What Is Performance Marketing?

performance marketing

You’ve heard this story before: The pressure on marketing to prove its value is at an all-time high, and it’s not getting any easier.

The CEO, CFO, and board want to know “what have you done for me lately?”

Within the industry, new digital marketing technologies and necessary skills pop up on a seemingly monthly basis.

The reality: being a marketer today is hard.

This where marketing performance comes in: All marketers want to be high-performing. Who doesn’t want that gold star of success? But, the challenge is, what exactly is marketing performance, and what does success look like? 

Benefits of performance marketing

Most marketers would say they are already measuring and managing marketing performance—and they would be correct (sort of).

Marketing organizations must focus on driving the discussion and setting the criteria for marketing performance for their companies. At times, marketers do a poor job of taking ownership and fail to understand the different layers and inputs that go into optimizing their team’s performance on marketing campaigns. Instead, they take shortcuts or allow other people to define success. Consequently, this leads to an underperforming marketing organization.

How do you measure performance marketing?

To effectively define success and then beat expectations marketers must understand that marketing performance has two main drivers: marketing execution and marketing performance management (see below):

  1. Marketing execution is all market-facing activities; ranging from over-arching global marketing campaigns to individual field events and digital marketing. Execution is the muscle behind everything the marketing organization does.
  2. Marketing performance management (or MPM) includes the processes, technologies and actions used by marketing organizations to plan marketing activities, evaluate marketing’s results against established goals, and make more impactful decisions.

The strategy and execution (or tactics) within marketing are each important, but should not stand alone. Organizations often struggle when too much time and resources are spent on execution. Without cognizant, constant efforts towards MPM, marketing becomes decentralized and disjointed, which makes it ineffective.

Finally, at the most successful organizations, MPM is a strategic role that falls on marketing operations and with the marketing executives. In order to take control of marketing performance, marketers must spend the proper amount of energy on the strategy and plans.

Making marketing performance work for you

When thinking about marketing performance and how it can drive your organization towards success, we have three suggested takeaways:

  1. Take control and define the targets or objectives marketing should be measured against. Don’t settle for vanity metrics for digital marketing campaigns, go deep and challenge your team to create impact.
  2. Remember there are two parts to marketing performance: marketing performance management (MPM) and execution. They are equally important—treat them that way, or you may struggle.
  3. Don’t expect instant perfection—look to make progress, rather than solve all the marketing problems in one cycle.
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