What is a Performance Marketing Agency and Why You Desperately Need One

by | Oct 14, 2019

In this uncertain year, one thing remains certain: performance marketing has become more important than ever.

As customer preferences, technology, and marketing techniques all get increasingly more sophisticated, performance marketing is where your business can get a measurement of ROI in real-time.

While branding and design agency partners will always be important, the need for this new type of specialized performance marketing agency will drive online growth for brands both in the near and long term.

What is Performance Marketing?

Performance marketing is a comprehensive term that refers to online marketing and advertising programs focused on and driven by a specific action. This can be anything from a sale to a lead to a click or anything else in between, which ultimately results in a call to action, or CTA. While some performing marketing agencies charge a commission or referral fee for each lead, some (like Upgrow) charge on a traditional percent of media spend model but still focus on the conversion objective.

If a digital marketing channel has an attributable conversion event, then we consider this to be performance marketing. It can include search engine marketing or Google Ads, affiliate networks, social media marketing, SEO, paid content marketing ads, and other types of paid-for-performance online marketing channels.

Performance Marketing Channels

  • Search Engine Marketing / Google Ads – With the right specified targeting, search engine marketing (particularly via Google Ads) can produce outstanding results with an excellent measured return on investment (ROI). Google Ads enables you to bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in Google’s search engine results. It’s very scalable, the conversion intent is high and you can get immediate results.
Results of Google's search results
Source: Google.com
  • Social Media Marketing – There are many ways to use social media for business. As a performance marketing agency, finding the right opportunities that will increase conversions is absolutely pivotal. Two key examples of this phenomenon are Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads. Through these platforms, you can leverage their respective main sites in order to get either your own product or your client’s product to as wide an audience as humanly possible. The numbers below clearly show the reasons why social media marketing continues to grow at an exponential rate.
70% of social marketer' top goals for social media is to increase brand awareness
Source: Smartinsight.com

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Creates comprehensive, direct and engaging content to answer the questions users search on Google is vital for organic page traffic. Search Engine Optimization (otherwise known as SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. This can include (but is not limited to) content creation, earning links, and developing a site easily indexed by search engine bots. Every facet of SEO is absolutely essential to any performance of your marketing efforts.

What is SEO?
Source: Istock.com

Why is Performance Marketing Important?

Analytics and attribution are increasingly more available for sophisticated brands across industries and sectors. Subsequently, getting a solid ROI for both marketing budgets and their corresponding channels is increasingly important.

Therefore, having an agency that specializes in delivering results is a must. It’s a must because through the successful usage of analytics, attribution and channels, brand marketing managers can both report real results in real time as well as take credit for the traffic and sales they drive.

E-commerce and B2B brands alike benefit from these channels, whether they’re converting sales or trying to build a prospect list by way of an email marketing lead capture form. Through this method, running at a cost-per-lead or ROI goals make the program more efficient and more scalable.  

How well does it work? See some of our case studies for examples of how we’ve achieved client success in driving customer acquisition.

What to Look for a Performance Marketing Agency

When seeking a performance marketing agency to partner with, here are a few things to look for:

  • Multi-Channel Expertise – Whether it’s affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, high conversion web design, paid advertising, or a combination of the above therein, companies often rely on agencies to deliver results in the form of traffic, leads, and/or sales. Having a holistic background in both marketing strategy and driving performance is a key consideration for the agency you ultimately end up choosing. It’s important to note that even though these channels are distinct, they do not work in silos. Consequently, a trusted partner that can handle all of them and has a track record for complete performance marketing management is a top factor.
  • Brand Protective – Getting quick deliverable results should by no means whatsoever come at the cost of potentially compromising the brand image. Make sure your agency understands your brand and the target customer. For example, Gucci could get a substantial increase in quantitative sales by slashing prices or offering deep affiliate commissions; however, the brand image that it cultivated would suffer. Before anything is signed, be sure to know for certain whether or not your agency understands your brand from the bottom up.
  • Recommendations and Referrals – No single digital marketing agency can do every aspect of the process perfectly well. Therefore, when you need a great referral for web development or UX, you want a well-connected agency that can plug you into other agencies and consultants.
  • Strategic – Do you want to work with an agency that runs all of their client’s accounts the same or one that will think beyond the Adwords interface and identify opportunities strategically. A good performance marketing agency will recommend landing page conversion improvements, go deep into your analytics and find insights and recommend new channels to complement and grow your volume.
  • Client-to-Team Member Ratio – Choosing an agency that handles a limited number of accounts per team member is a good idea because it provides more focus and attention on the clients in question. You don’t want to be an account manager’s fourteenth-ranked account, even if it’s at a discounted rate. Conversely, if an account manager only has one or two small accounts on their docket, then they may not have a lot of experience to work with.


While branding and design agency partners can help your business gain awareness, performance marketing agencies can deliver results fast driving online growth both in the present, in the immediate short-term, and the overall long-term periods. Bringing on a performance marketing agency that has both multi-channel marketing expertise as well as a holistic background in marketing strategy can significantly improve your marketing results as well as saving time, saving money, and most importantly delivering high ROI.

If you’re interested in learning more about Upgrow’s performance marketing services, schedule a call with us today!

Ryder Meehan

Ryder has been on a 16-year journey to master digital marketing from every aspect. His resume includes Razorfish, Slighshot, Fossil, Samsung Mobile and Tatcha before launching Upgrow. Ryder is the acting CEO, heading business development and account services. He has been featured as a digital marketing leader on Forbes, PRNews, Business.com, Workamajig, Databox, Fit Small Biz and other outlets.