The Secret to Multi-Channel Success? Getting Your Physical and Digital Assets to Work Together (Here’s How)

When it comes to launching marketing campaigns, brands can no longer afford to think in silos. That is, you can’t think in terms of “physical OR digital” initiatives.

CPG campaigns shouldn’t be classified as just “online” or “offline.” These days, the most successful ones are the campaigns that are fully integrated across both digital and physical realms.

In other words, your online and offline assets need to work together and drive results across different channels. 

In this post, we’ll shed light on ways to help you do just that. 

Use your physical inventory to attract online users

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What better way to attract customers than to let them know that the products they’re looking for are available in-store right now?

Many modern shoppers — particularly those on their mobile devices — crave instant gratification. That’s why if your store or brand can get in front of customers right when they’re looking to buy, then you stand a good chance of converting them.

One solution that enables you to accomplish this is Google’s Local Inventory Ads. These ads “showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers searching with Google. When shoppers click your ad, they arrive on a Google-hosted page for your store, called the local storefront. Shoppers use the local storefront to view in-store inventory, get store hours, find directions, and more.”

Here’s an example. A mobile Google search for “toothpaste for sensitive teeth” brings up sponsored content from nearby stores that carry toothpaste brands related to the search.

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Image credit: Francesca Nicasio

Clicking on an ad takes you a dedicated product page that contains information on the item as well as in-store pickup details.

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Image credit: Francesca Nicasio

If you haven’t done so yet, explore Google’s Local Inventory Ads and see if it makes sense to include them in your advertising and marketing mix. If you have a retail location, upload your products to Google’s platform to create local ads. If you’re working with retailers, then coordinate with them to ensure that your products show up when local consumers run a relevant search.  

Unless you do it on time, in full, at every site, you are not executing at all

Use multichannel offers (and entertainment) to drive traffic and sales

Deals are always popular with consumers, and if you combine them with a compelling hook along with a multi-channel approach, you’ll be in a great position to engage shoppers across the digital and physical realms.

One brand that successfully pulled this off is Snickers. Last year, the company unveiled its “Hungerithm” (i.e., algorithm), which measured the mood of the internet and adjusted the prices of its candy bars accordingly in 7-Eleven stores. Inspired by the brand’s “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” messaging, the algorithm lowered the prices of Snickers based on how angry the internet was.

The more upset the internet was, the lower prices got.

People were able to use their mobile devices to track Snickers prices, and whenever prices went down, consumers were given a mobile coupon that they could redeem at any 7-Eleven store.

Check out the video to learn how it worked: Snickers: Hungerithm

Repurpose existing assets for different channels

An excellent way to get various assets and channels to work together is to reuse any existing materials on other platforms. For example, Clinique repurposed its print ads as YouTube videos and saw great results.

There’s also Veet India, which adapted its existing TV commercial for video ads on Facebook. According to the social network, Veet trimmed the original advertisement and then placed the messaging at the beginning to optimize it for mobile.

“The ads encouraged women to share photos of themselves flaunting their arms and legs. In return, they could win a chance to party with brand ambassador and Bollywood star Shraddha Kapoor, who also fronted the TV commercial, video ads and photo ads.”

The results? According to Facebook, “Veet reached 18 million women in four months and saw a 22% increase in in-store sales.”

Use in-store displays and product packaging to drive online engagement

So far we’ve discussed how brands are driving online users in-store. But what if a campaign worked in reverse? Can physical assets be used to drive online engagement?

The answer is yes.

You can use physical assets such as in-store displays and product packaging to deliver content that encourages shoppers to learn more, engage with, and talk about your brand.

Case in point — Frito-Lay. A few years ago, the brand launched an augmented reality mobile initiative to connect with consumers in retail stores.

Stop leaving money on the table with poorly executed merchandising

Mobile Marketer reported that “users can download the free Skylanders Giants In-Store Adventure app and then scan in-store displays as well as special-edition Frito-Lay variety packs to see one of the characters from the game appear on their mobile device.”

As a result of the initiative, Frito-Lay saw an increase in mobile app downloads and social shares.

Another great example comes from Gillette, which used its physical product packaging to drive digital engagement.

According to Wayin, “to coincide with the launch of its Mach 3 Razor, the brand set-up a simple, yet hugely effective quiz offering the chance to win an HSV Clubsport R8 car.” All customers needed to do was purchase a Gillette Mach 3 Razor, take the quiz online, and submit the unique product barcode that came with their purchase.

The campaign not only drove excitement and engagement, but it increased sales for Gillette right around the launch of its new razor.

It’s not just about assets — it’s about people and processes

The performance of your multi-channel campaigns doesn’t just depend on your assets; your people and processes are just as critical to the success of your efforts.

Close coordination between teams is important when planning and implementing your campaigns. This is especially true when you’re working with retail stores. See to it that your team and those working on the retail side are aligned at every stage of the campaign.

For example, if you’re offering a cross-channel discount such as Snickers’ Hungerithm initiative, you’ll need to ensure that all participating retailers are aware of how the promotion works, its terms and conditions, and who’s allowed to redeem it.

Do your campaigns leverage retail displays and product packaging? Then make sure those assets are properly set up in-store. Send your partners detailed instructions, photos, and materials to enable them to correctly implement your initiatives, then conduct store audits to evaluate their execution.

There’s also the matter of tracking the results of your campaign. Multichannel marketing requires collecting the right data so you can measure and attribute results such as sales and brand lift.

To do this, you and your retail partners must agree on what data to share and how to do it.

How often will they generate reports and how will the information be shared? For best results, use a cloud-based platform that enables users to share information in real-time. There are solutions in the market that offer third-party import capabilities, so your partners can send their data straight to your system.

Compliantia, for example, has store data solutions that allow brands to import third-party data such as sales, human resources or inventory and securely display this data against stores, anytime, on any device.

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Your turn

Can you give other examples of winning multi-channel campaigns? Share them in the comments.

About the author:

Francesca Nicasio is a freelance writer and content strategist who’s dedicated to writing about retail trends and tips that help merchants increase sales, improve customer service, and be better retailers overall. Her work has been featured in top retail industry publications including Retail TouchPoints, Street Fight, Retail Customer Experience, VEND, and more. She’s also a featured thought leader on LinkedIn, and is followed by over 300,000 professionals on the site.

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