What is Performance Marketing and How to Get Started

Performance marketing, also known as performance advertising, has been around for a while. Simply put, it is the performance-based marketing of products or services in the digital space.

You can use performance marketing strategies with your online advertising campaigns, and it's relatively easy once you know where to start!

What Is Performance Marketing?

A female marketer analysing data and graphs of the campaign performance also known as performance marketing.

Performance Marketing was defined by Big Commerce as "the performance-based marketing of products or services in the digital space."

eMarketer, in fact, claimed that performance marketing has become "one of the most effective ways for brands to reach specific audiences online."

This means that performance marketing is a powerful tool for anyone who wants to get found online. But performance marketing just isn't about being seen. It's also about converting those views into sales or leads, which is why the aforementioned marketing strategy has been so effective at driving business results for e-commerce companies and other organizations (like non-profit organizations).

Performance marketing includes any advertisement that relies on performance to generate revenue; in other words, performance doesn't rely on clicks or impressions to produce results as traditional display ads do.

For example, performance marketing would take place if a blogger promotes an advertiser's product and receives payment for each new customer referred. This type of performance advertising is often used with affiliate programs — which we will get into more below!

What are the Most Common Uses of the Term "Performance Marketing?"

The performance marketing industry has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few years. In fact, according to an article in Marketing Dive, performance marketing is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing channels, with performance marketers spending $50 billion in 2016.

Performance marketing has grown so quickly because performance-driven ads are proven to be 40% - 80% more effective at acquiring new customers than traditional display advertising campaigns. This makes sense considering the fact that performance marketers are directly rewarding users for actions such as purchasing a product or signing up for an email list.

Performance marketing can be used in almost any digital marketing campaign. You can use performance marketing with all types of ads, including display ads, search engine optimization campaigns, social media advertising, affiliate programs, and many others.

Its most common uses include:

  • performance marketing campaigns (online and offline);
  • performance SEO strategies for online search engine optimization; and
  • performance PPC campaigns.

It's important to note that performance marketing isn't limited to affiliate marketing, but can include any type of digital marketer. For instance, some B2B companies use performance advertising as a way to improve their brand awareness and increase leads.

Popular Performance Marketing Channels

A marketer using a spanner to adjust the SEO to curate more organic search.

The performance marketing industry has been constantly evolving. In the past, performance marketing was mostly reserved for affiliate marketers and performance marketers who want to monetize their blogs or their website by offering performance advertisers a chance to advertise on it in exchange for ads that lead to sales or leads. However, performance marketing has become more popular due to its introduction on social media websites and search engines.

When performance marketers decide to advertise their products or services, they receive leads or sales in return. These leads or sales are tracked through affiliate links or performance tracking pixels.

Because performance marketing is available for virtually any type of business, the performance marketing industry has continued to grow rapidly during the last few years.

There are a number of performance marketing channels you can choose from. Let's take a look at these performance marketing channels in a little more detail.

Organic Search

Organic search is a type of performance marketing channel that occurs when performance advertisers pay to advertise their performance advertiser's products through search engine marketing (SEM) or search engine optimization (SEO).

The performance advertiser will usually create an ad that will appear in the top position on the customer's search results page, but they can also choose to pay for ads that are displayed along with other performance marketers' ads.

For performance marketers, this is one of the most popular ways to get traffic to their website. Not only do performance marketing companies rely on SEO techniques to drive traffic, but they also use performance marketing services like Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media network, as a performance marketing channel, is very popular because of the power behind Facebook and Twitter. Advertisers put a lot of money into this platform to get their ads in front of their target audience.

As performance marketing becomes more advanced, you will be able to reach out to even more audiences. With performance marketing, you will be able to organize social media campaigns, including paid ads on Facebook and Twitter, which are some of the most common performance marketing strategies used.

This method work by targeting your ads to users on social media platforms based on interest, demographics, and location.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is when performance marketers buy ad space on popular websites. Most of the time, large performance marketing companies will place ads on smaller performance marketing sites to reach a broad audience. This is performance-driven advertising that typically uses retargeting or banner ads.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate performance marketing makes money by referring customers to other companies in exchange for a share of their profits in the form of a commission. The performance marketer doesn't have to worry about customer service, shipping, or product functionality. They simply collect a check from the affiliate company after a sale is made.

This performance marketing channel happens when performance marketers refer business to performance advertisers by promoting their products or services through the use of websites, emails, newsletters, blog posts, etc.

You may receive a commission for every lead, sale, or performance-based task that they drive while running performance marketing campaigns.

Performance marketers should be aware of the different performance marketing channels that exist and their performance metrics. This knowledge will help performance marketers understand how to use a performance marketing channel effectively.

Native Advertising

Performance campaigns in native ad units fall under native advertising. Native advertising is further defined as a type of performance marketing that involves a manufacturer or brand in sponsoring relevant, non-interruptive content to be displayed alongside an editorial article.

Native advertising is advertisements in the form of articles that mimic popular content. The performance marketers can put up an ad in a native ad unit when users are reading an article about the performance marketer's industry or when there is a relevant keyword search.

