PPC uses paid advertising for immediate, targeted traffic. Content marketing creates helpful content to attract and engage an audience organically over time. Learn how to use each and why they’re better together.

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Ideally, you should have a full-funnel marketing strategy that helps you drive awareness, convert people, and build a strong brand.

However, your marketing budget or priorities may require you to choose between two marketing functions.

Like: PPC vs. content marketing.

Both are important. But if you’re to choose one, which should it be? And, how can you build an integrated strategy if you want to use them together?

In this article, we’ll answer these questions.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing involves creating and distributing resourceful content to attract and engage an audience.

It focuses on producing informative and engaging materials like blog posts, videos, whitepapers, and social media posts. The goal is to develop your brand as a trusted resource, foster loyalty, and encourage informed decisions by providing relevant insights and solutions.

An effective content marketing strategy guides your potential customers through the buyer’s journey until they’re ready to purchase. It also helps engage and retain existing customers.

Different content formats and channels

Content formats are the various ways you can package your content marketing messages to engage your target audience. Here are common content formats:

  • Blog posts: Short to long-form SEO-friendly articles on your website, e.g., “How-to” guides
  • Videos: Engaging visual content, from tutorials on YouTube to short clips on social media
  • Infographics: Visual representations of data or information, ideal for quick consumption on any platform
  • Podcasts: Audio content allowing in-depth discussions, interviews, or stories, accessible through platforms like Spotify
  • Ebooks: Comprehensive guides or reports offered as downloads on a website
  • Social media posts: Bite-sized content tailored for platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn
  • Case studies: Real-life examples of your customers using your product, showing value to potential customers
  • Email newsletters: Regular updates or insights delivered directly to subscribers’ inboxes

Content channels are the platforms or mediums through which your content reaches your audience. Here are the common content distribution channels:

  • Your website: The primary hub for your content, from blog posts to landing pages
  • Social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, where content can be shared and engaged with directly
  • Email: A direct line to your audience, perfect for newsletters, promotions, and personalized content
  • YouTube: The leading video content platform, suitable for tutorials, product reviews, and brand storytelling
  • Podcast platforms: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts to host audio content for easy access
  • Webinars: Live or recorded sessions providing insights or training, hosted on platforms like Zoom or Webex
  • Third-party websites: Articles published on industry-related sites for wider reach (guest blogging)

Further reading: 7 Types of Content Marketing to Grow Your Audience

Examples of content marketing

Brands like HubSpot, Duolingo, and Canva are great content marketing examples thanks to their specific campaigns and overall strategy.


HubSpot offers a vast library of resources across diverse platforms, from blog posts and guides to free courses.

A list of free HubSpot courses, like AI for markers and CRM data migration certification

It educates businesses on digital marketing and showcases its expertise, which drives engagement and conversions by providing immense value to its audience upfront. This makes HubSpot an excellent example of SaaS content marketing.


Duolingo leverages its friendly mascot, the Duo owl, across social media to create a unique and relatable brand presence.

Duolingo’s Instagram feed showing multiple posts that feature its mascot Duo owl

Its content, which includes humorous posts and language-learning tips, engages users by blending education with entertainment, making the learning process fun and memorable.


Canva’s Design School offers free design courses and tutorials that empower users to create visuals.

These courses teach graphic designers (and non-graphic designers) how to create stunning visuals — while subtly promoting its platform.

List of free courses Canva offers on its website through its “Design School”

This attracts new audiences and builds the loyalty of its existing users by keeping them in the Canva ecosystem.

Pros of content marketing

Content marketing helps you connect with your audience and build trust, but it needs time and effort to see results.

Let’s look at its pros individually:

Cost-effective in the long run

Initially, content marketing may seem expensive because high-quality content doesn’t come cheap. And you need a good amount of it monthly to increase your rankings.

However, it provides a better return on investment (ROI) over time than traditional advertising. Well-developed content attracts new leads and customers (at no additional cost) long after publication.

Boosts SEO

Content marketing and SEO work hand in hand. Good content increases your visibility in organic search results. When people search for topics related to your content, your website has a better chance of appearing in the results, leading to more organic traffic.

Establishes trust and authority

When your brand consistently offers valuable information, it helps solve your audience’s problems and positions you as an industry expert. This is important because people prefer to buy from sources they trust.

Strengthens customer relationships

You keep your audience engaged by regularly providing informative and valuable content. This fosters a stronger bond between them and your brand. It also helps with customer retention.

