Don’t buy a lemon, not all add to cart solutions are created equal

Don’t buy a lemon, not all add to cart solutions are created equal

The lines are rapidly blurring between brand marketing and multi-channel ecommerce. More than ever before, impressions are conversion opportunities. How well does your brand marketing enable conversions? Are you just reminding the shopper of your brand for the next time they are shopping? Or are you putting your exact product directly into their digital cart? Driving higher purchase intent– and ultimately repeat conversions– with your marketing is critical, especially after the 2020 grocery ecommerce sea changes. Display ads and product detail pages are not enough. Would you rather have the shopper think about your brand, or be headed towards the register with your brand in their basket?

Today we’re talking about shopper funnel conversion, how different actions elicit different levels of conversion, and why that matters in making your digital marketing far more efficient. Spoiler alert: “conversion” events are not all created equal, and buyers should beware. Different types of conversion events (an impression, a display ad click, a product detail page click, an add to cart, etc) differentially affect the odds of a sale either online or offline. Savvy marketers are now embedding their brand marketing with high fidelity ecomm options that make their budgets go further and maximize conversions.

Seeing a simple display ad is an impression in the truest sense of the word—hoping to make an impression that causes the shopper to remember and reinitiate with that particular brand once they are wandering the physical or digital aisles in the future.  While tried and true, this has the weakest purchase intent as the consumer has not made any signal of future brand engagement other than seeing the initial ad.  Here we are often depending on multiple high frequency impressions to eventually convince the shopper to engage at some point in the future on their own terms.

A shopper that interacts with a Buy Now or similar CTA arguably has a much higher probability of sale; they have engaged and their purchase intent is much higher than a passive viewing of an ad.  A relative newcomer to FMCG marketing, these have become common in the last decade as a low fidelity path to cart.  These links often manifest as a jump to a brands product locator page that the shopper can then use to locate the nearest store that carries the brand, or a product detail page of a retailers’ site that shows the product specs, price, and offers potential checkout options.

Aside from a full fledged DTC offering, the highest fidelity path to cart available is direct Add to Cart. Upon engaging with an Add to Cart CTA on an ad, the shopper is shown their local stores that actually have that particular product in stock, and once a store is chosen, the product is physically put into that retailers’ online cart.  This would be the brick and mortar version of seeing an end cap display at your local store, and having that item drop directly into your cart….versus maybe grabbing it later on if/when they remember.  Once the item is physically in their cart (versus a product detail page), the probability of sale is incrementally higher.

The definitive goal line for conversion is of course Checkout at the retailer.  Once the shopper has swiped their card in store, or completed the sale online–the money is in the bank.  Reducing the number of clicks, greasing the tracks to checkout, and getting funnel insights across multiple retail channels is THE battle in CPG Ecommerce right now.

Checkout conversions and analytics is another area of buyer beware for shoppable media.  Understandably retailers hold checkout information related to inbound ad traffic close to the vest.  Conversion information is available, but is extremely spotty and very unreliable.  Checkout conversion data is typically tracked using affiliate marketing methods, and utilizes ‘last touch’ attribution, which means that the last marketing touchpoint receives 100 percent credit for a sale.  In an example where your shopper may click on an ad for cereal, and then go on to add garbage bags that were also advertised to them into the same cart, the garbage bag company would get full attribution for the sale.  Affiliate conversion methods are directionally accurate for retailers to understand inbound traffic, but are not reliable in aggregate nor even remotely statistically significant.  Understanding what a vendor claims as a ‘conversion’ event is important to getting the most mileage out of your shoppable media.

Most brands are telling us they want 50%-100% of their digital ads to be shoppable.  As you consider your shoppable marketing spend, ask yourself: “How hard are those dollars actually working towards conversions?”

  • Can you directly add to the shopper’s cart (vs. a product detail page or other landing page)?
  • Is your product visible in the experience?
  • Is the experience compelling, actionable, and low-friction?
  • Can the shopper see the product is available where they grocery shop?
  • Can the shopper see the current cost of the product at their local retailers?
  • Do your campaigns dynamically adjust their product selection and targeting using inventory awareness?
  • Can you show multiple products, or alternatives/backups when your primary promotion is not available?
  • How well can you reliably and truthfully measure each step of the conversion funnel?

These are all key questions to consider as brand marketing and multi-channel ecommerce continue to converge.

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