Every business, regardless of size, has to make tough decisions about how to distribute their marketing dollars. That’s one reason that SEO and PPC are pitted against each other, despite the fact that they work better together.

As a marketer, it can be challenging to address both your clients’ needs and their hesitations around these services. You may encourage customers to invest in both search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising for best results, or start with a single service to get their feet wet in the world of digital marketing. But even seasoned sales professionals may not know how to sell SEO to clients or how to sell PPC services most effectively every time. It can be difficult to adapt one successful sales approach to suit other product streams. Others struggle to get into the mindset of a digital marketing customer.

We’ve found that customizing your sales approach – to both the client and what you’re selling – can make a huge difference for your agency growth. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. Instead, you’ll need to tailor your tactics to ensure your pitch resonates with your prospects.

While each prospect and sale will differ in certain ways, there are SEO and PPC sales principles that can apply to almost any scenario. By following these principles, you can approach each sales call with confidence – and make a clear business case for any service plan.

how to sell seo vs how to sell ppc

7 Agency Owner Tips For Selling SEO vs. PPC

When you’re learning how to sell SEO or PPC, you need to go straight to the source. We spoke with four different marketing experts who have their sales process down to a science. Here’s what they (and we!) recommend for figuring out how to sell SEO services and PPC advertising effectively.

1. Share Your Knowledge

Some agency owners are so eager to make the sale that they push prospects to sign up right away – even if the business owner doesn’t yet understand how these services work. Starting in education mode, rather than sales mode, will yield better results almost every time.

Education is key, both for agency owners and for clients. That’s one reason we aim to share so much knowledge with our SEO resellers. When you know more about the value of SEO or when to recommend SEO vs PPC, it’s much easier to encourage buy-in from your clients. Taking the time to share knowledge involves creating a real partnership with your clients, allowing you to build trust from the start.

James Taylor, SEO Consultant and Founder of James Taylor SEO, explains: “I invest much more time upfront when selling SEO services, as there's a certain degree of education required for an organic strategy – especially if the client’s only experience is the more immediate results from a PPC campaign.”

You can’t simply assume that your prospects know enough about SEO or PPC to make the best strategic decisions for their businesses. In many cases, you’ll need to give them a crash course in how SEO and PPC work and how each one could impact their goals. Taking this extra step upfront will alleviate issues down the line while positioning your agency as knowledgeable and trustworthy.

2. Elevate SEO in a PPC-Focused World

Because PPC is a bit flashier than SEO, it’s sometimes an easier sell. While it’s more expensive (especially in the long term), it allows for easier tracking and quicker wins. That’s why agency owners will need to work harder to highlight the necessity of SEO.

Michelle Symonds, Founder and CEO of Ditto Digital, says: “For agency owners who have more trouble selling SEO than PPC, I’d recommend gathering detailed data (either their own or from others) to demonstrate the benefits of SEO over PPC. For instance: higher customer engagement levels, higher conversion rates, and better ROI. Less easily measurable, but equally important, are the credibility and trust that SEO campaigns help to develop, which case studies can demonstrate.”

It’s also worth noting that SEO sometimes provides additional control that PPC doesn’t.

Angelo Sorbello, Founder of LinkDelta, explains, “I would give agency owners this advice on how to sell SEO over PPC: to underline how SEO creates an asset for their clients. Nobody can take content and backlinks away from you, while ad platforms can potentially increase your cost per click (CPC) overnight."

SEO slowly builds a strong foundation that continues to grow over time, while PPC is all about being short and sweet. Showing your clients why SEO matters – perhaps even more so than PPC – will keep them around for the long haul.

3. Run a Website Analysis

Some clients respond well to case studies and statistics. But for others, that might feel too theoretical – especially because SEO and PPC can be impacted by dozens (or even hundreds) of individual factors. The success of a campaign can depend on the business’s location, industry, keywords, and target audience, as well as algorithmic updates or even technical issues on the client’s site.

As John Millist, Co-Founder of Twogether Digital, explains: “We always do a website audit at the start of a project that includes an analysis of their competitors' websites.”

Understanding how a client’s website is performing is an important first step. A business’s biggest competitor may even be itself – growing and improving is always crucial, no matter what other companies are doing. A standalone website audit or SEO audit can show your clients what they’re working with. Knowing how to conduct a site audit can help you show your clients:

  • How likely it is that Google will crawl, index, and rank the client’s website
  • What kind of user experience their site is providing for visitors
  • How strong their backlink profile and perceived authority is
  • Whether their site has technical issues that can keep them from reaching their goals

Running a website audit can provide you with the proof that your services are worth investing in. But they can also show that throwing a bunch of money at an SEO or PPC campaign without first addressing underlying issues will prove to be a waste.

Providing a client with a comprehensive analysis of their site (like the onsite report Semify gives to our SEO resellers at the start of a campaign) can help you address existing issues that could interfere with their SEO or PPC success. When it’s all laid out in black and white, customers will be more motivated to fix those problems and trust in your recommendations.

4. Analyze Their Competitors, Too

But what if your prospect isn’t moved to action from a website analysis alone? Comparing the estimated traffic, search engine ranking position, and keyword density of a client against their direct competitors might do the trick, says Millist.

“It's helped them recognize how hard their website should be working if they want to steal business from their competitor. From there, we’ve found it easier to enter into discussions about the role of PPC and how it should complement a long-term SEO campaign, rather than replace it.”

A competitor analysis can take the mystery out of SEO and PPC while addressing cost concerns, as well.