Supports other strategies

Content marketing isn’t just about articles or social media posts. It’s a much more versatile function that enhances your emails, PPC campaigns, and public relations. A single piece of content can serve multiple purposes across various platforms, maximizing your marketing investment.

Cons of content marketing

Next, let’s review the downsides of content marketing:

Time and resource-intensive

Quality content creation takes time. It requires substantial time for planning, research, creation, and distribution. This lengthy process can delay the immediate impact that other marketing strategies may offer.

Slow to show results

Unlike direct advertising methods that deliver immediate results, content marketing’s impact is gradual. It takes time to build a library of resourceful content that’ll attract considerable traffic and leads.

Difficult to measure direct ROI

Attaching content directly to sales can be challenging. Analytics tools provide insights, but quantifying the exact ROI for individual content pieces requires a comprehensive understanding of analytics and attribution modeling.

Summarized list of pros and cons of content marketing

What is PPC marketing?

PPC (pay-per-click) is an advertising model where you pay a small fee each time someone clicks on your ads.

It’s a way to get your business in front of people searching for products or services like yours on search engines or social media platforms.

With PPC marketing, you can target specific types of customers or searches, ensuring the right people see your ads.

This digital marketing function is excellent for businesses looking to increase sales, boost lead generation, or drive website traffic quickly.

Types of PPC ads

PPC marketing can be categorized based on the platform and format of your ads. Here are the common types of PPC ads:

  • Search advertising: These ads appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). When people search for keywords related to your business, your paid search ad might appear. (Also read: A Complete Guide to Google PPC Campaigns)
  • Display advertising: These ads appear on websites within an advertising network (like Google Display Network). They can include text, images, or video and are great for building brand awareness.
  • Social media advertising: These are ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn that target users based on their interests, behaviors, and demographics.
  • Shopping ads: Specifically for e-commerce, these ads show users your product’s photo, a title, a price, and store name. This direct approach helps when someone is ready to buy.
  • Video advertising: Often used on YouTube, these ads play before, during, or after videos. Some are skippable, and others aren’t.
  • Remarketing: These ads target people who previously visited your website but didn’t buy. They typically remind those visitors of what the latter is missing and encourage them to return.

Examples of PPC ads

Google search ads are a common example of PPC marketing. Here’s one ad for the search query “movers near me:”

Google search ad example for the search query “movers near me”

Here’s an example of shopping ads on Google for the query “buy flowers online:”

Shopping ads example on Google for the search query “buy flowers online”

Further reading: Examples of successful PPC campaigns

Pros of PPC marketing

PPC ads offer immediate traffic and precise targeting but require budget management and ongoing optimization.

Let’s look at its pros individually:

Speed to market

You can launch your PPC marketing campaigns in minutes. This makes them ideal for promoting time-sensitive offers or boosting visibility for new businesses. As soon as your ads are approved, they start appearing in search results or on selected platforms, offering an immediate increase in traffic.

Targeting capabilities

With PPC ads, you can narrow your audience by age, location, interests, and other parameters. For instance, if you sell fitness gear, you can target ads at individuals interested in fitness who live in specific areas, ensuring your ads are seen by those most likely to purchase.

Transparent results

You can see exactly how many people saw your ad (impressions), clicked on it, and took a desired action, like making a purchase. This data helps you understand what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to allocate your budget more effectively to high-performing paid ads and improve your impressions.


If an ad isn’t performing as expected, you can tweak it or pause it to stop spending on it. This agility lets you quickly respond to market trends, feedback, or performance data and optimize your campaigns efficiently.

Pros of PPC marketing

Next, let’s review the cons of PPC marketing:

Costs can add up

PPC can become costly, particularly in competitive sectors where bid prices for keywords are high. Set a budget that reflects your marketing goals and monitor spending closely to ensure you don’t overspend for the traffic you receive.

Clicks don’t always convert

Getting a click is just the first step; converting that click into a sale is another challenge. If your landing page isn’t compelling or relevant to the ad, those clicks won’t turn into conversions, affecting the overall effectiveness of your campaign.

Continuous investment

You need to continuously fund your campaigns to keep your ads running and maintain your visibility. If you stop paying, your ads stop appearing, and you may lose the traffic and leads.

Summarized list of pros and cons of PPC

Further reading: Top 11 Benefits of PPC Advertising (+ Expert Tips)

PPC vs. content marketing: Which is better?

