What Is Performance Marking & 20 Performance Marketing Hacks You Can Use Today
The marketing industry is full of buzzwords like “low-hanging fruit,” “synergy,” and “thought leader.” While most of these buzzwords are so overused that they’ve lost their meaning, some buzzwords seem to be used only to impress clients.
Phrases like “performance marketing” are more than buzzwords; they have real value in marketing – at least, they should.
As an agency that offers performance-based marketing services, we decided to set the record straight and take back the meaning of “performance marketing.” So instead of throwing around this term to gain clout with our clients and make performance marketers look bad, let’s go back to the basics.
Read on to learn more about this powerful marketing tool and how our performance marketing guide will help you create an effective strategy that lets you scale faster than ever.
What Is Performance Marketing?
The most common performance marketing definition refers to marketing activities directly impacting your key performance indicators (KPIs) – this leaves the definition wide-open and can cause gaps between marketing metrics vs. business goals.
At XYZ Advantage, we believe that a better definition of performance marketing is the kind of marketing that makes our clients money. It does not fall under performance marketing if we cannot accurately quantify how much revenue a marketing activity generates.
This form of marketing isn’t necessarily new, but it is a slightly different approach focusing on KPIs that directly impact a company’s bottom line. First, of course, it’s essential to understand what we mean when we talk about the bottom-line results.
The general definition of the bottom line is your company’s profits. When companies aim to improve their bottom lines, they are either looking to 1) increase sales or 2) reduce costs.
For eCommerce businesses, bottom-line results often involve purchases, revenue, return on advertising spend (ROAS), and a customer’s lifetime spends (LTV). Lead-generation enterprises tend to focus more on leads, marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), ideal customer profiles (ICPs), sales cycles, close rates, and deal sizes.
Software as a service (SaaS) and subscription companies prefer to focus on pricing models, average subscription length, user acquisition cost, and close rate. Regardless of the specifics your business tracks, your bottom line represents the money you’ve made after all bills are paid.
Some other factors impact your company’s profitability. For example, an eCommerce business has to consider the cost of goods sold (COGs), advertising cost of sales (ACOs), cost per action (CPA), and average order value (AOC).
Lead generation companies are affected by follow-up rates, win-back rates, and the cost of lost deals. SaaS/subscription companies pay more attention to churn and refund rates, especially after free trials or demos.
The other thing to consider is which factors influence your marketing scalability. These are the things that can help or hurt your company from growing:
● Creative capability
● Copy capability
● Development capability
● Sales and marketing integration
The Most Impactful Performance-based Marketing Channels
While there are countless marketing channels available for companies to explore, there is only a handful that produces “trackable” growth without muddying the attribution measurement. Since performance in marketing focuses on bottom-line results, being able to qualify generated revenue is crucial. Here are the channels that allow you to track and measure bottom-line results directly:
● Paid advertising: Pay per click (PPC)
● SEO: Content marketing
● Email and SMS
● Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
● Influencer marketing for direct or affiliate sales
● Affiliate marketing
Some marketing channels are mislabeled as performance marketing. For example, social media management aims to build your brand through organic and scheduled posting.
Does social media generate revenue? Yes, it certainly can, especially for established brands and accounts with more than 50,000 active followers.
Is it easy to measure revenue generated from every social media post? Unfortunately, no. In fact, revenue, cost per acquisition, and leads are nearly impossible to track back to a single post.
Public relations, branding, and media management (graphic design, video production, website design, etc.) are all essential parts of your marketing strategy. Still, their impact on bottom-line results is not easily measured. Therefore, performance marketing KPIs need to be things that directly impact your bottom line.
20 Performance Marketing Hacks You Can’t Afford to Miss
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is an online advertising model where an advertiser pays the publisher (platforms like Google, Facebook, etc.) every time an ad is clicked. Alternatively, PPC is often called cost-per-click (CPC). You can learn more about how PPC advertising works from SEMrush.com.
Start With Your Highest-intent PPC
If you are new to PPC or have only used a small budget to test the waters, put all of your resources into high-purchase intent PPC options, like paid search. Start with Google ads targeting customers searching for a solution you provide instead of dangling an offer on a banner ad and hoping it attracts someone’s attention.
The highest-intent platforms for eCommerce businesses are Google Shopping/Paid Search and Amazon Ads. The highest-intent platforms for PPC for B2B and SaaS businesses are Google Paid Search.
Adopt a single keyword ad group structure with Google ads. This approach will help you know which keywords drive your revenue.
Try a retargeting campaign geared towards free trials, added-to-cart, recent visitors (14, 30, 60 days), and any user who has interacted with your site (watched videos, completed a survey, took an assessment, etc.). This kind of campaign helps you go after customers with the most intent.
People on social media are not looking for your product/service. For your ads to work, the offer and creativity are the two biggest levers to pull. Stepping up these assets provides the most prominent return on social media apps: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, etc.
Even with excellent traffic from paid ads (or organic traffic from SEO), a website that doesn’t lead visitors to take the next step isn’t doing its job. Pay attention to your conversion rate optimization (COR), which is focused on getting your website visitors to complete a specific action, like making a purchase, setting up a free consultation, or joining your mailing list. Putting time and money into PPC and SEO is a waste if your website isn’t converting visitors into customers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO refers to a set of practices that help a website or piece of content rank higher on search engine queries. The difference between SEO and PPC is that SEO aims to make content more visible organically (unpaid). Neil Patel goes into extensive detail on the inner workings of SEO.
Bottom-Funnel Focused SEO
The best return on investment (ROI) starts with your bottom-funnel content (content created to persuade customers to buy your product, hire your service, etc.). Companies use a variety of bottom-funnel-content strategies like customer stories, case studies, and comparisons. The most effective bottom-funnel pieces are articles that target keywords that compare you to your top three direct competitors and three to five alternative brands.
• Other brands vs. your brand (competitors/alternatives): Check out this example by Mailchimp.
• Brand reviews (yours and competitors/alternatives): REI offers a self-review example.
• Brand pricing (yours and competitors/alternatives): Rafal Reyzer shows how it is done.
Write industry research content like relevant statistics, resource lists, free tools (such as various calculators), and in-depth definitions to attract external links (backlinks). Backlinks are invaluable because they represent a tribute from another site back to yours. If your site is getting backlinks from other sites, it must have some great information so that it will move up in Google rankings.
Create systematic and realistic content. At XYZ Advantage, we perform an intense keyword and search engine results page (SERP) review to examine which content is ranking for the target keyword in a similar range of domain authority (DA), page authority (PA), domain rating (DR), URL rating (UR), number of links, and more. This research provides insight into the work required to create better content, obtain more links, and improve the overall domain authority to outrank the top content.
Research keywords that will provide actual traffic. Most people look at search volume and difficulty level to determine which keywords they’ll use. Volume doesn’t equal traffic.
Google doesn’t rank solely on a single keyword phrase. Instead, you need to examine the top-ranking pages to see how much search traffic they get from all of their ranking keywords.
Also, Google has been trying to steal search traffic from its rich snippets – if you search for “what is performance marketing,” you’ll get an answer on Google without having to click on any specific search result links.
Include a call-to-action (CTA) on all of your middle-to-bottom funnel articles. It often doesn’t make sense to include CTAs on top-level articles (information-based pieces), but every middle-to-bottom funnel piece should have a clear CTA to improve conversion.
REI does a great job with their article on bike tires. Websites with too many different instructions and buttons are confusing, which means their conversion rates suffer.
Email marketing is the process of keeping customers up-to-date on company news, special promotions, limited-time offers, and more. Companies build email lists through giveaways, lead magnets, events, mailing lists, etc. Hubspot offers a handy guide on this topic.
Understand how much revenue you need to generate from emails. Direct sales emails and SMS for an eCommerce brand should generate at least 30% of your total sales. Lead generation efforts and cold outreach should yield a 50%+ open rate and a 4-10% sales-call scheduling rate.
These are our minimum benchmarks – if a brand isn’t there, it means it’s missing some core ingredients: the type of emails, the volume of emails, and the content.
Automation and flows are predefined rules that trigger certain email messages and personalize the message based on actions the customer takes. These kinds of flows take repetitive tasks off your plate while providing the necessary communication with your clients.
