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How to Create Google Performance Max Ads That Convert

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How to Create Google Performance Max Ads That Convert

Google’s Performance Max campaigns came out of beta more than three years ago, and have grown to be a wildly popular campaign type among new and experienced marketers alike. In this article, we’ll unpack what Google Performance Max campaigns are, how they differ from other campaign types, benefits and best practices, reporting functionality, ad optimization tips, and Tinuiti’s PMax approach.

What is Google Performance Max?

Source: https://blog.google/products/ads-commerce/performance-max/

Google Performance Max campaigns are goal-based, automated campaigns that enable advertisers to promote across all Google networks from the same campaign. Google announced Performance Max campaigns in October 2020 as “a new way to buy Google ads across all our inventory.”

This means that your ads can reach potential customers from a single campaign type across the following channels:

Performance Max—or PMax, for short—is designed as a complement to your existing keyword-based Search, Shopping and fully-automated campaigns, building on learnings from the latter “to deliver a comprehensive solution that works for all advertisers across a wider range of marketing objectives.”

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Over time, Google Smart Shopping, Local campaigns, and Vehicle Ads were upgraded to Performance Max campaigns, granting retailers and local marketers access to ad inventory, formats, and automation insights that weren’t previously available for those campaign types.

Other recent PMax updates and advances include:

  • Generative AI-powered features to help produce and enhance creative assets and build asset groups efficiently and effectively (gradual rollout)
  • The new Search Themes signal allows advertisers to better guide Google AI’s targeting capabilities by providing the system with relevant topics and categories. As shared by Google Ads: “Performance Max currently looks at your assets, feeds, and landing pages to predict which placements, including search queries, will perform well for your campaign. Now with the search themes beta, you can fill in gaps by adding information about your business that you expect to perform well.”
  • Campaign-level brand exclusions “prevent your ads from serving on specific brands on Search and Shopping inventory in Performance Max.”
  • Important early 2023 update announcements included the addition of account-level negative keywords, asset group reporting, page feeds, experiments to measure incrementality, budget pacing insights, and the direct integration of video creation tools—previously available exclusively within the asset library—into PMax campaign setup and editing workflows.

Highlights of Performance Max

If we think of Performance Max campaigns from a culinary perspective, the advertiser provides all the ingredients (assets) and the recipe (structure), and Google automation does the cooking (ad creation) and serving (delivering the ad to the potential customer).

With an overarching goal of efficient campaign performance, Google considers all available creative assets when crafting the ad, ultimately showing what it believes will be the most likely combination to convert on whichever of their channels that particular ad will be served.

Reach customers across the full Google Ads network efficiently

Performance Max campaigns are designed to cast a wide net, reaching potential customers across the full Google Ads network through a single campaign. If you wanted to reach that same potential audience using traditional campaigns, you would need five campaigns (minimum): a Search campaign, Shopping campaign, Video campaign, Display campaign, and Discover campaign.

Find customers that are ready to convert with AI-driven optimization

We all know the customer journey is rarely linear; shoppers move between many different channels, and rely on various resources, when deciding what to purchase. Performance Max campaigns are designed to reach shoppers that are most likely to convert, on whichever channel they’re seeing your ad across Google platforms.

Thanks to Google’s real-time analysis of user intent, behavior, and context, PMax can help you reach new audiences with the right ad at the right time.

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Additionally, you can convert your first-party audience signals into actionable knowledge, optimizing ad delivery and predicting when a given user is most likely to make a purchase.

A different look to insights

As Performance Max does not require the same level of manual optimization, Google had to rethink what and how they provide data. While you won’t get the reporting you’re used to, over time you will start to see information including auction and audience insights, performance drivers, consumer interests, and search trends.

“The Insights piece is a shift from what we have been accustomed to, but Google has slowly begun to provide us with more reports to help us better understand this campaign type. Performance Max aims to look at things holistically—client gives you X budget, and here is X ROI across the funnel. Trusting in Performance Max to do its thing with the signals you give it, and shifting the way we analyze performance, is the biggest hurdle with the campaign type.”

Courtney O'Donnell

Courtney O’Donnell, Sr. Director of Shoppable Media at Tinuiti

Best Practices when Setting Up a Performance Max Campaign

Advertisers have compared Performance Max Campaigns to several other campaign types, including Smart campaigns, Social campaigns, and responsive Display campaigns. And while there are elements that bear similarity in varying ways to all of the above, it’s important to consider the functionality and benefits of this campaign type specifically.

