No matter what marketing avenue you choose, there are three letters looming large over your entire campaign: ROI.
Your goal is to maximize your return while minimizing costs. If you can do that, your campaign is a success. But which marketing strategy will offer the best ROI? The answer is based on a few different factors:
- How to Define ROI: It’s not always clear what constitutes ROI. Brand reputation, credibility, and visibility are all abstract ideas, so it can be hard to translate that into a concrete dollar value.
- Accounting for Time: All investments will be a combination of time and money, but some will be more of the former, and vice versa. Comparing prospects can be difficult when they have different metrics for your investment.
- Long- Versus Short-Term: Long-term investments tend to pay-off more, but multiple short-term investments could produce better results in the same timeframe.
- Execution: An airtight strategy won’t amount to much in the hands of a novice. The success of any marketing tactic depends on how it’s executed.
- Unique Qualities: No two businesses are the same. The dynamics of your operation are going to affect how well each strategy pays-off for you.
- Conversion: There is a big difference between getting traffic and getting sales. Plus, misleading or oversold tactics can become returns down the road.
Let’s examine four of the top marketing strategy options with those points in mind and see how they stack up.
#1. Paid Ads
Paid ads are a classic method, and most business owners will tell you that they offer an excellent ROI. These can be a great way to get your name in front of a lot of potential customers in a short period of time. However, you must account for the cost per click, which can vary substantially based on your industry.
Plus, reliance on paid ads means you’re not building genuine equity. You can think of most marketing tactics like purchasing property, in that you’re buying influence and recognition. With paid ads, though, you’re just renting space; the ads turn off as soon as you stop paying. There’s no legacy or lasting value beyond what was generated while the ads were active.
#2. Content Marketing
Compared to paid ads, content marketing is a much more cost-effective strategy in terms of up-front cost. All you need to do is start pushing out content and—BOOM—you’re engaged in content marketing. This makes it a very effective way to establish long-term expertise in your space, and to raise your profile through search engine optimization (SEO) practices.
This is a long game, though; it takes months for content marketing to pay-off. All that primo content you create will be a great investment a year from now, but it’s going to take a lot of hours in front of the computer to create, which can be difficult if you’re trying to launch a business.
#3. Social Media
Social marketing has a wide range for judging up-front cost; it could cost you nothing but time, or you could invest thousands of dollars per month into boosting your social profile. It’s also difficult to gauge its effect, as social influence doesn’t translate into direct sales for most businesses. Sure, you can measure engagement and site conversions, but reputation and influence are very abstract.
The most important factor is your product category. The effect of social media activity be in creating buzz will be radically different if you’re a retailer compared to a B2B operation
#4. Email Marketing
Email is described as a high-earning tactic. In fact, 67% of businesses list email as their most-effective marketing channel.
Email is a low-cost, high-yield marketing strategy; it doesn’t cost much to send out a blast of emails and start seeing results…if you’re able to build a powerful email list, that is. While you can buy email lists, this can produce inconsistent results, and may even be counter-productive in the long run. But building out your own organic list will take time, and can only work in conjunction with other marketing strategies like content marketing.
Ask the Experts
There is no killer app for marketing. Relying on just one strategy for all your outreach and promotion is a recipe for failure. That’s why you need professional help to create a working strategy that fits your needs.