This is a consistent digital marketers’ quandary. Is it wasteful – or in fact essential – to elicit that additional advertising spend? Should you run organic and paid campaigns concurrently? Do SEO and PPC work symbiotically and in a complementary way?
Google are emphatic that it’s a big fat ‘yes’. Their logic being that you need to penetrate both landscapes simultaneously to maximize your exposure. They’ve conducted a study. We’ve undertaken our own experiment too. Let’s explore…
The Google Stance
So, what are Google’s supporting metrics? 33% of the impression share goes to the top organic spot, the second receives a still chunky 18% with the third reducing to circa 12%, and so the percentages diminish along with the page positioning. What’s interesting is that their 2011 study appraising the direct impact of organic rank on ad click proved that a whopping 89% of visits to an advertiser’s site from search ads were incremental to clicks on organic results. In other words, the visits would not have occurred without the ad campaigns.
The Jellyfish Experiment
Take one brand: A leading household name, top 5 in its sector, market leader in terms of product range and service versatility.
Appraise existing data: 80% of all PPC conversions are currently generated through brand.
Assumption: Competitors would steal a percentage of traffic and conversions. In line with Google’s hypothesis the client should retain at least 50% of clicks and conversions, possibly higher, due to brand loyalty and domain authority. Presume browsers would automatically include the brand website as an obvious click path.
As expected, with brand traffic switched off we saw a reduction in leads week over week of -68% with a similar drop on sales of -61%.
What we didn’t anticipate was such a poor uplift in SEO activity. There was a subtle shift upwards in sales with a marginal 4% increase, however leads remained flat.
To be precise; 574 leads and 332 sales were lost through switching off brand PPC, while only 6 leads and 45 sales were gained through SEO week over week. Clear indication that the detrimental impact to PPC acquisitions was by no means recouped by SEO conversions. Brand was switched back on fast.
As soon as the brand PPC was turned on mid Friday, the client saw an instant uplift in leads and sales; however the numbers were still down on the previous week.
The reason for the slow return of performance was down to latency. As Jellyfish had suspended brand spend for four days, the latent leads and sales would take time to catch up.
The most dramatic insights were found in the SEO leads and sales after switching the brand PPC back on.
Not only did the SEO traffic immediately elevate, but the uplift was seen across all online channels – affiliates, display, etc. Switching brand PPC back on demonstrably improved the entire landscape visibility for the advertiser. Surely a notable indication of the cross channel impact of PPC management.
Random Quirk: We witnessed a bizarre anomaly when brand PPC was turned off. The usual competitor ads that appeared down the right hand side of the SERPS disappeared, then returned once brand bidding commenced… Google were similarly baffled and estimated that perhaps the competitors didn’t have high enough quality score to appear (easily refutable as they showed when we commenced brand bidding!). Hmmm.
So, returning to our question – is advertising on brand PPC worthwhile? The Jellyfish answer; 100% imperative. Of course, all brand landscapes vary so test the nuances of your brand across all channels. As we demonstrated, results can be surprising.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Malachi Kelly is a PPC Manager at Jellyfish. His main focus is driving traffic to meet specific ROI/CPA targets. Bianca Best is an Account Director at Jellyfish; she oversees the strategic implementation of digital marketing campaigns for key accounts such as Berkeley Group and Pfizer.