Give Performance Max campaigns freedom to function as intended

We’re of the belief that if you are going to test Performance Max you should lean in, and not try to make this campaign something it was never meant to be. There are tutorials online for finagling a Performance Max campaign to be a Search campaign or a Shopping campaign, and time can be better spent focusing on how to best leverage a campaign that was designed by its very nature to bring all of that together.

Implement audience signals to set automated targeting up for speedy success

Think of audience signals as customer personas that Performance Max uses as your ideal shopper, functioning similarly to lookalike audiences on social platforms. This won’t be the only customer type that your campaign reaches, rather it will be the foundational core upon which other audiences are built—your seed audience.

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The audience signals you provide Google are used to determine ‘the right direction’; Google then follows those paths to find additional users it feels your campaign is also suitable for. Audience signals work best when used in combination with your own data and custom segments.

Pyramid explaining Performance Max Audience targeting should include In-Market & Affinity Audiences, Search Themes & Demographics, and First-Party Audiences
Because you can create multiple audience signals, we recommend experimenting with different signals to see how each performs. Consider including the following:

  • Remarketing
  • Customer Match
  • Search Themes
  • Interests
  • Foundational Demographics

How does Google automation handle each of these signals? Are some of these signals proving more helpful than others?

Decide if you’ll use Final URL expansion

If you want to give Google even more control with Performance Max campaigns, similar to dynamic search ad campaigns, you can allow them to choose the landing page URLs for each of your ads. LP exclusions are available if there are specific pages you never want used; these can include exclusions based on URL parameters (ex. blocking a full sub-folder) or individual landing pages.

To choose or not to choose your final URL expansion—that is the question! And the decision is 100% yours to make. That said, by default Performance Max campaigns are set to allow Google to define the final URL.

If you want to take back some control, you can toggle OFF the URL expansion. This will send your search ad traffic to the final URLs you submit within your asset groups.

Decide whether the New Customer Acquisition goal is right for you

The new customer acquisition goal, also available for Search campaigns, presents an exciting opportunity for advertisers looking to target new-to-brand audiences. Using this goal, advertisers can choose from the following bidding options:

  • New Customer Value mode: Campaigns are optimized to bid higher for new customers (not available for store goals)
  • New Customer Only mode: Campaigns are optimized to only bid for new customers

diagram comparing Performance Max new customer campaign asset groups vs. returning customer campaigns

Define Asset Groups

Keep all your creative organized by breaking out thematically-similar or same-audience assets into their own asset groups, using multiple asset groups for each campaign. Asset groups help you to give Google the best array of options to choose from, while ensuring you don’t get a ‘mixed bag’ of creative for a given ad.

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Think of building out your asset group as packing a lunch, except the lunch is for Google. In each asset group you’ll want to pack a nice selection of images, videos, headlines, logos, and other textual elements. The higher-quality assets you feed Google, the better your ads will look.

If you are a promotional brand, you should consider creating evergreen asset groups and promotional asset groups in order to easily shift creative between promotional and non-promotional periods.

Don’t turn off your Search campaigns

Performance Max is designed to complement your existing Search campaigns, not replace them. There is some campaign overlap on non-exact match keywords you’ll have to consider to safeguard against self-cannibalization. We recommend that for any keyword for which you’ll want to have complete control and in-depth reporting, you ensure it is an exact match keyword in Search. Also, monitor Search performance after launching to see if broad match keywords dropped off for a specific category once PMax was launched.

The chart below shows the impact of Performance Max on your Search campaigns in the auction.

chart showing that search campaigns with exact match will prioritize search campaigns instead of Performance Max. Search campaigns with broad or phrase match will prioritize the campaign with higher ad rank

Consider brand safety

The lack of control over what ads will show where, and with which creative, is what makes many brands nervous about Performance Max campaigns. That said, despite it being true that there is less control overall, you can run a placement report, sort destinations by impression volume (unfortunately you cannot see spend by placement), and then exclude any sites you don’t want to show ads on. Exclusions are set at the account level.

Tinuiti’s PMax Approach: The Five Pillars to Success

Thanks to Performance Max’s unparalleled audience targeting that leverages the most sophisticated machine learning, our teams consider Performance Max the perfect complement to your current Search strategy. We develop Performance Max campaigns in tandem with existing Paid Search efforts to minimize potential cannibalization or duplicated targeting.

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Five pillars for success of Performance Max Campaigns: Tinuiti Intent Matrix, Audience-First Approach, Optimized Creative, Control Product Feed, Action Enhanced Reporting

Our approach to a thoughtfully executed PMax and Search strategy is built on what we’ve dubbed Five Pillars to Success.

