Imagine this: you’re planning the ultimate destination trip to Cancun. You’ve booked the perfect hotel months in advance and just when you think that you can deal with the rest later — flights, rental car and so on — it happens: you start getting advertisements.
Ads for swimsuits, rental vehicles, deals on hotel stays and more suddenly pop up everywhere. You might make a joke or two about your devices listening to you, but in reality, this is the power of something a lot more fascinating than eavesdropping phones. This is the power of data-powered advertising in action.
Dave Glaza, founder and CEO of Digits Agency, specializes in building data-powered marketing solutions across a host of touchpoints, both physical and digital, for retailers. He’s seen firsthand what data can do for marketing in that sphere and, as a result, has made himself a bit of an evangelist for data as a font of knowledge for marketers across industries.
But it’s not just about digital data…
Physical assets don’t get old
Dave spends most of his time spinning up marketing strategies and assets for retailers that have their products in physical retail stores: Target, Walmart, regional grocers, and so on. When thinking about that sphere of influence, he primarily considers two things:
- Product positioning in-store
- User experience
These are two things that can’t be perfectly replicated in the digital world; you can’t put a pallet of chips on a virtual endcap to compel customers to try the product, nor can a customer pick up the bag of chips, read the back of the bag, and decide to bring some home. That said, there are online-only workarounds for this, said Dave, so it’s vital that marketers put together an in-store experience that rivals that of the digital age.
“When you’re discovering new products and physically interacting with them, it’s different from being inspired by the sheer volume of stuff on the internet,” he said. “The question is, How do we lean into what’s actually awesome about physical retail or physical marketing?”
It’s not a dunk on digital marketing — it’s a sign the physical element of customer-retailer relations isn’t dead. And, for marketers who love living at the intersection of digital and physical advertising, there’s a silver lining.
Data gives retailers exponential growth potential
A quick history lesson: About ten years ago, grocery stores and similar retailers figured out they have access to data on their customers via their retail loyalty cards (think the membership card you scan at the store to get money off your purchases). That, coupled with the launch of Facebook and other early social media platforms, kicked off the concept of retail media: retailers taking shopper data and using them as a tool to serve ads to customers.
For marketers used to being pushed toward the latest and greatest at all times, this might seem kind of old hat — surely a marketing method first implemented 10 years ago wouldn’t hold much weight now, right? But Dave said the impact of retail media is still felt today. It’s just the delivery that’s changed.
“In the ecosystem we call retail media, there are so many different channels now,” he said. “It might be TV, streaming ads or social. You could even gravitate to physical: someone’s sending you a mailer or you’re getting a postcard.”
Regardless of the methods, retail media is a powerful way for stores to use their shopper data and close open loops. It’s also, Dave adds, a masterclass in the merger of physical and digital marketing.
“With the combination of direct mail, for example, and ads online, smart brands have found ways to measure retail media data,” he said. “One of the industry hurdles right now is doing that tracking efficiently, but it is there.”
If there’s one thing Dave’s learned through the process of integrating digital and physical media marketing for retailers, it’s that the more things change, the more they stay the same…which isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes all a customer needs is a digital push to make a physical purchase.
When digital and physical converge
For many brands, getting their product into a retailer is the ultimate goal — but Dave says the actual goal should be a bit more complex. If you’ve convinced Target to stock your product, but you’re on the bottom shelf — out of sight, eye line and heavy traffic — how well is your product really going to do? That’s when the digital marketing element comes in: running TV ads, activating a social media campaign and so on.
Leveraging shopper data from retail media networks is crucial here, especially for brands that prioritize getting in front of the right customers. The more people purchase that brand from the bottom of the shelf at their local retailer, the more likely that retailer is to move its placement to one that’s more favorable. It’s one of many convergences of the digital and physical marketing spaces that carry great impact for marketers, said Dave.
“The company who makes the product is happy, but the retailer also enjoys growing power,” he said. “They’re owning the channel — the store where customers come to purchase the product — but they also have the ability to sell back that data, which will drive more sales back.”
But how will marketers for the retail store chains and products themselves know if those sales are owed to physical or digital marketing assets? It’s a challenge, integrating physical marketing and digital assets into one sales tracking mechanism, said Dave, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Spending just enough time to identify your target audience(s) so you’re not wasting your marketing dollars should be the immediate goal. New bespoke mechanisms to track sales can come later — after all, that’s why companies hire people like Dave!
Interested in learning more about how physical and digital marketing assets can transform the retail sales experience for customers, retailers and marketers? Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts.