Dear naysayers: Can you please, please, stop talking us down?
Yes, I do mean you. Take this as a request from performance marketers to cease perpetuating the narrative that our profession is dying a death.
Because I’m here to say nothing could be further from the truth. And if you’re a part of the commentariat exclaiming that performance isn’t worth the money, well, the evidence doesn’t support you..
There are a few reasons offered for our impending demise; the inability for performance to meet rising costs; a narrow field of expertise; and the superiority of brand and content strategies.
But none of those reasons stands up to proper scrutiny.
I once worked in traditional media strategy, specifically TV, print and radio, before crossing the divide into digital. I’ve long been aware of the so-called ‘battle’ between performance marketing and more traditional forms of marketing. But to pursue a performance marketing strategy doesn’t mean neglecting traditional media – it’s just a matter of ensuring your marketing plan is well-rounded.
Performance marketing is data-driven. It was created to learn and optimise, which makes it custom-built to tackle any challenge your customer throws at you. Like our founder Robert Tadros said earlier this year, performance is about driving immediate and tangible business results. It’s about actions.
And this is what makes it such an asset to any business, particularly as we face an uncertain future.
The constant pursuit of improvement
Learn, adapt, evolve. This is the mantra I believe embodies all of performance marketing, no matter which brands rise and fall.
The companies that are successful today have adapted to changes in the digital landscape. Digital marketing itself has evolved from rudimentary click-only conversion tracking in the early 90s, to the complex end-to-end user flow tracking and AI that’s the norm today.
That is why the claim that performance is just ‘Meta ads’ is so untrue. Performance is about driving whichever channel provides the best business results to the client. That commitment is not wedded to any one platform. And as new changes begin to take hold, whether that’s the metaverse, Apple ads or Amazon ads, you can be sure to see more performance agencies starting to adapt, if they haven’t already.
This is the strength, and one of the key benefits, of performance marketing – the ability to optimise in a constantly changing digital landscape. Performance is reaching out to the right audience in a cost effective way. To do this, we rigorously research each channel’s reach, awareness, and compare that against objectives for each client.
Personalisation is a great example – it’s simply not possible without applying a performance marketing lens. Programmatic, digital out of home, even broadcast video on demand – all of these channels can be leveraged in the same way as Facebook and Google. As long as we know the investment, audience segmentation and objective of our clients, we can drive actions in a cost-effective way.
In the machine that is marketing, there are countless avenues we can go down. When one disappears, we move to another. And as we see new technologies such as the metaverse, Apple search and TikTok continue to revolutionise the industry, we should all understand the importance of learning, adapting and evolving.
No performance marketer is an island
Can you sell a beef burger to a vegetarian?
Sure, you can try. But you would certainly have a better chance targeting the people who actually eat meat – and that’s why performance marketing is essential.
Consumer-centricity is becoming an ever more urgent priority for brands. It’s increasingly important as we move towards personalisation and try to truly understand audiences in the wake of countless data changes.
Performance marketers are capable of delving into a customer’s user journey to fully understand what stage of purchase they’re at, their interests, as well as where the product’s life cycle is (usually either introduction, growth, maturity, or decline). We combine these learnings into a robust strategy – and usually there’s a full team of people at the agency on hand to help investigate this.
Performance marketing encompasses all the different skills now required to reach consumers in the way they want – strategy, data analysis and audience research. It’s not a single layer, because what today’s brands need is so multifaceted.
These skills were particularly useful during the pandemic-fueled e-commerce boom of the past two years. An entrepreneur trying to build their business from the garage usually can’t afford the costs associated with traditional marketing. But performance marketing reduces leakage of ad spend, ensuring budgets are optimised and they’re able to gain the level of intelligence they need.
Performance follows the consumer through any trend or topic. It has survived the many peaks and troughs of the past two decades, and can be one of the most powerful, revenue-boosting tools a company has these days. That’s why when I hear people disparaging it, I’m not worried for me. I’m worried for them.
Impressive Digital’s group business director, Raj Paniker
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