Performance marketing – it’s the term on everyone’s lips, but what exactly defines performance?
The first step to defining performance marketing is figuring out what it means to you as a marketer. Is it about sales, leads, awareness or purchase intent? You as a marketer have the power to define what performance marketing means to you, said Chiradeep Gupta, global media director of Unilever, speaking at Marketing’s inaugural Performance Marketing 2015 forum.
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For Unilever, the overall marketing philosophy has always been about “crafting brands for life”.
“Performance from Unilever’s perspective is about building brand love through unlocking the market’s potential. At the end of the day everything we do is to get brand love and to get there we have to unlock the magic,” Gupta said.
The marketing world today is much more connected and data rich. That is the standard operating environment for most companies across industries. Historically, however, there have always been two distinct worlds in the marketing function – branding and performance. While branding folks were more concerned about impression and views, the performance team defined success through clicks and acquisition.
“The output is essentially the same. Both want to sell. But the route is different,” he said.
He added that in the past two years, the two worlds between performance and branding have also been blurring as more and more consumers embrace the online world. The rise of the digital world is also making brands more accountable for their actions.
Fields such as e-commerce also make it much easier for marketers to understand what actually drives conversions, and mobile has pushed for the need for accountability in media because of its highly personalised nature.
So how exactly does a company drive accountability in its media spend?
The answer is in three steps for Unilever.
Getting the basics right
The first step is in getting your basics right and creating a point of connection with the consumer.
“We are a FMCG business. Despite all we do, it is still all about ensuring we have beautiful creatives that communicate effectively. That is the fundamental about everything we do. We want to create beautiful communication,” Gupta said.
Once you have a great communication strategy in place, it is all about verification and understanding who the messages are going out to. With so many targeting tools out there, there is more pressure to reach the right person because the right person is from whom the brands will get the bang from the buck.
“Who is the right person for your brand? As we go more into the programmatic space, we need to stitch more pieces together and verification becomes incredibly important.”
The next point of concern is viewability. How do you ensure people are actually seeing your ads? All these are functions of the basics to drive more accountability of the medium itself.
Once you have done that, it is all about driving actions, explained Gupta
Changing perspectives internally – the way you approach campaigns
Driving actions has a lot to do with driving change internally in the way campaigns and consumers are approached.
The focus, internally, has to move from transactions to building relationships with consumers. It is no longer sustainable for any business to think of one point of interaction or a single click. It is all about multiple interactions and how marketers can build a long-term relationship with their target audiences.
“Move away from the short-term mentality of now to a long-term relationship model. The returns are much higher and of more value,” Gupta said.
Another change needed is in moving from “price-point-based” thinking to a “value-added service” thinking. Traditionally marketers tend to focus on price points and build campaigns around this. But the key is in moving towards optimising value.
Non linear touch-points
Consumer journeys have dramatically changed over the years. Traditionally, the journey used to be from awareness to interest to desire to action and it was a linear journey. But today it is all over the place with multiple touch-points.
“This is because of the high fragmentation of media and the level of interactions consumers have with the media channels. There are more routes to the final purchase today. Every media has a role to play in the consumer journey – it is not about the last place or end point where you are making a conversation, every single touch-point online and offline has a part to pay.”
Outcomes not outputs
According to Gupta, too often marketers are too focused on outputs and not outcomes. Outputs, consisting of reach, frequency and exposure, are important factors, but should not outshine outcomes.
Leveraging data – intent and content
“Mediums such as e-commerce today have really made tracking easier. We have to ask ourselves what we are doing from the data with so much data out there. How are we using data to really power our communications and leveraging on data.”
He added that using data from search was a great way to understand consumers and find out their intent. When a consumer is on the hunt and is searching for something, that’s the highest order of intent and marketers need to strike while the iron is hot – being quick to identify trends and find commonalities in the way consumers search to ensure the highest optimisation rate.
Next is using content to supplement this intent which can lead to conversions and transactions from the retailer’s perspective.
“Look at intent and power with content and close the circle with some sort of redemption.”
But what is important is being agile in the way this content is created. Factors and variables such as time, place, situation and weather should also be factored in when creating the content. It is important to not bombard consumers with the same messaging, but rather to give variety, advised Gupta.
“As the world moves more programmatic there’s an element on real-time data that will power it.
“But at the end of the day, for every dollar we spend on whichever medium, it is about how and what we get in return in terms of value.
“It’s a matter of choice – increased spend on one platform is taking money from another. Hence, the return on investment is ultimately what helps us decide where we want to spend our marketing dollars.”