.

Advertisements mostly sit flat, waiting for a click to redirect the customer.  Content, however, is the start to a conversation, inspiration, and share.  When you're generating quality content as a company, you are sharing something that will not only interest and engage your audience, but portray your company as an informed and useful source.  This remains true not ONLY for that first interaction, but for further interactions down the line.

2. Content generation gives you the room to portray your personality

Online advertisements, especially under the "company" persona, can often lack a sense of humanity.  Content, however, helps reveal "the man behind the curtain" and put your company on a more personal level.  Mediums like blogging, for example, provide your company a regular platform to connect with customers on a personal level.

3. Content is sharable, advertisements are not

Social media platforms and quality content are, quite honestly, made for one another.  Reaching customers on a mass scale comes with the magic words, "share, like, retweet, favorite, and +1" because that means not only do your direct followers appreciate you, their friends get a chance to do the same, and then maybe even the friends of the friends... you get it.  Advertisements just don't get that kind of response.

Don't forget, quality content can be shared again, and again, and again.  If it answers a question that many people ask for example, you may find yourself referencing the same article periodically over a great span of time.

4. Content creates a following

Content, particularly in the realm of blogging, can slowly but surely build you a following.  If a reader responds positively to something you've written, they'll be likely to follow the work that you do and continue to show their support.

5. Quality content increases your company's relevancy

If you're able to consistently display newly generated quality content, particularly content that "keeps up with the times", the relevancy of your company is increased ten-fold.  Quality content reads:  "Not only does this company offer a great product or service, they are also clearly experts in their field."  Being up-to-date in your content generation is a key way to establish your company as a relevant and useful resource for your prospective clients.  Advertisements don't have this touch.

But what statistics are there?  How do the successes of advertisements compare to the successes of content?

Okay, here are some numbers:

The average banner advertisements have an exceptionally low click-through rate. According to HubSpot, the average banner ad has a 0.1% clickthrough rate, and the standard 468×60 banner has a 0.04% clickthrough rate.  Ouch.  

Content generation on the other hand, especially in the form of blogs, has much better results.  One of the HubSpot findings, for example, was that there is a direct correlation between the number of blog posts you have on your website and how many traffic hits you receive.  The more blog posts you have, the more traffic hits you will receive (this number spikes even higher between the 50-100 blog post range).  Click here to read the full study

The bottom line?

Generation of quality content is a great way to portray your company in a useful and personable light, and continue to grow your client base over time.  You can use the content again and again, and establishes your website as more than just a means of which to advertise your company, but as a useful hub of interesting and informative information.

What has your experience with content generation been?  Not sure how to get started?  Send us an email or give us a call!