Award-winning TVCs with million-dollar budgets through to low-budget ads on Facebook all live or die on the strength of the creative idea behind them. It’s the same with display ads, blog articles, emails and landing pages. No amount of technical or marketing wizardry will make a poorly conceived or executed idea generate winning marketing results.
As shocking as this might be to consider, the bottom-line result is often not the thing driving the team producing creative ideas for your ad campaigns.
The team developing your Next Big Idea may have a primary goal of being clever, cool, fun or simply efficient. Which, when you think about it is odd given your singular marketing goal as the client is almost certainly to grow revenue.
Performance creative has the singular focus of driving a desired action from a person after their interaction with a piece of creative.
It’s that simple.
It’s a recognition that creative exists only to achieve a desired action from the viewer. The creative itself might be entertaining. It might be informative. It might be disruptive. It might be shocking, confusing, or even embarrassingly simple. It might even be tacky or boring. But none of this matters, provided it achieves its goal of triggering a desired action.
The performance creative process is all about blending art and science to produce creative work designed to deliver on a clearly defined goal and to then use ongoing data and insights to generate continual improvement.
Compare this to a traditional creative approach which, if you’re lucky, relies on innovative ideas, research, brand guidelines and gut feel. The reality is that often it’s a designer producing what feels right or recycling ideas the team ‘think’ worked well last year.
Often, the measure of success (if there is one at all) will be on overall sales or leads. The trouble with this approach is that most brands have far too much going on to attribute any increase or decrease in revenue to any once piece of creative or even a single channel. It’s often the case that success or failure remains a mystery and clients and marketers need to rely on subjective ways to measure success. Did you like the look of the creative and sales didn’t tank? Conclusion: It probably performed well.
Performance creative takes advantage of the fact that in digital we can quickly understand how users have interacted with and responded to different creative assets. When it comes to digital, think display ads, search ads, social ads, landing pages, videos, content, websites, emails, social posts and more.
For each of these types of creative we can measure how people engaged with the asset and what actions they then took. We can compare this to how people engaged and responded to other pieces of creative and we can also run advertising experiments to see how small (or big) tweaks change outcomes.
Performance creative has at its core the goal of enhancing marketing return on investment (ROI) by ensuring that the creative being used is engaging people and inspiring them to act. Performance creative combines the strengths of creative innovation with the highly measurable nature of digital marketing.
It’s art and science.
Performance creative works best when it involves data-driven marketers working closely with designers.
Data-driven marketers use data to gain insights into what’s working and what’s not with existing creative and the general competitive landscape.
This knowledge then influences skilled and experienced digital designers to make their creativity, innovation and ideas be even more targeted and valuable than would otherwise be the case.
Once creative has been launched, the ongoing contribution from data-driven marketers assists in improving the performance of creative assets through ongoing iteration and experimentation.
Performance creative tells us about what prospects engage with and how they respond to different elements and calls-to-action. It’ll tell us what works and what doesn’t. This is best learnt in a digital environment.
However, the learnings themselves are just as valuable outside of digital. Insights gained will point to the most effective creative to be used in traditional marketing where the need for performance is just as strong, but the ability to measure impact is so much poorer.
You might remember a time when advertising on Google and Facebook was cheap. Competition was low and often poor. You and I know these times are never coming back and at some point, we’ll look back on today as the “good old days”.
In this environment, standing still is going backwards. Getting stronger and smarter every year is an essential part of succeeding in digital marketing.
We’ve run thousands of online marketing campaigns for clients big and small, and in our experience, game-changing lifts in campaign performance very often come down to new creative. As essential as ongoing platform optimisation is, without a change in creative, other tweaks will have only a limited impact on performance (once a campaign is well optimised that is).
At Rocket, our bread and butter is running ROI-beating ad campaigns in paid search, paid social and SEO. Our success, and that of our clients, is so often anchored in the behind-the-scenes performance creative work done by our award-winning designers, writers and videographers.
If you’d like a second opinion on the creative you’re currently using to power your campaigns or convert your visitors, get in touch! Likewise, hit us up if you have a new campaign or project you’d like to discuss with us.
David Lawrence is the MD and Co-Founder of Rocket, an award-winning Australian digital marketing agency. He is also the co-author of the Amazon #1 best-selling marketing book 'Smarter Marketer'. David has presented at several events including Inbound, Search Marketing Summit, Mumbrella360, CEO Institute and a variety of seminars and in-house sessions.
David has built his expertise from a diverse career, starting with an economics degree before jumping into all things web in the late 90s.
Today, David is Rocket's Managing Director and is known for his ability to find clarity in the bigger picture. He is highly respected as a digital marketing authority, sharing his expertise with an extensive network here in Australia and around the world.