The New Performance Marketing Playbook for BTS, Holiday 2021 & Beyond

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With increased data privacy restrictions, a more crowded digital market and increased costs for paid channels, retailers are pivoting their performance marketing strategies while preparing for back-to-school and the holiday season. Being brand led may just be the answer to performance marketing moving forward. We’re recapping what Frank Vitovich (VP, Solutions at Botify), Vivek Kumar (CRO at UrbanStems) and Liz Dolinski (Chief Growth Officer at Lunya) had to say at our recent webinar.

Watch the replay here or read the recap below.


Botify is dedicated to bringing a performance marketing approach to SEO. To start the webinar, they shared the trends shaping retail in 2021, and how SEO can help your performance marketing strategies.

Trends Shaping Retail in 2021

Volatility of Google sends retailers back to SEO

Google has released several algorithm updates this summer (such as phasing out broad match modifier types) and a page experience update which have made paid search a more expensive and difficult channel for marketers. As a result, some marketers have moved away from paid search and focused efforts on SEO to improve organic search.

Online is still growing

With Covid, many brands had to undergo a digital transformation earlier than they intended to—online shopping was not only a convenient option but became a necessary method during the height of the pandemic. Online sales are higher this year than last year and digital is not going away. Brands need to adapt and embrace digital transformation in new ways, such as using new channels and martech solutions.

Branding takes the lead

Since digital is so prevalent, brands need to do whatever it takes to stand out—being brand led in campaigns or messaging will help. According to a CNBC stat Botify shared, 70% of companies are planning to complete a brand-based campaign to try to stand out.

Death of cookies

The impending elimination of cookies has been a hot ecommerce topic, and Botify re-emphasized the impact it will have on tracking user information and personalization. Brands should create a plan to understand customers without the use of 3rd-party data.


Current State of Performance Marketing

With the change in iOS, Google and Facebook updates, brands are having to shift their performance marketing strategies. It will no longer be easy to retarget and grab those top of funnel customers or rely on media for acquisition. This is where being brand-led comes in.

Companies who have previously relied on push marketing will need to switch their strategy and will likely struggle with the updates from Apple, Google and Facebook. Those who have built up a strong brand can lean in and adapt more easily.

For Lunya, their priority is building a brand that will perform well in SEO. And, they’ve created a landing page that educates consumers and shows the difference between Lunya and any other website a consumer would land on when searching for sleepwear. As Dolinski put it, “once we do get that hit, make sure it is productive.”

In the world of martech, push marketing and new technologies are enticing, but Lunya stresses the importance of basic bread-and-butter marketing: by asking questions like ‘Why do customers want to buy our products?’ you can build a strong brand presence with a personalized message-led strategy. Create a performance marketing strategy that focuses on the algorithm, content, message and brand all together.

Shifting Priorities Toward Affiliate

Both affiliate marketing and SEO are moving into new spaces in the marketing landscape. Affiliate is shifting deeper into the content space and out of the traditional landscape. Take a look at the various subchannels of affiliate and find which ones work best for your brand. Affiliate marketers who are struggling to compete with traditional brands that are beginning to create content need to create a brand (and experience) themselves that will make them highly searched. For Lunya, a luxury brand, they search for affiliate partners that create solid content and endorsement—instead of using low-tier affiliates like coupon sites, they create partnerships with people whose opinion matters in their community, which brings more value to Lunya than a coupon site would.

With algorithm updates and paid search being more difficult, organic search is an increasingly popular and a necessary channel for brands to build out. Botify notes that the brands most successful with organic search have SEO at the forefront of the website and ingrained with the product teams.

Measurement + Attribution

UrbanStems has been using the approach of multiple attribution models for each performance marketing platform. Consequently, when certain measurements became more difficult to measure with the Facebook changes, they had other ways to look at success. There is no silver bullet or perfect answer for attribution—when searching for an attribution solution, make sure to take a step back and search with the context of what your business is trying to achieve. Since no solution is perfect, assess your tools from different angles and different teams. Having tech and business collaborate will give your brand a more holistic approach to solutions.

Pro tip: For brands that are looking to start their attribution journey or are looking into new channels, make sure to measure incrementality as a measure for that channel’s success.

The performance marketing landscape will continue to change as more platforms introduce updates and we move into the next normal. Stay tuned in to CommerceNext as we bring you the latest trends and best practices in retail and ecommerce.