Performance marketing, particularly when it comes to entering new markets, is an ever-changing field. What works, what doesn’t, what’s overrated, and what should everyone be doing?
There’s so much to consider – which channels to use, which tools from the vast pool of MarTech (marketing technology) services are worth considering, to leverage influencers or not, how much attention should be paid to competitors, how to approach localization, and so much more.
In this article, we’ll go over the main questions plaguing performance marketers today and get to the bottom of various age-old marketing dilemmas with the help of some of the leading performance marketers out there.
In-house or outsourced?
There are many tasks that a rapidly growing marketing team must accomplish. There’s always the option to outsource. But what should you outsource, and what should you keep in-house? Different marketers have different opinions.
Maris Naglis, VP of customer success at Httpool, an Aleph Group company, says that working with agencies can help broaden your viewpoint. Because of their experience working with an array of industries and companies, agencies come with valuable knowledge about new channels, new approaches, and what other industries are doing to grow.
Meanwhile, major companies with massive in-house capabilities like Wolt, with their 4,000+ employees globally, of which 200+ are in marketing and creatives, look to build in-house teams where they see future potential, rather than outsourcing. They say they’ve found particular success working with freelancers long-term when looking to try something new, before creating an in-house position for it.
Andrej Kugonič, Marketing Lead and Head of Growth at Nordeus, says that the key to scaling is a balance of both:
“Nobody loves and knows your product better than your team. But we do like to work with external agencies, because they offer different perspectives. We need the best people, and external agencies can help scale in production faster than in-house completely.”
– Andrej Kugonič, Marketing Lead and Head of Growth at Nordeu
Be it approaching a problem from a different angle or hiring the best to scale quickly, working with agencies has its benefits for growth.
How to test new channels and “crack them”
One of the ever-present questions for performance marketers is, “should we try this new channel?” With the emergence of new platforms like TikTok, how do leading performance marketers approach and leverage new marketing channels?
Andrej Kugonič of Nordeus suggests having a mix of channels, with a strong share being tried-and-tested platforms such as Facebook and Google, but making sure to differentiate and test other media, like TikTok and TV. He found that traditional TV media works surprisingly well for Nordeus and that it’s a strong part of their strategy. He adds that TV advertising isn’t what it used to be – TV has become sophisticated and there are various performance optimization options now available.
Nordeus also suggested that you periodically revisit previously tested platforms that may not have worked well the first time. One example was TikTok which the company eventually found traction with after a few months of headwinds.
Erikas Plotkinas, CMO of Kilo.Health, found that when testing new channels, leveraging boutique agencies and freelancers who specialize in the platform is key to cracking it. Also, similar to Nordeus, Kilo.Health recommends revisiting channels after initial testing because they can change drastically over time.
VP of marketing Fredrik Lucander finds that for a new platform to work, discipline is required. And for there to be discipline, someone needs to own it. For that reason, an experimental team was created to test new channels – If the channel proves valuable, it then becomes adopted into the core advertising team.
The moral of the story is to test widely and often. Things in the marketing sphere change often and returning to something after a few months can yield surprisingly lucrative results.
To influence, or not to influence? Influencer marketing 101
“Influencer marketing 6 years ago was much easier. Now it requires more structured collaboration, and a larger investment in effort (and funds!). It’s slower, it’s less scalable, but it drives better results.”
– Andrej Kugonič, Marketing Lead and Head of Growth at Nordeus
Influencer marketing is something that all major brands are thinking about. Be that in the form of hyper-local influencers (because no one living in Berlin wants to see content about restaurants in Helsinki), or long-term brand ambassadors, as is the case in the gaming industry, with companies like Nordeus and Beetroot Lab who have partnerships with football coach José Mourinho and MMA fighter Conor McGregor, respectively.
Meanwhile, Erikas Plotkinas, CMO of Kilo.Health, believes that influencer marketing is key to testing new channels. In fact, they have an entire in-house team and agencies dedicated to influencer marketing. This is because in the health and wellness industry, the influencer marketing sphere is saturated and requires discipline. One pro tip from Erikas: it’s more powerful to establish long-term partnerships than one-time buys.
