With omnichannel, you’re only as good as what you can measure

by Courtney McKlveen, vice president & industry lead, retail, travel and QSR, Yahoo

What if you were measuring the return on a digital campaign and you missed 45 percent of all sales transactions?

When we examined the performance of a leading brick-and-mortar retailer’s digital campaign that’s exactly what we found.

This is just one example of what can go wrong if marketers don’t put the right kind of measurement in place early. Consumers are increasingly engaged in complex shopping journeys that lead them to purchase. Marketers need to be proactive about understanding what really matters when it comes to measurement to stay ahead of increasingly omnichannel shoppers.

Shoppers embrace omnichannel, but it’s more complicated for marketers

A recent study from Harvard Business Review found that 73 percent of consumers are omnichannel shoppers. That means they shift between multiple channels–from their smartphones to brick-and-mortar locations–during their shopping journeys.

It would be natural to assume that given the growth of ecommerce–an estimated $1.915 trillion in 2016–that consumers prefer shopping through digital channels.  As it turns out, 90% of purchases still happen in-store. The Harvard Business Review study suggests that omnichannel shoppers spend an average of 4% more on every in-store shopping trip, and when they do research on a retailer’s website they spend 13% more in-store.

While consumers are embracing shopping across digital and in-store channels, retail marketers still aren’t thinking omnichannel when it comes to measurement. They face key challenges in understanding and optimizing engagement with their customers across channels, including:

1.) Incomplete campaign measurement: Marketers who are only able to measure the online sales impact of their digital campaigns are judging results based on a small fraction of total sales.

2.) Reporting delays: Delayed reporting can make it difficult to optimize digital campaigns in-flight and in real-time to improve performance and maximize return on ad spend.

3.) Difficulty isolating a campaign’s effect on conversion: Matching purchases to ad exposure across the devices and channels within a shopper’s purchase journey is not always reliable and makes it difficult to understand what variables are driving results.  

Being smart about omnichannel measurement

Keeping up with omnichannel shoppers is no easy feat for retail markters. But accurate measurement is the only way to learn quickly, adapt to your customers’ fast-changing behaviors, and drive a healthy marketing ROI.

Consider these best practices for 2017:

1.) Ensure cross device visibility: One of the most reliable ways to avoid inefficient spending, overexposure or underexposure, and wasted impressions is to work with a partner with a strong cross-device graph. This gives marketers a map linking a user to all the devices they use.

2.) Set yourself up to optimize nimbly: Think how quickly shoppers move between online and offline. Marketing needs to be just as nimble when it comes to optimizing campaign performance. Working with a digital partner that can provide a continuous daily read on campaign metrics, both online and offline, will help to optimize campaigns in-flight rather than post-campaign, when it’s too late.

3.) Accurately attribute sales to marketing channels: Use a measurement partner that can provide access to anonymized point-of-sale data associated with consumer purchase data. These insights help accurately match purchases back to ad exposure, whether the consumer converted online or offline. This makes it possible to accurately make marketing investments on the channels that are driving the most sales.

In an omnichannel shopping world, retailers’ marketing and measurement strategies need to evolve with this trend. Accurate measurement will help marketers to see how effective a campaign truly is and plan for success with consumers.

Learn the ins and outs of omnichannel measurement by downloading Yahoo’s e-book: Marketing Measurement From Screen to Store.