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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Want to See Higher Marketing ROI? Email Delivers Best

Credit: Garagestock/Shutterstock

Although there are a lot of digital marketing tools available to businesses today, email marketing continues to provide the biggest bang for your buck, new research finds.

A study from GetResponse and Holistic Email Marketing revealed that marketers believe email marketing delivers a better return on investment than any other digital marketing option. Specifically, 53 percent of marketers believe email marketing delivers an excellent or good return on investment, while 50 percent felt the same about social media marketing.

Search engine optimization, content marketing and paid social media advertising were the other digital marketing efforts that more than 40 percent of marketers felt had a good or excellent return on investment. [Looking for an email marketing service? Here are our best picks.]

Part of the reason email marketing has such a solid return on investment is because it seems to resonate with consumers. A separate study from Campaigner found that 44 percent of consumers said email is their preferred digital marketing platform for brand interaction, with 75 percent saying they are somewhat or very likely to open the emails they receive from different businesses.

"The findings signal that in this day and age, consumers both expect and appreciate email messages from their favorite brands," said E.J. McGowan, general manager at Campaigner, in a statement.

Despite their preference for email marketing, consumers say the outreach isn't without issues. Nearly half of those surveyed by Campaigner said their top complaint about email marketing messages is that they receive too many of them.  Overall, 29 percent of consumers would prefer to hear from a brand on email less than once a month, with only 11 percent preferring to get brand messages more than once a week.

"Savvy marketers must do their due diligence to research and determine what cadence of email is most effective for their audience," McGowan said. "Acting on these insights will ensure that campaigns are successful from the perspective of both sender and recipient."

The research from GetResponse and Holistic Email Marketing discovered that some industries do a better job of catching the attention of consumers with their messages. Legal services, nonprofits and health care were the top three industries with the highest open rates, while internet marketing, automotive and travel were the industries with the worst open rates.  

The goal of most email marketing campaigns is to get recipients to not just read the message, but clink on links to the company's website. Publishing, nonprofits, and arts and entertainment were the industries with the highest click-thru rates, while, as with the open rates, automotive, internet marketing and travel had the lowest.

The Campaigner research shows that younger consumers are the most likely to engage with marketing emails. Nearly a quarter of the millennials surveyed are very likely to open an email from a brand, compared to just 15 percent of all consumers.

Despite the popularity of social media in general, brands aren't seeing the same level of engagement when using it to reach consumers. Less than a quarter of those surveyed by Campaigner said social media was one of their preferred channels for brand interaction.  

Businesses that do want to invest in social media marketing would be best served by focusing their efforts on Facebook. The study found that 54 percent of consumers follow their favorite brands on Facebook, compared to just 18 percent each on Instagram and Pinterest. An even smaller group, less than 5 percent, uses Twitter or Snapchat to interact with their favorite businesses.

While noting that millennials still like email marketing best, the researchers said businesses trying to attract this crowd may have success reaching them on social media. Nearly half of the millennials surveyed use social media to interact with brands.

"Marketers should meet them where they are while being trepidatious about investing too heavily in what may be flash-in-the-pan platforms," said Seamas Egan, associate director of revenue operations for Campaigner.

The Campaigner study was based on surveys of 761 consumers who make purchases online. The GetResponse and Holistic Email Marketing research was based on surveys of 2,500 email marketers from across the world.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.