As marketing funnels evolve to keep up with global buying ecosystems, ecommerce marketers are at a crossroads. Do they stay the course with current strategies or invest more money to increase brand equity? As much as we’d like there to be a perfect solution, there just isn’t one. Investing money in traditional advertising is expensive, and when there are no guarantees on seeing any ROI, it’s a tough buy to swallow—especially for brands with modest resources..
To save on costs, ecommerce marketers may rely on Google ads or social media to spread brand awareness in a digital environment. The problem is that there is so much noise in these channels that brand messaging can get diluted or drowned out before reaching consumers.
Instead of going down these uncertain marketing rabbit holes, there may be a better option for ecommerce marketers. One way to dodge going broke from unproven marketing methods and ads is to invest in performance PR. It’s a promising way to pay only if your strategies see results—but is it the best tactic for every brand?
What is Performance PR?
When you think of public relations (PR), you probably think of traditional channels such as printed publications, television, and radio. Typically, you spend money to advertise across these channels, or you pay someone else (i.e., an agency) to do it for you.
Traditional advertising and press has been around for centuries, but there’s never a guarantee that those channels will work for your brand—especially in today’s digital-first world. Without a guarantee that marketers will reap their investment (and more!), traditional marketing is a gamble. That gamble seems to disappear, though, with an investment in performance PR.
With performance PR, you pay only when specified results are achieved, not by an infinite number of impressions or click rates. This strategy reduces risk and helps you to identify which campaigns are performing well, and which ones aren’t, while minimizing cost. Ecommerce companies in various verticals such as fashion, food and beverage, beauty products, and sporting goods can all find success in performance PR, and there’s a good reason why.
Brands in these verticals often have a great story to tell. They’re relatable, inspirational, aspirational, and beyond. AKA, their stories resonate with curious shoppers who are more likely to read up and click through to a product.
“It’s taking something that you know converted well, like an article, and using platforms to extend the reach and get it in front of more people. At any given touchpoint, you want to be sure that as a brand, you’re giving yourself the best possible at-bat.”
— Surviving the Cookiepocalypse with Nik and Ben, Route Connect 2021
Plus, performance PR puts the accountability on agencies and performance marketers to achieve results through a marketing quid pro quo. If they achieve the results you want, your brand messaging is successfully consumed by your target audience and the performance marketers are paid for their efforts.
According to a 2019 article in Forbes Magazine, the top three reasons to invest in performance PR include:
1) Increased competition throughout the online world.
2) Constantly changing algorithms that can negatively impact a digital marketing strategy.
3) Too many options for ecommerce marketers.
Another benefit to performance PR is that it can be used both online and offline and across different marketing channels. An effective performance strategy would ideally hit all consumer touchpoints in ecommerce. All performance marketing is measurable, trackable, and transparent, which allows ecommerce companies to see results and make informed decisions about investing in the marketing channels that produce better results.
The Drawbacks to Performance PR (and is it right for your brand?)
While performance PR is a great tool for ecommerce marketers, it isn’t for every brand. Performance PR will often work best for startups, venture-funded companies, and those ecommerce companies looking to rebrand or re-launch their products or services. Larger companies that have already found success with their tactics may not necessarily want to reinvent the wheel by investing in performance PR.
For those companies eyeing performance PR, a challenge they may encounter is that there are only a select number of performance marketers and PR agencies available, and these companies may not align with your vision. In addition, many of these agencies may require you to pay annual retainers’ fees and other fine print fees that could hit your budget hard.
If you opt to work with a third party under a performance PR model, there is still a risk that you won’t get the results you want, and then you are essentially back at square one. The risk is small but can’t be ignored. That is why ecommerce marketers need to do some homework when selecting a performance PR agency for help.
What to Look for in a Performance PR Marketer
If you’ve crunched some numbers and taken an objective look over your brand’s need only to discover that performance PR could be a good move for you, here’s what to do next.
Ecommerce companies may choose to work with agencies to either manage a performance PR model or support the in-house marketing team. Agencies have an extensive network and access to robust databases that can track performance across the board. But when it is time to choose a performance PR marketer, where should you begin?
The first step would be to look for referrals from industry partners. Companies can also solicit a request for a proposal (RFP) from potential performance marketers. This will allow these companies to demonstrate how they can help your company build brand awareness or show how they’ve helped brands similar to your own scale.
Once you begin narrowing the field, a few questions you should ask include:
- How can this company help my brand stand out from the competition?
- Does this company have a vast media network? Or an even better question: does this company have experience working with media outlets both locally and nationally?
- Does this company require retainers’ fees?
- Can I trust this company to drive the results I want for my brand?
- Does this agency align with my brand’s values and mission?
Once you have selected an agency, now the real fun begins as you start down a path of performance-driven results for your brand.
When you want results, performance pR is here
If you are looking to pay for the results you want, and your brand has a life cycle of innovative products and newsworthy technology, then performance PR may be the perfect fit in ecommerce.
According to Forbes, ecommerce marketers plan to increase spending by 76% to boost their brands in the coming years. Instead of relying on the same marketing channels as the competition (and risk losing it all), stand out with performance PR.
Through a performance model, ecommerce companies can tap into performance marketers to help identify which traffic sources are converting and what campaigns are working. Companies can then use this data to double down and blow the competition out of the water.
Want more performance PR tips and tricks? Watch Nik Sharma (Sharma Brands) and Ben Parr (Octane AI) tout the benefits of performance PR in ecommerce during their panel from the Route Connect 2021 event.