Thirty-nine percent of marketers say email marketing has had the strongest performance in the past 12 months, compared to 29 percent who saw ROI from social media.

Social media marketing generates a lot of buzz, but a Focus Research study shows that email marketing is a tried and true method for B2B and B2C marketers. The Marketers’ Benchmarks 2011 report compiled more than 170 surveys about marketing success, and email proved a top channel for lead generation across industries.

The Benchmark aimed to determine the top performing channels and content that marketers will focus in on in 2011. As Brafton reported, social content marketing has proved a top trend, but the study reveals that email marketing is the leading channel in terms of ROI.

Thirty-nine percent of marketers say email marketing has had the strongest performance in the past 12 months, compared to 29 percent who saw ROI from social media. This means brands should invest in content for emails to remain competitive and gain clients – and many are already planning to do so. Thirty-seven percent of marketers say they are investing most heavily in their email marketing outreach this year.

For B2C companies, the value of email marketing seems especially clear. Nearly half (43 percent) cite the channel as last year’s top performer, and 49 percent will make emails their top investment this year.

B2B firms also see gains from email marketing with more than one-third (36 percent) claiming it was last year’s strongest channel. Plus, respondents cite email as the No.1 overall B2B tactic.

Email marketing’s ROI is also made clear by a recent Epsilon study. As Brafton reported, the firm found that email¬†click-through rates grew in Q4 2010 and click-to-conversion rates increased 26.5 percent year-over-year during Q1 2011.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.