4 Simple Steps to Make Your Marketing Turn a Profit

Written by Tim Edmundson

Marketing has a bit of an identity crisis. Long seen as a cost center by where money goes in and doesn’t come out, it’s often unfairly thought of as a luxury expense by many working professionals — something to get the name out there, but not expected to drive much business. Even marketers believe it — a 2014 Economist report found that 68% of marketers believe their business owners see them as cost centers, despite the fact that many owners know that marketing drives revenue. “In fact,” says Angie Kim, SteelHouse performance marketing manager, “more brands are relying on their marketing department to make a significant impact on their overall business objectives.”

So for all of you marketers with confidence issues out there, know that you drive brand awareness, open the door for salespeople, and create an emotional connection with customers. Not only that, you directly drive sales and sign ups through the most direct connection to positive results — performance marketing.

If you’re a marketer looking to prove yourself to your contemporaries, or just looking to brush up on your skills, it’s a great idea to get familiar with the basics of performance marketing. Here’s Angie’s take on how to get your marketing to perform.


“You would be surprised how many marketers don’t have a set goal in mind when beginning a campaign,” says Angie. “If you want to measure success, you need to know what success means, so take into account the KPIs that matter most and optimize your campaign around that.”

For example, if you’re an online retailer and your campaign revolves around driving sales of a particular product, it’s a good idea to have a goal built around ROAS (Return on Ad Spend = campaign revenue / campaign expenses). This way you can track the revenue being driven by your campaign, and determine how effective it is when compared to the money invested.


“Once you have your goal established, it’s time to optimize your campaign to help hit that goal,” advises Angie. “A great way to do this is through A/B testing your creative to see which ads are more effective in reaching your determined goal.”

Let’s go back to our online retail example, where you have a ROAS goal. Say for example you are A/B testing two pieces of creative; version A has a 4x higher CTA than version B. Pretty great, right? Not necessarily — version B has a 2.5x higher ROAS. So even though version A is driving a lot of clicks, version B is driving clicks from customers who actually convert. You would then optimize your campaign to serve version B, and your future creative iterations would be built around version B since it drives the results you are looking for.


“If you want your marketing to perform,” advises Angie, “you better be focusing your campaign on the channels and platforms that your target audience engages with, and gets you the most bang for your buck.” Here’s a breakdown of the channels:

> Display | Desktop ad placements that you see all across the internet.

> Mobile | This ranges from mobile web to in-app ads.

> Social | All of the social platforms we all waste so much time on; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

> Paid Search | The paid search results you see at the top of Google’s SERP, among other search engines. Bid on keywords that match your brand and product offering to ensure your paid search results top the list.

Each one has its own strengths, but out of the four above, social is definitely establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with. More and more consumers are spending their online time on a social network; Facebook is famously nearing 2 billion users, and eMarketer reports by the year 2020, 7 out of every 10 Americans will be active social media users. With so many people on social, it’s practically guaranteed your audience is there. And as an added bonus, social networks like Facebook and Instagram have robust targeting capabilities, allowing you to better reach your target audience.

“It’s important to keep up with the latest product offerings for each channel, as well” she says. “A new, innovative product can be a huge difference-maker when it comes to your campaign’s performance.” For example, Facebook Vertical Video, which launched in late 2016, is seeing immense performance. From our own SteelHouse data, we have seen up to 20x CTR versus ads with static images. Check out the success companies like Lull, iStock, and Mission Athetecare have had with vertical video. Needless to say, you should be jumping on this Facebook offering, and keeping an eye out for new products that can benefit your campaigns.


“As a marketer, you need to know your audience. If you don’t know who is buying your products, you’ll never know how to expand your customer pool by finding those who are just like them,” says Angie. “Take advantage of any customer data you have at your disposal, and create look-alike segments for your prospecting campaigns. This way you are serving ads to people who match the profiles of existing customers, boosting the odds that they will be interested in your brand, and eager to convert.”

Likewise, when it comes to your retargeting campaigns, you need to be smart about your audience segments as well. You shouldn’t just retarget everyone who visited your site, however, so do what you can to drill down and define groups amongst them.

For example, creating campaigns that focus on cart-abandoners is a great idea to connect with an audience that has shown high intent to buy. By serving them creative that highlights the products they left in their shopping cart, or the last products they viewed, you are serving them an ad that features exactly what they are interested in. You can also create segments and build creative that focuses on new customers, offering a great deal for first-time purchases. Your creative can be as diverse as your audience segments, so explore your customer data and see what opportunities are available.


Marketing is becoming a revenue driver in a big way, and it’s time for you to own it. By establishing your goal, choosing the right channels and platforms, and engaging your audience where they are most likely to convert, you’re setting your marketing up to perform. Don’t be afraid to share your process and success with the rest of the company – you may just help destroy the marketing cost center myth.