1. The Tinuiti Intent Matrix (TIM)

Our teams developed the Tinuiti Intent Matrix (TIM) as a solution that combines traditional SEM (search engine marketing) efforts with modern AI and machine learning techniques. Our campaigns are structured around user intent, allowing us to hyper-target users in a way that traditional approaches—like SKAGs and keyword sculpting—don’t allow for.

Learn more about TIM in our 2024 Google Ads Guide.

2. Adopt an Audience-first Approach

Our audience-centric approach prioritizes the needs and preferences of our target audience, ensuring maximum campaign messaging and creative resonance by…

  • Establishing goals and metrics (ex. new customer growth, increased revenue, improved brand awareness, etc.)
  • Determining which audiences and segments we want to target. To give ‘better handling’ to your campaigns, we recommend layering in audiences across three pillars: first-party audiences; search themes and demographics; in-market and affinity audiences. Our teams also collaborate with our Lifecycle Marketing experts, leveraging their insights for more informed audience ideation, segmentation, and list automation
  • Developing customized creative assets for each of our asset groups. These assets include ad copy, images, video and more

The first reaction when coming up with a strategy is a one-campaign-to-one-asset-group ratio; this ensures that the conversions you are seeing at the campaign level are 1:1 with the asset level. For example, if you create a ‘womens’ winter jackets’ campaign, you will know exactly how that segment performs versus grouping it into a larger womens’ jackets campaign.

However, there is a delicate balance—being too segmented will make data limited, while making it more difficult for Google to optimize. Conversely, being too high-level will give you limited insight into how sub-categories are performing. The need to find the appropriate strategic balance to realize the greatest outcome is one of the reasons why you should work closely with internal and external stakeholders to decide what to run through PMax, and what other considerations need to be made.

Infographic showing how you can structure your campaigns with asset groups based on segmentation of granular categories and more, or in a way that is similar to Standard Shopping campaign

3. Optimize Your Creative

High-quality, relevant, compelling creative assets are essential to Performance Max success. Our teams work with clients to test a variety of creative elements to determine which best resonates with target audiences. By continually refining headlines, images and more, we ensure our clients are leveraging PMax to its fullest potential.

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If your team needs help with creative asset productions, Tinuiti offers a video creation service catered specifically to Performance Max campaigns. We can use your existing assets to produce a high-performing creative unit, or shoot the video from scratch.

4. Control Your Product Feed Levers

Through Tinuiti’s partner Feedonomics and our internal MobiusX platform, our Shoppable Media team can easily run campaigns with millions of SKUs. We will manage your product feed and continuously improve the data within it. For Performance Max’s feed-based channels to perform at their best, feed optimizations are crucial, so Tinuiti works with client teams to ensure the product feed has as much relevant data as possible.

Once the initial setup and optimizations are complete, Tinuiti devises a scheduled cadence for further testing and optimizations. We work with your team to test feed attributes (like titles, descriptions, and images) and plan feed-related tests to drive increased visibility and revenue.

5. Tinuiti’s Enhanced Performance Max Reporting

As a performance marketing firm, data-driven decisions are at the core of all that we do. But the out-of-the-box reporting PMax campaigns offer doesn’t paint a full enough picture. To help add color to PMax’s black boxes, we developed proprietary Performance Max reporting that compares the percentage of spend and revenue derived from each channel. Our customized reports also document any performance changes following campaign bid changes or altered creative.

Expert Tips to Optimize Google Performance Max Ad Campaigns

Now that we’ve established best practices, let’s explore some optimization tips from the experts…

Consider Performance Max for sub-brands, best sellers, or tentpole events

Kelsey Fortner, Director of Paid Search at Tinuiti, shares one way her team leveraged Performance Max campaigns for a client:

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Portrait of Kelsey Fortner

“One of our clients launched a sub-brand for which they wanted to get some exposure and traffic to the site. Because we weren’t using any of those URLs in our Standard campaigns, running them through Performance Max was a perfect fit, with no self-cannibalization risk. We gave it a unique product feed so it only featured things we weren’t already talking about or bidding on. The campaign itself was an easy-lift that didn’t require a robust campaign build-out that reaching all those channels through Standard campaigns would require. This makes Performance Max ideal for a variety of scenarios, including tentpole initiatives, or advertising areas of the business you might not have before.”

Take a hybrid approach

You don’t have to only run on Performance Max. Nick Jones, Growth Media Strategist at Tinuiti, explains:

Portrait of Nick Jones

“Just as I did on Smart Shopping, I always have a branded and non-branded Standard Shopping campaign running in the background. You can maintain your branded coverage pretty heavily through a Standard campaign, and also use an upper-funnel non-branded campaign to harvest search term data and trend. I wouldn’t rely on those campaigns for high conversions; it’s more so for coverage. This gives us a chance to say, for example: “ We’ve noticed mens’ sweaters trending the last 14 days, so we’re going to push harder on PMax.” Also considering the degree of branded traffic PMax leans into in order to hit revenue/return targets, we can have a true measurement of growth and success by using a hybrid approach.”

