Written by Michel Leconte, Founder and CEO of SeoSamba

“ROI”. For marketers around the world, these three simple letters that stand for “return on investment” spark countless heated discussions in the company’s meeting room when comes the time to assess the latest corporate marketing and sales efforts.

Email marketing can find its ways in countless manners, yet most of them can simply not be anticipated nor backtracked. From those who simply remember your name without a clue where it came from, to those that circumvent your online conversion funnel, not being able to measure all of email marketing’s ROI does not mean it’s not there.

Email marketing, king of online marketing ROI

As it happens, the one marketing technique that’s been around almost as long as the internet itself, and yet keeps itself on top of any marketer’s mind when it comes to ROI, is email marketing.

In fact, to this day email marketing remains by far the #1 lead generating technique*, as far as getting the biggest bang for your buck, with nearly twice the return rate of the second most cost-effective technique.

* Source: https://marketinginsidergroup.com

This amazingly efficient yield is routinely measured by the holy trinity of email marketing: email open rates, link click rates – both self-explanatory – and click-to-open rates which are, simply put, the latter divided by the former.

While any of these particular situations might only account for tiny fractions of your email marketing’s overall return on investment, they do add up to boost it even though you may not be able to know exactly in which proportions.

Email marketing, much more than meet the eyes

Of course, there is a wealth of additional KPI’s one can use to measure email marketing efficiency, such as deliverability rates, conversion rates, subscribe/unsubscribe rates, lead nurturing turnaround, and so on.

While this is all fair and square to give a broad vision of overall performance, email marketing ROI offers much more than meets the eye, bringing tremendous value in many other ways that are usually overlooked, and widely considered too hard – if not impossible – to anticipate, let alone measure.

If you pay attention, you will notice how often email marketing generates leads and referrals, not by clicking a carefully crafted link as the sender expects, but rather through the grapevine or by many other means one would not necessarily have thought of.

Here are just ten situations among others, in no particular order, where email marketing can help build brand awareness, multiply referrals, generate more leads, and increase revenues for payroll and accounting companies:

  1. Checking past time-limited offers
  2. Email printouts
  3. Top-of-the head referrals
  4. Blindfolded email forwarding
  5. App direct downloading
  6. Cross-device browsing
  7. Copy-and-paste notes
  8. Cross browser surfing
  9. Sideways background checking
  10. Offline company events
  11. Insider word of mouth

11 situations where email marketing pays off unnoticed

  1. Checking past time-limited offers

Lynette is an independent HR consultant, she knows she is going to need to change her discounted HR software sometimes in the future. She comes across your last promotional email, saves it to a special folder. A year later she clicks on your promo links, the now-dead, time-limited offer hits a 404 but gets her redirected to your homepage from where she finds what she needs.

  1. Email printouts

Oliver is thinking about leaving the HR firm he works at, and comes across an email mentioning job opening from your company. Wary about clicking links that might be tracked by the IT department, he simply prints out the email to get more info later on his home laptop.

  1. Top-of-the head referrals

Michael saw an email from your accounting company in his inbox from the corner of his eye just before heading out to a meeting over lunch with Martha. She asks him if he knows an accountant, which he does not but your name does pop up and she writes it down to check it out.

  1. Blindfolded email forwards

John knows his wife Cynthia is going to need payroll services soon for her growing flower business. As he is about to clear his Promotions inbox, he notices an email from your payroll company and forwards it to his wife without even opening it.

  1. App direct downloads

As Paul checks his email on his computer, he notices your communication about a free trial for your new timekeeping app, he grabs his smartphone and heads for the app store to download and install the app.

  1. Cross-device browsing

Alexandra is talking to her husband Mike while he’s checking his inbox on the home computer, she sees a catchy email subject over his shoulder regarding a new labor law that might apply to her. She goes on to type your company’s URL in her Smart TV’s browser while Mike keeps using the house’s PC.

  1. Copy-and-paste notes

Although not interested in changing accountant right now, Arthur accidentally clicks on your promo email on his phone, and notices you also provide pre-employment screenings which he might need in the future for his printing business. He does delete the email, but not without saving a quick copy-and-paste extract in his phone’s note app. A year later, he finds the note again to get a background check on a promising job applicant.

  1. Cross browser surfing

Randall is only using Chrome to check his Gmail account, but prefers Firefox because it holds all his favorites. He sees your email in Chrome, copies your company’s URL and pastes it in Firefox, later adding it to his favorites.

  1. Sideways background checks

Irene is wary about email marketing tricks and she is not keen on getting tracked by customized links. Instead of clicking on the direct email link she waits until she gets home, and types your company’s name on Glassdoor to check your reputation online.

  1. Offline company events

Over her lunch break, Emily talks to a few colleagues about your company’s cocktail event email she received an invitation for. She cannot attend but Sophia is interested, so back at work she passes on the info and tells her to get registered as her +1.

  1. Insider word of mouth

Noah gets an email from your company prompting to download a HR case study about a flagship client, he does not bother to read the paper but as he personally knows people from the featured company, he picks up his phone to congratulate his friend, who has only nice things to say about your business. Later, Noah mentions your company’s customer-centric approach to his boss who makes note to himself to check you out as a potential business partner.

Key takeaway: think outside the box for off-the-grid email marketing ROI

The key takeaway here is to simply be aware of those off-the-grid lead generating funnels, and take it into account when crafting your next campaign to maximize your email marketing ROI.

But how exactly do you do that? Well, that will be the focus of our next blog post here on the Payroll Vault blog, so stay tuned, and be sure to keep it on the back of your mind, just in case you don’t get an email about it.


Michel Leconte, Founder and CEO of SeoSamba, an award-winning marketing and sales automation platform that serves thousands of businesses around the world. SeoSamba’s software is private labeled by business solutions providers and media companies and available in 14 languages.

With over 20 years of experience in online marketing, Michel is a regular speaker at search engine marketing conferences around the world, including Search Engine Strategies London & New York, and a contributor to a number of publications, including Website Magazine, and Feedfront Magazine. He enjoys strategy, coaching, and motivating both customers & staff.

When not hard at work, Michel likes to spend time with his wife and kids, from walking with his soulmate, to coaching his daughter’s soccer team, and helping his son build new Lego robots to take over the world.