Say what you like to Tina Judic, just don’t tell her that performance marketing is dry. When I tell the managing director of Found – a marketing agency that specialises in performance-based techniques – that that perception lingers in certain parts of the digital industry, she quickly leaps to its defence.
“How dare you!” she says, in mock horror. “It’s definitely not dry. If you’re running campaigns on a performance or, more specifically, a cost per acquisition (CPA) basis, then you know that the better work you do, the more success you’ll deliver for your client and for yourself. You’re not limited by a fixed management fee, so you’re not restricted by your margins.
“There’s always something to seek out and improve upon and performance marketing allows for that. Time and effort directly impacts on your success, and the success of the client. There are always new and exciting ways to work, and opportunities for innovation.
“Performance marketing can be tough – always holding yourself to account, seeking out new ways to keep clients ahead of the competition. But I love the challenge.”
Found is a great example of how a business in the performance marketing space successfully trades on innovation.
When Tina joined in 2008 they were called Artemis8 and operated as an affiliate using long-tail search – high volumes of keywords which are searched on less frequently yet, as a group, can represent a considerable portion of sales conversions. It’s an arduous and labourintensive approach, but when implemented rigorously can yield significant returns.
Tina liked what she saw – the business was “transparent in its approach and focused on what it wanted to achieve,” she says, and there was potential for growth in the model.
“They knew how to build exceptional search campaigns which delivered a great return. The core team knew the intricacies of search, but they were only working on the long-tail which is a really tough space. I was sure that we could evolve it into an agency positioned as the experts in paid search.”
“What’s more, because we were an affiliate, we could deliver that expertise on a CPA basis, which gives a clear return for advertisers.”
In October 2010, two years after she took the job on, Artemis8 was rebranded as Found – a digital marketing agency with a key focus on performance marketing, encompassing PPC, SEO and mobile.
The transparency that had been such a key factor in attracting Tina to the position in the first place, was still at the heart of what they were about – internally too.
“We always had to keep it in mind that we had a hub of brilliant people who had evolved with Artemis8. When I spoke to the team about the impact of the branding change and service expansion, time and again they said how important it was that they felt involved in the company’s ethos and direction whilst having a clear understanding of what was happening in the company.”
“As a result, I’ve been obsessive about making sure there is continual sharing between the teams in the business, so that everyone is involved and on board. This led to me introducing weekly round-up meetings very early on – complete with beer and snacks – and comprehensive quarterly review meetings.”
A major result of that listening exercise has been the creation of Foundlabs – a sounding board for the agency to gather the ideas of its people and turn them into reality.
“We’ve already had a few launches off the back of this initiative. For example, our reporting platform, ProFound, which aggregates feeds from a wide array of reporting tools and presents them in a helpful, visual way to clients.”
For Tina, and Found, developing technology alongside their day-to-day operations is just another aspect of the innovation that typifies the performance marketing space.
“The technology we make now isn’t to sell, it’s to help clients and help us where there are gaps in the industry. If we need a tool and it doesn’t exist, or if the current tools don’t do what we need them to, then we’ll build them. Off the back of Foundlabs and the creativity in the team, we have recently launched an SEO Audit Tool and a PPC Keyword Concatenation Tool.”
Another area of growth for Found has been the move towards social media. It’s another departure from their traditional territory.
“There’s still lots to learn in terms of linking social media up with the rest of the performance marketing piece however it’s apparent how closely tied social media is to SEO and how both channels can help and complement the other. In turn, there’s so much to learn from crossmarketing between the Search PPC space and the social advertising space.”
“What’s interesting is the power of community sharing and referrals. Recommendations from your own network are powerful because they’re personal and relevant. Advertisers can tap into that. Knowing this and working out how to factor community into your digital marketing plan will be key to cross channel to success.”
What’s clear from talking to Tina is her unbridled passion and excitement for what she does. Whether she’s talking about the successes of her team (“I feel so proud every day”) or her background working in affiliate networks (“we had such so much fun”) Tina has energy and enthusiasm for performance marketing that is infectious.
“What’s important to me, and to Found, is that whatever we do, we do it excellently. I don’t ever want to water down what we do. I want a team of eager, competitive, delivery-focused individuals who love digital and thrive on success. As we’ve grown and evolved, in size and direction, we’ve retained an amazing internal passion for Found.”
“I fell into online and I’m so glad that I did. Initially working with SMEs in Manchester to encourage and educate them about the power of online, I moved into affiliate marketing in 2000 and never looked back. I love digital marketing – it’s always changing, always evolving, making it forever-exciting. I don’t like to stand around – I’m an energetic soul who likes to keep moving and digital marketing certainly keeps me on my toes!”