Socks and shoes. Cookies and milk. Movies and popcorn. Some things just work better in pairs. For consumer brands, performance and brand marketing belong at the top of the list.
As we learned at the IAB Direct Brand Summit, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands now give equal attention to how they tell their story and the ways they target and measure their audience response. It’s no longer a choice between brand or performance marketing—it’s brand + performance marketing, working in harmony.
Marketing Architects moderated a panel on “Media and Acquisitions: Performance vs. Brand,” featuring leaders from Stitch Fix, Mizzen+Main and Tula. Here are the insights we found most compelling for B2C brands.
Top five performance + brand insights
1) There’s no longer a need to choose one discipline over the other. By mixing brand and performance activities, DTC marketers make a stronger impact and improve measurability. They use brand marketing to establish their personality and point of view over time, then add performance marketing to take their offer direct to buyers, all backed by hard data.
2) Success means an agile and informed approach. Whether it’s shirts, razors, skincare or mattresses, consumers expect more than ever. That’s why top DTC brands spin up multiple iterations of creative concepts and brand stories. They map each to a particular media or point in the consumer’s buying journey, then use data to refine their approach. The days of one-size-fits-all, set-it-and-forget-it marketing are long over.
3) Branding means belonging. DTC brands may be synonymous with selling, but category leaders recognize that lasting engagement extends far beyond the actual purchase. That’s why they’re constantly looking for ways to share and reuse the original content produced by customers and key influencers. Supporting these grassroots storytellers boosts authenticity and builds trust that’s invaluable to growing a brand.
4) You can’t overlook the operational details. At the same time, panelists stressed, getting the technical details right can make or break a campaign. Websites must load in split seconds; data points must support hyper-personalization and fluidity across devices and screens. It means taking the time to optimize all the touchpoints that impact the consumer experience before hitting “launch” on the next performance campaign.
5) Top performers never stop learning. Panelists shared a final characteristic: a culture of innovation and experimentation. These marketers believe in data, testing and measurement for every possible variable—yet they also set aside a healthy portion of each year’s budget (as much as 30 percent) as “protected spend.” These funds have less strenuous ROI goals, making them ideal to try new tactics, channels and audiences.