To round it out, Maris Naglis states that you should consider cooperation metrics when working with influencers. Balancing CPA and CPM deals will ensure that you and the influencer are both happy with the delivery.
Should you look at competitors for inspiration?
When your top 5 competitors are placed side-by-side, they could look very different. Particularly when looking at the main marketing tactics they use to drive growth. Some may rely on influencer marketing, others on TV. So, should you take your cues from them ?
In the case of Wolt, they choose to stay in their lane. As their VP of Marketing Fredrik Lucander has said:
“I have a lot of respect for our competitors. But it’s important not to get into a race to the bottom. You’ll get reports from agencies saying ‘competitors are spending x amount, you should be paying more’. It’s not the best approach for us. You don’t necessarily have to have the biggest wallet. We don’t necessarily try to copy them. We try to stay in our own lane.”
– Fredrik Lucander, VP of Marketing at Wolt
At the same time, Erikas from Kilo.Health has said “[w]e’re always looking at competitors to gain insights from them”. He explains that they go through competitor funnels, their checkouts, their upsells, to see the little details that might be making a difference in conversion. As Erikas says:
“If you add it up, it really matters. One of our main competitors is Noom. They’re doing crazy things with pricing, where at the checkout they say ‘Pay whatever you want, but just so you know, the typical cost per service is $18’. It’s an interesting concept worth testing.”
– Erikas Plotkinas, CMO at Kilo.Health
When all is said and done, you should take the time to look around. That doesn’t mean you should copy your competitors – you can mix and match when coming up with solutions for your own funnels but don’t be afraid to glean insights to inform your future strategy.
What are the magic MarTech tools being used by top performance marketers?
Despite the sea of MarTech tools out there, there doesn’t seem to be one “magic bullet”. When it comes down to it, most leading companies have built a custom solution or integrated a slew of different tools to meet their very specific needs.
One of the biggest challenges is running the automation of advertisements. For companies operating many different creatives, it can take more than plug-and-play tools to run deployment while also tracking conversions. For that reason, Kilo.Health has developed their own tool to automate and move quicker when testing different creatives.
Similarly, Andrej from Nordeus says that their investment was in people. More specifically, in data scientists that can measure campaigns, adapt to changing platform algorithms, and develop in-house systems to perform these tasks. He says that while the process is longer, the payoff is much higher than using out-of-the-box systems.
Data scientists and engineers seem to be the key to success – in Wolt’s case, they’re the ones that make the MarTech work. VP of Marketing Fredrik Lucander says that they’re the ones who create the integrations for the 10+ tools in Wolt’s techspec and that without the engineers, Wolt wouldn’t be where they are.
Tackling the biggest challenge: localization
These days, growing globally means entering local markets. For performance marketers, this can be a challenge, particularly when those new local markets are different from your home market. So how do companies get around that?
Hiring local country managers is Kilo.Health’s preferred approach. They’re strong believers that local professionals are the key to unlocking the best messaging, talent, and partners in new markets. Because even if your translations are on point (which they often aren’t unless a native speaker has gone over them), then they won’t always be culturally suited. As a result, having a person in the field to review content and messaging is key.
Often, companies will think to themselves “how can we perform in all markets equally?” Andrej from Nordeus believes that the key is not to strive for equal performance, but rather to adapt to each market’s varying culture and needs. In fact, he goes on to say that in different markets the core audience can even be different, which means that your messaging and strategy can and should be entirely bespoke.
In short – in global times, you must operate locally to win. You need your content to resonate wherever it goes and that means altering your approach depending on where you’re headed.
The key to global growth?
All in all, the key to global performance comes down to hiring the best people, developing great teams, and providing those teams with challenges that exercise their intellect. And with these three aspects, you’re set up for success.
Because it doesn’t come down to the MarTech stack you have, the advertising budget you’re wielding or the influencer’s reach you’re leveraging. It comes down to developing individual strategies that best suit your brand, company culture and goals.
This article is based on a panel discussion from the Httpool GoGlobal event. To see the full panel discussion, watch here.