Performance Marketing: A Quick Optimization Overview

Learn how performance marketing differs from brand marketing and how to leverage this marketing strategy to optimize conversions, brand awareness and ad spend.

Digital marketing strategies encompass a range of different specializations. It isn’t uncommon to feel a little overwhelmed and, at times, confused about what they all mean for a business or marketing teams in the grand scheme of a well-planned strategy. In the same way that organic search, email marketing, pay-per-click, and media buying are understood to fall under the umbrella of digital marketing, performance marketing is also a key segment to consider.

We will provide a quick overview to familiarize you with performance marketing, so you can better incorporate best practices into your business strategy or marketing career.

Performance Marketing Basics

A segment of digital marketing, performance marketing, is sometimes known as cost-per-action (or cost-per-click) marketing, acquisition marketing, or affiliate marketing.

Performance marketing is data-driven and goal-driven. It encompasses everything you can measure in marketing, with the added benefit of developing a deeper understanding of your advertising efforts’ overall efficiency and total cost.

Brand vs Performance

Brand marketing is meant to familiarize your target audience with who you are as a company. The marketing budget is spent to build brand equity and promote a strong brand message. This is done through a marketing campaign focused on brand building and awareness, including forging an emotional connection with potential eCommerce clients through brand advertising.

Performance marketing is all about driving results and measuring the success of advertising efforts through various tracking methods, such as looking at return on ad spend. Future strategy decisions are based on the collected data, and businesses and individuals pay directly for the results.

Since it is purely performance-based, impressions are not typically a comprehensive target on which to focus. Performance marketers make decisions based on data, and choosing the right balance of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is vital. Clicks, leads, conversions, specific actions taken, customer acquisition, and other KPIs are more critical signifiers of a strategy’s success.

Who Can Leverage Performance Marketing?

While any business, organization, or individual can benefit from a data-driven approach to their marketing efforts, firms that need to make money online or have online acquisitions stand to benefit most from a strong performance marketing strategy. These companies can range from global Fortune 500 companies to small, local businesses. No matter the budget size, any business can set clear goals and use performance marketing to inform which strategies are working best to reach them.

Team members and individuals for whom performance marketing would be the most impactful include ad managers, merchants and retailers, publishers, affiliates, outsourced program managers (OPM), and solution providers.

How to use Performance Marketing 

To set a strong foundation for your Performance Marketing efforts, it is essential to start with a mindset of curiosity. Testing a few channels to see which are working most for your business will make it easier to determine where to invest money right from the start. In addition, it can help to be familiar with Product Listing Ads (PLA) like Google Shopping Ads, Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) for remarketing purposes, and affiliate marketing and networks. Performance marketers look to drive sales through these methods and leverage ad platforms such as Amazon, Google, social channels, and more.

Performance Marketers can also benefit from understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles. For example, researching lower funnel keywords your target audience might use to find your product or service can allow you to create copy-oriented content that will resonate and convert. SEO is also valuable for crafting longer-term goals in performance marketing channels. For example, looking into search terms and separating branded terms from unbranded terms enables you to begin targeting potential customers who need to be aware of your brand identity and continue to feed the sales funnel.

Affiliate marketing and collaborating with influencers are channels your business can explore along the performance marketing journey. Measuring how well an advertising effort performs is critical to performance marketing and affiliate and influencer marketing makes it easy. From custom links to custom discount codes, having affiliates or teaming up with an influencer in your industry are two opportunities to track and measure results to inform future advertising decisions.

Effective Technologies & Tools for Performance Marketers

The vast number of channels on which to perform marketing activities leads to the same number of sources for data. Finding tools to make data analysis more efficient and less of a time-consuming manual process are vital to effective performance marketing.

Visualization Tool

Data visualization tools easily allow marketers to take large data sets and create a visual representation that is less arduous to understand, such as a dashboard.

Attribution Provider

Attribution tools are crucial to understanding where your customers are finding you or converting. Understanding what touchpoints lead to the most conversions can influence future strategy.

Business Intelligence (BI)

BI tools allow performance marketers to understand trends better and derive insights from the data that will inform future marketing plan decisions.

Large companies with access to more resources may opt to build custom tools to fit their organization and goals. However, for most, finding retrofit tools is the best option. Some of the better-known and more widely used include Sisense, Tableau, and Branch Metrics.

Tips for Performance Marketing

Understand the cross-channel story

Combine data and insights as much as possible across channels for a unified brand campaign versus looking at them as separate. For example, how PPC results could impact you on social media and vice versa. Adopting an independent reporting system is vital because, when given the opportunity, separate channels will cannibalize credit for performance.

Let one channel influence the strategy of another

Ask yourself how you can use one channel’s findings to influence what you do next. For example, using a search terms report in Ad Words to develop a keyword strategy can also impact messaging for social ads.

Don’t sacrifice long-term growth for short-term success

A misleading assumption is that performance marketing is only concerned with immediate ROI and short-term goals like revenue or conversions. Don’t treat every social media effort as a quick revenue driver. Instead, invest in your referral programs and organic strategy, not just paid acquisition. For example, referral program performance can be tracked with surveys, tracked share buttons, and vouchers.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Most importantly, if you’re not testing something, you’re doing it wrong. So setting aside some of your budget for trying out creative, experimental strategies is the only way to keep learning and growing.

Our Performance Marketing Solutions  

We design, execute & create custom social media advertising that creates intent and support it with the strength of our brands. First Media Performance Marketing delivers you unparalleled scale with our in-house production, media purchasing efficiencies and real time reporting. We build audiences around interests, inspire them with ideas, and drive them to action. 

Contact our Performance Marketing Division to learn more.