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From Screen to Store: How to Make Online Advertising Drive More In-Store Sales


By Valerie Skala Walker

Want to get more shoppers to convert to purchase after seeing your digital ads? MaxPoint offers advice you can apply today to boost your digital ad effectiveness, gleaned from our experience with hundreds of CPG shopper marketing campaigns.

American adults spend nearly six hours a day online, yet 85–90% of our daily-use products are still purchased in physical stores. Therein lies a major challenge for CPG shopper marketers: How do you bridge the gap from screen to store, creating digital ad campaigns that generate more in-store sales? After running hundreds of digital shopper marketing campaigns, MaxPoint has identified three main strategies for increasing your digital conversion rate: targeting, timing, and measurement.

1.  Hit a target most others can’t hit, or even see. 
When your goal is to drive sales at a specific retailer’s stores, your digital ad targeting needs to consider numerous criteria: each store’s trade area, the retailer’s shopper target, your brand’s target, and those consumers most likely to be interested in the advertised offer. MaxPoint solves this challenge with our Digital Zip® technology. We start with a grid of 44,000 US neighborhoods, overlaid with all retail locations, and layer on virtually any attribute applicable to CPG brands, from IRI POS-based category and brand development to online purchase intent and interests. Once a campaign starts, we use actual consumer response to refine the targeting. To learn more about how this multifaceted targeting works, check out these case studies on a pet food brand that targeted competitive brand buyers and a dental care brand that leveraged unique data sources to deliver a multicultural video campaign.

Success factors:

  • Use three, four, or more layers of data to define a custom audience of shoppers most likely to respond to your offering.
  • Apply real-time optimization to refine targeting during the campaign, reallocating ad dollars toward the highest-responding consumers and stores.

2.  Timing is everything.
While many item-level purchase decisions are made in the store, it’s also true that 72% of category-level purchases are “on the list” before shoppers head to the store. With that in mind, focus on reaching digital audiences pre-shop, when they’re making lists and deciding what store to go to.

Time your digital ads to reach consumers as close to the moment of need as possible. You can, for example, turn digital ads on and off in response to real-time local data on weather conditions, pollen counts, or other variables known to influence consumer demand for your category. Kingsford Charcoal used this approach to redefine and extend the grilling season, attracting incremental purchases as long as warm weather persisted, well after their competitors’ calendar-based season had ended.

Timing is particularly crucial for new product launches and limited-time items: advertising can’t drive sales if the product isn’t available on store shelves. You can use POS scans to trigger the start of advertising around each store to build early momentum for a new product or to turn off ads when a limited-time item runs out. Brands from snack foods to pasta have used this strategy successfully.

Success factors:

  • Target consumers pre-shop.
  • Activate advertising in response to real-time local conditions to hit consumers at the moment of need. 

3.  What gets measured, gets done.
Our third and final strategy is to create a cycle of post-campaign evaluation that supports continuous improvement. To make the direct connection from online ads to incremental offline sales, a standard sales lift analysis is the obvious first step. But don’t stop there. You should also compare those results to other campaigns you’ve run and seek to understand any differences. At MaxPoint, we peel back the layers of Digital Zip® consumer intelligence to see which store cohorts and audience segments are associated with high vs. low sales lift. These qualitative insights can then be applied to refine the targeting of future campaigns and improve ROI. Check out this allergy brand case study for a real-life example of this strategy at work.

Success factors:

  • Measure sales lift for the campaign overall, but then “peel the onion” to reveal store cohorts and consumer segments that over- versus underperformed.
  • Close the loop by applying your learnings to your next campaign, creating a continuous cycle of ROI improvement.

As we’ve demonstrated, there are a number of ways to tackle the challenge of driving more consumers from screen to store. Whether you need to reach a new audience for an established brand, boost a seasonal product, or accelerate a new product launch, digital advertising done right—applying these strategies for success—can help you extend your reach and generate incremental sales.

To learn more about how MaxPoint’s neighborhood approach bridges the gap between digital ads and in-store sales, check out this infographic.

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