Performance Max Takeaways, Considerations and Recommendations

“There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to Performance Max, and I recommend working closely with your advertiser on the best strategy based on your goals. Google regularly enhances Performance Max campaigns, so I’m excited to see what new features will continue to roll out. It’s ever-evolving that way, and the Performance Max campaigns we’re building today may look very different from those we’ll be running in just a few short months.”

Courtney O’Donnell, Sr. Director of Shoppable Media at Tinuiti

“Performance Max campaigns have proven valuable for the majority of clients I’ve tested them with. I would estimate that 90% are successful. When it is working, great! The issue comes in when a Performance Max campaign isn’t performing. Not only do you have less granular insights than you would with a standard campaign, but you also have fewer levers to pull. As more data, tests, and verticals have come through, I’ve had to poke more holes in the numbers, and it’s harder to know what to do next when it isn’t working. So we start testing from a structural perspective, asking ourselves questions to inform testing, then testing to figure out what sticks. A few tests that have worked for me are excluding “junk” placements such as mobile apps. Feed Only PMax campaigns have been great for shopping heavy strategies, removing all creatives, headlines, and descriptions, creating a shopping SERP forward campaign.”

Nick Jones, Growth Media Strategist at Tinuiti

In addition to the benefits PMax offers today, it will continue to evolve as AI advances, future-proofing your marketing strategy. Simply put, Google isn’t going to let one of their key products fall behind. The time and energy you put into learning and optimizing Performance Max campaigns will continue to be time well-spent for the foreseeable future.

Want to learn more about how to best leverage Performance Max campaigns to reach your goals? Drop us a line and we’ll be in touch!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Shannon Mullery in September 2022 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

I’ve tested 100s of psychological tactics on my email subscribers. In this blog, I reveal the five tactics that actually work.

You’ll learn about the email tactic that got one marketer a job at the White House.

You’ll learn how I doubled my 5 star reviews with one email, and why one strange email from Barack Obama broke all records for donations.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Imagine writing an email that’s so effective it lands you a job at the White House.

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Well, that’s what happened to Maya Shankar, a PhD cognitive neuroscientist. In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs asked her to help increase signups in their veteran benefit scheme.

Maya had a plan. She was well aware of a cognitive bias that affects us all—the endowment effect. This bias suggests that people value items higher if they own them. So, she changed the subject line in the Veterans’ enrollment email.

Previously it read:

  • Veterans, you’re eligible for the benefit program. Sign up today.

She tweaked one word, changing it to:

  • Veterans, you’ve earned the benefits program. Sign up today.

This tiny tweak had a big impact. The amount of veterans enrolling in the program went up by 9%. And Maya landed a job working at the White House

Boost participation email graphic

Inspired by these psychological tweaks to emails, I started to run my own tests.

Alongside my podcast Nudge, I’ve run 100s of email tests on my 1,000s of newsletter subscribers.

Here are the five best tactics I’ve uncovered.

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1. Show readers what they’re missing.

Nobel prize winning behavioral scientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky uncovered a principle called loss aversion.

Loss aversion means that losses feel more painful than equivalent gains. In real-world terms, losing $10 feels worse than how gaining $10 feels good. And I wondered if this simple nudge could help increase the number of my podcast listeners.

For my test, I tweaked the subject line of the email announcing an episode. The control read:

“Listen to this one”

In the loss aversion variant it read:

“Don’t miss this one”

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It is very subtle loss aversion. Rather than asking someone to listen, I’m saying they shouldn’t miss out. And it worked. It increased the open rate by 13.3% and the click rate by 12.5%. Plus, it was a small change that cost me nothing at all.

Growth mindset email analytics

2. People follow the crowd.

In general, humans like to follow the masses. When picking a dish, we’ll often opt for the most popular. When choosing a movie to watch, we tend to pick the box office hit. It’s a well-known psychological bias called social proof.

I’ve always wondered if it works for emails. So, I set up an A/B experiment with two subject lines. Both promoted my show, but one contained social proof.

The control read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws

The social proof variant read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws (100,000 Downloads)

I hoped that by highlighting the episode’s high number of downloads, I’d encourage more people to listen. Fortunately, it worked.

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The open rate went from 22% to 28% for the social proof version, and the click rate, (the number of people actually listening to the episode), doubled.

