Are You Stuck on a Marketing Performance Plateau?

Are You Stuck on a Marketing Performance Plateau?

When it comes to paid search, it can often be difficult to justify higher-funnel, long-term brand-building investment budgets. The industry typically weights return on investment heavier than it does any other key performance indicator, especially when other tactics’ ROI can’t be as easily measured. While it’s important to hit your key business goals at the bottom of the funnel, it is also important to zoom out and look at the bigger picture to determine how you can continue to grow your market share and sustain long-term growth.

When marketers are in the strategic planning stage, we often refer to the marketing ‘funnel,’ a visual concept that helps to illustrate the customer’s journey from initial awareness of a product or service to making a final decision, like purchasing or subscribing.


While the visual of the marketing funnel is helpful, we have found that reframing the conversion using the concept of the performance plateau has been more powerful. The performance plateau better illustrates the importance of full-funnel advertising and how it can impact the growth of a business long term. The performance plateau is based on econometrician Dr. Grace Kite’s experience with performance-focused brands and demonstrates the plateauing issue many brands experience, while it explains the benefits of a more holistic strategy.


A lot of new brands and businesses will find themselves in the first section of this graphic, the ramp-up. These businesses can invest heavily in the lowest part of the funnel via campaigns like Performance Max and search, and continue to steadily grow. But at some point, they may encounter the next phase, the performance plateau, where they hit a stall in scaling their business. We’ve found many businesses that experienced rapid growth during Covid have now reached this point and are finding it difficult to continue to grow their business, as consumer behavior has shifted yet again. If you find your brand among those stuck on the plateau, the same tactics that got you there won’t get you off of it. Many clients may stay in this phase until they start to incrementally add in their brand-building and awareness tactics. 

Some more established advertisers may already fall into the growth through brand building phase, where they are consistently investing in longer-term brand-building tactics like YouTube, Discovery, or prospecting display. As a result, brand awareness synergy helps the performance marketing program scale over time. If you feel like you have hit that stalling point and you’re wondering what is next, it may be time to refresh your strategy and overall thinking.

In planning budgets and campaign splits for our accounts moving towards a full-funnel approach, we like to use a 70/20/10 rule of thumb. We allocate 70% of the budget to our performance-driving campaigns where we are aiming to hit the target return on ad spend goal or drive a target cost per acquisition, whatever the KPI may be. We are using campaign types closest to the bottom of the funnel and that capture those users ready to make their final decision. We set aside 20% for future brand-building tactics where we are working to increase general brand awareness and increase consideration of our brand among consumers who are researching. The final 10% is for testing with no KPI, which allows us to learn continuously, and to optimize the account while staying up to date on the latest campaign types and betas from our partners.

Eight Oh Two is a proven leader in search engine and performance marketing focused on driving superior results by leveraging best-in-class technology with the very best in human intelligence. Contact us today to learn how we can help push your business beyond the performance plateau.

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