PPC is best for quick, targeted results, while content marketing builds long-term relationships and organic reach. Here’s a quick overview of the content marketing vs. PPC.

Immediate traffic vs. long-term engagement

PPC is ideal for immediate traffic, making it perfect for short-term campaigns or product launches. You set up ads, and traffic starts flowing quickly.

On the other hand, content marketing takes time to build momentum. Early on, you might not see a lot of traffic. But a single piece of content can attract visitors for months or even years, offering a better long-term return.

SEO benefits

Content marketing directly benefits your site’s SEO. High-quality articles or videos that answer your audience’s questions can rank well in search engines, bringing in organic traffic over time.

PPC doesn’t improve SEO directly. Its main function is to place ads in front of viewers, which stops once the campaign ends.


If you’re tight on budget, content marketing is often more sustainable. Initial costs go into content creation, but once that content is live, it continues to attract visitors without ongoing expenses.

PPC requires constant investment, and costs can potentially rise in highly competitive markets. This can make PPC less appealing for long-term or continuous promotion without a significant budget.

Further reading:

Precision targeting

PPC excels in targeting specific demographics, locations, and even user behaviors. This allows you to create highly personalized ad campaigns.

So, if you need to reach a particular group quickly, PPC can do this efficiently. For instance, here are various audience targeting options Google Ads offer:

Audience targeting options Google Ads offers for its search and display ads

Content marketing targets through organic search and interests. This can lead to a broader, more engaged audience over time but lacks the immediate precision of PPC.

Building authority

Content marketing effectively establishes your brand as an authority in your industry. Providing helpful, informative content creates trust with your audience.

PPC can raise awareness quickly but doesn’t contribute to building authority or trust. It’s more about capturing attention than nurturing a long-term relationship.


PPC offers higher scalability. You can easily run multiple, simultaneous campaigns — up to a point — to drive immediate visibility and capture more quality leads.

In comparison, there’s a practical limit to content production and its immediate impact on traffic. It also takes time to plan, research, and distribute content.

Content marketing scales over time in attracting new audiences without a proportional increase in investment.

Creativity and engagement

Content marketing lets you be creative and initiate deep engagement with your audience through various formats. It allows you to tell stories, solve problems, and entertain, which can keep your audience coming back.

PPC ads are more straightforward and less about deep engagement. They focus on capturing immediate attention with the promise of solving a user’s query or need quickly.

Comparison PPC and content marketing on aspects like immediate traffic, SEO benefits, expense, precision targeting, building authority, scalability, and creativity and engagement

“The debate between PPC and content marketing often misses the point,” said Sam Yadegar, Co-Founder and CEO of HawkSEM. “In our experience, the most successful digital marketing strategies leverage both PPC and content marketing in a coordinated, synergistic way. When these two approaches work together, the results can be truly impressive — far greater than either could achieve alone.”

And this brings us to our next point.

How PPC can benefit from content marketing

While content marketing and PPC can have specific use cases, PPC ads need content marketing to be effective in targeting, messaging, and conversions.

Here are some ways PPC relies on content marketing:

  • Ad copy: The words in your PPC ads need to grab attention and persuade people to click. This requires creative writing skills that are at the heart of content marketing.
  • Landing pages: Once someone clicks your ad, they land on a page that should convince them to take action, like buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. These pages must be informative, engaging, and relevant — qualities that good content marketing delivers.
  • Brand voice and consistency: Your ads should reflect your brand’s voice and message, maintaining consistency across all your marketing efforts. Content marketing establishes this voice, ensuring your PPC ads feel like a natural part of your brand’s communication.
  • Understanding audience needs: Creating effective PPC campaigns requires deep knowledge of your audience’s needs, interests, and pain points. Content marketing, in part, helps uncover these insights by answering what makes your audience tick.

Further reading: How to Set Up a PPC Campaign: Step-by-Step Tips

How to use content marketing and PPC ads together

Combining PPC and content marketing can help you in various use cases, like launching a new product and hosting limited-time sales.

Here are essential tips to merge them:

1. Align your content and PPC strategies

Start by ensuring your PPC ads and content marketing have a unified message and reach out to the same audience segment.

For example, if your content marketing is focused on eco-friendly practices, your PPC campaigns should highlight your brand’s commitment to sustainability.

This alignment ensures your audience receives consistent messages, whether they come across your ads or your content.