3. Praise loyal subscribers.

The consistency principle suggests that people are likely to stick to behaviours they’ve previously taken. A retired taxi driver won’t swap his car for a bike. A hairdresser won’t change to a cheap shampoo. We like to stay consistent with our past behaviors.

I decided to test this in an email.

For my test, I attempted to encourage my subscribers to leave a review for my podcast. I sent emails to 400 subscribers who had been following the show for a year.

The control read: “Could you leave a review for Nudge?”

The consistency variant read: “You’ve been following Nudge for 12 months, could you leave a review?”

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My hypothesis was simple. If I remind people that they’ve consistently supported the show they’ll be more likely to leave a review.

It worked.

The open rate on the consistency version of the email was 7% higher.

But more importantly, the click rate, (the number of people who actually left a review), was almost 2x higher for the consistency version. Merely telling people they’d been a fan for a while doubled my reviews.

4. Showcase scarcity.

We prefer scarce resources. Taylor Swift gigs sell out in seconds not just because she’s popular, but because her tickets are hard to come by.

Swifties aren’t the first to experience this. Back in 1975, three researchers proved how powerful scarcity is. For the study, the researchers occupied a cafe. On alternating weeks they’d make one small change in the cafe.

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On some weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar was full.

On other weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar only contained two cookies (never more or less).

In other words, sometimes the cookies looked abundantly available. Sometimes they looked like they were almost out.

This changed behaviour. Customers who saw the two cookie jar bought 43% more cookies than those who saw the full jar.

It sounds too good to be true, so I tested it for myself.

I sent an email to 260 subscribers offering free access to my Science of Marketing course for one day only.

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In the control, the subject line read: “Free access to the Science of Marketing course”

For the scarcity variant it read: “Only Today: Get free access to the Science of Marketing Course | Only one enrol per person.”

130 people received the first email, 130 received the second. And the result was almost as good as the cookie finding. The scarcity version had a 15.1% higher open rate.

Email A/B test results

5. Spark curiosity.

All of the email tips I’ve shared have only been tested on my relatively small audience. So, I thought I’d end with a tip that was tested on the masses.

Back in 2012, Barack Obama and his campaign team sent hundreds of emails to raise funds for his campaign.

Of the $690 million he raised, most came from direct email appeals. But there was one email, according to ABC news, that was far more effective than the rest. And it was an odd one.

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The email that drew in the most cash, had a strange subject line. It simply said “Hey.”

The actual email asked the reader to donate, sharing all the expected reasons, but the subject line was different.

It sparked curiosity, it got people wondering, is Obama saying Hey just to me?

Readers were curious and couldn’t help but open the email. According to ABC it was “the most effective pitch of all.”

Because more people opened, it raised more money than any other email. The bias Obama used here is the curiosity gap. We’re more likely to act on something when our curiosity is piqued.

Email example

Loss aversion, social proof, consistency, scarcity and curiosity—all these nudges have helped me improve my emails. And I reckon they’ll work for you.

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It’s not guaranteed of course. Many might fail. But running some simple a/b tests for your emails is cost free, so why not try it out?

This blog is part of Phill Agnew’s Marketing Cheat Sheet series where he reveals the scientifically proven tips to help you improve your marketing. To learn more, listen to his podcast Nudge, a proud member of the Hubspot Podcast Network.

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The power of program management in martech

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The power of program management in martech

As a supporter of the program perspective for initiatives, I recognize the value of managing related projects, products and activities as a unified entity. 

While one-off projects have their place, they often involve numerous moving parts and in my experience, using a project-based approach can lead to crucial elements being overlooked. This is particularly true when building a martech stack or developing content, for example, where a program-based approach can ensure that all aspects are considered and properly integrated. 

For many CMOs and marketing organizations, programs are becoming powerful tools for aligning diverse initiatives and driving strategic objectives. Let’s explore the essential role of programs in product management, project management and marketing operations, bridging technical details with business priorities. 

Programs in product management

Product management is a fascinating domain where programs operate as a strategic framework, coordinating related products or product lines to meet specific business objectives.

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Product managers are responsible for defining a product or product line’s strategy, roadmap and features. They work closely with program managers, who ensure alignment with market demands, customer needs and the company’s overall vision by managing offerings at a program level. 

Program managers optimize the product portfolio, make strategic decisions about resource allocation and ensure that each product contributes to the program’s goals. One key aspect of program management in product management is identifying synergies between products. 

Program managers can drive innovation and efficiency across the portfolio by leveraging shared technologies, customer insights, or market trends. This approach enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, seize emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage. Product managers, in turn, use these insights to shape the direction of individual products.

Moreover, programs in product management facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. Program managers foster a holistic understanding of customer needs and market dynamics by bringing together teams from various departments, such as engineering, marketing and sales.

