The four keys (and four key lessons) for great performance marketing.

In this article Great performance marketing is customer-centric. Great performance marketing is journey based. Great performance marketing is more than the ads you buy. Great performance marketing is always learning.

For the opening lesson of the Reprise School of Performance, Claire Elsworth and Ed Hockey challenged the concept of what “performance marketing” meant, acting as something of a pre-cursor for the sessions that followed. They challenged what were, arguably, pre-conceived ideas about what performance marketing was – namely short-term, bottom-of-funnel, media-focused activations, and instead made the case that four key elements made for genuinely great, effective performance marketing.

Great performance marketing is customer-centric.

Customer-centricity is growing in prominence as a model for marketers to follow, and performance marketing is no different. Where some may have accused performance marketing of being more product or channel-orientated, great performance marketing does have the audience at its very heart.

This starts by understanding who our high-value audiences are, their wants and needs, and how they go about trying to satisfy those wants and needs.

This is where both first and third-party data play a vital role in building a picture of not only who your audiences are, but how they interact with both your brand and those of your competitors. We find out about what they value, how they prefer to shop, and what they look for when it comes to deciding where and when to purchase.

There’s a huge advantage to taking this approach, beyond being able to produce more effective communications and creative. We can better size and prioritise the audience segments that represent the greatest value of highest value to your business, allowing us to scale the investment throughout the customer journey, and bring brand activity and performance activations together.

Great performance marketing is journey based.

The customer journey is no longer a linear journey and yet, marketing is still so often compartmentalised into siloed strategies, one taking care of brand marketing and measured against brand KPIs, and one focused purely on performance marketing, measured predominantly on sales and revenue KPIs. That doesn’t reflect how people shop, how they engage with brands, and how they make purchasing decisions.

As a result, a more optimal approach is a full-funnel strategy whereby everyone is tasked to deliver on both brand and sales KPIs.

This is why it is useful to look at performance marketing through the lens of how we can aid customer flow – the way in which consumers move through the customer journey. This approach allows us to identify and map key points at which our audiences may be accelerated through the customer journey (where flow is aided), as well as sources of friction, where customer flow may be disrupted. We can then optimise those points of good customer flow to make their more efficient and address any points of friction to try and minimise or remove that disruption.

This approach also allows us to optimise for different behavioural intents and particularly understand how those behaviours influence search activity, which was addressed in more detail in the following session, Utilising search behaviour to improve your customers’ experiences, with Danny Blackburn.

This approach also puts the focus of our measurement on how our activations are performing at each stage, allowing us to make better decisions on where to focus, and build activation ideas and focused tactics within each stage of the journey.

Great performance marketing is more than the ads you buy.

One of the big misconceptions of performance marketing is that it is heavily focused on media activations, leading to some accusing performance marketing of effectively seeing brands pay for traffic and sales they would have achieved regardless. But performance marketing is about much more than the ads you buy.

This is where our “flow” approach comes to the fore once again, because good customer flow is about three core elements: experience, media and content.

What is crucial about this flow model is that all three are interconnected and completely indivisible and without all three working in unison, you’re destined to have sub-optimal marketing. The best media strategy won’t overcome poor content and a dreadful experience. Great content is pointless without effective media and experience optimisation. Brilliant web experiences are worthless unless they’re supported by great media and content.

Performance marketing in the context of this model is about creating the clearest possible path for people to take our desired action. That means improving the core pillars of digital experience; trust, relevancy, user experience and engagement – pillars that go beyond media.

Great performance marketing is always learning.

Good performance never stops learning and looking for ways to improve. Test and learn tactics are vitally important in an environment where platforms and algorithms are continually evolving, and where key metrics such as LTV, ROAS, incrementality, and sales can all be influenced by relatively small nuances and differences from one platform or channel to the next.

Key to creating this culture of test and learn is to have a regime of testing individual elements to find the optimum balance. The session discussed a “one-page test” model where each test was designed based on a distinct hypothesis, documented on a single page with the methodology and learnings – a format that is easy for all campaign stakeholders to follow.

It is in this environment, where even small changes can have big impacts, that having a robust measurement and attribution model can really demonstrate the value of your investments – something that was discussed in more detail by Chris Schimkat and his session; Durable performance with measurement and attribution.

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