What is Performance Marketing? A CMO’s Guide to Performance Marketing

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What is Performance Marketing?

Performance Marketing is an investment this is no longer a “nice to have” but a need to have as part of your overall marketing mix. Performance Marketing, also known as “affiliate marketing”, is a model that pays rewards based on the completion of a particular action, driven by someone else’s resources (time and money) and has a guaranteed ROI because spend comes only after a desired action takes place, which can be controlled (both from a margin perspective and a tracking perspective).

In simpler terms, it’s like having an online and offline sales force that works on a commission base only.

Whether the goal is to complete a sale, complete a lead form to capture someone’s name, email and phone number, a click, an impression or a phone call, affiliates can work with you to bring in new leads, new sales, more consumer engagement, more targeted traffic, additional brand exposure, and ultimately higher ROI.

Who are Affiliates?

“Publishers” or “Affiliates” take a flat payout, percentage of sales or “bounty” for contributing to driving targeted traffic that result in the completion of those sales.

Affiliates can be anyone from a stay at home mom or dad to a major global corporation. They can be bloggers, newspapers, mobile app developers, YouTubers and so on. One thing they have in coming is their entrepreneurialism and that they take on the risk of investing their own resources in order to earn from advertising others.

What are Affiliate Networks?

Affiliate networks act as a tracking platform and a bank. They offer client and affiliate support, host creative (such as banners, text links, datafeeds, coupons), offer communication tools, monitor for fraud, and so on.

What are Advertisers?

Advertisers, merchants, sellers and retailers are all referring to the same thing. These are the guys who pay affiliates for promoting their brand and helping to convert a lead or sale.

Who are Affiliate Managers?

Similar to having a store manager in a brick and mortar location, affiliate managers help their “online sales force” succeed. They provide training, tools, support, motivation and incentives, and team leadership, in addition to tracking, reporting, assessing data and holding people accountably for their actions.

Here are 5 Steps to Getting Started with Affiliate, or Performance Marketing

1. Define the Goal

Do you want to generate leads or sales? Do you want new customer acquisitions or customer retention or both? Knowing your goals will help you determine the type of affiliate network and types of affiliates you need to work with.

2.  Carefully Select Your Affiliate Network

Choose one affiliate network to start and work your way up from there if you need to.  Perform extensive due diligence and hire the right person to manage your affiliate team. This is a skill set that should be dedicated to the cause.  Take a look at the mThink Blue Book for ideas of the top networks in the world to get you started.

3.    Plan Your Media Piece

Be clear and have ready ongoing promotions and campaign pieces for affiliates to promote before you launch. This should include content ideas through various deliverables, your creative, your coupon codes, your promotional offer schedule, upcoming high potential sales days and so on. Be prepared for all sales opportunities and communicate these to your affiliates in advance.

4.    Monitor Your Campaign

Work doesn’t stop after the program launches.  Be sure to continuously manage your numbers, your creative, lead affiliates, watch behaviors and sales for dips and spikes, understand what your affiliates are doing, ensure affiliates are abiding by your program terms of service.  Doing these things will help make your program more successful.

5.    Optimize Your Campaign

ROI goals are achieved by optimizing campaign sales sources. Pay more for quality, profitable traffic to scale volume and adjust or turn off unprofitable traffic sources. Continue to recruit the right affiliates and get them active. Be proactive in outreach, placement negotiations and communicating promotions. Understand your metrics and KPIs so you can identify opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re not sure how to do this yourself or you don’t have the resources or expertise in house to plan it out there are many industry professionals who can help. You can also reach out to an outsourced program management company to plan and executive it effectively for you.