For years, maybe even decades, you’ve been told that you need to “go digital” with your store’s marketing. Well, it’s 2022 and I’m willing to bet that you’ve taken at least one, if not a handful, of your marketing tactics in a digital direction. So, here are two questions you’re likely to ask yourself: Is it working? and How do I know?
In order to answer these questions, it’s important to first define success. In fact, a common mistake retailers make in digital marketing is failing to develop a strategy with a specific, clear, measurable objective in mind.
To better understand this concept, take the example of a golf driving range. It’s easy to hit a bucket of balls on the range and feel pretty good about your swing only to be disappointed out on the course as your shots go careening into the woods. This happens because, on the range, there’s no clear target and success is vague. The ball flies, it goes far, it looks great. However, tee it up on the first hole and you’ll find that the narrow fairway and a specific target have forced you into a more focused perspective of what success looks like.
With that illustration in mind, what definition(s) of success will help you develop a strategy that will keep you “out of the woods?” To begin deciding on a goal, you’ll want to think about what you intend your digital program to accomplish for your store. A digital program could be designed as an acquisition tool, it could be tailored for customer retention, or it could be positioned as a promotional program, possibly to take the place of some print programs you may be phasing out.
Whatever goal you set for your store’s digital program objective, it’s important to view all your digital decisions through the lens of that objective so that your digital tactics align into an integrated strategy. Remember, certain objectives will be better suited for certain markets and demographics, and certain digital tactics will be better suited for your store based on those objectives. Don’t worry too much about what “everyone else is doing;” instead think about what’s best for your customer.
Components of a Successful Omni-Channel Digital Marketing Program
Choosing the tactics that will make up your digital presence is not all that different than making decisions about the individual elements that make up your physical store such as shelving, lighting, signage, etc. Ask yourself the following types of questions as you evaluate your options:
- Do the elements of your program integrate seamlessly to each other?
- Is the program welcoming, easy to use, and inclusive for all your shoppers?
- Is the program representative of your brand and your position in the local community?
- And once again, is the program aligning to the objectives you put in place?
Now let’s dig into a few core tactics that could be key to meeting your goals:
Website: Your website is your digital front door. It’s usually the first impression you make on a new customer and it’s a key part of your most loyal customers’ trip planning. It’s easy to oversaturate a website with information; the best websites are easy to navigate on all types of devices and for all types of people and point your shoppers to a few key areas such as hours and locations, the digital circular, digital coupons, e-commerce, meal planning and important contact/employment information. Single Sign On integration is key for both shopper accessibility and for your own data gathering.
Email/Mobile Communication: It’s not news to you that email is now the modern post office. If you haven’t already made the transition, you might consider thinking about life after print, and email is the place to start. Your emails should provide an easy path to your digital circular and feature consistent branding and navigation with that of your website. Text messaging is becoming a popular choice as well due to impressive open rates, however some customers find text messaging a bit more intrusive and the content itself is far more limited.
E-Commerce: There are two main paths to choose from in the e-commerce space. Utilizing a service such as Instacart reduces the cost required to launch e-commerce and it requires minimal labor to maintain. The downside is that these programs give the retailer limited control of their own program and the third party ends up managing the e-commerce relationship as well becoming the beneficiary of your customers’ shopping data (a somewhat concerning notion if companies like Instacart push on into the distribution game).
Alternatively, you might consider a white label program which you can fully brand to your store. This may require more investment of labor and resources on your part, but can bear fruit in customer loyalty, program control, and long-term profitability. Seamless integration to the website ensures that your shopper doesn’t feel like they just left your digital space to shop your store using an alternative method.
Digital Coupons: Delivering maximum value to customers remains a primary objective to all retailers as price has retaken the lead in why customers will choose to shop in your store. Much like our previous look at digital ad distribution, coupons have transitioned out of traditional print in a similar fashion. Employing a digital coupon strategy will only continue to become more critical, and there are multiple tiers to consider. The ground floor of digital coupons is digital-to-print which can be executed through a kiosk or other in-store delivery method. The costs are low, no POS integration is required, and coupons run through your normal coupon redemption procedures. There is limited ability to gather shopper data, but they provide significant incremental value to your customers.
Conversely, a direct–to–consumer electronic coupon requires a POS integrated loyalty-type platform allowing for distribution on an individual customer level. It does require more financial investment but gives shoppers access to the best offers available from top CPGs, personalizes those deals for more relevant shopper targeting, and allows you to gather actionable shopper data. Again, multi-channel integration is key. A shopper should have the option to clip their coupons on PC, mobile, and in-store (both at the beginning and end of the trip) with real time updates.
In-Store Digital: Finally, don’t forget that digital marketing has as much of a place inside the four walls of your store as it does outside of it, and once again (notice a trend here?) there are multiple levels of engagement depending on your objectives. Digital signage is a vibrant way to react quicker to messaging opportunities while cutting down on print costs. An aforementioned in-store touchscreen kiosk takes your efforts up a level with increased interactivity, giving your shoppers easy access to digital offers, recipes, the digital circular, additional services and more.
Tying It All Together
While the discussion of best-in-class digital tactics is useful in the development of your program, we also understand that a metaphorical counter full of ingredients does not magically turn into a cake, and this is where we would love to help.
SHOPtoCOOK has more than 20 years of experience as the only digital media network designed to connect independent grocers with customers in-store and online. We provide services including custom web, mobile, email/digital circular, in-store kiosk, and social media, and we have many strong partnerships to help you integrate even those services for which SHOPtoCOOK does not act as the main provider.
Our program was designed to grow with you as you implement new features and learn from your efforts. Many third-party marketing “agencies” will shoehorn you into a templated approach, but not at SHOPtoCOOK. We’re here to support you through your personalized digital marketing journey, providing support along the way in every avenue we can.
Want to learn more about a fully integrated digital marketing strategy? Maybe you’d like to start thinking about how to monetize the network you’ve already built? We’d love to sit down and chat! Drop us a line at [email protected]
For more information, visit shoptocook.com.
To learn more about SHOPtoCOOK and John Thompson, president and CEO, on our Experts page, click here.