Performance marketing is inherently binary and generally defined by specific outputs to inputs.
Considering revenue is a stark reality, it’s fairly easy for marketers to get caught up in figures and dissociate from real humans behind the metrics. It’s worth pausing to question: Does a data-only mindset limit the capability of marketers to truly relate to actual people?
Focusing solely on metrics without regard for the folks who make up data makes it easier for marketers to lose sight of the product’s value that makes it worth advertising in the first place.
There are few better ways to truly align with the needs of your customers than to role-play those same needs yourself and solve instinctively. Heck, solving for customer needs and “walking a mile” is how many products and services are invented. A strong sense of empathy makes for badass marketers.
Appealing to humans through a better understanding of what people desire (and why they desire what they do) usually leads to better marketing campaigns. Yet even if we understand that empathetic marketing matters to the bottom line, it’s worth recognizing that we’re all wired a little differently.
For some targets, data is the focus. For others, their creative, empathetic side comes more naturally. Yet when a marketing team is crafted and disciplined enough to incorporate input from both sides of the brain, some serious marketing magic can occur. It’s the right- brain, left- brain winning combo.
Left & Right Brain Marketing: The Perfect Union
Some of the best marketers in the world flex performance marketing prowess while staying true to a creative edge that resonates with their target audience. Savvy advertisers develop integrated systems which marry performance marketing and Madison Avenue creative, arriving at predictable marketing results through rigorous optimization, relentless testing and whole human targeting and messaging. In other words, these marketing savants do marketing with both sides of the brain.
Often times when marketers are approached by brands to help achieve some specific goal, this key objective statement might look something like:
The goal is to identify the appropriate channel mix to increase online revenue volume by X% at a cost per acquisition of $Y.
The objective statement is targeted to the management of the investment or performance. Personally, that’s the part I thrive on and ultimately seems to dictate success. It’s my job to identify that (and where) demand exists and to convincingly articulate the solution to those in need, at the right time. Speaking to emotion, it’s also the marketer’s job to efficiently spend towards a profitable return. Put the cart and horse in the right order — that is to say, allow the primary objective and data to lead creative and not the other way around.
Data: Find What Works & Do More Of It
A few years ago our team inherited a search account without much backstory to the present state of performance. After auditing the account, one thing stood out: There was some amazing creative and no structure to learn how that creative performed. One keyword, one ad group, eleven ads… ELEVEN!
All ads were amazing and, given the associated budget, it would likely have taken decades to learn anything actionable. Go figure.
When traversing the Tao of data vs. mojo, creativity is very important. It’s also important to allow for the creative process to take place unencumbered. Once the creative is developed, pair it down to fit into a testing structure. Sometimes there is a natural inclination to test too much at once. In other words, there are often more great creative ideas than budget available to test all variables. In order to gain conclusive and actionable data, variables must be controlled and, interestingly enough, sometimes starting with literal targeting and/or creative will yield the most actionable learnings.
Magical Marketing Meld: Right-brain, Left-brain in Tandem
So how can the data and creative — left brain and right brain — work together to ensure that humans and human behavior are considered when executing data-driven and measurable performance campaigns?
- Empathy: Put yourself in the customer’s place. See if you can go through the funnel yourself and purchase the product, submit the lead; experience what you are asking your potential customers to do.
- Creative free-flow: Allow for an unencumbered creative process.
- Defensible creative: Clearly articulate the rationale behind each creative variable. How does it address common customer pain points?
- Test (realistically): Build testing structures to ensure creative variables, investments (allocation, budgets, bids) and timelines are aligned to achieve actionable results.
- Full-circle reporting feedback: Feed results and analysis surrounding customer pain points back to the team to inform future creative iterations.
- Repeat: Find what works and do more of it.
At the end of the day, when marketers acknowledge their brains’ tendencies and work with data to create marketing campaigns that allow lefts and rights to meld, campaign performance can ultimately improve.
So while you might be inclined to focus on the numbers from the onslaught (after all, that’s how success will be measured), remember that in order to get to the marketing goal, it’s worth tapping into the right side too and ensure that the campaigns appeal to the real, sensitive, gorgeous people behind the numbers.