5 ways creative agencies can get the most from performance marketing

The best creative teams can make something from nothing. However, all creative teams do best when powered by customer insights. Which is why now, as the cost-of-living crisis bites deep and recession looms, creative agencies yet to master data must raise their game. And they can do so by working smarter with performance marketing teams.

Performance marketing – where budgeting, decision-making and creative are driven primarily by the measurable results of a campaign, which mainly happens in digital marketing where conversion points are measurable – has many benefits, from powering creative content to positively impacting on a creative agency’s bottom line.

A performance marketing approach is one that shows how every penny spent contributes to a client’s campaign objectives, so it can help a client optimise creative assets. 

In recent work for Amazon, for example, output was strengthened and efficiency increased after a performance marketing approach we introduced with our creative agency partner resulted in a streamlining of the hundreds of creative assets previously produced each quarter. 

As well as understanding impact, however, a performance marketing approach helps everyone involved better understand ROI – something that’s critical when planning budgets for the year ahead.

Meanwhile, the focus on performance and conversion points it involves, unlocks opportunities for creative agencies to develop new conversations beyond the traditional main client contact point – the communications department. This can build engagement with other teams – such as sales. And it can also open up access to other budgets.

For workplace software developer Atlassian, for example, our performance specialists embedded end-to-end across content marketing, sales, and CRM.

To reap both the creative and the bottom-line benefits of a performance marketing approach, we believe creative agencies can – and should – work smarter with performance partners in a number of ways:

1. Collaborate

Get performance experts and creatives working together in the same room with the aim of running all campaigns as a single team. 

Many creatives still work in disciplinary silos, so it’s important to ensure both teams collaborate in an integrated way. By setting up an integrated lead – or hub – team, you can build a structure to ensure you have one of the keys to successful creative and performance marketing collaboration: effective communication.

2. Communicate and be transparent

Communication between two groups that don’t speak the same language is essential but can be tricky. 

Tell your performance marketing team up front what you want to achieve and what your overall objectives are. Agree a single approach to turn disparate data into insights that creatives can understand, interpret, and action. Have regular meetings between creative and performance teams to ensure everyone gets what they need. Define metrics, analyse results, spot commonalities, identify priorities and mutually agree a brief.

3. Be agile

Focus on delivering an agile cycle of development. 

Ensure performance marketers and creatives work hand in hand to research and develop content, refining creative work according to research from the market. Ask for campaign data regularly while assets are live and seek out actionable feedback. Quantifying audiences and sharing past campaign insights are an important part of the collaboration process so all involved know what in the past has worked well. 

4. Be open to changing the conversation

Proactively reach out for information that will help you identify ROI. This will empower you to flip the narrative you and your client have around cost and return. Stop thinking of starting a conversation: ‘We need to spend £500,000 on this new campaign’. Start thinking of starting it: ‘We can get you x leads for y cost if we do this’. 

5. Hold performance marketing partners to account

If you receive raw data and you don’t understand it, or can’t grasp its impact, push back on your performance partners to make them spell it out. Remember, it is essential that data shared is usable by all on your team. Useful data is data that is both understandable and actionable.

Creative and performance teams haven’t always seen eye to eye. But when they do, the benefits – benefits to creative output and its effectiveness, benefits to the client’s overall business, and benefits to participating agencies’ bottom line – are clear for all to see. Because the best, boldest, and most effective work happens at the interface of performance and creative.

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