2. Use PPC to test and refine content ideas

PPC ads are great for quick feedback. Try different ad headlines, offers, or use dynamic keyword insertion in Google Ads to see what gets the most clicks and engagement.

This can give you a hint about what topics or questions your audience is really interested in.

Say, if an ad about “Tips for a Greener Home” gets a lot of clicks, consider creating detailed blog posts or videos around this theme.

The insights from PPC can guide your content strategy, helping you produce content that truly resonates with your audience.

3. Create PPC-specific landing pages

When people click on your PPC ad, they should land on a page that matches the ad’s promise. Why? Because Google Ads considers the quality of your landing page experiences when determining your ad’s Quality Score and cost-per-click.

So, if your ad is about a free ebook on sale, the landing page should present that ebook, list its objectives or value proposition, and make it easy to download.

For example, HubSpot has many such landing pages. Like this one:

An example of a good landing page on HubSpot offering a free ebook on sales enablement

Create engaging content and design that captures attention and guides visitors towards making a decision. Like downloading a whitepaper, signing up for more information, or making a purchase.

4. Remarket to content engagers with PPC

Remarketing (also sometimes referred to as “retargeting”) allows you to show PPC ads to people who already visited your website or interacted with your content.

It’s like gently nudging those who have shown interest but haven’t made a purchase yet.

For instance, if someone reads your article on “10 Easy Vegetarian Recipes,” you can target them with PPC ads for your cookbook on vegetarian meals.

They’re already interested in what you have to say, which makes them more likely to respond to your ads.

Platforms like Google and Facebook offer remarketing capabilities.

Google Ads offering options for remarketing ads

Further reading: How to Set Up a Remarketing Campaign in Google Ads

5. Boost your best content with PPC

Take a look at which of your content pieces are performing well — be it blogs that get the most views or videos with high engagement. Use PPC ads to push these winners in front of a larger audience.

This strategy increases the visibility of your best content and introduces your brand to people who might not have found you otherwise.

6. Use content to nurture PPC leads

After attracting leads through PPC, use relevant content to move them further down the sales funnel.

For example, if someone clicked on your PPC ad offering a free trial for your yoga class, follow up with emails containing content like “5 Things to Know Before Your First Yoga Class” or “How to Make the Most of Your Yoga Trial.”

This approach keeps them engaged and helps address any questions or concerns they may have, bringing them closer to becoming customers.

7. Analyze and optimize continuously

With market trends and consumer preferences evolving, it’s important to continuously monitor the performance of your PPC and content marketing strategies.

Use analytics and PPC tracking tools to monitor which ads bring in traffic and which content pieces are keeping that traffic engaged.

If you notice some activities aren’t working as well as others, don’t be afraid to tweak your approach. Maybe a certain type of ad isn’t resonating, or a blog topic isn’t hitting the mark. Adjust and try again.

Continuous optimization ensures your combined PPC and content marketing efforts are as effective as possible. AI for PPC can help you optimize your campaigns by automatically adjusting bids, targeting, and ad copy based on performance data.

At HawkSEM, we use ConversionIQ (CIQ), our proprietary tool that helps us granularly track every step of the buyer journey.

ConversionIQ, a proprietary marketing tool by HawkSEM

“ConversionIQ allows us to understand what aspects of a campaign are working and where we should trim the fat, enabling us to optimize towards a higher ROAS,” said Yadegar. “Tracking with CIQ also provides more insights into the target audience. This allows us to take that data and use it on other marketing channels, such as SEO or social media, to further scale while maintaining profitability.”

All our clients get free access to ConversionIQ. Want to know more? Get in touch with us.

The takeaway

The conversation about PPC vs. content marketing is nuanced. Both marketing functions have specific use cases, so there’s no one better than the other.

Ideally, you should have an integrated digital marketing strategy combining content marketing and PPC to make your campaigns more effective and drive better ROI.

At HawkSEM, we offer end-to-end digital marketing services, including content marketing, PPC, and SEO.

We work with brands like Microsoft, Nike, Honda, Direct TV, and Verizon, helping them develop enterprise content marketing and ad strategies.

Our team of specialists has helped hundreds of clients excel online and achieve faster growth with data-driven strategies.

Moneta Group, a leading wealth management firm, saw a 164% increase in organic keyword ranking (in the top three results). We also helped them increase their conversion rate by more than 23%.

If you want experienced specialists to plan and execute your PPC and content marketing strategies, book your free consultation today.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation