I came across this great NY Times article: Small Players Seek an Alternative to the Expense of Pay-Per-Click that details how inbound marketing works as a viable alternative to pay-per-click (PPC). It also happens to feature none other than Tom Telford, the owner of Blue Creek Cabins who I featured in my post Hubspot Review: The Most Revealing Ever Pubslished. Tom's story and the article is extremely informative and something small businesses should heed regarding the rising importance of inbound marketing as an effective digital marketing tactic. In addition, there's an ironic twist: Google is directly helping out with Tom's success.
The article details how PPC is becoming cost prohibitive for many small businesses and uses Tom's cabin business as a case in point. Knowing Tom personally, he's got a keenly inquisitive mind, so when PPC started getting expensive he looked for alternatives to help market his cabins on the web. He explored SEO yet not one of the vendors he met could actually explain how thay achieved results or what they might be. Tom eventually took a leap of faith with Hubspot and inbound marketing, specifically blogging, as his new marketing tactic. An interesting point here is that he dug deep enough to understand that Hubspot is the one automated marketing platform that provides tools to attract users to his site. Others, like Pardot and Marketo, only address visits after they get to your site.
Here's a snapshot of Tom's results before and after his foray into inbound marketing:
2010: Total PPC yearly spend is $140,000 at an average cost of $1.25 per click
March, 2011: Starts blogging approximately 4 to 5 times per week on the Hubspot platform
Today: Total PPC yearly spend is $33,000 and total site conversions increased by 37%
That last point is pretty impressive; not only did he cut his PPC expenses over $100,000 but he actually gained more customers. Why? Because he was using his blog as a marketing tool that provided valuable information for potential customers. The essence of inbound marketing.
The irony here is that Google has rewarded Tom's efforts and others who blog as a direct result of their algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin & other animals). These updates are aimed at raising search results of the sites that provide valuable information to visitors first and foremost. Interesting, right? Google's losing money as a direct result of Tom's blogging but they continue to endorse his use of inbound marketing tactics in the SERPs. Why? Simple: They're fulfilling two mission critical elements for their business: 1) Improve search results which had become overrun with sites gaming their SEO; 2) In Google's eyes, more blogging means more indexed pages on the web - and more indexed pages means Google has more search results to sell ads PPC ads against!
Tom's results are not atypical for businesses that adopt inbound marketing principles. In fact, they're only going to get better with Google providing the tail winds!