How to Make The Leap From Paid Advertising to Inbound Marketing

Eric Postma

We recently wrapped up a digital media campaign that promoted agricultural products to farmers in North America. It was a complex effort where we advertised specific product portfolios to very specific geographies with unique budget requirements for each product.

It resulted in the most complicated campaign we have ever trafficked on Google, Facebook, and Twitter advertising platforms. It also resulted in some incredible results for our client.

The digital ad results looked like this:

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We achieved over 31 million impressions, 250,000+ clicks to the site, and a click-through rate of 0.83% (our benchmark CTR is typically around 0.81%), which resulted in more than 500,000 sessions on the client’s website during the ad period - a 2,500% increase over the previous year.

We put together the campaign report and sent it off to our client, confident that they would be equally wowed by the incredible results. However, they were somewhat disappointed, despite the statistical success of this campaign. Why?

  1. The numbers seemed a bit fishy. There were more than 200,000 users, yet census data reports only about 40,000 relevant farmers in the geographic target region. Targeting isn’t precise enough to target only the right type of farmers, but 200,000 users seemed very high. Was some of this fake traffic?
  2. Website engagement was very poor with a bounce rate of over 90%, only 1.13 pages per session, and an average session duration of 21 seconds. That means users were coming to the site, but not doing much on the site.
  3. Most importantly, the massive increase in website traffic did not result in any increase in sales.

Our response?

Yes, there was probably some fake traffic. Yes, the site was not designed to encourage page engagement. Yes, the campaign did not bring users closer to a purchase decision.

So, what do we recommend doing instead?

Inbound Marketing

With inbound marketing, your website can become a powerful lead-generation tool that attracts prospects and turns them into engaged customers and brand advocates. All you need to do is follow these three steps:

  1. Develop search engine-optimized (SEO) content that addresses the problems and opportunities your ideal customers face. This SEO focus allows you to drive qualified, organic traffic to your site while avoiding potentially fake paid traffic. So, rather than interrupting users with paid media campaigns, people who are already searching for answers can find your website content organically.
  2. Focus on website engagement with the aim to convert website visitors into leads. This can be done through landing pages, calls-to-action, gated content, forms and other lead capture devices. The emphasis is on turning your website into a lead-generation machine.
  3. Turn online relationships between your brand and your customers into offline sales. Once leads are captured, you can use even the simplest marketing automation to stay connected to your leads and nurture them closer to a purchase decision. When your leads are ready for a conversation, lead scoring allows your sales team to be notified.

Making Inbound Work for You

The shift from paid advertising to inbound marketing is dramatic. It requires that we understand the shifts in consumer behavior in the digital era, embrace the role that content plays in providing value to the customer, and (perhaps most critically), equip our websites with lead generation and lead nurturing capabilities that will augment the efforts of our sales teams.

Inbound is just one aspect of a successful digital marketing strategy. Read our Growing Digital Ebook to learn more about the seven pillars of digital marketing for agribusinesses.

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