by Tony Vidler
Getting a great ROI on your daily emails? Want to?
A colleague who specialises in building email marketing platform and all the associated elements that go with it was swapping notes with me this week about a joint account we are both working with, and he casually dropped into the conversation that a single banner ad on the clients in-house email system was generating a 70% ROI – repeatedly.
This is not the Return-On-Investment from spending money on an email campaign where a particular product or service is attempting to be sold. This is their ordinary, run-of-the-mill, daily one-to-one email that each person in the business uses to correspond with clients and suppliers on an individual basis. That is, the emails that we send a hundred times a day during the ordinary course of business.
This result is quite extraordinary for two reasons. Firstly, that is a good return on marketing spending, by anyone’s standards I would think. Secondly and more importantly, it is a stupendous return on what wasn’t supposed to be marketing spending at all. The daily email platform that we use to handle the daily communications is usually considered a pure cost, but clearly it doesn’t have to be.
The problem for most practitioners, and even those like myself who work with them, is finding comparable data that helps in the decision-making to determine where best to spend those limited marketing dollars.
A bit of digging around to try and find some general or benchmark comparative stats for the ROI on different types of marketing initiatives proved to be difficult. One report from about 3 years ago though suggested the following:
The conclusion was that email marketing was the undisputed champion of course, and it appeared that the the emphasis of “email marketing” was upon email campaigns.
But then another report from around the same time suggested that the best performing marketing medium was magazine advertising, with an ROI of 130%. Online banner advertising generated an impressive 110% ROI, and traditional TV advertising varied but generally was found to fall within a range of 60-80% ROI. There were some qualifying remarks regarding the magazine advertising which highlighted that while the return was very good, the audience and reach was limited.
It seemed that each of these pieces of research were quite limited in scope, if not perhaps using the research to support a preferred conclusion.
One can conclude however that most forms of marketing will be effective to one extent or another – if executed well. The problem with ROI as a measure is it doesn’t indicate whether something was executed well or poorly.
Email marketing may well have the best ROI…but then it may not too. If the message is poor, or the offer is underwhelming, is that a reflection on the medium chosen? Of course not. Apart from the marketing medium chosen, other critical elements in determining whether a particular initiative has met its revenue objectives will be the offer and the messaging. Furthermore, one cannot ignore the impact of repetitive advertising the continued placement or presence on a particular medium will generally exponentially increase ROI. Run a single TV ad and the ROI will probably be disastrous. Run it 1,000 times and the ROI will change significantly.
And finally, one of my (small’ish) concerns with focussing on ROI as a definitive measure is that it doesn’t accurately capture the broader impact of good marketing. Creating brand awareness and trust; generating word of mouth opportunities; breaking down barriers to doing business which thereby increase the conversion rates on other prospects….all of these types of things can be attributed in part to a good marketing campaign, but are not necessarily reflected in the ROI for a particular campaign or medium.
So looking at the ROI to determine which marketing medium to use can help, but it should not be an absolute guide in itself.
However, how easy is it to get banners included in your branded email that highlight your services and product range, and have those going out as constant reminders thousands of times per month to clients and prospects? The return doesn’t have to be great to make that worthwhile in reality, does it? It is just a simple way to boost the ROI for your email system while going about your daily business.
You may also find this post useful: It’s a No-Brainer: Get Better Email