Few industries continue to grow as quickly and predictably as performance marketing. And whether you call it performance marketing, partner marketing, affiliate marketing, or something else, it’s all based around the same idea. As marketers, technology, and customers get more sophisticated, performance marketing is what separates marketing that sounds good from marketing that actually delivers. It shows exactly where every dollar goes, how it performs, and where there is room for improvement.
If you’ve ever wondered what exactly performance marketing is and how you can use it, we’ve outlined a simple process to get started below.
Performance Marketing Basics
What is performance marketing? Essentially, it’s marketing that is measured based on performance. Whereas many brands pump millions of dollars into brand campaigns that never actually result in measurable new leads or customers, performance marketing ensures that for every dollar you spend, you know exactly how many impressions, clicks, leads, or customers are generated. Check out our Performance Marketing 101 infographic for a more visual explanation.
Performance Marketing Benefits
We’re partial, but sounds like a pretty smart way to do marketing, doesn’t it? But that’s not everything — a few more benefits of performance marketing include:
- It’s transparent. It shows you exactly what you get for every dollar you spend. You can see which partners perform best based on data like how many impressions, clicks, subscribers, or downloads they drive.
- It’s low-risk. You don’t have to plan a big campaign and wonder what came of it. You can see in real time exactly how many new clicks, leads, subscribers, or customers are coming from every campaign, advertisement, and partner. If some campaigns are underperforming, you can pause them. If others are doing well, you can add more money to increase your results.
- It’s informative. Performance marketing lets you know what works well, and what doesn’t. It allows you to optimize your campaigns by testing which images, call-to-actions, colors, headlines, and landing pages give you the best return on investment. You can continuously iterate and improve your campaigns.
If you’re ready to dive in, here are three simple steps to begin.
1. Determine your goals.
First, determine exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, and how much budget you have to do it. For example, do you want new website visitors? Leads who fill out their contact info on your website? Actual customers who purchase something? Followers on your social media channels? Your goals will determine what you track and where you advertise.
2. Research advertising opportunities.
Once you determine your goals, research where you want to advertise, and in what format. There are several options for this, such as:
- Publishers: These can include large publishers like Facebook or Google, or niche publishers like small websites or blogs that your audience visits.
- Networks: If you want help choosing the best publishers, can work with an advertising network that has relationships with publishers and can manage your ad placements for you.
- Affiliates: You can enlist affiliate marketers who promote your brand for a small commission based on how many leads, customers, or followers they bring in.
- Influencers: Influencers are people or celebrities with followings similar to your target market, who will promote your product in exchange for money or free samples of your product. How much you will have to pay an influencer depends on how many followers they have, how engaged they are, and how well they deliver results.
- Social media: Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, and other social media sites are popular places to advertise because they’re where people spend a majority of their time.
3. Measure, optimize, repeat.
Regardless of which option you choose, the most important step is to measure your performance marketing campaigns once they’re underway. No matter how well you research beforehand, some partners and publishers will simply perform better than others, and the beauty of performance marketing is that you will be able to see those results as they happen.
In addition to measuring your partner and campaign performance, you want to continuously iterate on your campaigns to find out which creative, copy, and formats perform the best. Testing different call-to-actions, colors, landing pages, and headlines can yield massive differences in your conversions.
If you’re just getting started, it can be a lot to navigate on your own. So we recommend a platform that lets you keep track of everything all in one place — from your advertising partners to their performance, payouts, and more — such as TUNE. That way you don’t have to spend time reconciling stats across different spreadsheets, and can customize a pre-built platform to fit your needs, instead of spending all your time building from the ground up.
Become a Performance Marketing Expert
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to performance marketing, but we’ve put the most important information together for you. To become your own performance marketing expert, check out our resources, including our Ultimate Guide to Partner Marketing, and TUNE Academy, where you can complete a free certification in performance marketing and set yourself up for success planning, executing, and growing your campaigns.
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.