The 5 Core Elements of Shopper Marketing

Guide Overview:

Consumers face more purchasing choices today than ever before. How are you standing out from the competition and creating relevance with shoppers? 

Google jokingly compares the modern customer journey to a “whodunit” thanks to the extensive research that goes into a retail purchase as simple as a new jacket. Across multiple devices and various touchpoints, consumers are on the case, hunting down goods and services 24/7, using online and offline tactics. That’s a lot of ground for a brand to cover – but it’s table stakes at this point. Salesforce confirms that 70% of customers expect connected processes from brands if they want to win their business. 

So, why should you care? Well, for brands in the hypercompetitive, commoditized world of CPG retail, it’s essential to engage the shopper in new, innovative ways or risk losing market share. The good news: We’ve outlined the best shopper marketing strategies your brand can implement to improve your buyer’s journey.

About This Guide 

After 20 years of connecting CPG brands with their consumers, Cliffedge Marketing has identified the 5 common elements that set brands apart and prove crucial to marketing success at retail. We’ve outlined their methodology and tactics in this helpful guide. 

The 5 Core Elements of Shopper Marketing:

  1. Positioning
  2. Website
  3. Customer Engagement 
  4. Sales Funnel
  5. Data Analysis

As you read, it’s important to understand that these elements alone are not enough. To be successful, everything must work in-sync to create relevance with consumers.

Customer expectation is high, and Salesforce reports that 80% of customers consider the experience the company provides just as important as the product or service. We’ll dive deeper into the customer experience, but the theme here is to connect each touchpoint to your overall brand strategy.

At the end of this guide, we’ll provide you with a free tool to assess your brand’s ability to create relevance across these elements.

Table of Contents:

Element #1: Positioning 

Positioning is the organizing principle behind your brand. Think of it like your brand’s central theme – at the heart of everything you do. 

Your positioning steers the shopper marketing campaign and drives decision making when building and implementing your strategy. The key to successful positioning is simplicity – use easy-to-understand messaging that can capture attention and convey value at a glance.

Define Your Target Customer

The first step in the process is to identify your end consumer. We find the best way to do this is to create a buyer persona that defines your target audience’s values, wants and purchase behavior. This gives you insights that can steer your strategy. Keep in mind that different products within your portfolio may appeal to different types of customers, so build a buyer persona for each product line (i.e., milk vs. ice cream).

Bring Your Visuals to Life

When it comes to CPG brands, high-quality visuals are everything. Your target audience eats with their eyes, and high-quality images help them associate your brand with top-tier products. Visuals encompass everything from the photos and videos you use to your product shots and packaging to the layout of your website. Just be sure to place your product in the appropriate environment and showcase it in the proper context. For instance, if you’re selling condiments, display them in the context of a recipe.

Use Storytelling to Stand Out

Differentiate from the competition with a compelling story. To clarify, storytelling includes more than just referring to the features of your product, like how it’s 100% all-natural or made without artificial sweeteners or colors. Countless brands make very similar claims, so make these features become part of your story, not the crux of your message. Give it a memorable beginning, middle and end to enhance your identity and give shoppers a reason to care.

Highlight Your Brand Values

Beyond the price/utility of your product, establish a meaningful way to connect with target consumers and create value for them. Stand for something – It can be anything from a charitable cause to enjoying the outdoors to spending time with family. This is the hook that gives consumers a reason to care. And, whatever idea you choose, keep it on-brand and give consumers a reason to visit your site beyond purchase.

Element #2: Website

Your website is your digital storefront. How are you opening the digital doorway for consumers to purchase or interact with your brand? Just like owning a brick-and-mortar store, you want your online store to look good, be easy to navigate and ultimately funnel consumers to purchase in a logical, helpful way.

It’s also the hub for your marketing efforts. Like your own proprietary channel, your website gives you control over messaging, content and, most importantly, data capture.

Although there’s a lot that goes into making a good website, we want to focus on the best practices that we know make a difference in a shopper marketing campaign. 

