Which type of online marketing delivers the highest ROI for my business?

Email? SEO? PPC? Content? Which type of online marketing delivers the highest ROI? I've asked our specialists to find out.

Which type of online marketing delivers the highest ROI for my business?
Written by Jacob Stear
ROI  |   5 minute read

It’s staggering to me that when asked by our mates over at HubSpot, only 35% of marketers said that understanding the ROI of their campaigns is very or extremely important. If you’re in the 65% of marketers who don’t consider the ROI implications of marketing decisions as you’re making them, then hopefully this blog will change that. 

Knowing which marketing strategies will have the biggest impact on ROI can be the difference between a campaign’s success or failure. 

35%?! Madness. Ok, here we go. 

Before we get started…

So, a confession before we get too far into things. There isn’t really a definitive answer to the question of which online marketing delivers the highest ROI. I know, I know — another marketing blog that will sit on the fence and avoid sticking their neck out. 

The reason there’s no easy answer is because ROI itself is a tricky concept to nail down. Deciding on one overall marketing ROI benchmark is challenging because tactics are different. How do you determine the success of a blog over its lifespan compared to a social ad you run for just a few weeks?

Similarly, a customer might listen to a podcast of yours, like what they hear, and eventually purchase. But that’s not always the easiest journey to track — especially if there’s no landing page involved. 

There are also the usual caveats regarding the type of business you are and the sort of customer you’re looking to engage with. Every business is different. So what might look like great ROI for you could look like a poor investment for someone else. 

PPC: a quick win?

PPC is a dream for marketers searching for short-term ROI. It’s a great way of targeting specific keywords you know are relevant to your target customer and getting the edge on the competition. 

However, the price per click of a particular keyword can vary wildly depending on the industry you’re a part of, so be warned. And keep in mind that while ads are live, they’re helping drive traffic to your site. But as soon you turn the adverts off, there’s no lasting value.  

The D22 view: “When done correctly PPC is a powerful tool for companies and can deliver high ROI in a short space of time. The high level of control means you can literally make every penny count.” - Chris Ellis, Lead PPC Specialist

ppc roi

Email: low risk, high reward?

It doesn’t cost a penny to send an email. The only issue is that your carefully crafted email is vying for the attention of someone who has hundreds of emails arrive in their inbox each day. The ROI is good, but only if you can make the right impression. 

Cultivate the right mailing list with an engaged audience and you can reap the rewards. You can personalise content, reach customers at the right time and test out different strategies to see what works. 

The D22 view: “Although the landscape is competitive, those who get it right can drive brand engagement, improve customer loyalty and communicate with their prospects and customers at a cheaper rate than other channels.” - Will Troup, Lead Generation Specialist

email marketing ROI

Social media: crowded but cost-effective?

As with email, you can run a social media marketing campaign without spending anything. Although it’s true that social media ads can make a difference, there’s no reason you can’t achieve excellent results without them. 

You can measure traffic, conversions and general engagement to see how well you perform on each social media channel. However, it can be difficult to quantify ROI.

The D22 view: “Social media is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience directly, in a 1-1 humanised way. It helps you fuel your contact database, drive traffic to your website, assist your customers and protect your brand reputation. 67% of consumers say they're more likely to spend with a brand they follow on social media.” - Mary Walker, Social Media Specialist 

social media roi

SEO: long-term success?

SEO is the long road to PPC’s quick shortcut. It’s a slower, more deliberate process that allows marketers to scale exponentially over time. Unlike paid ads, every new piece of SEO-friendly content you produce will hold lasting value. 

The D22 view: “SEO is a long-term investment when it comes to ROI but if you can do it consistently and effectively, reaching the top of the Google Search Results Page is one of the best ways to reach your target market.” - Hannah Wilson, Junior SEO Specialist 

seo roi

Content: the solid foundations?

So I have a content background and I’m part of the content team here at D22, so I’m going to try and not be too biased here. 

Content is the solid foundation on which you can build all other types of marketing. Email success rate can rise if you have premium content to send your subscribers. Similarly, SEO can target the most valuable keywords only with the support of blogs, topic clusters and pillar pages created through content marketing. 

And the best thing about content? We’re so cheap. It doesn’t cost a penny to write, review and publish your own content. As with all types of marketing, it’s up to you to research what’s working for others and adapt your strategy accordingly. No one will want to read what you write if you aren’t providing a genuine reason for them to stay on your page.

The D22 view: “Calculating the total ROI of content marketing is impossible. There are still areas you can track, though, to see where you get a 'return' — bringing new leads through content, retaining leads with educational content, re-engage previously cold leads and fuelling word of mouth. Without your content marketing efforts, chances are your PPC and social channels will suffer, too.” - Raza Kazi, Content Manager

content roi

And the winner is…

Content, obviously. 

Ok, not really. As you might’ve guessed, you have the best possible chance of high ROI when you utilise different marketing types in tandem. Consistent marketing across a wide range of channels means you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket.

Certain strategies can give you quick wins, but you should look at things like SEO and content for a sustainable, long-term increase in ROI. They might take longer to give results, but they’ll be worth it in the end. 

And of course, keep in mind that what works for others might not work for you. Experiment with different types of online marketing and don’t be afraid to make changes. It might be that your customers in particular respond positively to video or email. 

Get your hands on our free ROI calculator

ROI doesn’t have to feel like an intimidating concept. We recommend jumping right in and getting to grips with what success looks like for you. We’ve created a conversion calculator that will tell you how many customers you need to generate to reach your target number of sessions. 

Get your hands on the free calculator now by clicking the link below. 

ACCESS CONVERSION CALCULATOR HERE