Measurement is easier for direct marketers.
Direct mail and e-mail had the highest return on investment of any target marketing method in 2006, according to Harte-Hanks' "Target Marketing Priorities Analysis: 2007 Key Trends" study.
The survey, conducted by CSO Insights, questioned marketers about their tactics. More than 70% of B2C marketers said direct mail brought them a high ROI, while more than 45% said e-mail did (respondents were allowed multiple responses).
Do direct mail and e-mail truly bring the best ROI? Was direct mail judged as having a high ROI only because it's relatively easy to track?
Bill Goldberg of Harte-Hanks pointed out, "As companies invest more in multiple channels in a bid to acquire customers, and to retain their loyalty, it appears businesses continue to grapple with data management and data insight — and just what the metrics are saying."
With other methods, such as consumer-generated media, ROI is openly questioned.
eMarketer has also noted that lack of data can make measuring ad ROI tough. But with the Harte-Hanks study, even having the data doesn't mean the case is closed.
A Pitney-Bowes study cited in an April 2007 press release also found mail and e-mail effective for communicating new product information, which could be construed as an indicator of high ROI.
eMarketer Senior Analyst David Hallerman said, "Trackable direct response marketing methods typically have a higher ROI just because of that direct step, when it works, from marketing to conversion."
"On the other hand, newspaper/print ads and TV ads show much lower ROI, not only because they're more difficult to track but also because the primary intent is typically different... the brand's mindshare, not the direct conversion."
eMarketer Senior Analyst Lisa E. Phillips added, "It depends on the product being marketed. Direct mail works very well for financial services, especially credit cards, investments and insurance. CPG companies do well if they send coupons."
Learn how search marketers measure results. Read the eMarketer Search Marketing: Counting Dollars and Clicks report.