Understanding How to Get Started with Performance Marketing

Written by The Valve+Meter Team / May 14, 2018 / 5 Minute Read
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Performance marketing drives business growth through measurable actions such as clicks, purchases, and sign-ups. Learn how to strategize effectively, avoid common mistakes, understand your audience, and leverage data analytics for constant optimization to ensure tangible returns on your marketing investments.


Those looking to test performance marketing for their company must first understand the intricate combination of marketing innovation, advertising and communication between someone selling a product or service and a potential customer. This type of marketing provides a measurable result down to the individual clicks of a prospect, lead and customer, ultimately getting you to a marketing cost per acquisition.

Establishing successful digital campaigns requires planning, analysis of hard data and an understanding of your target audience. You can turn your marketing efforts into sustainable income if you invest the time and energy into establishing solid practices in your performance marketing efforts.

Performance Marketing in a Nutshell

Performance marketing is more than SEO or figuring out how to place ads on Facebook. It’s creating marketing and advertising campaigns to demonstrate real progress in driving new business to your company.

Marketing turns into revenue when customers take some type of positive action when responding to your advertising efforts, including:

  • Clicking on an ad
  • Making a purchase
  • Signing up for a service or
  • Providing you with new business leads.

Doing this consistently requires a solid understanding of what your company offers to the market. What is it about you that customers should value over a competitor? Tactics will differ depending on what services or products your company specializes in and to whom you’re selling.

Valve+Meter Performance Marketing does thorough research to align the goals of a business strategy design to drive the results a company hopes to achieve. We’re able to accomplish this by basing our plans and decisions on proven data and scaling up or down as appropriate.

The Evolution of Performance Marketing

Companies focus on brand awareness in the hopes their name will be at the forefront of a customer’s mind when they need something the business offers. The early days of affiliate marketing made this very easy to do.

The Rise Of Digital Advertising

Companies quickly uncovered the opportunity presented by the internet as it gained popularity throughout the 1990s. The evolution of access from dial-up to Wi-Fi also changed how we accessed it. Devices became smaller and more convenient to carry as people started using the internet more in their daily lives.

Soon numerous companies popped up, trying to take advantage of both consumers and advertisers. Big promises were made about the money potentially earned through digital efforts.

So those marketers spread advertising far and wide on as many high-traffic sites as possible. Internet users soon found themselves seeing ads when they did anything online.

Early marketers started using more unscrupulous methods to dupe advertisers about the actual traffic being brought back to them and to keep their advertiser dollars coming.

One big flaw in early digital marketing was there were very few methods employed to judge how successful these efforts actually were. This led to problems for both consumers and advertisers, including:

  • Getting involved with affiliates with little or no credentials
  • So-called marketing specialists using cookie stuffing to fake transactions from users
  • Companies paying for false conversions and users having their browsers filled with malware dedicated to stealing their information.

Businesses received the blame for these actions, harming their reputation and bringing them no ROI on the money they spent on internet advertising.

The Evolution Of Data Analytics

Things changed as the performance marketing industry developed new tools and standards geared toward analyzing the traffic driven through various marketing efforts. This allowed advertisers to track how well their efforts were going to convert consumer awareness of their brand to a tangible action of engagement.

What You Can Gain From Performance Marketing

The goal of performance marketing in comparison to traditional advertising is to identify a marketing cost per acquisition and pay when you see some type of agreed-upon conversion. The ability to reach the proper marketing cost per acquisition often requires a deeper dive into what marketing strategies work, which one’s need to be tested and what hasn’t worked thus far. Once the proper marketing cost per acquisition is identified, the two parties will be able to flourish together.

This frees the marketing agency to constantly evaluate and change course as data becomes available, instead of tied to tactics or campaigns which may turn out to be unproductive, simply because the execution was promised.

Other Benefits Of Performance Marketing:

  • A more diverse revenue stream
  • Innovative and creative marketing efforts and
  • Trackable and measurable data.

Before You Start

It’s best you have some sort of advertising efforts going at first before leaping into performance marketing. Gain some type of familiarity with important online marketing concepts such as PPC advertising and the long-term benefits provided by SEO.

You’ll need someone who understands the technical details of any tools you decide to make part of your efforts. Many companies find themselves bogged down by technical issues affecting the display of their ads or automation of certain parts of their campaigns.

Look at similar efforts by competitors and try to assess how successful modeling your efforts after them will be before overcommitting. Try to find points where you could differentiate yourself.

Pitfalls To Avoid

Here are the top five things you should steer clear of as you start your performance marketing journey:

  1. Don’t keep spending money on channels not showing enough ROI.
  2. Thoroughly test your campaign before launch. Failing to do so could cause you to roll out something which negatively affects your company’s image.
  3. Don’t oversell the results of your efforts to company higher-ups. Be realistic about what to expect as ROI. Failing to do this could cause them to prematurely lose confidence. Help them understand the time it takes to effectively execute marketing tactics, which can be short-term and long-term.
  4. Hire someone experienced with managing digital marketing campaigns if it’s going to be too much for your company to handle alone. Don’t get lost as you struggle to understand the ins and outs of different components of performance marketing.

