advertising and content marketing

New Age Lead Generation with Advertising and Content Marketing

As an agency marketer, it’s our job to bring in more leads for our clients. Business owners understand the concept of marketing, but they may not fully understand how to navigate the waters of the “digital ocean”. To them, marketing may mean a billboard or magazine ad. While that is absolutely true, there are different ways to go about marketing now, especially online.

Let’s walk through two common ways of marketing with digital content and digital advertising to explain how lead generation has shifted course throughout the years.


Marketing is about getting in front of people and making an impression for your brand. It’s about spreading the word about your product or service by exposing potential customers to the brand where they already are. One way of doing that is by advertising. With advertising, placement is key. Sure, people driving down the highway have a great chance of seeing your billboard, but it’s difficult to measure how many people are actually seeing it, let alone whether you’re reaching your core demographic or not.. Measuring traditional advertising methods such as billboards and television commercials is almost always estimated. You can never really know how many people saw your ad and then either ignored or acted on that impression. 

This is where advertising with digital really shines. By advertising digitally, through both display and native methods, you can track who actually viewed the ad and what their next action was after seeing it. Did they click on the ad and browse? Did they buy something? Or did they bounce away from the page entirely? Digital ads have an advantage over traditional ads because they aren’t a wasted spend – at the very least you’re gaining valuable insights about your customer base. In fact, targeted display advertising has grown to a point that it will comprise 59 percent of all digital advertising this year and is expected to grow to 70% by 2019. But digital ads are highly targeted ads that are only displayed if the viewer reaches the criteria you have set for the ad to appear on their internet pageview – which means your demographic sees the ads that are most relevant to them at exactly the right times.

There are several different types of digital ads you can run. (Some are considered more effective than others.) But they still are much easier to understand what sort of reach they achieved versus traditional methods.

Content Marketing

There’s been a huge change in how marketing is carried out since the rise of the internet. While traditional marketing methods are not dead, it would be crazy to say that it shouldn’t at least be supplemented with digital content marketing as well. Why? Because digital content is inexpensive to create, it’s proven to be effective, and it’s 100% trackable from source to sale!

Many business owners don’t fully understand the value of content marketing, let alone know what it is. Content marketing is any sort of information offered to customers and potential customers in either written, audio, or video format. This content is almost always free, but some content of higher quality may require their contact information in exchange for download.

The idea of giving away free information related to a company’s product or service makes sense, right? Of course you would want to inform your leads of all of the benefits you have to offer them! But what business owners may not realize is that content can even be supplied to leads that don’t directly relate to their product or service… but why would you ever want to do that?!

It’s seems like a strange concept, but it makes sense when you think about the [buyer’s journey]. If you are selling software that helps car dealerships keep track of their inventory, but your blog features posts on the hottest cars being revealed in the new year, anyone can realize that it’s not necessary for a potential customer to know that information before purchasing the inventory software. So why waste your time supplying this information?

Here’s the breakdown… your key customer is most likely a dealership owner or controller, or some sort of purchasing manager. But right now, they may not be in the market for a new inventory software, but maybe they are interested in what the hottest cars are to invest in next year. So content isn’t about always selling your product or service – it’s about providing value to your target market, outside the sale. When your leads are searching for relevant information and land on your blog, they will find the free information helpful to them, which builds rapport between you and your potential customers.  And once they’ve already arrived,   the likelihood that they decide to shop around or learn more about your product/service is significantly increased. Even if your lead isn’t ready to buy from you then, they will have you in mind for when they are ready. They just need to find you first!

Both advertising and content marketing is important, and both can be complicated to carry out in their own ways. If you need an expert to walk you through each and every process with digital marketing, you can always ask us for help!

How to Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Budget.

If you’ve been following our series on digital marketing budgets, you’ve probably read the previous posts. If not, you may want to back up a bit…

In this post, we’ll be discussing how best to prioritize your digital marketing budget. First, let’s focus on where to get the most bang for your buck.

Which Marketing Strategies are getting the best results?

In a few surveys by leading digital marketing research firms a couple years ago, companies reported on what marketing activities had generated the best results.

The charts below shed some light on this question:


As you can see from the results; Email Marketing, SEO, and Content Marketing are the dominant channels for ROI – all yielding over 45% “Good” rating respectively. The fact is, this has been true for the better part of a decade (if not longer) and with advancements in marketing technologies and automation being able to bring together, analyze, optimize, and capitalize on your digital marketing tactics, this dominance is not expected to go away.