Mobile Ads

Mobile performance marketing is all about getting the user to do what you want them to do. It’s simple and it works like this: performance marketers create performance marketing ads using performance marketing tools that are highly targeted to performance marketing buyers with performance marketing devices.

Performance marketers are using mobile advertising services like Apple iAds more than ever before. The performance marketer that uses an activity tracker app as an example can easily use performance marketing tactics to gain users for the performance marketing app. This performance marketing tactic will generate a lot of clicks and, hopefully, downloads for the performance marketing app that offers discounts or free items.

Performance marketing videos

This is where performance marketers upload videos about their product or service and have them displayed on popular video content sites like YouTube or Vimeo.

Understand how to get started with Performance marketing

2 competitors on the starting line of a race. With performance marketing, you can get started and place ads on the performance marketing sites.

Performance marketing, as mentioned, is continuously growing globally. According to a 2016 performance marketing survey, it is in fact likely to see a performance marketing campaign grow by more than 125% year-over-year. This means that performance marketing can be used to boost your earnings.

Performance marketers are continuously looking for innovative performance marketing channels to take advantage of, but you should also be aware that performance marketing is not for everyone, and there are laws in different countries that you should follow if you want to be a performance marketer.

Businesses who are involved in performance can easily purchase ads on popular websites that already receive a lot of traffic. By getting more clicks and sales, they can increase their impressions by buying ads or promoting products through performance marketing channels, which are classified as either paid search or performance marketing networks.

Performance marketing also allows you to buy ads through performance marketing channels, including websites such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!; social media such as Facebook and Twitter; performance marketing networks such as LinkShare or Impact Radius that offer performance marketers the ability to publish their products; and performance marketing blogs that give you an opportunity to post advertisements on their blogs and websites.

Many performance marketing companies and networks exist which can help you get started and place your performance advertiser's ads on performance marketing websites or through performance search engines.

Advantages of Performance Marketing

A marketer doing ab testing to test different strategies and what the results are.

Performance marketing is a way for companies to directly communicate with their customers in the same manner that traditional advertising does. It allows performance marketers to reach a specific audience in a measurable way.

Motivating consumers through performance marketing is easy if you offer coupons and deals. It allows performance marketers to track the performance of their campaigns by measuring the number of leads generated through performance marketing, conversions generated and an overall return on investment (ROI) for each performance marketing campaign.

Performance marketing is also considered multi-channel marketing because customers generally visit multiple platforms before committing to a purchase.

Performance marketing can also be performance-based. This means performance marketers place a return on performance, not always a return on investment (ROI). In this case, performance marketers will receive a portion of the revenue from the sale of a product or service directly from performance marketing campaigns if performance metrics are met or exceeded.

Performance marketing has its shares of advantages, and these include:  

  • You can quickly see performance marketing's results, which means that you can focus on your performance marketing efforts
  • You can test different tactics and performance marketers will know which ones work to best; 
  • You can have access to tools to help them create performance marketing campaigns; and
  • You can go big with performance marketing efforts.


A marketer doing ads on a social media platform, which will need a performance marketer to analyse the data.

For most of us, performance marketing seems like a new way of marketing. But performance marketing has been around for some time, even before the invention of the World Wide Web. The performance marketing industry has evolved with the development of new performance marketing channels.

Whether performance marketing channels are social media channels such as Facebook, performance marketing networks such as LinkShare, or blogs that offer the opportunity to post advertisements on their blogs and websites, performance marketing is a form of advertising that reaches the right audience at the right time.

And this is why performance marketing has become more popular today than ever before.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Performance Marketing

Some of the most frequently asked questions on performance marketing and performance marketing channels include:

How do performance marketing channels work?

Performance marketing channels work in a way that performance marketers receive affiliate commissions for performance marketing.

Performance marketers are paid when they make a sale or the audience takes an action that results in performance marketers receiving affiliate commissions.

How to get started with performance marketing and performance marketing networks?

You can get started with performance marketing through performance marketing networks.

Performance marketing networks allow you to find companies and jobs. It also helps performance marketers get started with performance marketing.

What are the benefits of performance-based digital advertising?

The benefits of performance-based digital advertising include that performance marketers do not need to spend time developing websites or creating content to market products. Instead, performance marketers promote content that is offered by companies and performance marketing agencies.

What performance marketing is all about?

Performance marketing integrates performance-centered design, promoting performance and maximizing revenue. Performance marketers achieve this by qualifying leads, creating content, tracking performance, and reporting results. In this way, performance marketers combine their creativity with data analysis to create a more efficient advertising strategy.

What are performance marketing networks?

Performance marketing networks are companies that put advertisers and publishers together. It makes performance marketers' lives easier:

- they provide performance marketers with one interface to handle all their performance marketing campaigns across different affiliate programs, CPA offers, and ad networks; and

- performance marketing networks take care of payments for performance marketers so much so that performance marketers don't have to handle any money.

What performance marketing networks don't do is that they won't help performance marketers find offers or networks to work with. If performance marketers want to work with affiliate programs, ad networks, and CPA offers, they need to perform some research themselves. 

What is a performance marketing manager?

A performance marketing manager is essentially a performance marketer in the performance marketing industry. They conduct performance marketing activities.

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