Product managers also play a crucial role in this collaborative approach, ensuring that all stakeholders work towards common goals, ultimately leading to more successful product launches and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Dig deeper: Understanding different product roles in marketing technology acquisition

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Programs in project management

In project management, programs provide a structured approach for managing related projects as a unified entity, supporting broader strategic objectives. Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and closing individual projects within a program. They focus on specific deliverables, timelines and budgets. 

On the other hand, program managers oversee these projects’ coordination, dependencies and outcomes, ensuring they collectively deliver the desired benefits and align with the organization’s strategic goals.

A typical example of a program in project management is a martech stack optimization initiative. Such a program may involve integrating marketing technology tools and platforms, implementing customer data management systems and training employees on the updated technologies. Project managers would be responsible for the day-to-day management of each project. 

In contrast, the program manager ensures a cohesive approach, minimizes disruptions and realizes the full potential of the martech investments to improve marketing efficiency, personalization and ROI.

The benefits of program management in project management are numerous. Program managers help organizations prioritize initiatives that deliver the greatest value by aligning projects with strategic objectives. They also identify and mitigate risks that span multiple projects, ensuring that issues in one area don’t derail the entire program. Project managers, in turn, benefit from this oversight and guidance, as they can focus on successfully executing their projects.

Additionally, program management enables efficient resource allocation, as skills and expertise can be shared across projects, reducing duplication of effort and maximizing value. Project managers can leverage these resources and collaborate with other project teams to achieve their objectives more effectively.

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Dig deeper: Combining martech projects: 5 questions to ask

Programs in marketing operations

In marketing operations, programs play a vital role in integrating and managing various marketing activities to achieve overarching goals. Marketing programs encompass multiple initiatives, such as advertising, content marketing, social media and event planning. Organizations ensure consistent messaging, strategic alignment, and measurable results by managing these activities as a cohesive program.

In marketing operations, various roles, such as MOps managers, campaign managers, content managers, digital marketing managers and analytics managers, collaborate to develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans that support the organization’s business objectives. 

These professionals work closely with cross-functional teams, including creative, analytics and sales, to ensure that all marketing efforts are coordinated and optimized for maximum impact. This involves setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuously monitoring and adjusting strategies based on data-driven insights.

One of the primary benefits of a programmatic approach in marketing operations is maintaining a consistent brand voice and message across all channels. By establishing guidelines and standards for content creation, visual design and customer interactions, marketing teams ensure that the brand’s identity remains cohesive and recognizable. This consistency builds customer trust, reinforces brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Programs in marketing operations enable organizations to take a holistic approach to customer engagement. By analyzing customer data and feedback across various touchpoints, marketing professionals can identify opportunities for improvement and develop targeted strategies to enhance the customer experience. This customer-centric approach leads to increased satisfaction, higher retention rates and more effective marketing investments.

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Dig deeper: Mastering the art of goal setting in marketing operations

Embracing the power of programs for long-term success

We’ve explored how programs enable marketing organizations to drive strategic success and create lasting impact by aligning diverse initiatives across product management, project management and marketing operations. 

  • Product management programs facilitate cross-functional collaboration and ensure alignment with market demands. 
  • In project management, they provide a structured approach for managing related projects and mitigating risks. 
  • In marketing operations, programs enable consistent messaging and a customer-centric approach to engagement.

Program managers play a vital role in maintaining strategic alignment, continuously assessing progress and adapting to changes in the business environment. Keeping programs aligned with long-term objectives maximizes ROI and drives sustainable growth.

Organizations that invest in developing strong program management capabilities will be better positioned to optimize resources, foster innovation and achieve their long-term goals.



As a CMO or marketing leader, it is important to recognize the strategic value of programs and champion their adoption across your organization. By aligning efforts across various domains, you can unlock the full potential of your initiatives and drive meaningful results. Try it, you’ll like it.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Before we dive into the second way to assume power in your business, let’s revisit Part 1. 

Who informs your marketing strategy? 

YOU, with your carefully curated strategy informed by data and deep knowledge of your brand and audience? Or any of the 3 Cs below? 

  • Competitors: Their advertising and digital presence and seemingly never-ending budgets consume the landscape.
  • Colleagues: Their tried-and-true proven tactics or lessons learned.
  • Customers: Their calls, requests, and ideas. 

Considering any of the above is not bad, in fact, it can be very wise! However, listening quickly becomes devastating if it lends to their running our business or marketing department. 

It’s time we move from defense to offense, sitting in the driver’s seat rather than allowing any of the 3 Cs to control. 

It is one thing to learn from and entirely another to be controlled by. 

