How to maximise your brand with performance marketing

How much does your brand influence the performance of your ads? In this blog, we explore the importance of your brand when it comes to performance and share key insights into how you can drive brand growth.

Before we go any further, let’s define the term ‘brand’ without quoting Jeff Bezos, since the term ‘brand’ can have multiple meanings. For the purpose of this piece, we’ve defined it as how your product or service is publicly distinguished from other products or services. It’s the messages that influence your customers’ perception, including every word, shape, colour and experience your business has ever created. It defines the value in your offering and ideally should spark a consumer response. And when it comes to digital advertising, your brand is depicted by the visual and verbal components of your ads. 

Does ‘brand’ matter for every company? 

The short answer is, yes

Consumers make purchase decisions based on how much they like your brand, not simply on the basis of your product.

For example, if you sell toilet paper, you may think you don’t need to bother with brand messaging. 

Right?

Wrong.

While toilet paper is considered a ‘convenience good’ that consumers purchase repeatedly without too much thought, we see time and time again that people still choose brands over products. 

A perfect example of this is Australian toilet paper brand,  ‘Who Gives A Crap’. Despite launching in 2013, within nine years it made more than $20 million in profits. This toilet paper start-up now serves over half a million customers around the world, that’s half a million customers who have chosen to buy their toilet paper online – and it’s not even the soft and fluffy kind. It’s clear that this company achieved this through strong and clever branding.

Branding, and how you communicate it, is important.

For instance, if you sell a really specific tech product for a really niche audience, then you’d probably struggle to explain all your unique selling propositions (USPs) in less than 20 words. 

If this sounds familiar, how do you keep your audience’s attention for long enough to convince them that you’re the solution to all their problems? Drumroll please. By using carefully crafted brand messages and thought-provoking creatives.

Luxury designer brands are well versed when it comes to the importance of brand. Ultimately, it’s about building a brand people love, understand and connect in order to gain long-term success. 

Ok, but where does ‘brand’ fit into performance marketing? 

Brand marketing vs performance marketing

Similar to art and science, ‘brand marketing’ and ‘performance marketing’ have historically been treated as two separate disciplines. 

Brand marketing is all about the long-term goal of building and growing a loyal customer base by communicating your brand’s identity and values. It’s how you communicate with your audience, leading to emotional responses, positive perceptions and loyal customers. 

Performance marketing on the other hand, also referred to as direct response marketing, is a form of online advertising that relies heavily on data to drive immediate consumer action. It often involves product-driven ads and includes channels such as paid social ads, display ads and search engine marketing. 

A lasting effect of the pandemic is a change in the way we consume content and interact with brands. The incredible growth of social media means that performance marketing is now a vital channel for growing brands. Those who incorporate brand-building into their performance strategy will not only be rewarded with long-term success, but they’ll also receive invaluable data and insights that can be used to refine their brand strategy. 

Even Adidas has acknowledged that performance without brand can actually have a negative impact on your business and have showcased this in their case study

Introducing performance branding 

Performance branding is a cross-team strategy that involves driving performance outcomes whilst simultaneously building a strong, consistent and memorable brand. 

You’ll achieve better results at the intersection of both approaches.

If you don’t believe me, Facebook, of course, has the data to prove it

To better understand the connection between brand and performance marketing, Facebook analysed 35 brand lift studies with 34 advertisers across 10 verticals. In their study, 94% of advertisers who expanded their strategy to build their brand showed an uplift in conversions. 

Facebook confirmed that there is a ‘brand halo effect’ and advertisers can measurably benefit by expanding their strategies to build their brands.

Alright, so how do you do it?

How to build your brand through performance marketing

1. Create impactful experiences

If you want to connect with your audience and have them remember your brand, you need to carefully design your ads. This means putting consideration into the creative concept, the design output and the ad copy. 

Ensure that the visual and verbal elements of your ads are rooted in the customers’ needs, pain points, dreams or wishes. This helps to form the initial connection with the viewer and ensures that any USP communicated is highly relevant to them. 

Whether you produce a video, static image or GIF, you must make sure it’s high quality and mobile optimised. 

Reviewing your competitors to see the kinds of messages that are already in the ad space is also super insightful. You want to be unique and remembered, so ensure your messages and designs stand out. 

If you’re trying to make a great first impression here are some tips: 

  • Videos perform well for prospecting audiences
  • Videos should be short (less than 15 seconds), designed for sound off and shot for vertical placement
  • Focus on strong attention grabbers, especially for the first few seconds of the video
  • Test creatives involving customer testimonials or influencer reviews 
  • Keep ad copy short and sharp (avoid truncation), and let the creative do the persuading

2. Design for a full-funnel strategy

If you haven’t already, you’re going to need to change the way you perceive performance marketing because not all activity will receive an immediate return on investment (ROI). When deciding on the types of ads to push, you need to design with a full-funnel approach in mind. 

You have to feed your funnel – in the early awareness stage before a sale is made, the focus is on creating a positive brand association. At this stage, a consumer who has never heard of your brand is unlikely to react to a hard sell, so you need to determine how you’re going to connect with them. 

Use your brand to change people’s minds and train their responses. If you’re successful in creating a memory, you have a much higher chance of influencing purchase behaviour. 

In order to capture a large audience in the awareness stage, you’ll need to make sure your media budget is allocated appropriately. This is a long-term investment that will eventually pay off as we move consumers further down the funnel where your ads become much more product-focused. 

Using a full-funnel strategy that invests in creating a connection with your audience will likely result in  much more efficient conversions in your bottom-of-funnel campaigns – and therefore a better return on ad spend. 

3. Understand and use your performance data

A successful brand is one that’s driven by consumer insights and data. This is why performance marketing is the perfect tool to refine your brand strategy. 

On a monthly basis, reflect on the performance of your ads and review this from a creative perspective. 

Which of those creatives performed the best and which of those aren’t working? 

Which messages resonated the most with your audience? 

Essentially, you want to know which ads had the highest impact (click-through rate and return on ad spend) and which had the lowest. 

If you were doing this for your paid social ads, you would review the creative (the concept, design, messaging, file type), as well as the ad copy and ad format that was used to support. If you target multiple audiences using different messages, you can get super granular and start to understand which messages resonate with each audience at each stage of the funnel. 

All the insights gathered from comparing the performance of ads in each campaign can create a data feedback loop. This is where ‘performance branding’ comes to life. Feed this information back to your brand managers, creative teams and creative agencies, and voilà! You now have a data-driven brand strategy. 

4. Test and learn

Performance marketing is a great tool to test different variations of your brand’s story or your product’s USPs. Replace those ads that aren’t working and start testing new ideas. Every new design or message has cold, hard data to inform you of your audience’s response. 

Over time, as you continue to test and learn, you’ll end up with a bullet-proof message, engaging creatives and a thorough understanding of what works best for your audience. 

Grow your business and your brand with performance marketing 

When your brand has a strong presence in your performance marketing, you’ll see a positive impact on results. Conversely, performance marketing can provide you with invaluable insights to help you build a brand that speaks to your audience. 

It’s all about using the data to create a more customer-driven creative strategy and improve your overall advertising result. 

As I mentioned previously, the relationship between creative and data, or brand and performance, is the same as art and science: “A great deal of creativity is required to make scientific breakthroughs, and art is just as often an expression of (or a product of) scientific knowledge.” – EBSCO.

If you’re interested in using performance marketing to grow your business and your brand, please get in touch with our team.

by Kerstin Allin
12 July 2022

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