As a Performance Marketing Manager, currently at Airbnb, a digital marketing aficionado for almost 10 years, as well as a master’s student in Marketing at the University of Salford, I think it is my obligation towards my cyber tribe to share some of my experience to help marketing enthusiasts achieve their goal of becoming great marketers.
I spent my last 10 years doing digital marketing and carrying digital marketing titles with me everywhere, from an SEO Strategist, PPC Specialist, Digital Marketing Manager. to Performance Marketing Manager. I have been in love with this field a lot that the only blogs I read are marketing blogs, the only news I follow are digital marketing trends and search engines algorithm changes, and the only podcasts I listen to are also on digital marketing. The passion didn’t stop at consuming media but also producing them as well. So I created my own blog to write my own articles and thoughts on digital marketing.
(Source: https://www.affilired.com/en/publishers/a-basic-dictionary-for-performance-marketing/ )
But Digital Marketing for most people means nearly one thing, Google! And for me that is a red flag. I have nothing against Google or any other search engines. In fact, I cannot deny that they have transformed our lives to the better and I absolutely love that change. But what I don’t want is to wake up one day and find that Google doesn’t exist anymore. You know, bad things happen to companies.
So, to invest a life sharpening skills to market services on one platform, regardless how big it is, I believe is a risky game that I am not willing to play, especially that in my lifetime I have seen Google taking down a lot of industries and sites.
“Google’s algorithms can make an online business – and break it too.” (Walter, 2018)
‘Google Penguin nearly killed my business‘ By Peter Walter
So that made me think bigger. Instead of working on techniques to help my employers or clients get found on Google, I started to learn broader and more advanced and meaningful types of marketing and technologies.
I learned that marketing is half art half science, the artistic part is where the creativity takes place, and the science part is where the mathematician, data analyst, and software developer kicks in.
I like how Nicloas Cole put it in his blog post: 17 Small But Powerful Shifts Every Company Should Make In Their Messaging
The Best Marketing is not Marketing (Hacker Noon, 2018)
A traditional digital marketer would be wasting their time on things like impressions, cost per thousand impressions, clicks, cost-per click, click-through rate, conversions, conversion rate, view-through conversions, ROI, ROAS, ROE, cost/conversion, and the list goes on and on.
And that’s great! Even I spend a decent amount of time every day going through all those metrics, but what I am trying to say is that, this is not marketing. It is only a part of it.
But a real marketer does not stop at using tools to generate awareness to the brand they work at with the lowest possible cost, or even drive new visitors to to a website page.
I learned that what really matters is to have the influence to make people do something you want them to do by sending the right message to the right audiences at the right time. and that’s what performance marketing, and real marketing is all about.
And as easy as this may sound, it is a completely different mindset than giving your credit card to some advertising system and spray and pray.
John Wanamaker (1838-1922) considered by some to be a “pioneer in marketing”coined the phrase “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. (B2bmarketing.net, 2018)
Thepma website defines performance marketing as a “combination of advertising and innovation” that helps in such a way that everyone can be successful. (The PMA, 2018)
Today, with data analytics software marketing has been given very valuable insights for every step within the sales funnel, starting from branding and prospecting all the way down to conversion and retention.
Good marketers are able to tell what works and what does not in each stage in the sales journey.
I like what Nil Elharar wrote in a blog post about Performance Marketing on Outbrain.com that “Performance marketing was born from a need to decrease cost per acquisition and increase ROI…In today’s performance-driven world, digital marketing is all about “hitting the right people on the right device at the right time.” (outbrain.com, 2018)
I highly doubt that you will find a performance marketing specialist title, it is either a middle management or upper management position, or of course a consultant one. The reason is simply because you need to specialize in different areas and master them before becoming a performance marketing manager.
So let me put together what I see are the main ingredients for a successful Performance Marketing Manager?
Yes! The first and the most important attribute, in my opinion, is to always leave your bubble and fly high to see the bigger picture.
You should understand and very well absorb your brand’s vision and mission and align yourself with them. Then you should think of the value that you are adding to the end user, your colleagues, and your brand. And Everything else should be originated from there.
I personally considered working at Airbnb mainly for its misison statement to help anyone belong anywhere. This is a very noble purpose that I knew would give me the drive to excel on my day to day.
Marketing is a fun job but very tough, so unless you give yourself a higher purpose that just crunching numbers you will get burned very quickly, and won’t be able to carry on and catch up.
As a Performance Marketing Manager you will be managing a team of very smart, energetic, and creative people, some of them are very good at statistics, data analysis, and numbers in general, others will be your artists and content creators. Your job is to make sure that they know the why before the what and help them become the full-stack marketer who knows how to wear different hats so that they are not trapped in what they are good at and miss out on the bigger picture and what makes marketing great.