The Five Aspects of an Effective CPG Website:

1. Make it Mobile-Friendly

Ragtrader found that 67% of surveyed consumers use their mobile phone to “window shop for fun.” 77% go on to make an impulse purchase when they do. And since Stat Counter reported that 49% of 2019’s website traffic came from mobile devices, if you’re not running a responsive, optimized website, you’re losing market share.

It’s obvious why a clunky, slow site that’s not optimized for mobile will turn people away. In today’s quest for instant gratification, consumers easily associate a poor-performing website with poor, outdated quality.

2. Keep Your Content in Context

Give the people what they came to see! Don’t miss the mark with flat, unappetizing product shots on your website; instead, bring your products to life. 

And, as we mentioned earlier, show your products in context. That may include videos or photos featuring your product in action. If you’re a food blog, consider featuring recipes with your product. In general, tie the imagery of your product with the associated activities they endorse or improve so your target audience can get the full picture.

3. Feature Customer Reviews

Don’t forget to list Consumer Reviews alongside each product. These product reviews are a great way to display social proof and promote sales. Going beyond the benefits of customer credibility and free advertising, reviews are read by 95% of consumers before they make a purchase, according to Spiegel. Plus, G2 and Heinz Marketing found that 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.

4. Define A Clear Path-to-Purchase

An optimized website converts online followers into customers. Whether you plan to sell directly on your site, redirect to a third-party eCommerce platform or offer visitors a “Where to Buy” option – make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for.

5. Don’t Miss Out on Data Capture

The true value of a quality website and direct-to-consumer platform is the proprietary data it can generate. When set up correctly, you generate a deeper understanding of your customers through owned demographic, geographic and psychographic insights. This helps you become increasingly effective with your ad spend, dynamic content and email marketing segmentation as you know where to focus your efforts.

Element #3: Customer Engagement 

Customer Engagement is the process of building relationships with your target audience across multiple channels. This can’t be done without creating value that extends beyond price or product features at key points along your target customer’s path to purchase.

Why is your Customer Engagement Strategy so important?

In the highly competitive, commoditized world of CPG retail, customer engagement is the result of a positive experience that sets your brand apart. Besides connecting you with your customer, it can deliver significant marketing benefits as well, including:

  • 86% of consumers will pay more for better customer experience. (PWC Research)
  • Engaged customers represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue and relationship growth. (Gallup)
  • You’re 70% more likely to get conversions with re-targeted, engaged customers. (Adobe)

Three Things to Consider When Building Your Engagement Strategy:

  1. Which marketing channels fit your target audience
  2. How to add value within those channels
  3. Where to build points of interaction around the purchase
1. Marketing Channels That Fit Your Target Audience

Define the marketing channels (or customer engagement channels) that are best fit to communicate with your target audience. This is usually the place where the consumer is most active. (For example: Young adults may be on TikTok or SnapChat while older adults may stick with Facebook or even email, etc.) 

Use your buyer personas to find the right medium, but don’t limit your brand to just one channel. Salesforce believes it takes 6 to 8 touchpoints to generate a viable lead, but don’t overextend yourself – quality is always better than quantity!

2. Adding Value Within Those Marketing Channels

Basically, you should always be adding more value than expected. In this way, your brand will exceed your customer’s expectations and ultimately create brand advocates.

So, how is this done? We see it take many different forms – from helpful content to exciting giveaways to meaningful give-backs to exclusive, one-of-a-kind opportunities. Whichever direction you choose, make sure the added value offer makes sense for the platform. (For example: A video works better on a social post than on an email.)

3. Building Points of Interaction Around Purchase

Where are you trying to engage consumers? You should be creatively targeting your audience at the Pre-Purchase, Purchase, and Post-Purchase stages. Each stage represents a different environment and mindset of the buyer journey. 

In each case, make sure your added value message is applicable for that setting and motivates consumer action. 

SEE IT IN ACTION: “19 Crimes Wine

Part of this wine company’s consumer engagement strategy is to feature “Living Labels.” They utilize AR-enabled packaging as a Marketing Channel to promote interactivity and tell a unique story. As an Added Value, they bring consumers face-to-face with infamous convicts to hear their side of the story. Each bottle features Points of Interaction at the point of purchase and post-purchase.

