Performance Marketing vs. Organic Marketing
If you own a business, you know that success doesn’t happen by mistake, but with hard work, effort, and a good marketing strategy.
When building your digital-marketing strategy, there are two main routes at your disposal—performance marketing or organic marketing—and sometimes it’s hard to know which will be most beneficial at any given time.
To start at the beginning, what is performance marketing, and what is organic marketing?
With performance marketing, you, as the business owner, use a digital-marketing platform, such as Google Ads or Meta Ads, and pay for it to achieve your digital-marketing business goals; for example, more leads, increased product sales, more bookings, etc. In other words, you pay the platform to push your ad on its wide network to achieve a specific business objective. Not too shabby.
On the other hand, organic marketing is a no-pay method of advertising that allows you to reach your audience for “free” (apart from your own effort or the efforts of the marketing agency you work with). Examples of this include publishing SEO blogs on your website, posting content on social media, publishing videos to YouTube, etc.
What is the best way forward for your business? With this article we'll save you hard-earned money, give you tips, and lay out the pros and cons of performance marketing and organic marketing.
Contender #1: Performance Marketing
Performance marketing gives you immediate results. Although we can’t promise you overnight billionaire status, in general, your ad will reach more people more quickly and, if you do it right, your business will grow.
Your budget is the limit. The more money you put into it, the better the results you will get. Performance marketing bypasses the “hit or miss” nature of organic marketing and allows you to aim straight at your audience. Additionally, it bypasses the long time it can take to organically reach a specific audience.
On the flip side, setting up a successful campaign requires more technical and digital marketing expertise. For example, not everyone has the technical knowledge to perform in-depth keyword research for a Google Ads Search campaign or the understanding to set up a Meta Pixel or advanced e-commerce analytics.
It also takes time to learn how each ads platform works, and that in itself can be a huge learning curve. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so matching your products and services to the right ads engine is an art in itself.
Another con is that, in many cases, performance marketing won’t help you build organic followers to grow your own, dedicated audience unless you’re specifically running a lead-generating campaign (which can help you build your customer list). However, in most cases, if you’re running direct “bottom of funnel” campaigns, such as product sales or appointment bookings, you won’t see your organic audience grow. For example, if you set up an ad campaign, it might help you make sales, but it won’t necessarily grow your brand’s followers, since the buyer made the purchase because of an ad and not necessarily because of an emotional investment in and loyalty to your brand.
Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so matching your products and services to the right ads engine is an art in itself.
Contender #2: Organic Marketing
What’s great about organic marketing is that it doesn’t necessarily require money or professional-level digital-marketing experience—almost anyone can do it.
You just need to get your creative juices flowing. Create posts, images, or videos with original content, and upload them on different social media platforms. Write engaging blogs and articles. Add pictures and GIFs. Insert quotes to keep your audience scrolling. Sounds easy and even fun, right?
It can be, but it also takes a lot of effort, personal resources, and time.
The upside is that it’s 100% free and a low-risk option for businesses or brands that do not yet have the money to invest in ads.
This method allows you to build your own audience, subscribers, and followers in an up-close-and-personal way.
With performance marketing, you “buy” the audience; with organic marketing, you “own” the audience, since you gained them through great effort and natural connections. Because of that, they are more likely to stay than if you engaged them through an ad.
On the downside, the competition is fierce on social media. There are millions upon millions of posts and videos, perhaps similar to yours, all clawing for the top and fighting for recognition.
It takes a lot to stand out, find your unique voice and identity (which you can do using StoryBrand), and invest your efforts in content that will be of value to your specific audience.
Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. It takes longer, so be in it for the long haul. It could take months or even years to build a loyal audience through organic methods, and it demands dedication, consistency, and a lot of patience.
Find your unique voice and identity, and invest your efforts in content that will be of value to your specific audience.
Which is Better for a New Business?
There is no straightforward answer to that question. The reality is, it depends on the nature of your business and what it needs at this point in its growth.
Generally, if you establish a traditional business, the rule of thumb would be to start with a small marketing campaign to gain immediate traction.
We used this method with our client Integrity Golf Performance, a performance and fitness center for golfers. We started with a simple Google Ads campaign, strategically targeting its potential audience before it even had a location open!
After IGP settled in Dallas, Texas, we geo-located its ads to target areas in Dallas, using specific keywords related to golf services that people were searching for. Lo and behold! The bookings came streaming in.
The more bookings the business made, the more its revenue grew, and we could start investing in other marketing methods, such as organic blog articles, which started slow (as organic marketing does), but now attract thousands of people to the website every month.
But suppose you have limited resources as a new business. In that case, we recommend focusing your marketing budget on the most pressing, most critical areas of your business—in other words, whatever area needs to grow to survive. After achieving a stable revenue flow, invest in other organic methods like articles, videos, and social media posts.
In other cases—say, for example, you are a YouTube vlogger—our advice would be to focus on organic growth by offering your audience quality content. You might be tempted to promote yourself with ads, but that is generally not a great strategy to use, since it won’t give you the “good” followers that you are looking for—the ones who will stay subscribed to your channel through thick and thin.
Your Winning Strategy
There are many benefits to both performance and organic marketing. It’s just about choosing the right one at the right time, or sometimes combining them. At With Love Internet we sometimes combine a performance marketing campaign with an organic marketing strategy, which brings great results.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Immediate results.
- Only as expensive as your budget.
- Reaches your specific audience.
- Requires technical and digital-marketing expertise.
- Generally doesn’t build organic followers.
- Doesn’t necessarily require money.
- Doesn’t necessarily require professional digital marketing.
- Low-risk option for a new businesses.
- Helps build an organic audience that you “own.”
- A lot of competition.
- Takes longer to see the results.
If you still aren’t sure which marketing strategy to choose, don’t sweat it. We are here to make sure you get on the road to success.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation!