About a month ago, Scott Gardner from Fortune Interactive wrote a smart piece that got published in Webpronews, “What’s So Special About Search Marketing?” In it, he covers several points that demonstrate why search engine marketing, particularly search engine optimization is the most cost effective form of mass advertising.

His article was written in mid-December, ten days before Christmas and right around the point most of us were starting to tune out. It is a good piece, one that should be read by anyone involved in the sales end of search marketing. Here are a few highlights.

According to research from Georgia Tech, 85% of Internet users find websites and products through search engines. In fact, nearly 55% of online purchases originate from search.

U.S. Bancorp’s Piper Jaffray has estimated the average cost to acquire a new customer is:

  • Search Engine Optimization – $8.50 per new customer
  • Yellow Page Advertising – $20 per new customer
  • Email Marketing – $60 per new customer
  • Direct Mail Campaigns – $70 per new customer

Piper Jaffray also reported on the costs associated with lead generation:

  • Search Engine Optimization – $0.29/lead
  • Email Marketing – $0.50/lead
  • Yellow Page Advertising – $1.18/lead
  • Banner Advertising – $2.00/lead
  • Direct Mail Campaigns – $9.94/lead

A July 2005 MarketingSherpa IT Benchmark Study received feedback from over 800 IT marketers about the most effective lead generation strategies out of 18 mainstream practices. It found:

  • The most effective lead generation practice was in person seminars/road shows (33% of respondents communicated it was very effective).
  • The second most effective lead generation strategy was search engine optimization (25% of respondents communicated it was very effective). The value of search engine optimization has proven itself to be a “must-do,” when it comes to lead generation in all industries.
  • Paid Search Advertising (or PPC) came in seventh in the study.

The full article is well worth the five minutes spent reading it, especially the costs of acquiring leads and customers. Just wanted to make sure it didn’t get lost in the shuffle.