The containment measures enacted to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a significant downturn in the global economy. Consequently, even with the acceleration of digital transformation, a majority of businesses find it necessary to curtail marketing expenses. Within the spectrum of models available, performance-driven marketing approaches prove to be more effective and cost-efficient.
As per the 2020 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) by the US Census Bureau, online sales saw a 43% surge during the pandemic. With the growing embrace of eCommerce by businesses, there has also been a parallel evolution in marketing and advertising technologies.
A particularly noteworthy advancement lies in the enhanced ability to gather real-time metrics for digital marketing performance. In contrast, in the pre-pandemic era, attributing marketing efforts was a formidable task. Presently, data transparency empowers pay-per-click (PPC) marketing agencies and marketers to discern how campaigns and customer interactions contribute to conversions, sales, and various other objectives.
This attribution capability enables specialists in paid search marketing and Google Ads to utilize performance marketing metrics for refining advertising endeavors, thereby augmenting efficacy and yielding superior returns on investments (ROIs).
What Constitutes Performance Marketing?
A performance-oriented marketing strategy is a model that enables advertisers to remit payment solely for actual results, encompassing pay-per-impression (PPI), pay-per-click (PPC), or conversions like subscriptions, sales, or downloads. It diverges from most conventional advertising models, wherein advertisers make upfront payments, potentially spending substantial sums without guarantee of a conversion.
In customary marketing and advertising models, gauging the effectiveness of a campaign commonly hinges on statistical computations. This is evident in lead generation strategies, where the cost per lead (CPL) remains unpredictable. Digital performance marketing strategies, conversely, stand out in that pay-per-click marketing agencies and Google Ads specialists measure the performance marketing metrics of advertising campaigns in real time, attributing marketing performance, such as clicks or conversions, to distinct channels.
In essence, a performance-oriented marketing strategy spurs actions while meticulously tracking outcomes. Moreover, it facilitates clear visibility into the ROI of each asset, marketing endeavor, or advertising campaign at any given moment. Thus, with performance marketing, advertisers promptly discern the expenses associated with the results attained through paid marketing and advertising.
While major corporations possess the financial prowess to promote their brand, the majority of typical businesses operate within limited marketing budgets. For these entities, performance marketing emerges as the most fitting digital marketing strategy, as payments are contingent on the results achieved.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Performance Marketing
- Expanded Reach: Performance marketing encompasses a range of strategies including affiliate marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM), and PPC advertising. Tapping into these diverse channels, particularly on platforms with sizable user bases, furnishes businesses with a rich reservoir of potential clientele. In addition to heightening brand recognition, advertisers can also forge stronger customer connections.
- Real-time Tracking: Pay-per-click marketing agencies and advertisers find it easier to gauge performance marketing metrics and maintain transparency in the progress of each campaign, from click-throughs to conversions. Marketing and advertising attribution also aids in pinpointing the most effective partners and channels to focus on and allocate additional resources.
- Reduced Risk: Businesses can chart their expenditure and embark on low-risk strategies. One such performance marketing strategy is affiliate marketing, where payments are triggered only after the desired action, such as CPL or cost per acquisition (CPA).
- Adaptability in Strategies: Performance marketing is adaptable. Following metric assessment, advertisers can concentrate on partners and channels delivering high ROIs while discontinuing underperforming ones, thereby affording room for experimentation with alternative strategies.
- Missed Opportunities: Performance marketing agencies vary in experience, expertise, tools, and various other aspects. Unfortunately, some overlook opportunities by failing to translate performance marketing metrics into actionable insights.
- Cost Factor: It is crucial to remember that with performance marketing, advertisers are remitting payment exclusively for actual results. The narrower the focus within the sales funnel, such as pay-per-sale (PPS) or cost-per-sale (CPS), the steeper the cost. Although metrics like cost per lead are more economical, they do not guarantee conversion.
What Outcomes Does Performance Marketing Yield?
As implied, performance marketing itself does not denote a specific marketing endeavor. Instead, it constitutes a paid marketing methodology wherein payments hinge on tangible outcomes derived from a pre-defined key performance indicator (KPI).
