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Marijuana Marketing 101: Measuring Offline vs. Online ROI

by Matthew Price on September 10, 2015

The purpose of this blog post is not to suggest that you should stop attending trade shows and business expos — particularly if attendance yields a positive ROI for your company. Instead, I challenge you to really look at the numbers. Do you really know what the cost of acquiring a new lead at a trade show is? Have you examined how that compares to the cost of acquiring a new lead through your website? Read on and we’ll break it down.

Measuring Offline vs. Online Marketing ROI

Event marketing will always be appreciated and is one of the most effective business tools you have. What can’t be ignored is that online marketing is equally, or even more valuable to your business.

Two important stats from the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report sum up the value of marketing online vs. offline:

  1. The lowest cost per lead came from digital ads and email marketing, followed by SEO. All three of these sources are part of the online lead development infrastructure, and focused on driving visitors to lead-capture opportunities on the company website.
  2. The highest cost per lead came from trade shows, with only 12 percent of respondents reporting a below average cost per lead.

Cost of Attending a Trade Show or Expo

These costs of course vary by industry, company and show. But for simplicity’s sake, we’ll use the following numbers:

  • Airfare: $350 x 3 attendees ($1050)
  • Hotel: $150 x 3 attendees x 2 nights ($900)
  • Meals: $100 x 3 attendees x 2 days ($600)
  • Floor space: $5,000 to $10,000 (let’s say $7500)
  • Shipping, other floor expenses ($1000)
  • Booth design, printed materials: $3000 divided among 3 trade shows ($1000)

Total these up and one trade show comes in at about $12,000. If your company attends three trade shows per year, that’s $36,000 total, not to mention the time required of all three employees over the course of two to three days each time around. If you can walk away from each one of these shows with 50 brand new leads (150 total leads/year), you’ll have paid $240/lead. Flag that number; we’ll come back to it shortly.

Cost of Marketing Your Brand Online

On average, an effective website or landing page converts at least 2 percent of its visitors into leads. That means for every 100 visitors, your website should produce two new contacts with names, phone numbers and email addresses who are interested in something you have to offer.

Now, let’s say you invest $3000 each month (the same $36,000/year you would invest in trade shows) into a digital marketing initiative on a cannabis-friendly ad network like MANTIS, with a quality lead generation tool that is hosted on your website. This can be a modal pop-up with a special offer designed to collect e-mail addresses, a custom landing page with some sort of call-to-action, or a mixture of both (preferred). That’s $36,000/year — the same cost as attending roughly three trade shows.

So if your website sees even 167 visits a day ($3000 monthly ad spend ÷ $0.60/click ÷ by 30 days), you should (in theory) see 100 new leads/month (or 1200 new leads/year).

  • Put that all together and you’re looking at $30/lead produced through your website for thousands of leads each year. By comparison, those three trade shows cost you $240/lead plus the time of all attendees and only generate ~150 leads per year.

So does the $3000/month investment in your website and online marketing initiatives still sound like a lot?

When To Try Digital Advertising?

Companies looking to target a very-specific audience can easily do so in order to maximize their marketing campaigns ROI. Simply put, digital marketing has the potential to offer advertisers greater control over who sees their ad campaign, which means less money wasted on people who have no intention of buying.

Digital advertising is also particularly helpful for generating useful leads that can later be used for remarketing efforts, turning your ad spend into a way to create long-term brand ambassadors. The advanced level of automation, customization, and flexibility of most digital ad networks makes marketing your marijuana business online easy. Now is the perfect time to start marketing your brand online.