In Part 1, we explored how knowing what we want is critical to regaining power.

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1) Knowing what you want protects the bottom line.

2) Knowing what you want protects you from the 3 Cs. 

3) Knowing what you want protects you from running on auto-pilot.

You can read Part 1 here; in the meantime, let’s dive in! 

How to Regain Control of Your Business: Knowing Who You Are

Vertical alignment is a favorite concept of mine, coined over the last two years throughout my personal journey of knowing self. 

Consider the diagram below.

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1713005765 267 2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business1713005765 267 2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Vertical alignment is the state of internal being centered with who you are at your core. 

Horizontal alignment is the state of external doing engaged with the world around you.

In a state of vertical alignment, your business operates from its core center, predicated on its mission, values, and brand. It is authentic and confident and cuts through the noise because it is entirely unique from every competitor in the market. 

From this vertical alignment, your business is positioned for horizontal alignment to fulfill the integrity of its intended services, instituted processes, and promised results. 

A strong brand is not only differentiated in the market by its vertical alignment but delivers consistently and reliably in terms of its products, offerings, and services and also in terms of the customer experience by its horizontal alignment. 

Let’s examine what knowing who you are looks like in application, as well as some habits to implement with your team to strengthen vertical alignment. 

1) Knowing who You are Protects You from Horizontal Voices. 

The strength of “Who We Are” predicates the ability to maintain vertical alignment when something threatens your stability. When a colleague proposes a tactic that is not aligned with your values. When the customer comes calling with ideas that will knock you off course as bandwidth is limited or the budget is tight. 

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I was on a call with a gal from my Mastermind when I mentioned a retreat I am excited to launch in the coming months. 

I shared that I was considering its positioning, given its curriculum is rooted in emotional intelligence (EQ) to inform personal brand development. The retreat serves C-Suite, but as EQ is not a common conversation among this audience, I was considering the best positioning. 

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She advised, “Sell them solely on the business aspects, and then sneak attack with the EQ when they’re at the retreat!” 

At first blush, it sounds reasonable. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase, “Sell the people what they want, give them what they need,” is popular.

Horizontal advice and counsel can produce a wealth of knowledge. However, we must always approach the horizontal landscape – the external – powered by vertical alignment – centered internally with the core of who we are. 

Upon considering my values of who I am and the vision of what I want for this event, I realized the lack of transparency is not in alignment with my values nor setting the right expectations for the experience.

Sure, maybe I would get more sales; however, my bottom line — what I want — is not just sales. I want transformation on an emotional level. I want C-Suite execs to leave powered from a place of emotional intelligence to decrease decisions made out of alignment with who they are or executing tactics rooted in guilt, not vision. 

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Ultimately, one of my core values is authenticity, and I must make business decisions accordingly. 

2) Knowing who You are Protects You from Reactivity.

Operating from vertical alignment maintains focus on the bottom line and the strategy to achieve it. From this position, you are protected from reacting to the horizontal pressures of the 3 Cs: Competitors, Colleagues, and Customers. 

This does not mean you do not adjust tactics or learn. 

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However, your approach to adjustments is proactive direction, not reactive deviations. To do this, consider the following questions:

First: How does their (any one of the 3 Cs) tactic measure against my proven track record of success?

If your colleague promotes adding newsletters to your strategy, lean in and ask, “Why?” 

  • What are their outcomes? 
  • What metrics are they tracking for success? 
  • What is their bottom line against yours? 
  • How do newsletters fit into their strategy and stage(s) of the customer journey? 

Always consider your historical track record of success first and foremost. 

Have you tried newsletters in the past? Is their audience different from yours? Why are newsletters good for them when they did not prove profitable for you? 

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Operate with your head up and your eyes open. 

Maintain focus on your bottom line and ask questions. Revisit your data, and don’t just take their word for it. 

2. Am I allocating time in my schedule?

I had coffee with the former CEO of Jiffy Lube, who built the empire that it is today. 

He could not emphasize more how critical it is to allocate time for thinking. Just being — not doing — and thinking about your business or department. 

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Especially for senior leaders or business owners, but even still for junior staff. 

The time and space to be fosters creative thinking, new ideas, and energy. Some of my best campaigns are conjured on a walk or in the shower. 

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Kasim Aslam, founder of the world’s #1 Google Ads agency and a dear friend of mine, is a machine when it comes to hacks and habits. He encouraged me to take an audit of my calendar over the last 30 days to assess how I spend time. 

“Create three buckets,” he said. “Organize them by the following:

  • Tasks that Generate Revenue
  • Tasks that Cost Me Money
  • Tasks that Didn’t Earn Anything”

He and I chatted after I completed this exercise, and I added one to the list: Tasks that are Life-Giving. 

