The daily pressure on CMOs to move their business forward is real, intense and not going away. The challenge to improve media effectiveness, develop a better strategy and grow the brand is a daunting one, but with the help of a partner like Mindstream Media Group, it can be overcome and even celebrated.
So how do we help our clients accelerate sales and grow?
In this episode of Fast-Forward the Conversation, Marie Zanderson, Director of Digital Media, discusses how our unique perspective framed a different strategy for shopper marketing techniques to elevate a CPG brand beyond the high tide of the COVID-19 cleanliness craze. View the case study here.
Catch the Highlights
The client was working with another media partner placing broad, national digital advertising. This created an opportunity for us to showcase the true efficacy of the media and answer the question, “Is my media working?” We redirected the strategy by creating a contained, controlled environment that allowed us to measure what their media was driving and how it was being received by consumers. We selected several specific DMAs on which to focus media delivery, to be able to measure against unexposed markets and see what happened in those areas.
This is one of our favorite case studies now in terms of measurable lift. We had an A market, a B market and a control market and tested different partnerships to find the ratchet that would increase sales. By the end of Q4, we had some really great momentum going into the first quarter. We were looking forward to spring cleaning, which is like their typical “holiday season” in terms of sales.
The first step in the progression path from Q4 into Q1 2020 was to expand the number of test markets. In Q4, we were testing 25 DMAs, and in Q1 2020, that was expanded to 50. By the time we reached their peak season (spring cleaning) we had already grown their footprint into more markets. We were able to measure the impact of spring cleaning and the impact of expanding to more DMAs. We were stretching the budget a little thinner, but reaching more DMAs was still effective.
COVID was like a high tide that raised all ships for cleaning products, but we used shopper marketing techniques with prime retailers including Target, Home Depot, Kroger and Wal-Mart as an accelerator. Typically, we work with retailers in a managed service capacity. The retailer develops and runs the campaign then provides reporting 6 weeks after it ends – kind of a black box. But in this instance, the retailer’s shopper team came to us for help distilling the performance. They now have portals that allow our media managers to run the campaigns. We manage the media on some direct shopper sites and allow the retailers to continue to manage others. This was a big win because it allowed us to use their product knowledge to increase bids, look at audience segments and extrapolate second party data into our display DSPs.
Due to increased demand for the client’s product as a result of COVID, it was out of stock for a period of time. But by managing the campaign ourselves, we were able to time our efforts to correspond with when the product was back on the shelves. Not only did we see a slow uptick when COVID hit, but we saw a giant spike when the in-house shopper program was added.
We’ve been able to sustain these efforts at a very positive return on ad spend (ROAS). It’s still trending/aggregating at 500 percent ROAS thanks to our team’s ability to manage the campaign and bump up when applicable and dial back as well when needed.
We have more media options now than ever before for consuming and sharing content. We spend our days bouncing between our smartphones, computers, tablets, TV, etc. often using multiple devices at once. This has created an elastic buying journey that requires marketers to shift from media-focused ad placements to audience-focused targeting based on behavior and location. Which, in turn, has prompted a surplus of marketing buzzwords like “omni-channel,” “micro-moments,” “SoLoMo (social, local, mobile),” etc.
To be clear, I’m not bashing buzzwords. Like any other marketer, I use (overuse) them all the time. My point is in the digital era, consumers interact with media differently and, regardless of what we call it, they expect the path to purchase to also be a path of little resistance – an expectation that differs for each consumer.
In that spirit, I’m not interested in coining a new term for – or prognosticating about – the future of the buying journey. Rather, I want to look at what the biggest retailers are already doing to accommodate consumers in the digital era, what those actions mean for the retail industry and what other brands can start doing today to reach consumers.
Big name retailers have been doing what big name retailers do – developing partnerships, introducing new features and acquiring smaller brands in a quest to dominate market share. Last week, retail giant Walmart and search giant Google announced a partnership to start offering the retailer’s product on Google Express in September.
