I read an interesting post over at Marketo’s blog. It talks about “pipeline-to-cost” ratio.

In plain English, it basically means how much did a marketing channel or tactic contribute to a lead’s development in comparison to the cost of marketing on that channel?

Marketo checked this information in two ways:

  1. First-touch – what was the ratio based on the lead’s source?
  2. Multi-touch – what was the ratio based on all the marketing channels the lead came into contact with?

1. And the Big Winner in Both Categories Was…

E-mail! In other words, e-mail helped build relationship with the lead the greatest amount in BOTH first-touch and multi-touch situations.

In first-touch attribution, events were just a few points behind e-mail in effectiveness.

But in multi-touch situations, e-mail was nearly doubly as effective as the second-best method: webinars. By the way, events fell off to #4 in multi-touch attribution, with e-mail being 12 times as effective.

So if you’re a small company, or any company for that matter, you’re best off using e-mail to build relationships with prospects.

2. Some of the Most Cost-Efficient and Cost-Effective Forms of Marketing

Just because some kinds of marketing aren’t as cost-effective as others doesn’t mean they’re bad or you shouldn’t do them. They all have their time and place.

But, it gives you additional data on what might work best for your business.

The most cost-effective marketing tactics:

• E-mail

• Webinars

• In-person events

The most costly marketing tactics:

• PPC (thank Google for this)

• Paid e-mail

• Trade shows

3. Why Does the Humble E-mail Produce Such a Darned Good ROI?

There’s many reasons:

• Only the biggest fans of your company join your list (don’t sign them up yourself! – big marketing mistake)

• An e-mail isn’t too expensive or time-consuming to write, but thousands of people see it

• Business people can easily check it on their smartphone while waiting for a meeting or traveling

• It’s easy to measure the exact results you get from e-mail marketing compared to other methods of marketing

• You can be oh-so personal – and that’s what prospects want these days

• You can use it to respond to trigger events on your website, like a white paper download

• You can get good results (if you know who to study) without a huge learning curve

• You get direct feedback (open rates, clicks, buys) on what works almost instantly so you can quickly learn what your audience does and does not like

So yeah, marketing can be expensive if you’re doing the wrong things.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Even though there’s all sorts of fancy shiny marketing objects to try, you don’t have to shuck out big bucks to succeed.