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Performance Branding: The Future of Digital Marketing

Written by
Zlata Faerman

In the world of online everything, it’s easy to get swept up in buzzwords. Synergistic Branding. Multi-tiered Approach. Disruptive Marketing. Growth Hacking. The list goes on. Sometimes they are simple, catchy ways to capture a complex idea. Sometimes, they’re trendy vocabulary that mean the same things we’ve always said, now with new and exciting words.

An emerging term you might’ve heard more recently is Performance Branding. And while it’s getting a lot of attention in the trend department, in this case, there is a whole lot of substance behind the buzz. Let’s take a look.

What is Performance Branding?

Great question. At its core and most simplest definition, Performance Branding is an approach that aligns marketing goals back to business objectives. If the rest of your company is working to maximize returns to investors or shareholders, shouldn’t your marketing program do the same? In other words, Performance Branding marries the functional, highly measurable aspects of performance marketing (like Google & Facebook Ads, and other digital advertising) with high-impact branded content. The result is a unified strategy that maximizes long term profitability for the business.

But like most things, there is more to it than that.

Instead of using the traditional marketing funnel approach, with Performance Branding, we develop content that considers the entirety of the customer experience. Let’s consider first how the typical marketing funnel works. The funnel relies on a wide net to build brand awareness. Once engaged, you use a variety of content and methods to build interest, then desire, before closing in on the action (or purchase), and the final destination: brand loyalty.

Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action/Purchase > Loyalty

In an analog world, this approach was fairly standard and generally worked as expected. But today, we have a multitude of channels with a variety of digital experiences to factor in. Not only that, but customers behave and interact differently across each of them. While modern times have complicated the experience in many ways, it’s also given us a golden ticket in the form of data, which is everywhere. Of course, simply accessing data isn’t enough to affect change. It’s all about what you do with it.

Enter: Performance Branding. It reimagines the marketing approach, collapsing the silos altogether. Performance Branding isn’t about organizing campaigns by channel, but rather developing a cohesive brand experience that includes the channel, content, website experience, and customer service — all accounted for and measured by aligned KPIs.

How Does Performance Branding Work?

The Performance Branding process, when done properly, should be tailored to your business and its customers, factoring in all the nuances of talking to them where they are. Generally, it includes these five components:

LTV-driven audience segmentation. Lifetime value (LTV) is the predicted value of a customer over a given period. Analyzing both first-party data along with third-party data gives a more complete view of what actually drives average order value (AOV), margin, or repeat rate over time. By understanding which variables predict the biggest variance in LTV, we can begin to segment our customers and market to them individually.

Channel strategy. Using the customer segments from LTV analysis, we can start to think about where each segment lives online. Combine this with each platform’s unique marketing capabilities, we can structure ad campaigns, target audiences, apply best practices, and implement bidding strategies that meet the objectives.

Personalized content creation. With a segmented channel strategy in place, it’s time to design a creative strategy for the customer persona and lifecycle. This is where we determine the right mix of content for each segment, including video, images, messaging, special offers, highlighted products,  landing pages and more.  We lean on each channel’s strengths and tailor the creative to suit the native functionality, remaining hyper-focused on the overall customer experience.

Full funnel attribution. Next, measure effectiveness, digging into the data to measure the incremental value each touchpoint delivers. If any piece costs more than it contributes, it’s time to make adjustments, either in improved creative or with a downshift spend (or sometimes both). Conversely, if a touchpoint is overdelivering, dig deeper to see how to make better use of it. This approach gives us a chance to make better decisions about each channel’s contribution to the journey. It also ensures we’re not overly dependent on any single view.

Marginal bidding. With attribution rolling, it’s time to optimize the bidding strategy. This comes down creating the most efficient budget allocation. While LTV / CAC (lifetime value generated divided by customer acquisition costs) is the best metric for optimizing long-term profitability, you can apply the principles of marginal bidding to CPA (cost per acquisition), ROAS (return on advertising spend), or any other KPI. The main principle of marginal bidding is to set the maximum you are willing to pay for an action, and never pay more than that maximum in any part of your marketing program. It’s not about optimizing to an “average” cost or KPI, but instead, never paying more than your “marginal” cost in any keyword, ad set, campaign, or channel.

The Performance Branding process is not a one-time sprint; it’s an ongoing loop of improvement. And, you don’t have to take each step to its conclusion before the next step can begin.

Why Performance Branding?

With the siloed approach that keeps performance marketing and branding initiatives separate, digital ad spend and brand awareness efforts operate independently. This limits (and in some cases eliminates) opportunities for efficient use of marketing dollars broadly, and does a disservice to both functions.

Performance Branding is an evolutionary process that drives digital transformation from the inside out. It forces alignment not only across marketing efforts, but also between marketing and the rest of the business. This is what is meant by collapsing silos; we eliminate the existing disconnects between c-suite and marketing teams, and between brand marketers and performance marketers.

Simplify the marketing program with unified strategies, objectives and KPIs that together deliver a much more cohesive customer experience. It’s a process that recognizes attribution is a moving target, and that customers aren’t numbers, but people (who change).

In a world that’s constantly changing, so too must your brand. With Performance Branding, you get the opportunity to do just that, continually shaping your marketing to evolve alongside the marketplace. And because it’s specifically designed for accountability and efficiency, you maximize every cent of spend.

Still have questions? Watch our virtual event, Performance Branding: A New Paradigm in Digital Marketing on-demand.

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Written by
Zlata Faerman

Zlata is a full-time publicist, part-time writer, and round-the-clock ambassador to wit and humor. As a publicist for over 15 years, she helps launch products with creative ideas and garner press coverage that drives reputation and sales. She also contributes to a variety of lifestyle publications in the areas of food, parenting, health, beauty, marketing, travel, and home. When she’s not crafting kitchen concoctions for her food blog @lifeandthymez, Zlata can be found spending time with her family, having #zlatathoughts, and fantasizing about being a Real Housewife of New Jersey.


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