The age of low-value, high-noise marketing has ended. With 198 million people blocking ads outright, consumers have demonstrated they’re fed up with bullhorn marketing.

Is there still a holistic marketing strategy that incorporates an effective blend of inbound and outbound tactics? Fractl and Moz teamed up to find out. For our study, we went straight to the source: We built a 13 question consumer-facing survey examining the opinions and recent engagement respondents had with various marketing tactics.

Here's a snapshot of what we learned from more than 1,000 respondents:

TL;DR: Online content, search, and direct mail are the most effective ways to attract customers.

I. More than 88 percent use online search to seek out more information about a company, and greater than 93 percent had done so within the past week.

When people wanted to learn more about a company:

In a week’s worth of time:

II. Customer reviews, online search, and online articles have a positive effect on buying decisions for a majority of respondents.

Outbound tactics are significantly less impactful than inbound methods:

two times more likely
56 percent greater
1.8 times more likely

Meanwhile, mobile app ads, display ads, and paid search ads are more likely to have a negative effect on buying decisions, compared with other methods:

III. In outbound and paid channels, traditional advertising, email marketing, and social media ads are most effective at grabbing attention.

Which ad formats aren't particularly attention-grabbing?

IV. Inbound marketing generally has a higher ROI than outbound marketing

Proving ROI is marketing’s No. 1 challenge. So, how does the ROI of inbound marketing compare with that of outbound? For this analysis, we used CPM (cost per mille), which is commonly used across a variety of ad mediums to measure the cost of a thousand impressions.

CPM = (Cost of Ad x 1,000)/Audience Size

Paid search costs vary greatly depending on vertical, keywords, and targeting. The chart below shows average CPC pricing data across nearly 700,000 keywords for a variety of verticals during 2014.

Since there’s no industrywide standard unit of measurement for things like impressions and costs-per-click in content marketing, it’s a little more challenging to calculate its CPM. However, large-scale content marketing campaigns can garner viewership similar to a TV audience.

We recently had a Fractl client campaign placed on BuzzFeed that achieved more than 3.2 million views within several days of publication, and syndications to sites including NYTimes.com, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Telegraph, Business Insider, Gizmodo, Mirror, E! Online, and more than 550 other publishers. So we made the content marketing CPM calculation using the price of our campaign versus one on TV.

According to the information above, you would have to pay around $75,000 for a 30-second spot on a primetime TV network to reach a similar-size audience. When we add the viewership from syndication and social sharing, the equivalent in terms of viewership is probably similar to what more than $200,000 would buy you for a TV commercial. Not including the SEO value derived from the content, social metrics, and high-authority links. With a Fractl campaign of this scope averaging $10,000 for end-to-end strategy, production, and promotion, that makes the content marketing CPM roughly $3.13.

Want to learn more from our consumer survey? We parsed the Millennial responses to extract additional insights. Learn more about which marketing tactics resonate with Millennials in our free white paper.

Published on: Sep 2, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.