Which Marketing Channels Produce the Highest ROI?

As a marketer, you have a variety of options at your disposal for reaching new customers. But with everything from billboards to event sponsorship to SEO campaigns, it can be difficult to determine which ones are the most worthy of your marketing dollars.

If you’re working within a specific budget, it’s important to focus on the channels that are most likely to produce a high ROI for your company. But as we explored in this post, some media are easier to measure than others.

All marketing methods certainly have their own merits, but if you’re a results-driven marketer, it’s best to focus on the ones that are easy to measure and improve. In this post, I’ll explore the high value advertising channels your business should use.

The trouble with traditional marketing

With traditional marketing campaigns, your business reaches the audience you pay to reach – no more, no less. Whether that’s the viewers of a certain TV show, the readers of a certain newspaper, or the residents of a certain address, the positioning of your ad determines who will see it.

Unfortunately, reaching wide audiences typically comes with a steep price. And even if your business can afford them, it’s difficult to determine whether or not the ads you place on traditional channels are worth the investment since you can’t directly track the returns.

For example, let’s say you’re responsible for marketing an insurance agency and you choose to run a television ad. Your first cost will be production. The exact cost depends on your budget, the complexity of the ad, and the agency you choose to work with (assuming you don’t have an in-house video production team). But as of 2011, the average cost was $354,000 per 30 second commercial. (It’s safe to assume that this number has increased in the past 4 years, but the American Association of Advertising Agencies has not done a large-scale study on TV advertising since.)

Then, you’ll have to decide when and where to air your ad. The price depends on the reach of the networks you choose, as well as the time slot of your ad, but as of 2011, the average 30-second spot on NBC cost $425,000. Of course, this number comes from days with standard programming – not events like the Super Bowl, which cost advertisers $4.5 million per 30-second spot earlier this year.

After all is said and done, it’s safe to say that ads on traditional networks will get your company in front of consumers’ eyes. But do these kinds of commercials really pay off? The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to say for sure. Unless you ask every single customer where they first heard about you, what other marketing messages they saw that influenced their decision, and what ultimately convinced them to contact you, you’ll never know.

This goes for ads on television, in magazines, on the radio, and even through direct mail like brochures and postcards, meaning that if you rely on traditional methods to attract customers, your budget allocation is nothing more than a best guess.

Internet marketing

Now that you know the difficulties of measuring ROI with traditional methods, it’s time to look at the alternative: Internet marketing.

For many marketers, the advanced analytics that Internet marketing offers are one of its biggest attractions. With tools like Google analytics, you can monitor, measure, and improve upon virtually every aspect of your online campaigns.

Let’s take a look at how it works for a few common, high-yield strategies:


If you like lots of concrete data on your marketing strategies, pay-per-click advertising can quickly become your favorite way to reach new customers. With tools like Google AdWords, you can research each of your potential keywords, select the most effective ones, and determine exactly how much you’re willing to pay for each click.

adwordsFrom there, you can integrate your AdWords account with your Analytics account and look at what site visitors do after clicking them. And if you’ve already set up goals, it’s easy to see how your PPC ads are helping you reach them.

For example, let’s say your primary goal is to sell a specific product that costs $100 and you run a PPC campaign with a cost per click (CPC) of $1.00. Fifty people click the ad, and two of them make a purchase.

50 people x $1.00 = $50 spend

2 people x $100 = $200 return

In this case, your ROI would be 400%. Of course, this just a hypothetical example, and the ROI your company sees from PPC depends on the quality of your campaigns. But being able to quickly and easily calculate your ROI allows you to scale up on the campaigns that are working and improve upon the ones that aren’t.


Another Internet marketing strategy that offers a wealth of analytical information is search engine optimization, or SEO. From basic metrics like traffic and bounce rate to more complex ones like users flow, you have access to virtually every piece of information you could possibly want regarding your strategy.

channelsAnd much like with PPC, you can get a general idea of how well you’re spending your time and resources using Google Analytics. Navigate to the Acquisition tab, select Channels, and then click “Organic Traffic.”

Using the same goal as the example above, let’s say your site generates 20 sales per month from organic traffic, and you’ve been paying your SEO agency $1,000 per month for their services.

1 month x $1,000 = $1,000 investment

20 sales x $100 = $2,000 return

In this case, your ROI would be 150%.

Even if your business operates on a B2B model (and wouldn’t have direct ecommerce sales to measure), it’s still entirely possible to measure ROI if you know how much each of your leads is worth. By setting up goals for form submissions, quote requests, and free trials and assigning the monetary value, you’ll be able to see how much revenue your SEO strategy is generating for your company – even if it’s a rough estimate.

Email marketing

Similar to PPC and SEO, you can also look at the value of your email marketing in Google Analytics. Just select “Email” as your channel, look at the value of your goal completions, and compare this to your monthly spend on email marketing.

Depending on whether or not you use an email platform with a monthly fee or hire writers to create email content, your email cost could range from free to a few thousand a month. But with tools like MyEmailFX, you can drill down into metrics like opens, clickthroughs, and unsubscribes to continually improve your strategy and drive ROI.

Want to improve your marketing ROI?

If you want to reach customers in a more cost-effective way (and know for a fact what your budget is accomplishing), Internet marketing is your best bet. Whether you use SEO, PPC, email marketing, or other online channels, measuring ROI is much simpler with the right analytics.

Have you experienced particularly high ROI with any of your marketing efforts? Let me know in the comments below!

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