Intelligent advertising strategies for retail

Marketing budgets can be maximised with the latest technology, writes Dot Network CEO Grant Shippey

Let’s be real. Retail has taken a hard knock this year and it doesn’t appear as if things are going to improve in any substantial way that could make up for these losses. In the past year, TFG’s share price decreased by 5.38%, while the Mr Price Group’s share price decreased by 21.04%. In the face of these losses, one of the first places to feel the pinch is marketing and advertising departments and agencies.

You might throw your hands up in the air in exasperation, thinking that marketing is the last place from where the fat should be trimmed. But what if slashing marketing budgets is exactly the right place to begin? Instead of funneling more and more financial, strategic, and creative resources into fancy and expensive marketing campaigns, why not be pennywise and invest in technology that helps you target your audiences better?

The world has gone digital, and retailers, both big and small, who are looking to increase their market share and remain memorable to their existing market must take advantage of the innovative solutions available now if they are to be successful.

Leave the past behind

It used to be that we reached our audiences through traditional powerful and expensive methods. Think cold calls interrupting your tea break, email campaigns filling your inbox about products you don’t need, and above-the-line adverts that quickly lose their impact and become background scenery.

These marketing initiatives tend to bombard potential customers with useless information that lends itself towards irrelevance and an overwhelming sense of irritation with your brand. More than that, it increases the rate of brand- or message-fatigue, giving you a depressingly low return on investment, and loses vital sales.

That’s the price you pay for less nuanced messaging that is tied to the “spray and pray” marketing approach. Clearly, the traditional means of engaging with consumers is not effective, which means that now, more than ever, it is imperative that brands use digital to market more intelligently.

Talk directly to your audience

In this kind of economy, you need to find customers who want to engage with your brand. The chances of reaching people with a message that will actually be of interest to them is exponentially high. Rather than using traditional advertising methods to achieve this and spending more than what you can for a relatively low return on investment, you could use what you already have within your arsenal: your own data.

Knowing how to interpret the data so that you can find out who and where the best audience for a marketing message relies on programmatic advertising. Run by algorithms, this tool roots out the people who are interested in your product, where they go to get their desired information, and when in the day they do different things online.

The volume and access to data that is now available is unprecedented and is how we were able to so precisely target an audience comprised of only female Sandton City shoppers within a 20km radius of the popular shopping centre to generate awareness for a Bulgari Rose Goldea activation.

Through this innovative and intelligent marketing method, Bulgari had a 3.42% click-through rate, 476,046 impressions, 16,264 engagements, and a reach of 221,888 and not a drop of that budget was wasted.

The return that your bottom line needs

With political turmoil and economic uncertainty, retailers are under increasing pressure to find ways to have a memorable impact, increase both likeability and loyalty, and of course, sell more and rescue their bottom line.

With a deeper level of detail about audience segmentation at your disposal, you can do just that. You can reach those consumers who actually want your product, engage directly with them, and sell more.

By using the existing customer database and matching it with other audiences across Africa, retailers like Bulgari can reach the right people, with the right marketing message, at the right time – no matter what device they are using or when they are online. That’s the power of using programmatic marketing tools to communicate with your audience, and an answer to the end of shotgun advertising.

The tool that keeps on giving

In the spirit of ensuring a continuous return on investment, once a brand has found programmatic advertising to reach their target audiences, they can use the same approach for future campaigns.

In addition, your marketing team can also duplicate similar audience segments. These “look-alike audiences” are comprised of people who follow the same online behaviour patterns as those that have already been reached. This increases the number of people that can be effectively targeted.

Start building your data

The challenge for most South African retailers is that the vast majority of their trade comes from offline sales, in bricks and mortar stores. This makes it difficult to track the customer journey to purchase and then contact them without sending expensive, and often irrelevant, SMSs – and that’s if they have the right person’s cellphone number.

First party data, which is the data you accumulate within your own business, is the initial basic step to finding your shoppers online, even if they only shop in physical stores. Building your data can then start with something as simple as advertising an enticing offer online and dropping a cookie when a customer clicks on the ad.

Don’t be put off if your data isn’t rich or you find that most of your customers are anonymous. But start now. Because this is the way forward for retail advertising and marketing.

This article first appeared on Retail Brief Africa.

Grant Shippey is CEO of Dot Network. Contact him.

"With a deeper level of detail about audience segmentation, you can reach target markets that want your product, engage directly with them, and sell more."