My digital marketing budget is going to be limited. How do I prioritize it?

For this post, I’m going to assume you have some sort of web presence already. If you’re just getting started, the following guide will apply to you as well, but before you dig too deep into expanding your digital presence, you’ll want to first focus on establishing one. Nevertheless, these steps should help anyone put the pieces together for an effective digital marketing budget.  

Let’s get started:

You have to know where you are, to get where you want to go!

If you haven’t taken advantage of our free website analysis, you should do so right away. There are many free website “auditors” out there and while I’m rather partial to ours because it gives you the ability to compare yourself to a competitor (and some other really cool features), all of them measure pretty much the same stuff.

A report like this will tell you where the problem areas are on your website. Specifically problems that might be keeping you from ranking for keywords on search engines and gaining valuable web presence. Even if you don’t understand everything on a report like this, most of them will give you a general “grade” that can give you a sense of where you stand.

Not only is a website audit valuable for surfacing problem areas on your site, it also serves as a benchmark by which to measure your digital marketing tactics moving forward. And because so many of these reporting systems are free, it doesn’t hurt to check often.

Check Your Website Here, Now!


Please note that while many audits are free, they have basic info and will only point you in the direction of the issue. I.E. “25 of your images still need alt tags”. They will not get into specifics about which images, or their locations are without alt tags. If you are looking for a more in-depth analysis, hire a digital marketing agency to put together an in-depth analysis. At Swell, we consider the number of pages that you’d like analyzed and WHAT you’d like analyzed. Our audits start at about $275 for a few pages and go up to about $5000 for 600 Pages.

Analyze your website for User Experience (UX).

Try to get into the head of your potential customer and travel every page of your website starting with the home page. How do you feel when you first arrive? Is the message about who you are and what you do, being communicated clearly? Is the content digestible and well thought out? Is it easy to navigate?  Is it obvious what action you want your users to take (call, request a quote, come into your location)? Again, pay attention to how you feel while traveling through it. Would you want to work with or buy from your company based on the website alone?

Visit your competitor’s websites. Look at your contemporaries. What are they doing better or worse?

If your answers aren’t positive to most of these questions, then it may be time to design a new website.

While there are many DIY platforms and other inexpensive methods to build a functional website that might even save you a bit of money at first; they may end up costing you more money in the long run. Having a well-designed, well-coded website is crucial to rising in search engines quickly. It’s also one of the key factors in how Google auctions ad space. So don’t skimp.

I’m not saying you can’t do great things on a shoestring budget, I’m just saying, if you’re going to save costs anywhere, it shouldn’t be in the foundation of your entire digital presence in a digitally dominant marketplace.

Very basic, relatively “cookie-cutter”, but effective websites can be accomplished for a couple thousand dollars. However, depending on your goals – most local and small businesses should plan on investing at least $5000 in their website. Larger small businesses, e-commerce platforms, or those with more complicated functionality often invest no less than $10,000+.  

Invest in SEO.

No matter what.

If you’re going to start anywhere, start with search engine optimization (SEO). A well-optimized website is the center of your digital footprint. If you’re just starting to learn, SEO is a series of tactics that earn a website more authority with search engines like Google. Put simply, we’re translating your website in the language that Google understands and then expanding your overall digital footprint by acquiring links back to your website from other related websites.

There are some pretty basic, but essential SEO tasks that you can do yourself with limited knowledge, but beware that best practices SEO is a technical process. Hire a consultant at the very least, and depending on your needs, it would be wise to hire a full-service agency. Even the best SEO can take time to see drastic differences in rankings and authority, so many business owners and marketing departments end up getting overwhelmed on the amount of work and time it takes. But search traffic is the most dominant source of high-quality users you can earn. And since you are truly earning rankings, SEO is a pure investment in the equity of your website.

When we budget SEO strategy at SWELL, we take into account five primary things:

  • your goals
  • your keywords
  • your geography
  • where your website optimization currently stands
  • & your competitive atmosphere.

We take all these factors into account and discuss the amount of work it’s going to take to accomplish your goals. Consultancy often starts at a few hundred bucks a month and full-service SEO packages start at around $600/month for a small local campaign and up to $4500+/month for highly aggressive commercial SEO. Beware of companies with large up-front costs, contracts, “too low to be good” monthly rates or “too good to be true” promises or guarantees. Be sure to get an exact list of deliverables from your SEO provider, and if they have trouble explaining any one of the items, that’s probably a red flag.

