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Impossible Expectations: Why no one marketing channel is King of the Jungle

No one marketing channel is now, or ever will be king of the jungle.  One method may be better than others in any given circumstance, but no one channel will ever be best.  A report that recently went viral on the internet (so it must be true, right?) claimed that email was “king” in a sample of 35,000 prospects.  The data and response rates as referenced in the article follow:

Here are the issues:

1. No mention is made is made of the size of the data set that the 35,000 records were drawn from.  To get a 25% response rate, the respondents were cherry picked from a much larger pool.  How do I know?  Given one client’s data of 650,000 prospects with detailed sales and contact history we can universally pick a slice and get a fantastic response with targeted offers and specific channels.  With realistic constraints (such as not giving each respondent $100 gift card for simply visiting a link) the same cannot be said for 35,000 cold records.  Channel your inner Kirk here:  Not, going, to………

2. How did the firm in question get that many opted-in email leads?  Email is the end game of marketing efforts.  It is almost impossible to exponentially grow an email list from an email campaign, regardless how good the referral spiff is.  For email to be King, something else, such as social media, direct mail, experiential events, paid search, point of sale, or a mix of many methods is required, and usually at substantial cost. Speaking of which…


3. For the ROI calculations in the article to be of any use, the cost of gathering the email opt-ins must be calculated.  Of course, the cost of direct mail is exponentially higher than email as a cost per piece.  To compare the two at face value is pointless.  The recipient of the sales lead, in this case email, must absorb a portion of the cost in generating the address as part of the return on investment calculation.  Throw those figures into the mix, and what happens to that massive ROI advantage claimed by email?

Marketing is a spider web, not a pyramid.  No one channel or strategy will ever be sufficient.  Like your portfolio, a diversified strategy will always be necessary.

Full disclosure: 

James Michelson is Founder of VDP Web® Cross Media Marketing which offers email marketing as part of a well-balanced marketing diet.  The entire article just lambasted can be found here.


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