Until now, Walmart has resisted offering their products online other than on its own site. But with Google Home, Walmart can now offer “hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping” for consumers to order – or reorder – on Google’s new voice-powered digital assistant.
comScore estimates half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 and voice-enabled devices are already disrupting digital media buying. Google Home owns a small share of the device market compared to Amazon’s Echo today, but it’s still early.
Google also brings its advanced algorithms and years of experience learning users’ online habits. This should be especially helpful with one feature of the partnership: Walmart customers can link their accounts to Google and get personalized shopping results based on their online and in-store Walmart purchases.
This was just the latest in a string of moves by Walmart to strengthen online sales. In the past year, Walmart has started a free two-day shipping feature and introduced an in-store pickup option. The retailer also acquired online retailer Jet.com for a cool $3.3 billion and apparel retailer Bonobos for $310 million.
To recap: Walmart now offers free two-day shipping, the ability to order items through an AI powered voice search and personalized product recommendations to consumers. It almost sounds like Walmart is trying to compete with someone…
Taking down Goliath
It seems bizarre to compare Walmart and Google to David but in online retail, there is only one Goliath – Amazon. For comparison, Walmart offers roughly 67 million items online, Amazon has almost that many items in its Cell Phones and Accessories department alone.
While Walmart is beefing up its digital presence, Amazon is venturing out into the analog world. In June, Amazon invested more than $13 billion to acquire high-end grocery retailer Whole Foods, giving the online retailer access to 450 physical stores. (The company is also working on opening its 10th physical bookstore this year.)
But Amazon is still making digital technology an integral part of its offline strategy. Amazon Go is a prime example; it’s the company’s solution to traditional grocery stores by skipping the checkout lines.
“(The) shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”
If there’s an overarching theme to all these moves, it’s that big-name retailers are trying to offer consumers a buying journey that matches their media habits, blending online and offline options to provide each consumer their personal path of least resistance. In buzzword speak, it’s a “SoLoMo” approach to “omni-channel” advertising designed to reach consumers at the right “micro-moments.”
Improving your digital media campaigns
Competing in today’s media landscape requires each brand to develop its own unique approach comprised of many small puzzle pieces that when put together renders a cohesive strategy. However, there are plenty of little things brands can implement to reach consumers across channels to help guide them towards a purchase.
Here are a few tips for retail brands:
No. 1: Put the “Lo” in “SoLoMo”
For retailers looking to increase sales at brick-and-mortar stores, Google AdWords campaigns offer a variety of strategies:
Consumers frequently go between shopping online and in store, so it’s important to tie online and offline actions. If a consumer spends 95 percent of the purchase process researching online but buys the product in your store, you want to make sure the advertising effort that did the heavy lifting gets the credit.
Attribution is integral to digital marketing, but perfecting it has been the industry’s white whale. However, digital marketers are making huge advances connecting online and offline behaviors and can attribute performance far better than many traditional media placements.
Online shopping allows consumers to spread out their research into smaller, incremental shopping sessions (hence “micro-moments”), and they tend to start and stop often. But just because someone doesn’t convert immediately doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Retailers can improve the odds of the consumer returning and make it easier for them to do so by retargeting them – meaning showing them related ads (via search, display, email, etc.) to keep the brand top of mind.
No. 4: Putting the “So” in “SoLoMo”
Consumers spend a lot of time on social media and many use the platforms during the holidays for gift inspiration. So be where the people are by placing ads on top social sites. Facebook has several ad options that can drive e-commerce sales, increase in-store traffic or do both. For example, offer claim ads allow brands to extend discounts and promotions to targeted Facebook audiences.
Implementing these four tips won’t bring on massive change like the Google-Walmart partnership, but they represent incremental steps that retail brands can take today. As more media options become available, brands need to implement these types of changes to reach consumers on as many channels as possible.