Ok, I’ve built a great website and my SEO is underway. What now?

Consider your budget.

Make a decision on how much your business can afford to budget on digital marketing. Again, there is no cookie-cutter budget for every company, but most companies with an established marketing budget spend about 30% of their TOTAL budget on digital channels. If you’re just starting out or if you have a limited budget, we would recommend that most businesses invest in digital first – it’s relatively inexpensive, ridiculously trackable and almost always yields an ROI.

We’ve broken down some sample monthly digital marketing budgets below. Obviously these are only examples. Every industry, size of company, and internal resources will have different budgetary considerations. We’ve left the categories broad to simplify things but this should give you a great start:


Marketing budgets are changing and companies are putting more into digital channels every year. If you don’t already have a website that will engage your users, start there. After that, prioritize your technical SEO investment. Only then should you start to consider more advanced tactics. Consider your budget and use the above sample budgets to break it down into priority areas.

We love helping companies of all sizes figure out their marketing priorities. Swell offers a free consultation and investment recommendations to help you figure out exactly how you need to prioritize your budget for your audience and market.

How Long Should My Digital Content Be?

We get the question a lot: “How long should my digital content be?” And we’ll often answer – “As long as it needs to be to get the point across.” But the truth is, there has been a lot of research into how long (or short) various forms of digital content should be. Let’s dig into the different types of digital content and their recommended lengths based on research into performance.

Informational articles

Informative articles are pieces of content that comprise the majority of your website. They are better known as the pages that give users information about your products or services and your company in general.

Informational articles should be around 1,500 to 2,000 words. This might seem like a lot, but content with this high of a word count has been proven to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).  

(SearchEngineLand) SerpIQ conducted a study that looked at the search results for more than 20,000 keywords. The average length of the top 10 results in SERPs, was around 2,000. In fact, the average word count for the number one ranked pages was 2,416 words.

Even though it might be a little more than what you’re used to writing – 2000 words is the magic number for word count on primary pages and information articles.

Blog posts

Blog posts are pieces of content that you’re probably a bit more familiar with. Blogs are articles which share insights, news, opinions, etc and work great to spur conversation. They’re are intended to be easily digestible and shareable on your social media platforms and in email newsletters.

Just like “informational articles”, it’s been proven that the longer your blog posts, the better they will be for ranking in search engines. However, since blog posts should offer your users insights or info rather quickly,  you should shoot for about 1,000 words, broken up by images and graphics, to strike a balance between ranking highly in search engines and being an easy-read.

10x content

10x content is named “10x” because it is created to be 10 times better than other content written on that topic. 10x content should be about topics that you have expertise on, that you can speak at length about, and should provide serious value to readers on the subject. Instead of just text, 10x content should also include images, videos, mini-graphics, and other multimedia to help demonstrate the information and keep the content from feeling like a long trail of text.

Nevertheless, 10x content is the longest kind, and should be at least 2,500 words. Still, we recommend focusing less on the word count and more on the value you’re providing and that you’re covering all the details of a subject.  

Case studies

Case studies can be extremely valuable to potential customers because they are real-life accounts of how your services or products have affected your current customers. Potential customers like to know what they can expect from working with you. Case studies give you the opportunity to share not only your process, but the results it yields.  

It’s hard to say exactly how long case studies should be. The goal shouldn’t necessarily be length as much as capturing the full story. If you only give snippets of a customer experience, your study won’t be of much value to readers. After reading a shorter, less in-depth case study, users might assume your service or product has no depth – and move on.


Videos and video marketing have become crucial tools in capturing and maintaining the modern user’s attention. Topics for videos can be wide ranging and either in-depth or simple.  Either way, however, keep individual videos short for easy-absorption of the content. If you have a complex topic you’d like to discuss via video, break it up into a series or augment with a blog post or 10x content for the more engaged user.

Videos from 10-20 minutes in length will only be watched 50% of the time. Conversely, videos that are one minute or shorter will be watched 75% of the time.


The above guidelines are just that – guidelines. At Swell, we always say quality is better than quantity. But it is important to remember that you are creating content to expand your web presence and your company’s potential for being found on search engines – which means keeping these content lengths in mind will significantly increase your opportunity to attract and engage customers.
Need help with your content strategy? We’re here to help! Reach out to us, or send us a comment below!