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What Online Marketing Tactic Matters Most?

What online marketing method is the most important for your business? There’s no easy answer, since it will vary for every small business—but for you, the most important online marketing tactic is the one that makes the biggest difference to your bottom line.

Surprisingly, some one-third of marketers in both B2B and B2C companies don’t know what marketing effort boosts their bottom line the most, according to the 2015 State of Digital Marketing report. In fact, for B2B companies, assessing the ROI of online marketing is the biggest challenge respondents face, cited by 24 percent.

If you’re among the small business owners who doesn’t know what your most effective online marketing tool is, there’s a good chance it’s email. Nearly all (93 percent of B2B and 80 percent of B2C) survey respondents use it, largely because it’s one of the few areas where ROI is easily measurable.

Overall, 26 percent of respondents say email is the online marketing tactic that has the biggest effect on revenues. Just 17 percent say it’s SEO and 15 percent cite paid search. Social media’s effect remains hard to measure—even though it’s the number one tactic for B2C companies (used by 87 percent of them), only 5 percent of companies overall say it’s their most effective online marketing tactic.

Perhaps the problem is in how companies are measuring ROI. The most-used way of tracking ROI is by conversions, then website traffic. But companies that use total revenue generated by online marketing as their ROI yardstick are more confident that their ROI assessment is accurate.

The study assessed what the most effective marketers did to improve ROI and here’s what they recommend:

Invest in content marketing. The most effective marketers had mobile-friendly websites with content, including blogs, videos and case studies, that worked well on all devices.

Focus on leads brought in by SEO. Not only do SEO leads cost less than outbound advertising leads (61 percent less, to be exact), they are far more likely to close. SEO leads have a more than 14 percent close rate, compared to less than 2 percent for outbound leads.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at