The best way to increase your in-store sales is to boost your online messaging, new research finds.
Businesses that are able to best align their marketing strategies to leverage technology that delivers local, shopper-specific, actionable content will see in-store sales increase, according to study from the Altimeter Group and Cofactor.
Many businesses, however, have difficulty developing strategies that do more than just build brand awareness. In order to successfully drive in-store sales using digital marketing, organizations must provide more targeted and personalized messaging, the research reveals.
Rebecca Lieb, the study's author and an industry analyst for Altimeter Group, said digital marketing strategies should be local, personal and contextually relevant to draw in shoppers.
"'Local' must be redefined to include more than mere location," Lieb wrote in the study. "It now encompasses context and connectivity: who, what and when, in addition to where."
While sending messages to consumers when they are near a store can help draw them inside, messages that target shoppers based on who they are, and the previous actions they have taken are far more effective in getting them to spend money once they enter, Lieb said.
To often, businesses aren't doing a good enough job blending all of their digital marketing efforts, the research revealed. The study shows that many organizations have different teams working on mobile marketing, while others work on social media marketing, with still others focusing on Web marketing. [7 Digital Marketing Myths Debunked ]
"The social, Web, mobile and e-commerce teams all operate on their own terms, with their own creative content, budgets and strategies," Lieb wrote. "However, customers want to be recognized as unique individuals across all touch points with a brand, and the only way to fulfill that demand is to coordinate the efforts of all channel silos with a single, unified strategy."
Although brands typically craft messages designed to drive shoppers into stores, these companies often lack a clear strategy for doing so effectively, especially when it comes to coordinating all the channels of communication. The research discovered that while 60 percent of the brands surveyed created digital messages to drive in-store purchases, just 37 percent of those organizations had a strategy to provide a unified customer experience in the path from online information to in-store purchase.
According the research, businesses that fail to better unify their digital strategy run the risks not fulfilling the needs of their customers, frustrating loyal customers and seeing in-store foot traffic drop.
To help businesses create a cohesive digital marketing strategy that increases in-store sales, the research outlines several steps that need to be taken:
- Give shoppers a reason to shop in-store: You want to incentivize shoppers to visit your business. This can be done in a myriad of ways, including by offering options to order online and pick up in the store, along with in-store-only coupons and sales.
- Be mobile: When creating your content strategy, you are best served by focusing on the mobile experience. Few channels are better than mobile at reach and right-time-location targeting.
- Online to offline: This type of thinking and planning with your digital strategy is criticalwhen mapping the customer journey.
- Rethink print ads: Print ads today can provide more value when they are used in conjunction with other types of communication. Boost the value of print ads by spreading the content across digital channels in order to reach customers where they are actually gathering information to make purchasing decisions.
- Unify digital efforts: You need to break down the silos between departments and digital channels. Doing so makes it easier to create a unified strategy for the best customer experience.
- Coordinate offline and online: Plan for online content with similar teams and processes that are in place for delivering offline content. This enables a more coordinated strategy.
- Measure what works: It is critical to implement a method of tracking your digital marketing success. Rather than using metrics like impressions, you should focus your measurements on specific customer actions.
- Use loyalty data: Leveraging this information allows you to personalize and contextualize your messaging.
- Define local at every stage: When creating targeted local messaging, think about more than just geographical areas. Consider how local can be applied to who, what and when, in addition to where.
- Be tactful: Although you might have a treasure trove of great digital campaigns you want to launch, you don't want to turn off customers by constantly bombarding them with personalized messaging.
The study was based on interviews with individuals from 20 consumer packaged goods and retail brands, as well as agencies that are responsible for or influence advertising or content strategy within their organizations. The research also included data from a survey of 500 consumer packaged goods and retail brands concerning the topics of digital advertising strategy, maturity and challenges.