Friends — if we are running empty, exhausted, or emotionally depleted, our creative and strategic wherewithal will be significantly diminished. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, must nurture our mind, body, soul, and spirit to maintain optimum capacity for impact. 

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I shared this hack with a friend of mine. Not only did she identify meetings that were costing her money and thus needed to be eliminated, but she also identified that particular meetings could actually turn revenue-generating! She spent a good amount of time each month facilitating introductions; now, she is adding Strategic Partnerships to her suite of services. 


ACTION: Analyze your calendar’s last 30-60 days against the list above. 

Include what is life-giving! 

How are you spending your time? What is the data showing you? Are you on the path to achieving what you want and living in alignment with who you want to be?

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Share with your team or business partner for the purpose of accountability, and implement practical changes accordingly. 


Finally, remember: If you will not protect your time, no one else will. 

3) Knowing who You are Protects You from Lack. 

“What are you proud of?” someone asked me last year. 

“Nothing!” I reply too quickly. “I know I’m not living up to my potential or operating in the full capacity I could be.” 

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They looked at me in shock. “You need to read The Gap And The Gain.”

I silently rolled my eyes.

I already knew the premise of the book, or I thought I did. I mused: My vision is so big, and I have so much to accomplish. The thought of solely focusing on “my wins” sounded like an excuse to abdicate personal responsibility. 

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But I acquiesced. 

The premise of this book is to measure one’s self from where they started and the success from that place to where they are today — the gains — rather than from where they hope to get and the seemingly never-ending distance — the gap.

Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan encourage changing perspectives to assign success, considering the starting point rather than the destination.

The book opens with the following story:

Dan Jensen was an Olympic speed skater, notably the fastest in the world. But in each game spanning a decade, Jansen could not catch a break. “Flukes” — even tragedy with the death of his sister in the early morning of the 1988 Olympics — continued to disrupt the prediction of him being favored as the winner. 

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The 1994 Olympics were the last of his career. He had one more shot.

Preceding his last Olympics in 1994, Jansen adjusted his mindset. He focused on every single person who invested in him, leading to this moment. He considered just how very lucky he was to even participate in the first place. He thought about his love for the sport itself, all of which led to an overwhelming realization of just how much he had gained throughout his life.

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He raced the 1994 Olympic games differently, as his mindset powering every stride was one of confidence and gratitude — predicated on the gains rather than the gap in his life. 

This race secured him his first and only gold medal and broke a world record, simultaneously proving one of the most emotional wins in Olympic history. 

Friends, knowing who we are on the personal and professional level, can protect us from those voices of shame or guilt that creep in. 


PERSONAL ACTION: Create two columns. On one side, create a list of where you were when you started your business or your position at your company. Include skills and networks and even feelings about where you were in life. On the other side, outline where you are today. 

Look at how far you’ve come. 

COMPANY ACTION: Implement a quarterly meeting to review the past three months. Where did you start? Where are you now? 

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Celebrate the gain!

Only from this place of gain mindset, can you create goals for the next quarter predicated on where you are today.


Ultimately, my hope for you is that you deliver exceptional and memorable experiences laced with empathy toward the customer (horizontally aligned) yet powered by the authenticity of the brand (vertically aligned). 

Aligning vertically maintains our focus on the bottom line and powers horizontal fulfillment. 

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Granted, there will be strategic times and seasons for adjustment; however, these changes are to be made on the heels of consulting who we are as a brand — not in reaction to the horizontal landscape of what is the latest and greatest in the industry. 

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In Conclusion…

Taking back control of your business and marketing strategies requires a conscious effort to resist external pressures and realign with what you want and who you are.

Final thoughts as we wrap up: 

First, identify the root issue(s).

Consider which of the 3 Cs holds the most power: be it competition, colleagues, or customers.

Second, align vertically.

Vertical alignment facilitates individuality in the market and ensures you — and I — stand out and shine while serving our customers well. 

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Third, keep the bottom line in view.

Implement a routine that keeps you and your team focused on what matters most, and then create the cascading strategy necessary to accomplish it. 

Fourth, maintain your mindsets.

Who You Are includes values for the internal culture. Guide your team in acknowledging the progress made along the way and embracing the gains to operate from a position of strength and confidence.

Fifth, maintain humility.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of humility and being open to what others are doing. However, horizontal alignment must come after vertical alignment. Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the whims and fads of everyone around us. Humility allows us to be open to external inputs and vertically aligned at the same time.

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Buckle up, friends! It’s time to take back the wheel and drive our businesses forward. 

The power lies with you and me.


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