November 28, 2017

How Retailers Can Close the Loop between Planning and Sales in a Cross-Channel Environment

Ian Fuller Ian Fuller
Product Marketing Associate

No time of the year is more competitive for retailers than the holiday season. With such concentrated advertising and buying activity, winning the hearts and minds of consumers is a challenge – but the potential payoff is huge.

All great holiday marketing begins with a break-through creative, but ultimate success depends on how well that creative is deployed to maximize its impact. The savviest marketers know that an effective media strategy – one that crosses platforms and closes the loop between planning and sales – is the key to winning in the holiday season.

Here are three tips for how marketers can plan, activate and measure their cross-platform campaigns to get consumers off the couch and to the register:

  1. PLAN cross-platform campaigns using advanced audience data
    Identifying the most appealing segments in the planning stage helps ensure campaigns are set on the right track. Traditionally, these targets have been defined by standard demography, but the recent introduction of advanced audience datasets provides new opportunities for more resonant marketing. Mass-market retailers have traditionally cast a wide net in planning against certain age/gender audience targets; for example, Females Age 25-54. But the availability of advanced audience data means that planning for more narrow segments is increasingly possible, above and beyond the traditional targets.

    Consider a big box retailer looking to capitalize on the fast-growing women’s athleisure trend, with a new, affordable line of this apparel. In the past that retailer might have planned their media around that Female 25-54 target, but now they can build a plan around a more sophisticated target. Perhaps they wish to get narrower with demographics by planning around Females 25-54 from households making less than $150k. Taking a step further, they can also layer in key psychographic indicators that might make an even more valuable target: those who have attended a yoga class in the last month, exercise at least three times a week, have recently purchase exercise equipment and/or own a dog. All of these attributes could be predictive of the right target for athleisure apparel.

  2. ACTIVATE cross-platform advertising to reach consumers on the right channel
    Once targets have been developed, it’s important for marketers to determine which channels are most effective for deploying promotional messages. For holiday campaigns, TV is often the primary media buy as it is generally the best reach vehicle. But not all relevant customers can be reached easily on TV, especially given today’s fragmented and increasingly-digital media landscape. Consider the hypothetical 25-34 year-old female cord-cutter who primarily watches TV content via Netflix but spends a lot of time on her computer and reading news on her phone. This potential customer who is ‘unreachable’ on TV can still be activated on digital channels without sacrificing valuable additional TV spend. This brings cost efficiencies that allow the marketer to maximize reach within the particular audience segment.

    And when casting a narrower target, many marketers may not want to spend their effort necessarily maximizing reach – especially when the immediate goal is to get them to the store to make a purchase. In this case, marketers may want to use digital to increase ad frequency amongst the core target. By hitting them a high number of times in a concentrated period of time, they may be more likely to take action.

  3. MEASURE the impact of your advertising with purchasing and visitation behavior
    Once the campaign has been activated to reach the most valuable audience targets, any retailer wants to assess its effectiveness. Did exposure to the campaign make the consumer more likely to take the desired action? And if so, by how much?

    Retailers can close the loop between planning and sales by measuring the ‘lift’ achieved by their campaigns. And that lift can be measured in a number of ways that may be relevant to the retailer: lift in store visits (i.e. foot traffic), online purchase or offline purchase.

    In the athleisure example, perhaps the retailer is effective in driving a 10% increase in store visitation among the narrower target segment and a 5% increase among the broader Female 25-54 segment. But because the broader target is 4x the size of the narrow target, the overall impact of reaching that target has a larger overall impact on store visits. Now, that’s not to say that this targeting exercise is an either/or proposition. In this case, both targets are valuable and have relative strengths in contributing to the overall effectiveness of the campaign. By quantifying the lift among each segment, calculating ROI, and weighing those considerations against the scale of the media buy, marketers can fine-tune their marketing mix to optimize outcomes.

When retailers close the loop between planning and sales, they can devise smarter campaigns that reach the most valuable customer segments, and measure how effective they are at moving the needle.

To see how comScore can help you make the most of your retail campaigns, with tools to help you plan, activate and measure campaigns during the holiday season and beyond, contact us here.

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