Why a stop-start approach to drive-to-store is hurting your brand

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Drive-to-store (DTS) is still the new kid in the block and some brands are only now finding out about the benefits of focusing on business outcomes rather than media KPIs to determine the success of a campaign in the real world. 

But if this isn’t your first rodeo, and you have made the shift towards measuring offline results using offline metrics (visits and footfall uplift), it may be time to shift to a long term DTS strategy as opposed to a stop-start approach where you always have to plan and optimize from scratch. 

Now, when we’re talking about a long term strategy, we don’t mean you should have the same level of investment all year round – that could be an unsustainable budget and it may overwhelm your audience. However, a low investment commitment during ‘off-peak’ months can help maintain brand awareness, keep your audience engaged, and allow you to collect data and generate useful insights. 

Running a combination of short seasonal campaigns that provide you with a spike or boost in engagement and visitors and smaller scale off-peak activity can help you generate lasting and recurring engagement with your audience. Here are some of the benefits of ditching a start-stop DTS strategy and thinking about your long-term goals:

Easier optimization & better results across all your channels 

It’s no secret that short campaigns are harder to optimize and can deliver mixed results. That is not only because of the short time-frame that trading teams and AI have to find your audience, but also because short campaigns can be planned and delivered too fast providing an inaccurate snapshot of the reality

Short campaigns are also subpar at evaluating the performance of a channel or a creative. A better use for short bursts with an additional budget would be to use the learnings and recommendations from your off-peak periods to craft a strategy with guaranteed success.

Develop your DTS know-how and AI’s know-how

The more you use a platform or run a type of campaign the better you will be able to recognize signs that something is or isn’t working, and the better that platform’s optimization algorithms will be at optimizing your campaign for you. 

With a low investment always-on approach, you can make sure that you’re tuned in to your audience’s preferences and you’re able to find them and convert them at the right time from the start of your campaign.

Remove all guesswork: test & renew your messaging with confidence

Allowing yourself more time to work on your strategy and your assets also gives you time to test at a smaller scale new messaging, creatives, and audience segments. These tests can be run cheaply at off-peak times for your brand, minimizing the risk of choosing the wrong message during crucial times, and improving your performance

You can also spend your off-peak time testing out new channels for drive-to-store, like audio or desktop, and seeing how these might fit in your media mix. To fully understand how your activity or lack of really affects your stores, you could use tracking tools, like our Retail Analytics dashboard, that help you monitor your total footfall across all stores and at the network level.

Really understand your audience

Lastly, it’s not only about finding your audience but also about understanding them better, what their motivations are, and how they want to engage with your brand. By running off-peak campaigns you’ll be able to generate insights that aren’t impacted by seasonality – and be able to improve your performance regardless of the timing of the campaign. 

For example, this could help you understand your cycle to conversion better: how does your audience respond to different messages and at different timings? Does your audience respond better to time bound activity?

Moving from a stop-start approach to an always-on strategy means looking at your media planning and buying at a more strategic level that serves your long term plans as well as delivers on your short term objectives. It means brands and media agencies working with drive-to-store platforms directly and closely to understand what is the best approach for every moment in time. It means having enough time and data to analyze true trends and generate useful insights that can be applied across all types of campaigns. 

If you’re interested in seeing what an off-peak strategy could look like for your brand or client, please get in touch

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