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Paid vs Organic – Why not Both?

paid digital marketing and organic digital marketing

When faced with the choice of paid vs organic Digital Marketing, which would you choose? This is probably a question that you may be faced with when deciding the best way to invest your budget.

Before going into the details of it, let’s first define the differences between paid and organic media.


What is Paid Digital Marketing?

Paid Digital Marketing would include any method whereby you paid a fixed amount of money to increase clicks, impressions, reach, and more.

Some examples would be paid Facebook ads, including boosting post, page like campaigns, or any other objective you can choose from your ad accounts. The image below shows an example of a paid ad on Facebook.

facebook paid ads

Paid Digital Marketing would also include Google AdWords, such as Google Search Ads, Google Display Ads, YouTube Ads, and more.

Aside from the two giants of Facebook & Google, you may also opt to buy specific ad placement on certain websites that you feel might be profitable.


What is Organic Digital Marketing?

Organic Digital Marketing covers methods that boost the reach of your website or social media page without the use of paid advertising. This can be done yourself (free!, but takes time, effort, and learning about how to do it), by your in-house team, or by your digital marketing agency.

Probably the most common example of organic digital marketing would be SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. Another example would be growing your followers and engagement on your social media without using any paid advertisements.

So, with that out of the way – which is better?

To help you make an informed decision, let’s go over a few of the differences.


How fast can you start your campaign?

Organic – You can start as quickly as you like. However, getting your results will be a long term process that may take several months.

Below, you can see a screenshot from Google Analytics of one of our blogs that grew organically. Based on this graph, it stayed on zero for the first few months, and began to grow steadily after that over many months and years.

organic traffic

Paid – here, we can see the same Google Analytics graph but on a website that is using paid ads. Prior to the campaign, the traffic was relatively steady with neither increase nor decrease. In May 2018, we can see a sharp increase.

paid traffic

This is because your paid ads can go live within 24 hours of setting up your campaign. Yes, it takes a bit of time to set up your campaign. This would include targeting, images, and text that you want to use for your ads. However, once that’s done, the only thing you need to wait for is Google / Facebook to approve your ads. This can take up to 24 hours, but rarely takes that long.


How long does it last?

Organic – I’ll refer again to my first organic screenshot. As you can see, the growth continued steadily for months and even years.

Paid – So what happens after you stop running your Paid Ads campaign? Well, as soon as you stop putting money into it, your traffic will stop as well.

paid ads stopped


Which one costs more?

Originally, I was going to write “which one is cheaper or more expensive,” but then I realized something. The only expensive marketing campaign is the one that doesn’t work!

With that in mind, let’s move on. Which costs more between paid and organic digital marketing?

Organic – Assuming you maintain the same organic efforts over time, your cost vs results graph will likely look like this. (Where blue is your traffic and orange is your cost.) While we always recommend for organic efforts to be maintained, you can probably still continue to see results for some time even after ceasing your organic marketing efforts.

organic traffic cost.jpg

Paid – During the first several months of your paid marketing campaign, you can likely experiment and optimize your campaigns and ads to see which are bringing the best results. Once that’s done, your cost vs results would likely plateau.


So what’s the Verdict?

The best part about paid vs organic is that you don’t have to settle for just one.

Getting your organic side of digital marketing done correct will help you build a solid foundation for your company’s online presence and future marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, paid marketing is extremely helpful for when you need that added boost of traffic. This could be when you’re just starting and you need fast results while your organic side takes effect. This could also be used to promote a specific sale or offer you may be having, or to launch a new product.

Of course, you can also consistently run your paid and organic campaigns alongside each other to connect with your audience at various stages in the buying cycle. Paid ads can also do a great job of complementing your organic efforts to improve the overall reach of your online presence.

All that to say, well, most businesses need both. Each has its own time and place, but the digital world works best when all channels are integrated and working together to achieve your goals.