Balancing Brand and Performance Marketing At Scale

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It seems that these days, every marketing team’s goal is to create a unified view of their customer in order to help them market most effectively. From creating brand awareness with the brand story in mediums like TV and podcasts to finding high value customer segments for targeting on platforms like Facebook, brand and performance marketing are deeply intertwined when it comes to the overall return on spending. Perhaps the most dextrous in the art of balanced brand marketing and real performance metrics are the direct-to-consumer brands. Two notable digitally-native companies playing in today’s digital marketing sphere are thredUP and Chubbies. At CommerceNext 2019, Chameleon Collective partner Sean Finnegan sat down with Karen Clark, VP of Marketing Communications and Partnerships at thredUP, Tom Montgomery, Co-Founder and Chief Digital Officer at Chubbies Shorts and Matt Gilbert, CEO of Pepperjam. On this panel, these industry insiders shared insights on what it means to balance brand with performance marketing, and how they gather valuable data from testing the waters. In the session, they discussed important decisions like allocation of funds and measuring data that go into managing a successful marketing operation.

ThredUP is the world’s largest secondhand fashion marketplace. Its marketing campaigns aim to raise awareness about secondhand shopping and building a more sustainable future for consumers. Chubbies is one of the top men’s weekend wear brands, curating that “Friday at five p.m.” feeling in every piece of clothing. Both brands operate in the direct-to-consumer space, having grown to prominence as entirely digital channels unhindered by traditional marketing playbooks. Pepperjam is an affiliate marketing technology platform and service organization. Their goal is to create variable marketing options for clients outside of primary sales and marketing channels.

When discussing the branches of marketing, the panelists agreed that brand marketing and performance are intertwined. Chubbies, according to Montgomery, channels its marketing resources into ultimately building and curating an emotional brand. The strategy always keeps brand at the forefront, consolidating the production of branded content and direct response ads under one roof. As a result, his team is able to see in real-time how their marketing efforts measure up to their performance goals. Clark also noted that thredUP aims to maximize its budget across growth and performance channels by creating ads that tell an engaging story. Both brands agreed that their marketing goals span past customer conversion and checkout; they want to encourage people to engage with and comment on their content, helping the brands extend the reach of their story and brand message. The result is the creation of brand content and stories so interesting and shareable that it drives customers to share it with their followers.

However, the measurement of storytelling and brand reach still needs to be defined. According to Montgomery, teams should avoid using the umbrella of “brand” to side-step having to measure the data. Both panelists agreed that organic engagement like shares and comments hold just as much weight as more traditional data in reach and conversion. Their aim is to generate incrementality in their performance marketing efforts, ensuring that all data is measurable in a way that helps them use their marketing dollars effectively and with maximum impact. Montgomery’s advice: find a way to test profitability by determining the smallest level of investment needed to generate meaningful data. He suggests this form of testing as a calibration for larger expenditures the company might take on.

According to Gilbert, every touchpoint with a potential or returning customer should share the brand story as well as drive the customer to the next step of conversion. In this way, brand and performance marketing must work together. Old brands, noted Gilbert, are struggling to combine these efforts, putting newer digitally-native brands at the advantage to maximize performance and brand marketing data in a more holistic way. “Advertising should really ultimately be a profit center,” says Gilbert.

In addition to looking for ways to generate meaningful marketing data, these digitally native brands rely on a combination of internal and external assistance. Clark’s team at thredUP, for example, uses internal adtech to generate their campaigns, with teams developing creative assets and digital content for cross-channel use. They also work with agencies to help maximize the efficacy of their storytelling. As the company continues to scale, Clark shares that their long-term goal is to keep more of these positions in-house, but for now, they continue to source freelance creatives to help them scale. Chubbies also in-sources most of their work, with in-house creatives running all of their media efforts. This system provides their team with almost instant feedback on how their ads and content perform, generating up to twenty pieces of creative each week.

Brands rely on the services of Pepperjam to help them access and analyze marketing data within the context of the bigger picture. For example, Gilbert spoke about the value of providing their clients with the tools to understand incrementality of their data, educating them so that they can use Pepperjam’s tech solution independently and share it with their teams. Their goal is to help brands like Chubbies and thredUP to analyze reporting day over day to produce answers and valuable insight that stacks up to their business objectives in addition to media metrics.

You can view the full session on our Youtube channel here.

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