Irrespective of the advertising or marketing strategy applied, the most frequently used KPIs encompass:
- CPM (Cost-per-Impression): Each instance of an ad display is tallied as an impression. Consequently, with CPM, advertisers typically remit payment for every thousand impressions.
- CPC (Cost-per-Click): Advertisers make payment based on the number of times users click on an ad.
- CPL (Cost per Lead): Advertisers make payment for instances when users take action, such as subscribing to a newsletter or registering for a webinar. In lead generation strategies, CPL identifies qualified leads.
- CPS (Cost-per-Sale): Primarily utilized in affiliate marketing, this payment system hinges on actual sales.
- CPA (Cost-per-Acquisition): In digital marketing, CPA pertains to the overall cost of ushering a customer through the sales funnel, from acquisition to conversion.
A term that may cause some confusion when discussing social media advertising expenses and paid search marketing is cost-per-action, which some may conflate with cost-per-acquisition due to their shared abbreviation. It is important to clarify that cost-per-action refers to a specified action, which could encompass anything from click-throughs and form submissions to subscriptions, downloads, and sales.
Which Channels Excel in Digital Performance Marketing?
As an omnichannel marketing model, advertisers have the capacity to promote a business across numerous channels. The following are some of the most popular ones that have demonstrated commendable ROIs:
1. Banner Ads
Banner ads have been in existence for over three decades, with the inaugural ad purchased by AT&T appearing on HotWired (now wired.com) in 1994. While certain internet users employ ad-blocking tools to prevent banner ads from displaying, this has inadvertently benefited advertisers. Users who do view banner ads either consent to them or do not necessarily resent their presence. Another concern, however, is banner blindness/ad blindness, a form of selective attention. This behavior refers to the tendency of internet users to consciously or subconsciously ignore page elements they perceive as banner noise or other forms of promotional clutter. Nevertheless, banner ads have proven to be resilient. Over the years, countless companies have achieved remarkable success in generating leads, with ample potential for progressing through the sales funnel.
2. Native Advertising
Native advertising, in essence, is an ad format that integrates seamlessly with the appearance and functionality of the platform where it is situated. Frequently, users can identify native ads as most platforms append labels such as “Sponsored” or “Promoted” content. Examples of native advertising include sponsored posts within “Related Posts” or “Recommended Articles” sections, or as in-feed button links. On Facebook, boosted posts also fall under this category. Additionally, paid video content in YouTube’s recommended video feed constitutes native advertising. Native advertisements deliver a less intrusive and disruptive advertising experience. Critics, however, contend that they can be misleading, as users may mistake them for regular site content. Regardless, one of the advantages of native ads is their relative immunity to ad blindness, distinguishing them from banner ads and contributing to impressive marketing performance metrics. Native video advertising is an emerging trend on social networks, with a projected annual increase of 20.1% in social media advertising costs and spending. Leading platforms include YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook Watch. Other platforms worth considering are Instagram Reels, Snapchat Spotlight, and Pinterest TV.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a digital marketing methodology embraced by 90% of marketers, with 66% intending to augment their budgets for it. Essentially, this strategy revolves around creating, publishing, and distributing content to captivate the target audience and shepherd them through the sales funnel. The most popular content formats encompass blog posts, case studies, checklists, eBooks, guides, how-to’s, infographics, user-generated content (such as testimonials and reviews), and videos. Content marketing ranks among the top lead generation strategies, with 67% of marketers asserting that it aided in boosting demand. Furthermore, 72% attested to its effectiveness in educating the audience, while 63% stated it facilitated the cultivation of customer loyalty. Businesses can amplify the impact of content marketing by employing digital performance marketing strategies that incorporate SEM, SMM, and PPC.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing requires no introduction, as it has become the most recommended digital marketing channel primarily due to the extensive user base on various platforms. Each of these networks—Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, WeChat, and TikTok—boasts over a billion users. Social media empowers businesses and advertisers to connect with and engage the audience. Beyond expanding reach, interacting with users can forge relationships, generate qualified leads, and ultimately convert them into sales.
5. Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing endeavors to draw visitors to a website through optimization techniques that elevate page/post rankings in search results. A prerequisite to achieving this objective is the employment of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to enhance the crawlability and indexability of each page and post. However, cultivating organic traffic is a gradual process that necessitates weeks or months to yield noticeable results. As an alternative, a brand may opt for paid search marketing strategies, such as PPC campaigns orchestrated by Google Ads specialists and pay-per-click marketing agencies. A significant aspect of SEM success entails integrating SEO strategies into content marketing. For instance, a blog post must incorporate appropriate keywords and adhere to best SEO practices to secure a higher ranking in search results, thereby augmenting a website’s search visibility. In every performance marketing campaign encompassing a website and social media, it is a given that SEO will play a pivotal role.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing constitutes an advertising scheme wherein a business compensates third-party publishers or affiliates for each sale. Typically, the compensation takes the form of a percentage of the sale or a fixed fee. In some instances, it may be based on other marketing performance metrics, such as a unique visitor or lead. Generally, affiliates can directly enlist with a company, such as Amazon. However, most affiliate marketers opt to utilize affiliate networks like Awin and CJ Affiliate, both of which boast numerous partners. While certain conditions apply, affiliates generally have the freedom to promote products and services by sharing a unique link bearing their affiliate ID on websites and social media platforms.
Constructing a Performance Marketing Strategy
Irrespective of the marketing or advertising campaign, performance marketing is outcome-oriented. Consequently, the steps for developing a strategy are generally consistent.
1. Delineate the Objective
Advertisers must ascertain the objective they seek to accomplish. Most businesses will opt for one or more of the following:
- Brand Awareness
- Customer Engagement
- Lead Acquisition
- Paid or Organic Website Traffic
- Remarketing or Retargeting
Most advertising platforms necessitate that advertisers establish objectives prior to creating and launching ad campaigns. The rationale behind this is straightforward—objectives dictate strategies and marketing channels.
2. Select the Digital Advertising Channel
Performance marketing agencies typically advise diversifying marketing channels. One exception is if an advertiser operates on a limited advertising budget. Nonetheless, launching two or more campaigns serves two purposes:
- Broaden reach by disseminating ad campaigns across multiple channels.
- Heighten the likelihood of successful campaigns.
3. Set Up and Commence the Ad Campaign
The procedures entailed in initiating ad campaigns vary based on the channel and platform. Generally, they involve the following steps:
- Identify the target audience.
- Identify their pain points.
- Determine a marketing message.
- Create compelling copy.
Given the intricacies involved, many companies opt to engage the services of pay per click marketing agencies or Google Ads specialists.
4. Monitor Analytics and Gauge KPIs:
Monitoring analytics and assessing performance metrics constitutes the forte of performance marketing. For websites, Google Analytics and Search Console furnish a wealth of data. However, they may not be as comprehensive as premium tools employed by SEO specialists and agencies. Each social media platform provides advertisers with its own set of analytics. Facebook, for example, presents the following:
- Funnel analysis
- Customer Lifetime Value Analysis
As reputable performance marketing agencies understand, there is no assurance that every ad campaign will be a triumph. While some may necessitate abandonment, more often than not, they only require slight adjustments to further optimize and enhance their KPIs.
Performance Marketing: Ideal for Small-to-Medium Enterprises
Performance marketing is not confined to a specific marketing or advertising campaign. Rather, it can encompass any of the prevalent strategies in use today. The pivotal aspect to bear in mind regarding this approach is that advertisers pay solely for tangible results. For small to medium-sized businesses, initiating one or two digital advertising strategies with the aid of reputable performance marketing agencies is an excellent method to promote products and services. Although it may entail slightly higher costs, you are essentially remitting payment for outcomes already achieved.
Should you wish to gain deeper insights into “What is performance marketing?” and “How can it benefit your business?” feel free to reach out to us today. Our SEO specialists are available to discuss cost-effective plans for fostering the growth of your business.