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The Four Pillars of Performance for Digital Marketing Campaigns

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Compared with just a decade ago, consumers have an unprecedented amount of control over the content they see across all media.

DVR and premium streaming services ensure they don't have to sit through advertisements; and, as TV falls from its once tall pedestal, mobile is swiftly taking its place. Tellingly, research suggests the new generation of consumers is more influenced by mobile content and advertisements on Snapchat than by typical TV spots.

But, even as some things change, others stay the same.

What has endured the test of time are the four pillars of performance in marketing and advertising campaigns. Remembering these pillars in all aspects of your campaign planning will improve your chance of success.

1. Audience


Your marketing campaign should be focused on drawing audiences from a variety of channels into your brand's sales funnel. However, identifying and locating the right consumers can be difficult because the data about them is often scattered among different sources. To fully understand your customers, you'll want to draw from different wells of information (e.g., your online traffic, customer registration, and offline sources).

For example, consider Alice Cooper and Richard Gere. Sure, they're both males with a similar age range and net worth, but they're unlikely to be influenced by the same message.

Successfully engaging people like Alice and Richard means we need to capture data beyond their general demographic information. Doing so will ensure our message is refined in a way that will resonate. It's a good idea to look at categories like profession, affinity categories, lifestyle, political leanings, and other interests to learn what products and services they're most likely to spend money on.

Once you understand who your customers truly are, you have to get them to view the message. Viewability is a key measure of success for a marketing campaign, so it's also important to know whether these targeted audiences are actually seeing the message you're creating.

2. Context

People react to ads differently based on the media context.  For example, a young lawyer working in his office is more likely to be swayed by messages that relate to him on a professional level. During his off-time, however, he could be a hipster on the lookout for a summer music festival or the latest video game.

As a marketer targeting this hipster lawyer, to deliver the right ad you'd need to know whether he'll be viewing your message in a professional or personal context. Messages that may work on Saturday evening while he's socializing won't necessarily work on a Tuesday afternoon while he's at work.

Appealing to the right consumers with the right messages catered to their current state of mind is key. When you have all the data you need to target consumers based on the context in which they're consuming, you can move your focus to other important parts of the campaign—like creative.

3. Creativity

We shouldn't forget the art in marketing. A creative ad can stir viewers' emotions and cause them to convert into a customer. The convergence of creativity and performance makes marketing a dynamic industry.

Let's look at the 2015 TV ad for Emirates, the international high-end airline. The ad opens with Jennifer Aniston on a plane, distressed she can't find the shower and bar, with flight attendants mocking her. She wakes up from the nightmare, relieved to discover it was only a dream. As it turns out, she's in her private cabin on the plane. The spot ends with her enjoying a martini served by the in-flight bartender.

The elitist spot caught some heat: It's a product affordable to only a niche audience. But it got a lot of attention, raised visibility, and converted customers. For me, it evoked both feelings of motivation ("Wow, I'd love to fly like that!") and annoyance ("Geez, why aren't any US-based airlines this amazing?").

Quality creative is worth it. A TV ad reaches a finite audience, but digital video channels enabled the Emirates spot to be viewed more than 3.8 million times and earn 75,000 social shares within the first week of its launch.

Of course, a viral marketing campaign won't matter if you can't accurately measure its performance.

4. Measurement

Great marketers accept accountability. You should, too, if you're going to deliver business outcomes based on the objectives of your campaign, whether that's changing brand perceptions, inspiring customer advocacy, driving direct sales, or raising awareness of a new launch.

Research from executive search firm Spencer Stuart found the average CMO tenure is 48 months—double the period the firm reported when it first started tracking tenure in 2004. It credits the increase to marketers' connecting outcomes to measurable KPIs, quantifying the performance of each campaign.

Not only should KPIs (pageviews, engagement, conversions...) be tracked, but data should also be gathered and used for retargeting and other initiatives that strengthen the other three pillars.

Sustaining the 4 Pillars

These four pillars of performance create a sustainable loop, as the data obtained from one campaign helps drive the next. As more content is created to target different audiences in different contexts, the brand story grows while building a larger sales funnel that attracts more customers to be converted.

Marketing has evolved quickly over the past two decades, and it remains an effective form of revenue generation. Although the details may change, the desired outcomes do not: These four pillars continue to guide marketers in lifting their brands to higher levels of success.


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Tom Burg is the vice-president of product marketing for Centro, which develops digital advertising and media management software to help advertisers streamline and scale digital campaigns.

LinkedIn: Tom Burg

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  • by David Cánovas Tue Dec 27, 2016 via web

    Excellent article Tom, I really liked the article, 4 basic and simple pillars.
    A greeting from Alicante, Spain.

    David Cánovas
    Lotus Innovation

  • by Expressly Tue Feb 21, 2017 via web

    Thanks for the article Tom, sticking to these steps can really help marketers so much.

    Of course, delivering the right ad at the right time is key and getting it right can help your campaign to be extremely successful. This can be tricky though as it is not as though we can read the minds of whoever will be receiving the ad.

    One solution helps with this though by encouraging online merchants to create partnerships that help give marketers the knowledge they need to be able to deliver the right ads. With ads that are relevant every time, conversions go through the roof, helping to make the solution generate a better ROI than any of its competitors.

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