Survey of marketing tech types finds ROI strongest for search and internal email tactics

A recent survey has shed light on what one breed of marketing professionals are perceiving as good bets in terms of measurable return on investment (ROI). The tactic leading the pack is email, sent to an internal — or “house” — list. This is hardly surprising, since it is a relatively low-cost way to announce new products and deals to customers and prospects. What is more interested is seeing how both organic search marketing (i.e., search engine optimization) and pay-per-click (PPC) search marketing are viewed by these same executives compared to other tactics. Here is the full run-down:

Perceived ROI by tactic, from 3,000+ search marketing pros

Considering the search-centric executives surveyed (these were 3,186 “in-house search marketers or agency executives,” as reported in‘s ROI for Select Marketing Tactics according to US Search Marketers), it’s not surprising both are regarded highly. Both are deemed as “Good” investments in respect to the return they typically provide by one out of every three respondents, and another third (34% total) considered one of these two tactics “Strongest” in terms of ROI.

This would be a glowing assessment of search when compared with other tactics, if only PPC weren’t also deemed as “highly variable” by 28% of respondents. Considering how much control one has on the risks and rewards of PPC, this makes me wonder if that measurement isn’t the voice of a minority who either hasn’t conducted a PPC campaign or hasn’t done it properly.

The booby prize goes to online advertising (“banners, etc.”), deemed “Low Value” by 43% of the group. With opinions of online ads being this negative, is it any wonder ad networks are scrambling to sweeten the kitty with more behaviorally-focused targeting?

What is your response to these numbers?

8 thoughts on “Survey of marketing tech types finds ROI strongest for search and internal email tactics”

  1. For me, the reason why “the tactic leading the pack is email, sent to an internal — or “house” — list” isn’t so much that it’s low cost, but that the house email list is a self-selected set of a firm’s better customers (ie, they’ve opted in to email, are probably more likely to be repeat purchasers). I think the superior ROI is driven by better response, more so than lower cost

  2. Good point, Ron. Retention of customers and cross-sales to them will always return better on an investment than luring new prospects into the fold. But once you’ve maximized your spend on customers, the question becomes: Where do you invest to acquire new ones?

    I also wonder if direct mail would have faired better in the comparison of tactics if it had been called “House Direct Mail Marketing.” I’m thinking yes.

  3. It makes me wonder what the heck I am doing making all of these banner ads all the time? Especially when I use AdBlock Plus and filterset.g firefox plugins on my home computer to block banner ads…

    If banner ads go away will free access to many online content (news) sites will also go away?

  4. That’s a great question, Matt. I know banner ads won’t completely go away, simply because no ad tactic has ever disappeared just because better ones have arrived to replace them. It may mean that most future banner advertising will only exist in a pay-per-action pricing model.

    As for the bigger question, of whether media can support themselves without ads, I wonder that myself. I think the big barrier to paying for online content the way some people do for magazines and newspapers is the delivery system is still primitive. The Kindle, and electronic paper in general, is an encouraging step forward. I, for one, would be willing to pay a fair sum every month for content delivered to my electronic magazine / book, just as I pay today for access to the internet.

    It’s interesting to watch major magazines — at least the ones with high-value and unique content — creep toward online publication. You know that can’t be doing it to make an immediate fortune. I suspect they are planning the day when the Kindle 5.x (or its ilk) is so refined, they can publish their magazine with little need for felling trees and applying ink.

    … Which tips my hand for an upcoming post, slotted for later this week.

    Thanks for reading, and adding to the dialog!

  5. Possibly, though I’m not sure if that’s going to be how most people consume media in the future. I certainly don’t go to any particular news site and read all of their articles. I got to (multiple) blogs and from there am linked to about forty different news sites to read one article of interest at each site. There is no way I would be willing to pay for a subscription to each of those sites, and most likely, neither would most blog readers or even the bloggers themselves…

  6. They say that the world of print is slowly losing its value. By these numbers, it shows that more and more people are interested in online material than actually reading the paper. While the chart seems to have all the answers, i still think that there’s a medium for every kind of personality.

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