Search, Social, and PR: How You Should Balance Your Marketing Budget

2019 has come to a close, and we’re officially in 2020. For your business, that means more than just recovering from vacation brain. It means you need to start thinking about where you’re going to spend your marketing budget this year.

You might have already accepted the fact that many traditional forms of marketing just aren’t worth a lot of money anymore. You’re not going to toss thousands of dollars toward a billboard or magazine ad.

But other forms of marketing may not be as clear when it comes to their ROI and success rate. Search engine marketing (SEM) has seen a lot of popularity in recent years, but is it better than social media marketing? How much money should you be investing in each of these options?

Let’s look at how you can better balance your marketing budget in the new year between these solutions. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each, as well as how they can boost your public relations efforts.

The Appeal of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing has grown in popularity for a few very good reasons, including how easy it is to track, and how positive your return can be. SEM is the process of paying for advertisements to show up in search engine results.

What are the benefits? For starters, it allows you to target very specific audiences. Maybe your product needs to be geared toward women. Maybe you have a service specifically in a few towns. Whatever the case, SEM can help you create customized ads based on these target demographics.

SEM is also easily trackable. You can receive real-time data results quickly, so you can see just how successful your efforts are.

When it comes to PR, SEM (along with SEO and organic searches) is very important. While it’s true that content is what people respond to, it’s what they’re searching for that can draw attention to your business. The more attention you put into optimizing the words you use and the things you say to draw people into your website, the better. Once they’re there, they can learn more about your company. SEM is like someone holding the door open for a potential customer to come inside and see for themselves. Of course, the more you focus on SEM and SEO, the more you also need to focus on cybersecurity to keep your site safe and to keep people coming back.

The only real disadvantage of SEM is the cost, but when you factor it into a marketing budget, it costs a lot less than most traditional advertising methods, and you can set the budget at whatever you’d like.

Sticking With Social?

Social media may be losing popularity with marketers because it doesn’t attract people to your website as much as SEM, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t a viable marketing option. In fact, it should be used in tandem with SEM and SEO techniques.

Social media needs to focus on content and connection. It’s a way to humanize your business and actually give yourself a voice with followers and customers. Really, it’s one of the ultimate PR tools.

Almost two-thirds of American adults use some form of social media, so ignoring it in your marketing budget really isn’t an option. Instead, you can use it to connect with people through your advertising.

Things like boosted posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can go a long way because they don’t stop with the advertisement itself. People can ask questions or leave comments, and you have the opportunity to step in and respond. If someone has a problem, you can publicly try to solve it. People like to know they’re being heard, and a simple comment from your company on a social media post can make a huge difference in your public relations department.

Social media marketing can also be easily targeted and tracked. It may not lead to as many website views, and the data isn’t available as quickly as SEM, but it’s worth investing in to give your business more of a voice and to focus on content.

What Is the Best Type of Marketing for PR?

When you’re considering your marketing budget for the new year, the best strategy is to focus on both SEM and social media, especially from a PR standpoint. SEM has gained popularity for several good reasons. So if your goal is to attract people to your website, putting a larger chunk of your budget toward it could be helpful.

But don’t ignore social media completely. It’s a great way to get content in front of people and make your company seem more real and approachable. Again, the two should work together, not clash with one another.

By focusing on balancing your budget between these two important aspects of digital marketing and making PR a priority, your 2020 could see a bigger ROI than ever before.