The following is a guest contributed post from Conor Ryan, StitcherAds Co-Founder
Amazon continues to dominate online sales during the holiday season. Last year, Amazon’s online sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday totaled 37 percent of all online sales during the five-day period. Amazon has proven highly effective at converting in-store buyers, all without spending marketing budget on increasingly ineffective channels like print and without leveraging any first party data on in-store buying behavior.
Traditional omnichannel retailers are behind on embracing online advertising innovations and are therefore struggling to compete, leading many to wonder if they’re in for another brutal sales hit for the 2017 holiday season. However, there is one crucial piece of the market the online super giant has only just started to penetrate — brick-and-mortar stores. While online shopping is on the rise, brick-and-mortar stores comprise 81 percent of total holiday shopping. Despite the recent Whole Foods acquisition and rollout of limited Amazon Go and Books locations, Amazon is still a primarily online-only experience. In the race for holiday season sales, either Amazon is going to win by taking their online expertise and bringing it to brick-and-mortars, or retailers are going to defend their differentiating asset by embracing omnichannel strategies.
A recent report from Market Track shows that, in spite of the growing number of products available online, U.S. shoppers still prefer to make in-store purchases. Are people buying online because pure play ecommerce players like Amazon are better at targeting shoppers where they are? Actually yes—the research suggests that they would buy similar products in store if brick-and-mortar retailers were better at advertising to them. While Amazon strives to perfect the online shopping experience, this preference is an opportunity for retailers to drive shoppers in store by presenting them with geo-targeted ads for items relevant to their interest. Retailers need an effective way to analyze their online and in-store customer profiles to fully exploit their in-store assets. Google has delivered several such solutions to power their ad offerings and more recently Facebook has started to deliver similar offerings.
According to Facebook’s Global Creative Director Andrew Keller, “The average person scrolls through 300 feet of mobile content every day.” Facebook clearly has a captive audience for retailers to tap into to drive more online users in store. Facebook has rolled out advertising tools for businesses in an effort to link offline customer purchasing activity with geo-targeted online ads. Facebook’s Offline Conversion API lets retailers use real customer identities to accurately measure in-store purchases after being exposed to Facebook ads. Recently, Facebook made that data more actionable through custom audience building and retargeting. These and other related capabilities allow businesses to match in-store customers to online users. Once a customer is identified, Facebook’s rich profile (including data from partners such as DataLogix, Acxiom, Experian, etc.) can be leveraged to build audiences for retargeting or prospecting, and to optimize and measure campaigns that are focused on increasing foot traffic. Facebook’s highly targeted ads not only allow customers to purchase online, but also include directions to the nearest store, empowering customers to buy wherever they want. The choice for a virtual or tangible buying experience is not yet something Amazon can support.
While these revamped Facebook Business tools open up new avenues for retailers to edge out Amazon this holiday season through opportunities to increase online and offline revenue, effective and efficient strategies are needed to reach their full potential. What can you as a retailer do to revamp your Facebook ad campaign strategies to deliver more personalized ads? We’ve pulled together our top expertise-based tips.
Build an online-to-offline audience
In today’s plugged-in world, there is more customer data available than ever before and not just for online customers. This data can be used to draw online users into your stores based on their current and historic buying behaviors. Having the ability to pass offline purchase data through Facebook opens new avenues for you to build broader, more hyper-targeted audiences than ever before. With comprehensive data for in-store buying behavior to leverage, retailers must find the right strategy to reach the right customers at the right time with the right products to draw them in store.
Create full-funnel omnichannel campaigns
Prospecting, retargeting, cross-selling, and upselling – the standard online marketing funnel also applies to driving customers in store. By now being able to plug in offline customer data, you can use Facebook’s audience capabilities to exploit strategies that were previously only possible for online activity. Enhance your prospecting strategy by building Lookalike Audiences online based on customers’ brick-and-mortar buying behavior. Retarget customers that recently made an in-store purchase by targeting them online with a coupon code or discount ad for a new season product. Cross-sell and upsell products by targeting customers that recently bought related items in-store or online. And, make sure to also utilize combined offline and online product data – what products are selling best online versus in-store, what items are being bought together, etc. – to optimize your prospecting, retargeting, cross-selling and upselling campaigns.
Make compelling omnichannel ad creative
Drawing online users in store, like all online campaigns, requires compelling, informative narratives. While many imagine ad creative as an exercise in branding, “compelling” narratives are built with data-focused personalization. When creating an ad, leverage previous buying behaviors, nearest store locations, and previous purchases to create a more customized experience.
When determining ad format, consider the customer’s place in the conversion funnel. Canvas and Collection ad formats provide advanced in-ad browsing experiences, similar to a mobile website or app, making them best for engaging new, lookalike audiences. Use ads with map cards when targeting areas with brick-and-mortar locations to encourage a visit. Finally, dynamic carousel ads are best for creating evergreen campaigns, allowing you to promote your entire product catalog, highlighted by top-level category images or videos. These ads work full-funnel, pulling in the products most relevant to the Facebook user served the ad. To take dynamic ad customization a step further, set up a dynamic image or video template that can be automatically overlaid to product feed assets to add details like categories, sale status, stock levels, branding, and other product data fields.
Lastly, make sure your campaigns include both online and in-store calls to action. Campaigns with in-store objectives could include location-specific specials, sales prices, stock levels, and other information to help customers make an informed choice on how they’d like to buy.
To gear up for the online shopping frenzy this holiday season and compete with Amazon’s notorious monopoly of online sales this time of year, having the right ad campaigns in place will make all the difference. This year, balance the foot traffic on top shopping days, like Black Friday when everyone is in store looking for deals in a craze, by leveraging Facebook’s new offline tools to draw current and new customers in store ahead of time this holiday season.
About Conor Ryan
Conor Ryan, co-founder of StitcherAds, has spent 18 years innovating in media tech, designing and launching product to exploit emerging media channels. Launched in 2009, StitcherAds is an official Facebook & Instagram Marketing Partner helping advertisers and agencies scale full-funnel performance marketing campaigns on Facebook & Instagram. Since conception, StitcherAds has empowered some of Facebook’s largest advertisers for eCommerce, retail, travel, and real estate businesses worldwide, using data-fueled automation to increase the revenue impact of their ad spend. As the first partner to launch dynamic ads and dynamic ads for travel on Facebook, StitcherAds has been a leader in both speed and achievement in direct response innovation. For more information about StitcherAds, please go to www.stitcherads.com.