Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

Dynamic marketing, branding & design strategies that span the gap between business & creative.


Best ROI for marketing dollars

According to the latest DMA Power of Direct report, email marketing tops all marketing efforts from an ROI point of view. As of right now, email marketing will give you the biggest bang for your buck with a return of $57.25 for every $1.00 you spend. Compare that to $7.09 for print catalogs and $22.52 for non-email internet marketing.

Yet for most organizations, email marketing gets little funding compared to traditional advertising and print materials. Unless you're in the catalog business, those other mediums offer little in regards to measuring a return on your investment. And with markets collapsing and prices falling, businesses are looking for every dollar to show a measurable return - and a quick return at that.

In 2006, marketers will spend only $400M on email marketing. Compare that to spending $20B for print catalogs. Those #'s are radically different, but you have to dig in a little deeper to understand them. Let's compare the two.

From a cost point of view, print is a nightmare. The time is takes to layout and design a 75 page catalog is huge. It is an all consuming task for your designers to get the artwork ready for the next catalog. They spend months preparing. And once the files are ready to go to the printer, you have exorbitant printing and distribution costs. Hopefully you sleep well at night knowing that as soon as each page is printed, it's potentially out of date due to pricing or technical product changes.

From a personalization point of view, catalogs fail miserably. About the only level of personalization on a catalog is the little promo code or coupon that prints with the shipping address. Other than that, everyone gets the same book.

On the other hand, people love to keep catalogs around for a long time. Some catalogs are so powerful; people keep them out on their coffee tables to impress friends. They're easy to take with you on a trip or share with a friend. They are a great way to build a brand because you can tell more of your story. You're not locked into a small window within Microsoft Outlook.

While print catalogs have a lower ROI than emails, it is predicted to increase by 2007 while email ROI is predicted to drop.

Email and internet marketing are infinitely more measurable and customizable than print. But they are the newest kids on the block and lots of organizations still do not know how to handle them properly. Don't mistake the ease of email marketing with simplicity. It's still take a lot of work to manage lists and create offers that appeal to your target audience without being seen as a spammer. And there are technical barriers like server blocks and email filters that have to be worked through as well. With catalogs it's pretty easy, drop it in the mail and it arrives. Hopefully calls start coming into your order center. With email, you can see exactly who opened it, how long they spent reading it, which links they clicked on, and whether they forwarded it to a friend. Unfortunately spammers are making a bad name for the entire market.

So, I wouldn't stop what you're doing just yet. If you have a booming catalog business, start to think about augmenting that with a email component. And if you've dabbled with email, try to get more serious about it by taking advantage of the variable data and trackable nature of the medium. Email is a great way to communicate with your audience; you just have to respect their time and inbox.

Like all good marketing initiatives offer value first and your customers will respond.

technorati tags > email, marketing, print, advertising, ROI, internet, measure

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