What is most effective in tough times?

The rough economy and tight budgets may force companies to streamline their marketing efforts — and digital becomes very tempting. Our experts prioritize strategies to maximize effectiveness.

Sharon Cuppett
Managing partner, AquaPR
Twenty years of experience in PR and marketing

Depending upon the circumstances, the most effective marketing tool for your company may vary, but will almost always include the Internet or some form of online activity. Moving your direct mail campaigns online is one way to increase your marketing ROI.

First, e-mail is less expensive in creation, production and delivery. In addition, because the e-mail can go viral, you may be able to reach even more people for your investment.

Secondly, e-mail is fast. Production time is minimal, and sending and receiv­ing responses to the e-mail are instant. This is especially important in tough economic times, as it can decrease the sales cycle by up to six weeks. There are other advantages as well — for instance, a quick-thinking marketer might be able to take advantage of a developing trend for their current customers as it is happening by creating and sending an e-mail within hours. Also, lists, head­lines, messaging and cross-marketing offers can be tested quickly and easily.

Finally, the call to action in an e-mail is easier and quicker for the customer. A direct mail campaign requires the customer to choose another form of communication — i.e. pick up the phone, or log in, or physically go somewhere – further adding time to the sales cycle. E-mails can include instant fulfillment through downloads of digi­tal offers such as whitepapers, software, books, songs or videos, which also decreases the sales cycle.

David Erickson
Director of e-strate­gy, Tunheim Partners
More than 10 years of experience in Inter­net marketing

When on-demand advertising is done properly, there is very little waste in search marketing because your mes­sage is delivered at the very time the recipient is not just receptive to, but requesting it.

With search engine advertising, you bid on search keywords so your ad displays when people perform those searches. You pay, depending upon the competitiveness of the keyword, per click. With search optimization, you integrate relevant search keywords into your own Web site in a way that helps it rise in the list of links for a given search.

With search engine optimization, you spend more money up front “optimiz­ing” your site but have fewer ongoing expenses once you’ve achieved your desired search engine visibility. With search advertising, you pay only as much as you budget but once you’ve burned through your ad spend, you no longer have any visibility in the search results.

In both cases, you are matching a searcher’s query with your content. Because of this dynamic, your mes­sage is presented only to people who have already expressed an interest in it. Searchers also are telling you some­thing about themselves through the very words they use in their search.

Finally, search engine marketing is both quantifiable — through clicks or visits to your Web site — and proven. Google has thrived off search advertis­ing since 1998.


Erickson argues that on-demand advertising delivers results to recipients who ask for them and they are quantifiable. Cuppett argues e-mail is quicker and less expensive, and with the ability to go viral, can potentially reach a wider audience. Both alternatives can be effective, but search advertising might have the edge in targeting a specific audience.

Have your say: E-mail your view to [email protected]

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