In our series of articles titled INsider Questions, we have sought out some of the industry’s top figureheads to see what they think advertisers should be asking performance marketers to eke more out of their campaigns. 

Each feature will cover a different topic and for today’s piece, Elaine Wan, head of affiliates at DigitasLBi London, has provided the most important questions that she feels advertisers should be asking when it comes to making the move into performance marketing. 

Why should you invest in performance marketing?

For most advertisers performance marketing (encompassing affiliates/lead generation) is a part of their overall digital marketing activity.  The majority of all large online transactional sites have a performance marketing campaign running, especially in key business-to-consumer verticals such as retail, travel, telecoms and gaming. 

The channel continues to see strong year-on-year growth.  According to the IAB Online Performance Marketing Study 2014, performance marketing generated £14 billion in sales in 2013 and advertisers spent £1 billion on the performance marketing channel which was up 15% from 2012. 

For advertisers, the performance-based model is one of the key USPs of an affiliate or lead gen campaign and can result in a higher return on investment and a lower cost of sale compared to other digital marketing channels. 

How do you understand the value of your performance marketing campaign?

The performance of your campaign would be typically measured against key objectives and KPIs plus performance to target.  However, looking at the value of the activity and the sales/leads entails a holistic approach to all your digital marketing activity including your affiliate or lead gen campaign.

Rather than viewing your activity in silos, being able to view each channel’s contribution to a sale will enable you to have greater understanding of its role and impact in the customer purchase journey. 

Key areas of consideration are: the quality and reliability of your performance marketing data and reporting, what data and key metrics you capture and record and how you manage your cross channel reporting. 

What elements create a successful performance marketing campaign?

The starting point should be a clearly defined strategy for the channel.  This should have clearly defined objectives and targets for the campaign which are aligned and integrated with your overall business/digital marketing goals.  This helps structure the activity of the campaign and provides a roadmap of initiatives for the next quarter/year.

Adopting a ‘test & learn’ approach for new opportunities and then implementing ongoing optimisation of activity is also key to growing any campaign.  There are endless promotional activity opportunities with affiliates and so having a progressive approach to the channel will help achieve key goals. 

How do you achieve global growth in performance marketing?

The first stage is to identify key target markets.  Are your other channels performing particularly well in specific markets?  Are you getting high levels of traffic and conversions from international territories? 

Before embarking on any new campaigns, you should investigate the performance marketing landscape for these new potential markets.

  • Are any of your competitors running affiliate or lead gen campaigns in these markets?
  • Which and what types of affiliates are there available to join your program and promote your offering?
  • How are you going to track this activity?  Are there any specialist or local network tracking solutions available?
  • Is your site and product offering optimised for this specific market?  For example: is your site accessible in the local language, is your site content and currency tailored for this market, have you integrated local payment methods and offered suitable delivery options?

When launching any global campaigns, another key consideration is local language and in-market expertise or resource.  Dependent on the market, these capabilities can be hugely useful in engaging with affiliates and creating relationships.

Lastly, it helps to ensure you have a clear strategy for these new markets, which is integrated into an overall global strategy.  The approach and initiatives however should be bespoke for the market, as you have to consider the maturity of the affiliate sector and the publishers available.  What works for your existing campaign may not work in a new market.

How do you get the best out of your performance marketing agency?

Quality regular communication is essential to having a successful working relationship with your performance marketing agency.  Also, make sure your agency understands your business and what your targets are.  Your agency is an extension of your brand and your advocate for an affiliate or lead gen campaign.  It is important for both parties to work together and have shared goals and objectives.