In eCommerce, every store should include at least the following flows:
- Pre-sales welcome
- Pre-sales abandon-cart
- Pre-sales abandon-checkout
- Post-sales instruction
- Post-sales review
- Post-sales referral
- Post-sales social media follow/post
For lead-generation outreach, you have a host of secret weapons:
- Personalized greetings: Integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) software or have a virtual assistant write a personalized message rate for each person. A customized greeting will earn you a 50%+ open rate.
- Make sure you A/B test every offer, CTA, and case study/review.
- Avoid adding links in your initial email (even in your signature). Instead, invite people to respond directly so you can engage with them.
- Combining A/B testing and encouraging engagement will get you the 4-10% meeting rate.
If someone hasn’t opened or clicked your last email in three months, they offer little value. In fact, too many unengaged people on your list can actually hurt your domain reputation.
Send these people an email telling them you are dropping them from your list if a particular action isn’t taken. Trust us; while this might reduce the number of people on your list, it will benefit you in the long run. Sunsetting inactive users allows you to focus on the engaged members of your list.
Check out this list of examples different companies use to either reengage or say goodbye to their dormant subscribers.
Social proof is a huge motivator for new prospects. Follow up with all your happy customers to get that review (the best way not to bother your customer is not to write a bothersome email). Send an email with testimonials and review to potential clients with a button to browse your store or services to increase purchase intent.
Mailcharts.com offers a comprehensive guide and list of example e-mails geared towards building positive reviews of your product, service, or company.
While they may not be as fancy as other email options, they have a friendlier tone and produce higher revenue. You also don’t have to worry about how different browsers and devices display your message. Plain-text emails will be consistent across all platforms.
CRO is the process of evaluating and improving your customer’s digital experience to increase engagement and conversion. Essentially, we want to increase the number of sales made by those who visit your website. SendGrid.com explores the idea of CRO in-depth.
Many agencies focus on creating a beautiful website instead of making something customers can really use. Good web design means understanding your audience and designing the site to meet their needs – this kind of deep understanding comes from doing extensive research.
A website can look great, but if it doesn’t function to meet the needs of your audience, it’s worthless. Do you think sites like Google, eBay, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc., are more focused on aesthetics or function?
You should continually perform A/B tests and make small changes. This method is superior to making a significant change every couple of years. By completing ongoing small changes, you get a detailed view of what’s working (and what’s not), your site-improvement process stays active, and you’ll reduce costs by dealing with issues now instead of later.
A good guarantee can increase sales by 40-200%. Customers tend to trust brands that offer a refund or repair if something goes wrong. Warranties show your customers that you have confidence in your product or service.
There are several types of guarantees you can provide to give customers peace of mind. These are the three most common guarantees:
- Money-back: the most common guarantee is one that tells customers they can get a refund if they are not happy with the purchase. Costco offers a great example of a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
- Lifetime: some companies are so confident in their products that they offer to replace or repair them at no cost to the customer. Clients will actually pay more for a product that is guaranteed for life. Many popular brands offer lifetime promises, like Land’s End and Brooklinen, for example.
- Best Price: no one wants to overpay. To ensure customers shop with confidence, companies like Price Line offer a lowest price guarantee.
What you value doesn’t matter if it doesn’t resonate with your audience. Talk to your sales teams and customers to see what they say about your company. Use that language on your website. ConvertKit integrates customer testimonials beautifully throughout its website.
In order to sell your company, you need to know what questions your customers have and how to answer them. Include your top rejections and responses on your FAQ page. Your answers (reviews, benefits, guarantees, testimonies, etc.) can add value to your company.
Sales Over Everything Else
If you find yourself scratching your head to come up with the next big marketing push, take a deep breath and go back to the basics of performance marketing and focus on activities that directly impact your company’s sales.
Take this cheat sheet of performance marketing hacks, infuse some of your own spice, and use it as the secret sauce in your company’s recipe for success. Interested in seeing what else is on the menu? Take a look at a few of our case studies showcasing some of our recent projects and results, or reach out to connect with the XYZ Advantage team to stop leaving revenue on the table and schedule a free consultation today.