Someone once said to me that brand and performance marketing are two sides of the same coin. It’s taken a long time for this to sink into my brain, but after four years of working on predominantly retail and service-based clients (think energy companies and hotels), this view has become solidified in my mind.
As digital marketers, it’s tempting – and often required – for us to focus on performance tactics that we expect to yield the strongest revenue results. While it’s nice to see all those green arrows in our weekly reports, this approach can occasionally lead us to disregard tactics that might generate less immediate benefits, such as those relating to brand.
We must not forget to consider how important it is to generate a positive brand image in customers’ minds, encourage them to explore our offering, and build a long-lasting relationship with the brand over time. Focusing only on the narrow spike at the bottom of the marketing funnel can lead to stagnation of future results.
How short-term thinking can impact long-term results
Examples of how stagnation can occur can be seen by looking at brand search and display remarketing.
Brand search, one of the most efficient tactics for the digital performance marketer, is hugely dependent on general interest. Therefore, without feeding interest into the market, brand search volume will fail to grow. While this channel may well remain superficially efficient on a CPA or ROI basis, we will eventually struggle to generate more of these highly valuable website clicks over the long term.
Display remarketing suffers from a similar conundrum. Without putting in the effort to get new users to explore our websites, we will only ever be remarketing to the same pool of people. Yes, it’ll be hugely efficient from a CPA point of view, but how can we grow sales steadily over an extended period if we only ever communicate with a limited number of people?
It’s essential to balance remarketing with new customer prospecting. New customers will be more expensive to convert today, but they’re also essential to achieving long-term sales growth.
The importance of brand in performance
In 2004, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, introduced the idea of “lovemarks” in his book (appropriately titled Lovemarks). This concept is based on fulfilling consumers’ feelings of love and respect towards brands.
If a brand is rated highly on both of these measures, it can be considered a lovemark. Only the best brands will ever inspire long-lasting love and respect, and the performance opportunities for such a brand are huge.
Even for performance marketers, surely it’s fundamental to our marketing efforts to raise the profile of our brands in customers’ minds if we want them to purchase regularly and recommend our offering to their friends.
Two sides of the same coin
Brands and marketers place huge importance on driving the best possible returns for our budget, often in a finite period like a week or month. And by carefully selecting the most efficient audiences, digital channels and messaging, we can achieve great things.
But performance doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it’s the cumulative result of having delivered consumers a consistent reason to see value in our offering. By planning for the long term, delivering increased interest through brand-based campaigns and messaging, we can drive new customers to discover our websites and learn to love our brands.
There are two sides to the coin, and without both, it’s impossible to ensure our efforts are weighted just right.