Director of E-Commerce Solutions, Inmar Intelligence
In a single-channel world, attributing sales to a grocer’s marketing efforts was simple; an ad ran, sales increased and you knew it worked. But in today’s omnichannel reality, that attribution becomes a more intricate — and important — endeavor. Grocers need to know what’s working and what’s not, and they need to know it quickly, so they can react and optimize in real time.
The good news is that omnichannel attribution is not only possible but can be highly automated with the right technologies and tools. However, if grocers want to capitalize on those technologies and maximize the return on marketing spend to grow sales, they need to remember these five important things.
1. Attribution Isn’t Just for Digital Channels
Digital’s direct impact on grocery sales is easier to measure than more traditional marketing — like the weekly circular — but a comprehensive attribution plan needs to encompass all of the marketing channels you’re using to reach shoppers. Measuring each medium in a silo only gives you part of the picture, without gaining a full understanding of how they’re working together as an integrated mix. Just because some channels lend themselves to more subjective metrics, like sentiment and awareness, doesn’t mean they aren’t inextricably linked to more objective measures like loyalty, acquisition, retention and sales.
This is even more vital for grocers because most of their customers still shop in-store and are more likely to be activated by marketing messages at multiple touchpoints off-site and in-store. Measuring your marketing mix holistically, and truly understanding each shopper’s path to purchase, is the best way to make sure you — and your CPG partners — are getting the best return on your marketing dollars.
2. Data Automation Is Essential for Measurement
Data is the lifeblood of sales attribution for any grocer. But for data to become a truly effective tool, it needs to be easily accessed and analyzed to create actionable, optimizable insights. You have to capture the data, identify what it says, make a plan and execute against it. To accomplish this, you need a centralized data repository for all of the first- and second-party data from all touchpoints. Then, when all of that data is in one place, you can use automated tools that analyze your marketing mix's effectiveness and recommend changes in near real-time.
This can also reduce or eliminate the number of hours traditionally required to collect data from disparate sources, manually analyze the results, and determine the best path forward. When you use a centralized repository combined with integrated data flows and automated tools, all of that work can be done seamlessly, in the background, and with almost no risk of human error. Plus, because the feedback is virtually instantaneous, you have the ability to react now instead of months from now.
3. Technology Should Drive Your Media Mix
The days of using one marketing message for all grocery shoppers are well behind us. Thanks to technology and data, you can now predict how an individual shopper might respond to one offer, while another will respond to an entirely different message. That means you can create relevant stories and experiences that engage shoppers when, where and how they prefer to shop, throughout their unique shopper journey. By looking at very specific data points, it’s now possible to determine the optimum messages and channels to use with shoppers almost on a one-to-one level. But context is crucial here. The appropriate media mix depends on your objectives and customer behaviors. Are you trying to lift sales of a particular item, or an entire category? Are your customers responding to email offers or looking for incentives built into your loyalty app? Technology that analyzes sales data and conversion metrics can automate your media execution process based on your objectives, help inform cohesive messaging decisions across all channels, and increase your marketing ROI.
4. Predictive Models Actually Work
Predictive, or lookalike modeling, is all about understanding and anticipating shopper needs. The more comprehensive data you have on shopper behavior, across all channels, the easier it is to stay ahead of the competition. You’ll know what your shoppers need, often before they realize they need it, and can proactively create offers and incentives that meet those needs. This is not only important for creating loyalty among current shoppers, but can work to your advantage when it comes to customer acquisition.
However, in order for predictive modeling to be effective you need to collect and understand data points throughout your shoppers’ journey. Where were they activated? How did they shop? What offers or messages had the greatest impact on their journey? That requires having access to technology that can effortlessly combine first- and second-party data to create a unified picture of your current, and potential, customers.
5. Test. Learn. Test Again.
Forget the old saying, “Failure is not an option.” Small failures are almost a certainty when there are so many moving parts, data points, shifting customers needs, media options, marketing objectives and channels. The trick isn't to avoid failure, it’s to learn and respond to it — quickly! With the right technology, connected to integrated data from every shopper touchpoint, if you’re not getting the results you want from your campaign you can change it in an instant. In fact, you can automate the process so it changes itself without you having to do anything. AB testing on the media mix, channels, message frequency, language, timing — almost every facet of your campaign — can now happen rapidly, in the background, so you can tweak and optimize your marketing without skipping a beat. And, by analyzing all dimensions of the marketing execution, and that you're able to measure the impact of these campaigns on actual sales.
Omnichannel Attribution Is Now Possible
While omnichannel marketing helps grocery retailers customize the customer journey, it also makes it more difficult to measure the impact and effectiveness of each campaign on sales. However, with the right data and technology — all available today — attribution is possible and imperative.