Developing A Plan

Building successful performance marketing campaigns starts with asking hard questions about your company and what you hope to achieve. Think of the Golden Circle concept from noted influencer Simon Sinek. Essentially, consider “why” you do what you do, instead of getting caught up in the “how,” or “what.”

Sample Questions To Ask:

  • What is it you want your company to accomplish with marketing?
  • How do you see it benefiting your company six months to a year down the line?
  • What audience are you trying to reach with your efforts?
  • How much ROI do you want to see from their efforts?
  • What do you bring to the market that a competitor does not?
  • Where does your particular strength lie?
  • Who’s going to be responsible for designing your ads?
  • How much of a commitment is your company willing to make?

Having answers to these questions allows you to build a solid roadmap with measurable milestones. That lets you accurately assess your company’s performance marketing efforts. Knowing your own value lets you come up with campaigns showcasing you in the strongest light.

Designing Your Marketing Strategies

Once you’ve established a business plan detailing what your business stands for and the goals you want to reach, you can start planning how you’ll get things done. This goes back to knowing who you’re targeting.

Finding Your Audience

Are you trying to reach a general consumer audience? Do you wish to target a specific segment of the population?

If you’re selling a new high-end gadget, you’ll want to reach spaces where more technically-inclined people gather online. A company with a new line of women’s skincare products might want to target online platforms designed to attract a female audience.

What does the customer need? Can your company fill it?

Companies doing B2B advertising will want to focus on different channels to attract the type of business customers you want to convert.. The advertising focus shifts from filling a need to addressing a pain point. How can your product make things better for a specific business sector?

Deciding On Tactics

Once you’ve found your audience, decide on the channels best-equipped drive traffic back to you. These will not always be the same and should all be evaluated for the best possible combination of channels.

Common Traffic Channels:

  • Website
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Organic user searches
  • Paid searches
  • Mobile advertising and
  • Display ads.

Make sure you take the costs of using these channels into account when designing your advertising budget. Comprehensive data establishes whether you’re truly getting a good ROI on your performance marketing.

Concerns to address for different traffic sources:

  • Do you have a server and hosting available for your website?
  • Are you going to hire an in-house webmaster or outsource those services?
  • Who will come up with the copy for emails, landing pages or social media postings?
  • How much do you want to invest in paid ads on Google or Facebook?
  • Do you know enough about SEO/SEM to design effective organic ads?
  • Are your efforts optimized to be viewed on a mobile device?

Companies occupying a specialized niche in the marketplace have the advantage of knowing exactly why their customers would be seeking their services. Avoid trying to appeal to everyone and infuse your ads with the type of inside knowledge to talk directly to that customer base.

Tracking and Analyzing Data

Make sure you invest in the type of analytical tools providing you with the raw data needed to prove the ROI on your efforts. Here’s what you should be reviewing based on the information provided to you:

  • Conversations generated online by your effort
  • Any negative or positive feedback about your company
  • How often people share your marketing efforts with others
  • How long potential customers spend lingering on your website or social media space
  • Actual sales resulting from responding to your ads
  • How aware people are of new products you have on the market
  • The actions people take before making an actual purchase and
  • How often your ads get clicked.

From this, you should create well-defined KPI’s. The three main types you should focus on include:

Owned KPIs – Assesses how often people link back to your site and how long they remain after clicking through an ad.

Social KPIs – Looks at how often your social media efforts get shared, liked and tweeted across different platforms.

Business KPIs – Measures things like the number of leads generated from your efforts, how often digital brochures get downloaded and actual conversions.

Create sales and marketing funnels showcasing the outcomes you expect to find in your data. Your funnels will shift depending on the type of campaign you’re running. A brand awareness campaign should have different expectations than a product campaign, for instance.

Performance Marketing Makes the Most of Your Efforts

If you decide to hire a performance marketing company to handle your efforts, keep the lines of communication open. It should be a partnership – they may be the experts on the technical side of things, while no one knows your company like you.

Don’t Forget:

  • Be clear on what it is you hope to accomplish. Don’t sign off on campaign efforts you feel fail to reflect the true spirit of your company.
  • Don’t forget the basics of good customer service. The bells and whistles of a glitzy website won’t make up for the frustrations of users feeling they’re not getting what they were promised.
  • Be more than just a blinking ad. Shape your efforts to include things like telling stories about your company. Thoughtful content helps online users connect with you and builds up the brand loyalty to inspire them to become repeat customers.

As a top Indianapolis digital marketing agency, Valve+Meter is focused on results. We’ve helped numerous companies achieve their digital marketing goals through thorough research, strategy and data-driven decisions. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for your business.