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Blurring the boundaries between brand and performance marketing

For years, brand marketing and performance marketing have been considered separate endeavours, competing against each other for precious budget. Now, however, savvy marketers are beginning to realise that the boundary between these two disciplines is becoming increasingly blurred. This interdependent relationship was one of the hot topics recently discussed at an Epsilon-hosted eTail Connect 2023 event.

In a nutshell: What’s the difference between brand and performance marketing

  • Brand marketing is focused on building awareness and creating a positive image for a company. It is a long-term strategy that aims to create a strong emotional connection with consumers through visuals, values and personality, establishing a brand identity that resonates with target customers.
  • Performance marketing is all about achieving specific, measurable goals such as clicks, sales or leads. It is a short-term strategy that focuses on driving conversions and generating revenue. Marketers use performance marketing platforms to track metrics and fine-tune their approach.

Deeper dive: Blurring the boundaries between brand and performance marketing

Kate Davies-Hinde, Head of Digital Marketing at Bensons for Beds, told the eTail Connect 2023 Epsilon-hosted event that brand and performance marketing is converging because marketers are realizing that they have highly complementary effect. Marketers realize they need to create a strong emotional connection with consumers while also needing specific measurable goals. At this intersection creativity is rooted in data and performance is elevated by brand equity. Davies-Hinde explained that brand marketing was particularly powerful at initiating the customers purchasing journey.

“This year Bensons for Beds has come a long way trying to figure out where brand comes in in terms of journey initiation, compared to lower-funnel conversion tactics, such as remarketing email and PPC. The challenge now is educating the business about the importance of journey initiation and how brand and performance marketing budgets should be aligned.”

Kate Davies-Hinde, Head of Digital Marketing, Bensons for Beds

Fast fact: Recent Meta research supports the claim that brand and performance marketing are converging. The firm’s analysis shows 60% of the return on investment from social media has long-term effects associated with brand, which extends into brand equity. These results highlight the importance of including both brand and performance in any marketing strategy.

Here are the five top takeaways for successfully integrating performance and brand into your marketing strategies, shared during eTail Connect 2023:

  1. Educate your business. It is almost impossible to deliver long-term business performance if a brand fails to resonate with consumers. Budget holders need to understand that brand and performance are increasingly interdependent.
  2. Avoid cannibalizing your channels. According to Davies-Hinde, the convergence between performance and brand means marketers must build shared KPIs across both channels – don’t just measure ROAS from a performance perspective and brand equity from a brand standpoint. KPIs must work in harmony rather that working against each other. “Ultimately shoppers use multiple channels, so you have to build your budgets to reflect that reality,” Davies-Hinde told eTail Connect 2023 delegates.
  3. Don’t invest everything in short-term performance. Remaining front-of-mind among consumers is critical, Ciaran McClellan, Growth Director at contemporary women’s wear brand ME+EM, told delegates. He said: “Most of the marketing activity conducted by teams is about laying down memory structures for future sales. If you get too caught up in short-term measurement and lose confidence in your marketing and branding efforts, you run the risk of cutting off those opportunities for future demand.”
  4. Product will determine where marketing emphasis should lie. Brand marketing is particularly important when it comes to high-value/high-consideration purchases with protracted buying journeys and multiple touchpoints. Brand ensures products stay front-of-mind throughout that process, but it is difficult to attribute the key touchpoints that drive a sale. Was it the brand that converted the customer or was it, for example, a 20% discount? “That’s the age-old challenge retailers and brands face!” says Davies Hinde.
  5. Embrace the concept of performance-driven creative branding. Briefs now being submitted to creative teams are increasingly being informed by data – metrics that show if branded content and messaging is resonating with consumers. This is perhaps one of the best examples of convergence between performance and brand marketing.

The bottom line: Far from being in competition, brand and performance marketing in 2023 are intrinsically linked, enjoying a symbiotic relationship from which both disciplines benefit.