Pun intended, there are 12 rules of performance marketing as well.
I worked on many digital advertising projects: alone, consulting the client, or with my team/agency. I’ve noticed something in every single project I was a part of. There are “patterns” that tend to emerge and can possibly jeopardize the results. They appear sooner or later if you’re not careful enough.
By going over what we did good and what we did bad, I’ve come up with the list of “rules” for performance marketing.
1. Never assume anything
The golden rule. Have you heard that one “assumption is the mother of all fuckups”, you probably did. So, just don’t do it – never assume anything, especially in the performance marketing projects where you actually have the tools to test anything you need to.
2. Test, test, and test a little bit more
Test your assumptions, prove them true before applying them to the strategy. Also, test before every major change. Don’t just switch up bidding strategy, creatives, target audiences, etc. before testing the proposed change. Testing brings you stability and constant performance. You will minimize mistakes.
3. Teach and inform your client
You’re hired as an expert. Be the one. Spread your knowledge, educate the client. Don’t go too much into “how” because no one cares, rather let them know “why” you are doing something. Communicate results, opinions, and conclusions. The client will value this immensely.
4. Organize your accounts and campaigns
A crucial part of any successful performance campaign is its organization. Use one account per client – this is a must, as “mixing apples and oranges” will lead to chaos. Develop the naming template for campaigns, ad sets, and ads. Use them consistently across all accounts you work on. This is really helpful if more people work on one account.
5. Use a holistic approach
Performance marketing is much more than Google or Facebook Ads. Treat ad networks as a tiny part of your overall advertising strategy. Never observe results separately, rather observe them together. How does Facebook help Google search? How did Google display increase conversion rates in other campaigns on Facebook, Google, Criteo, Bing… ? Explore the intertwined web of cause and effect between different ad networks and interpret results as a whole.
6. Be realistic with the forecasts
Never hype up the numbers. You will fall down quickly, same as your results. Be realistic, make conservative forecasts. You cannot properly factor in sudden market changes, upswings and crashes, natural disasters, and many other unpredictable events. So, don’t hype up the numbers, it may come back to bite you.
7. Be honest to yourself, your team, and the client
If things are going bad, admit it. If things are going well, say it without being shy. Don’t look for excuses for the first bad result. Communicate sincerely, zone out the emotions, and speak your mind. Performance marketing is all about clear, trackable results. Full transparency in communication is a must.
8. Be creative with ad creatives
Stand out from the crowd. Catch user’s attention, engage, sell without selling anything with an ad. Users usually spend from 1.7 to 2.5 seconds on a piece of content online. Make it count. Play with human psychology, colors, sounds, words…
9. Build awareness, use the funnel approach
How often do you buy something without ever thinking about it before? Let me answer this for you: very rare. So, don’t use aggressive sales tactics in advertising to completely new audiences, who are not even aware of “the problem they need to solve by buying your product”. Structure your advertising strategy to follow the marketing funnel. If you don’t know what it is – Google it.
10. Don’t be afraid to scale up
Did you find the winning strategy? Are you getting target returns on ad spend? Scale up the ad spend, most preferably 10-15% up every few days – don’t hesitate… or scale up by testing new audiences and new markets. Go big or go home. Don’t be afraid if your ROAS (return on ad spend) falls down a bit. 4x ROAS on $10.000 ad spend is less profit in absolute terms than 2x ROAS on $100.000 ad spend.
11. Be patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Great things need time, so do great advertising campaigns. Don’t change up things too often, let it cool. Sometimes a campaign has zero results for days – just to explode afterward. Leave algorithms enough time to learn how to deliver your ads. We’re still far away from Skynet-level machine learning systems. Be patient.
12. Think outside the box
Don’t do something just because you have seen it in some tutorial or seen it work before. Use your brain, use your imagination. Be creative with the strategy, with everything you do. Do this for practice. Every week, ask yourself the question “What if?” while analyzing the results. Amazing things will happen. Trust me.
Should you work by the rules?
You can argue that these rules can be applied to business in general, and you won’t be wrong. Most of them are common business sense, so why don’t you apply them to advertising as well?
Also, bear in mind that rules shouldn’t be obeyed without exception. They are not written in stone. If you follow the rules blindly, there will be no spontaneous creativity in your work. And, without creativity, marketing becomes as dull as accounting (sorry accountants).
How do you use them in the end? – it’s up to you. And, as always, feel free to reach out.