3 Ways to Improve Strategic Thinking for Performance Marketing

Becky Doles

digital marketer

Picture this: you’re a couple of weeks into executing your network or client’s strategic plan and you suddenly hit a major roadblock. Maybe some of your marketing campaigns aren’t performing as well as you expected or you’ve come across an unexpected drop in metrics and you’re not sure what to do.

The changing nature of performance marketing means that setbacks are not uncommon. But even if your projects and plans are meeting expectations, that isn’t good enough — there’s still room to learn and grow. It is sometimes scary to stop and reassess your strategy, but taking a breather and giving yourself time to really think about what you’re doing can make the difference between just sliding by and creating kickass campaigns that blow everyone out of the water.

We’ve broken down three ways to improve your strategic thinking.

1. Strategic Thinking Focuses on Your Customers

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers (budgets, metrics, KPIs), but it is so important to stop and remind yourself of who you are trying to target with your campaign. Finding the right publishers to partner with helps keep you on the right track while you adjust and improve an email marketing program, social media buy, or Google AdWords campaign. Research and focus on where your customers are spending the most time, and let that data guide your decisions.

For instance, let’s say you’re targeting millennials on mobile, and you notice that conversion rates on a landing page are higher after they’ve clicked through an email instead of through a Facebook ad. Listen to the numbers, not your preconceived notions of what works for millennials.

[bctt tweet=”Stop and remind yourself of who you are trying to target with your campaign.”]

2. Experiment, Fail, and Experiment Again

Don’t maintain the status quo just because “that’s how we’re supposed to do it.” Explore new ways of trying different things and you just might find the key to improving your ROI. Experiments can range from changing the copy or image design to running different promotions such as a “Deal of the Week”, which adds a sense of urgency to the campaign. When it comes to landing pages, for example, there are many ways to A/B test: the CTA, header copy, and layout design all contribute to conversion rates.

As you test, make sure that you do two things:

1) Make the experiments different enough that the results matter. Changing only one word in a headline won’t give you any valuable insights.

2) Evaluate and eliminate options with a robust tracking platform — you’ll start to find patterns that can provide valuable insight into what is or isn’t working.

3. Stay on Top of the Emerging Trends That Matter to You

Marketers are constantly bogged down with “the latest trends that are going to change your life and make your boss love you.” The changing landscape is both a blessing and a curse. Marketers are empowered with better and more useful digital tools, but they’re also bombarded with trying to keep on top of emerging trends. Instead of becoming frustrated with trying to keep up with everything, figure out which areas of performance marketing you want to specialize in. Then, become the expert in that area, and apply those learnings to your campaigns. Successful strategic thinking will give you a marketing plan that will include layers of tested performance marketing tactics, along with new out-of-the-box thinking that will make you stand out.

How do you improve strategic thinking? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

19 responses to “3 Ways to Improve Strategic Thinking for Performance Marketing”

  1. Crystal Inniss says:

    Awesome insights! The “Experiment, Fail, and Experiment Again” segment is spot on. Part of innovation and experimentation is failure, that’s the only way to reach success! If at first you don’t succeed…try and try again! 🙂

  2. Angela Santarossa says:

    Great suggestions! Sometimes, you really have to take a step back to figure out what direction to take. A/B testing is a huge asset for marketers.

  3. Megan Kramer says:

    Very insightful! Listening to the numbers is a great suggestion to anyone involved in performance marketing. It can help you make better business decisions in all aspects of your company, by knowing what affiliates AND users want!

  4. Emily Breuninger says:

    The key to success is to Experiment, Fail, and Experiment Again! That’s the ONLY way to hit the ball out of the park 😉

  5. Cortney Bigelow says:

    Great post, Hannah! I love your point on rather than trying to keep up with everything, figure out which specific areas you want to specialize in. Become an expert in your specific area is key! Master of one > master of many or none.

  6. Mira Sytsma says:

    Great points! Especially the part about not maintaining the status quo just because that’s the way things are. Asking questions and experimenting is so important, the answers you get are determined by the questions you ask!

  7. Kelly Nibley says:

    This article was a great reminder that data speaks volumes and we can’t rely on generalizations or gut feelings when it comes to wanting to achieve the most strategic and strongest results possible.

  8. Lizzy Szorad says:

    I love that you hint at resiliency. You should never give up! What a great post.

  9. Dena Seabrook says:

    Thanks for the post! Such a good reminder to be willing to step back and re-focus

  10. Ben Peven says:

    Great article! Definitely agree with the point about going with the data instead of your intuition.

  11. Sarah Hager says:

    Great post!

  12. Claire Machado says:

    So true: marketers have to be innovative and not maintain the status quo – otherwise no one will notice!

  13. Anna Chatilo says:

    Nice, Hannah. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers when you should be stepping back and determining whether you have the most solid foundation to succeed.

  14. Christopher Shively says:

    Great tips!

  15. Charmaine Kwong says:

    Awesome tips! It’s difficult to stay focused sometimes in this quickly changing industry, definitely a good reminder!

  16. Ryan Ditch says:

    love this!!! more awesome content from our TUNE magic marketers.

  17. Andy says:

    Great post! I wish there were 10 ways instead of 3.

  18. Brigitte Linares says:

    Great post! Love the “not maintaining the status quo” point. The globalization forces us to constantly reinvent ourselves and finding new ways of doing business

  19. Jens Wessel says:

    Great article, Hannah! Totally agree it is important to re-focus time and again as a marketer in this quick-moving industry.

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