Depends on your industry, make sure you are fully aware of the decision journey of your customer, from awareness, to interest, to consideration, to intent, to evaluation, to conversion, and retention. know how to set your goals and break them into micro and macro conversions. I like to call them small wins and big wins. Once you set all those up, set your tracking parameters and attribution modelling systems in place so that you become able to see a full picture and be able to tell a marketing story, not just present some dull numbers.
There is a six year old article on Harvard Business Review titled ‘Data Scientist job is the sexiest job of the 21st century’
It says that data scientists make discoveries as they swim in data. they “give structure to large quantities of formless data and make analysis possible. Data scientists help decision makers shift from ad hoc analysis to an ongoing conversation with data.” (Harvard Business Review, 2018)
You don’t have to learn code to know how to decipher data, but at least know how to use the tools that can help you read your data. Tools like Tableau, Google Analytics, Data Studio, Adobe Omniture, etc.
From a personal experience, I believe that the day I became a Salesforce certified admin and specialized in the marketing cloud and marketing automation tools was a milestone in my marketing career.
Once you know what happens to your anonymous users (traffic) once they agree to give you their information, you will be exposed to a plethora of possibilities on how to be more relevant and engaging. From attribution modeling, to lead scoring and grading, to nurturing, to dynamic remarketing, and so on.
Do not think of becoming a Performance Marketing Manager if you don’t know SEO (Search Engine Marketing) and PPC (Pay per click advertising). Most probably you will have someone (or more) in your team doing the bidding, the keyword research, setting up the ads, and the campaigns, and doing the competitor’s analysis, but you still need to have an eye for it. Good digital marketing is half experience, half knowledge.
If you are in the marketing world for a while, you will notice that best marketers in the world do not bear any marketing titles. Look at the top facebook, instagram, or twitter accounts in terms of popularity. Do you think that any of them has a marketing title attached to their name? nor even a Chief Marketing Officer!
Forbes published an article in 2016 listing 25 Marketing influencers to watch in 2017 and considered them to be “leading the pack” (Forbes.com, 2018)
You will find that those who really know marketing are those who have the passion for what they are doing, they are more of go-getters, deal makers, and not the order takers or the the 9 to 5 employees in a company.
So If you want to be a really good marketer, do marketing for yourself, design a product, a brand, or service and market it. You will learn a lot growing your own brand than growing your company’s or client’s brand because you will not lose sight of the bigger picture, which is the cornerstone of marketing.
You need support from the online world if you want to grow as a marketer. Ideally you should be a thought leader, but also you should be part of a community that gives you the support, guidance, and opinion when needed. I really advise you to be active on social media, be generous on forums, share your knowledge on blogs. That will not only position you as an expert in the field, but will also allow you to see how your connections in the cyber world perceive and react to content. What types of emotions are triggered towards specific content, what people like more and what they don’t. What makes a good content to be liked and shared, and which makes people feel angry and insulted.
Your communities don’t have to be marketing ones, but anything you like: sports, music, games, gadgets, etc.
I personally learned a lot about digital marketing through my own blog (www.HaveResults.com). Because if you take blogging seriously you will have to read a lot, follow other blogs, and be up to date with all the trends and news in the field.
And don’t worry to much about building your followers, focus first on being genuine and real, the first follower will come naturally, and if you engaged them properly, the second will come along, then the third, etc.
If you can make the time, I highly suggest that you take marketing to the academic level. It made a huge different to me to study marketing in a master’s degree level at a very reputable University, like the University of Salford. Even though I consume a lot of marketing content on daily basis from blogs and podcasts, but the fact that I am doing a master’s degree in Marketing, I got access to academic research papers and books that I am required to use on my assessments and dissertation. Even though the knowledge itself might be the same, but the fact that I learn something the right way gives me the confidence and the right attitude towards knowledge. For example, I never paid attention before on the source of the information I would get. I also didn’t bother a lot to cite others when I quote them or refer to their works. I also learned to have a critical eye and an opinion in everything I read. and Finally, the program helps me a lot in committing more time to something I already have a passion for, which is marketing of course. Since I started, I study at least 4 hours every day. I have read so far hundreds of research papers and tens of books that I would never have read otherwise.
You can either be an average marketing employee who only got a job in marketing because you could not become a software developer, or you can become a thought leader and an influencer. You can be that person who stands in front of a whiteboard and go through numbers and charts or you can be that TED Talks speaker who inspires millions and changes lives. The way you see and define marketing, will define and shape who you are and what you will be.