Blogging used to be an easy, inexpensive way to market yourself.
Ten years ago, you could write a couple of articles, sprinkle them with keywords, and… voilà! Your post appeared, like magic, above the fold on Google’s search results page, and the leads came pouring in. The content didn’t even have to be good.
Then, something horrible happened.
Black hat SEO practitioners found ways to artificially inflate their search engine rankings by stuffing pages full of keywords that weren’t relevant to the content. They also found ways to trick legitimate websites into adding backlinks to their meaningless keywork-laden pages. When Google diligently researched what these shady characters were doing and uncovered their nefarious tricks, they made changes to their algorithm — and everyone’s rankings suffered because of it.
Email marketing is like the tortoise: slow and steady wins the race. Meanwhile, publishing blog posts leaves you at the mercy of algorithms, which change often and without notice.
With email marketing, you have permission to talk to your audience directly. You do have to worry about things like spam filters and click-through rates, but you don’t have to worry about competing to get on the first page of Google search results.
We here at Robly believe in the power of email marketing — and we’re not the only ones. Studies show time and time again that email marketing is more profitable than any other form of digital marketing.
Today we’re going to talk about the ROI of email marketing versus the ROI of blogging. Then, we’ll discuss how to measure your email marketing ROI.
Email Marketing by the Numbers
We talked a little already about why email marketing is better than blogging in terms of ROI. But let’s look at some numbers:
- According to Neil Patel, for every dollar spent on email marketing, the average return across all industries is about $40. The closest channel in terms of ROI was SEO, which averaged about $20 for every dollar spent.
- In a 2017 Econsultancy/Adestra email marketing survey, 73% of respondents rated email marketing as good or excellent in terms of ROI. Second place was SEO. Blogging didn’t even make the list. (Content marketing comes in third, but it encompasses a whole lot more than publishing blog posts.)
- People who receive offers via email spend 138% more than those who don’t (Source: Convince and Convert).
- When done correctly, email marketing has a 300% or greater ROI (Source: VentureBeat).
- The average person checks their email at least twice daily (Source: Digital Strike).
The ROI of email marketing is clearly less expensive and easier to measure than blogging. You also have complete control over every aspect of your email marketing program, and when you encounter problems, you can pinpoint where the issue is and come up with ways to correct those problems.
Blogging, on the other hand, is not as clear-cut. Not only is it harder to measure, but it is harder to pinpoint where problems are and how to correct them. Yes, you can see where traffic is coming from, but it’s not always so easy to know how or why someone landed on a particular article. Advanced analytics and AI both provide a great amount of insight but are often too expensive for independent bloggers and small businesses. The amount of investment in both time and money make blogging a difficult venture for nonprofits and small brands as well.
Let’s discuss how the ROI of blogging is measured and why it is so difficult to know a blog post’s true ROI.
The ROI of Blogging
Before we get started, let’s be clear: there’s nothing wrong with blogging. It’s a great way to build brand awareness, share your industry expertise, and help drive organic traffic. We write about blogging all the time, and we believe email marketing and blogging work well together.
However, capturing leads through blogging is not as simple or inexpensive as it used to be. It requires a large amount of talent, time, and money to succeed. For companies with limited resources, focusing on building an email list first is often easier and less expensive.
Here are a few facts that illustrate why companies should make blogging a secondary marketing activity:
- The average amount of time it takes to create a piece of content is over 3 hours, but the average time a reader spends looking at it is about 37 seconds (Source: Codeless).
- Companies that blog over 16 times per month get the most leads (Source: Hubspot).
- Important blogging metrics include page views, shares/likes, and time spent on page, all of which do not directly translate to company revenue (Source: Codeless).
- Many companies measure blogging ROI by engagement and reach, which do not always directly correlate to sales (Source: Scripted).
- Measuring blog ROI by lead generation and newsletter subscriptions still requires email marketing to “close the deal” (Source: Scripted).
While blogging may seem less expensive to start and maintain, it creates a large opportunity cost. Even if your company already has a website using a blog-friendly backend like WordPress, the amount of time required to create a blog may not be worth it if your company is already stretched too thin.
Before jumping into the proverbial blog pond, ask yourself these questions:
- How many hours per month will it take to manage a blog?
- Does your staff have enough free time to do this or will you need to outsource?
- How much will it cost for design, hosting, and maintenance per month?
- How many sales will it take per month to break even?
While you won’t be able to answer these questions for sure until you start blogging, doing a little research beforehand will help you determine if blogging is worth your time and effort at this stage of your business.
Now let’s talk about measuring your email marketing ROI.
How to Measure Email Marketing ROI
Unlike blogging, the ROI of email marketing is easier to measure.
To get started, you’ll need a couple of numbers from your email campaigns, including:
- Open Rate: The percentage of readers who open your emails.
- Click-Through Rate: The percentage of readers who click on a link or button in your emails.
- Conversion Rate: The percentage of readers who buy from your emails.
- Conversion Value: The average amount of sales generated per email.
- Total costs: These include the fees for your email marketing software and the amount of money you spend on email campaign creation.
There are three ways to measure your email marketing ROI: per campaign, by month, or by year. If you’re comparing this against other types of marketing, per month is the way to go.
Once you have all this information, the easiest way to make the calculations is to use an online ROI calculator to do the math for you.
You can play with the numbers to see how to get the best ROI. By using A/B tests and features likeour OpenGen tool, you can improve your open rates and conversions to boost ROI.
While blogging can be a great way to improve your company’s image, it may be a drain on precious resources.
Companies with limited resources should start by building and growing an email list to generate sales. Once your revenue is stable, you can reinvest that revenue into secondary marketing activities like blogging.
We’re not telling you to give up on your blog, but you should think carefully about how you invest your time and money before jumping on the latest marketing trend bandwagon. Your bottom line will be healthier if you crunch some numbers before taking the plunge.
If you’re new here and looking for a way to increase your email marketing effectiveness, check out Robly for a free trial. Our AI and OpenGen features help your open rates soar!
What marketing activities generate the most profit for your company? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!