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Why is Performance Marketing Considered a Key Digital Strategy?

by Dominic Watkins

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Xcede’s Dominic Watkins explores the importance of performance marketing as a tool for digital businesses today and the roles that are flourishing within this niche industry.

In a digital world that is driven by data, traditional advertising methods can struggle to deliver the returns or analysis that organisations and agencies are looking for. Performance marketing offers a way for brands to carefully control and leverage their advertising budget to achieve targeted, visible results. Today, performance marketing is becoming a much more commonly used term and one that has solidified as the market has matured. As agencies evolve their approach to performance marketing, I want to take a closer look at this specialist area and how it’s impacting digital hiring.

What is performance marketing?

Performance marketing is an inclusive term for a range of online marketing channels where an advertiser only pays when a specific action occurs. This puts control directly in the hands of advertisers and businesses, providing them with targeted, measurable results. Performance marketing channels include paid search, paid social, affiliate marketing, programmatic, and sponsored marketing. Advertisers only pay when the determined action has been completed, whether that is a sale, a lead, or a click.

Why is performance marketing such an important part of digital strategy?

Competition is fierce and if you’re not using performance marketing effectively, you probably won’t get noticed. In the past, we used to see a leading brand in one area with limited competitors at the same level. Today, many markets are saturated, and you have to be at the top of your game when it comes to advertising. The use of performance marketing has also been driven by the way people now search for goods and services almost exclusively online. If you’re not using performance marketing, you’re simply not going to appear in a search.  

Strategic approaches to advertising spend have also transformed, particularly for brands with limited budgets. Organisations and agencies aren’t willing to throw money at brand-awareness campaigns with limited measurable returns. Performance marketing benefits from being both targeted and results-driven. Brand awareness flows from a paid ad rather than the hope that a traditional brand-led campaign will generate unspecified growth in sales. People want to see a clear result from their marketing spend and we now have the technology and platforms to allow that to happen in a meaningful way.

It’s also important to recognise the growth in the sophistication of targeted ads as a key factor that is flowing into performance marketing growth. Companies such as Facebook and Google can ensure that your campaign reaches the right people in the right way almost all of the time. The science behind these marketing algorithms is incredibly powerful with the potential to drive impressive revenue when harnessed intelligently.

What types of roles are in demand within performance marketing?

Agencies are moving away from dedicated teams that oversee one aspect of digital advertising. They are instead moving towards a client-team model where key performance marketing skills are brought together to promote more holistic ways of working. The types of roles we recruit for across performance marketing include anything in the paid search, paid social, paid display, SEO, and affiliate verticals. However, we are also now seeing roles that span these areas, including performance marketing executives, specialists, and heads. Candidates are often now multi-channel specialists rather than being siloed into a single area.

What qualities are employers looking for when they recruit for performance marketing roles?

Employers are always looking for experience and a track record of impressive results, but we are also seeing some shift away from the traditional marketing skill set. Employers are often keen to connect with performance marketers with highly analytical and data-focused skills. This has seen a rise in preference for STEM degrees alongside core marketing competencies. An analytical and methodical way of thinking is often now as vital to a marketer as creativity and brand awareness.  

Performance marketing doesn’t stand still. It only becomes more complex and powerful as the technologies behind it grow and evolve. It’s vital for agencies and brands to keep pace with this rapid change and to continue to upskill their teams as new opportunities develop.

Looking for your next performance marketing challenge or for an exceptional performance marketer to join your team? Explore our marketing page to find out more about our current roles and discover how our expert consultants can support your growth.