Taylor says, “I show competitor data and outline what a realistic growth period will look like for SEO versus PPC. I also ensure that their budget is correct and in line with competitor data, as a budget that doesn’t compare to that of their competitors is then very unlikely to dominate in either SEO or PPC over the long term.”

Knowing precisely how a competitor is accomplishing their goals – and figuring out how to beat them at their own game – will be priceless to your prospects. Just knowing that their competition is investing in SEO or PPC may be enough to convince them these services matter. And if you’re able to strategize a way to fill the gaps, you’ll make yourself indispensable.

5. Show Them a Typical Timeline

One of the challenges of knowing how to sell SEO services compared to PPC is the time investment aspect. This can be a big barrier for clients, even when they’ve been told SEO is necessary.

As Taylor says, “I completely understand it from the clients' perspective… It's hard to invest in organic SEO when it's a notoriously slower process than PPC. It's my job to show them where the opportunities are!”

Being able to demonstrate the potential ROI of SEO, for example, can illuminate how much a customer stands to gain and how long they’ll need to wait for their efforts to pay off.

Taylor adds, “You have to be willing to educate your clients on SEO and set realistic expectations. Utilize their competitor growth data and example strategies over at least a 6-month period to show them what they can expect in line with your proposed strategy.”

Most experts agree that it can take anywhere from 3 months to half a year for an SEO campaign to even begin showing results. Being clear about the typical timeline upfront can prevent problems later.

It could even change their perspective entirely. If you can get them excited about what they’ll see a year from now, rather than feed into their speed-related frustrations, you’ll reduce the risk of premature customer churn while keeping them engaged in their campaign progress.

SEO isn’t supposed to be an overnight solution. The idea is to naturally build awareness and traffic over time. In other words, it’s a long game. When clients understand that this is how it’s supposed to be, instead of seeing it as a design flaw or an indication of incompetence, they’ll be more inclined to stick around.

6. Balance Long-Term Progress With Quick Wins

That being said, most small business owners will also need to see some more immediate results. Good SEO takes time to build, but PPC can often help clients keep the faith in the meantime.

Taylor says, “If your client is looking for quick wins and they've never done SEO before, it may be best to slowly introduce SEO to them while you prove yourself via PPC.”

But when it comes to a successful digital marketing strategy, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Symonds explains, “SEO and PPC campaigns deliver fundamentally different benefits on different timescales: long-term growth with controlled costs and a higher ROI with SEO, versus immediate web traffic/customers and the flexibility to rapidly shift focus with PPC.”

When learning how to sell PPC, positioning it as the counterbalance for SEO can be a highly effective approach. It really isn’t an either/or. While online ads offer more immediate results and simplified tracking, the long-term traffic boosts and cost-effectiveness of SEO make it a must for businesses in the digital age.

Sorbello adds, “We underline how both activities are synergistic and how each company should maximize revenues from both channels to diversify its traffic.”

Explaining that synergistic quality to your clients is an essential part of knowing how to sell SEO to clients. You may find that PPC is an easier sell at first, particularly for clients who are a bit gun shy. You can build trust with PPC management while you work on their SEO campaign in the background. That way, you’ll pepper in those paid search wins without delaying their organic progress.

7. Keep Them Grounded

While highlighting the benefits of both SEO and PPC can get clients on board, you don’t want to go overboard. It might sound counterintuitive, but you’ll want to keep your clients’ expectations grounded in reality rather than sky-high.

For one thing, you’ll want to address what’s actually feasible for their budget. Not only does it need to be in line with what their competitors are spending, but it also needs to make sense for their location, their industry, and their ultimate goals.

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure they’re spending their budget wisely – and that they aren’t putting the cart before the horse.

Millist explains, “As soon as a client raises the topic of PPC, we always start by asking them: but what if the users that PPC brings to the site don't convert because they don't like what they see when they get there? Helping them to think about the needs of their target market has been a good way of helping our clients entertain the prospect of undertaking an SEO campaign.”

Guiding a client through the order of operations can ensure they don’t get carried away. They may need to improve their website user experience before they can even think about running ads or publishing optimized blogs.

Naturally, you’ll want each client to be as profitable as possible. But while increasing their overall budget can yield better results, you shouldn’t lead them to believe that they can’t afford to market their business.

In fact, more isn’t always better. A client might not be a good candidate for a higher-tier plan at the start, for example. Being honest about the services they actually need, rather than pushing the ones they don’t, will speak to your character as a reputable agency owner.

And, of course, you should never make promises you can’t keep.

Says Symonds, “I don’t believe in ‘over-selling’ the benefits of either approach and have found that ‘under-selling’ and over-delivering helps build long-term relationships with clients who develop trust in us.”

While both SEO and PPC can go a long way in amplifying a client’s web presence, traffic, and sales, neither one is a magic bullet. Your clients need to know that these are two pieces of the larger puzzle; while they’re needed to complete the picture, they’re not enough on their own. Investing in a multipronged strategy is ultimately the healthiest way to market any business.

Differentiate Your SEO vs. PPC Sales Approach and Get Clients On-Board

Knowing how to sell PPC services and SEO plans are likely an important part of your business. But if you’re using the same plan of action for both SEO and PPC sales, you may be missing out on opportunities to grow your agency. By following these expert tips, you’ll be able to clearly define your sales processes and appeal to your clients’ pain points when you’re selling SEO vs PPC.

To join our white label SEO reseller program or learn how Semify can take your agency to the next level, get in touch with us today.