For me, performance marketing is more than paid advertising. Performance marketing is a mindset and process that data-driven marketers use to get the most out of every dollar spent. Being efficient with your marketing is important in any business environment but even more so when there’s a downturn in the economy (I’m writing this during the COVID-19 Pandemic).

Often times, the best way to be process minded is to have a set of rules that guide you. In this post, I’m going to share with you my five pillars of performance marketing.

1. Think like a customer

Marketing works best when you understand the buyer. To do that you need to think like a customer. You have to walk a mile in their shoes. For the sake of performance marketing, this means, thinking about the types of searches a person would make in order to buy your product. It means thinking about what emotions customers should feel when they engage with your business. And, finally, it means anticipating their needs.

When you think like a customer you begin to understand what will attract them to your business. Typically, this is easiest to do if you buy the same product; however, you can better understand your audience by talking to them. Building a great network can help with this but reaching out to the people you most want to connect with and asking them a few questions works wonderfully.

2. Go 1% at a time

There are literally a thousand things you can change on your website or in your marketing campaigns. As a rule, don’t change one thousand things at once. You won’t be able to figure out which change helped or hurt your perforance.

My recommendation is to change one or two things at a time. This will allow you to draw conclusions and make sense of the changes. It’s also important to know that once you get to a high level of performance, it’s the little things that count.

3. Be a scientist

Scientist looking for new innovations.

Part of being a performance marketer is running experiments. We usually have a good idea of what will work but we also want to build on what we already know in order to find innovative solutions. Being scientific and willing to experiment will go a long way in this regard.

To get started with this, I suggest you run an A/B test. This is a simple experiment where you have one version of an ad that goes out to 50% of people and you have a second ad that goes out to the other 50% of people. Each ad is slightly different. One might have an alternate headline, for instance. From here, you check to see which ad performed the best and then stick with the winner for the rest of your campaign.

You can run all sorts of A/B tests to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for your business but the key is to be willing to experiment.

4. Look for patterns

You’re now being scientific by running experiments and that means it’s also time to find patterns from those experiments. And so the fourth pillar of performance marketing is to look for commonalities or outliers to help you understand your audience.

As the results from your experiments come in, you’ll want to start looking for patterns in the data. For instance, do you see certain segments of customers engaging with your websites? Are visitors following a specific path to conversion? How are customers finding your business? You’ll have to use a bit of curiosity to uncover these patterns but use tools like Google Analytics to your advantage. Out of the box, it comes with all sorts of charts to show you what your customers are doing on your website.

5. Simplify Everything

Finally, we come to number five. The last pillar is about keeping things simple. Challenge yourself to simplify your order process. Make your instructions simpler. Drill down to the bare bones so that only the core concept is needed.

Simplification makes things easier for everyone. If you have fewer fields on your sales form more people will complete it and you’ll have to spend fewer hours keeping that data tidy. In developing simple methods, you will likely also streamline your business and make it more efficient. It’s a win-win.


So, there you have it. The five pillars of performance marketing. As per pillar number two, implement each idea one at a time, master it and then add the next.

Good luck!