The Two Sides to Every Engagement Strategy

A quality shopper marketing engagement strategy is typically made up of two parts: campaign-based and ongoing engagement. We break down how to use both sides of engagement to your brand’s advantage by strengthening the relationship with your consumer. 

1. Campaign-Based Engagement:

Marketing campaigns are generally larger in scope and designed to achieve a specific goal – like creating awareness in a new market. The ultimate goal is to inspire action that gets consumers off the mark and actively participating with your brand.

We suggest structuring your campaign-based engagement strategy around your sales calendar to maximize the impact.

Develop quarterly programming to keep your brand fresh (ex. Consumer Promotions)

Consumer Promotions introduce and reintroduce your brand to new markets. Typically consisting of events or experiences or interactions (whether in-store or online) that incentivize consumers to participate in your brand, these promotions are known to include sampling, contests and sweepstakes and often deliver special offers like promo codes.

Support your brand values with long term initiatives (ex. Partnership Marketing)

Long term initiatives require a bigger commitment to brand value. When you align your company with a like-minded business, it’s a great opportunity to build brand equity. You can reach new markets, connect with a new fanbase, support each other’s goals, enhance storytelling/brand values, etc. 

We recommend these impactful Partnership Marketing tactics to make a difference:

  • Cause Marketing
    • According to a Cone Communications study, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important to consumers and a major influence in their decision making. Check out these benefits:
      • 87% consider CSR when deciding what to buy or where to shop.
      • 85% take corporate philanthropy into account when deciding which products and services to recommend to others.
      • 93% will be more loyal to a company with a cause and continue buying products or services from them.
      • 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality.
  • Sports Marketing
    • Not only does this show that you’re supporting the hometown team, sports marketing helps your brand tap into your customers’ passion and get up close and personal with an exciting fanbase. Check out these benefits:
      • Generate greater interest in your brand and engagement from your customers just by association.
      • It allows for unique sampling opportunities that get your product in front of more engaged consumers to build brand awareness.
      • Your brand can associate your logo with the local team’s logo, establishing an additional layer of trust within the consumer mindset.
      • Leveraging the social channels of a sports team grants access to their significant fanbase and capitalizes on new brand opportunities.
2. Ongoing Engagement:

Once someone chooses to engage with your brand, it’s important to keep the conversation going and stay top of mind. This means consistent communication with things like weekly social posts, regular blogging and/or a monthly newsletter.

Create ongoing communications with your fanbase (i.e. Content). 

Your content strategy will play a large role in providing value to your consumers – and, it will play a critical role in attracting potential customers to your website. In a digital world, content can take the form of web landing pages, blogs, social media, guides, eBooks, FAQ pages and more. 

In the retail world, we recommend clients incorporate food blogs, how-to-videos and user-generated content into their overall strategy. The top ways to make your content count are to keep it relevant for the customer, optimize it and measure the results. You’ll know you’re creating value when it keeps people coming back!

Emphasize Customer Service to drive brand loyalty

Providing great customer service requires more thought and effort than just replying to comments and reviews. In fact, it’s a comprehensive strategy that relies on brand standards to remain consistent and on-point across your footprint. Each customer touchpoint you deliver on your owned and earned media platforms further positions you as consumer focused and, when you turn a negative customer experience into a positive one, you develop brand loyalty with the consumer.

  • Microsoft found that 96% of global consumers believe customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
  • Customer service impacts a consumer’s level of trust with a company more than anything else, according to Dimensional Research.
  • Harris Interactive revealed that 89% of consumers switch to a competitor if they experience poor customer service.

Element #4: Sales Funnel

Sales funnel management refers to the process of moving consumers from one stage of the buying cycle to the next, all while keeping consumers connected with your brand. For CPG brands, this means asking three basic questions:

  • How do you get your target customer to become aware of your brand?
  • Once engaged, how do you move them from one stage to the next?
  • How do you keep customers engaged, even after purchase?

The 4 Components of Customer Acquisition:

1. Paid Media

Paid media consists of paying for placement across a variety of external marketing mediums. There are a lot of options to consider, but, in the shopper marketing space, we find the most value with these two paid media options:

A. Social Media
    • Social media is a great way to create pre-purchase awareness.
    • You can engage new audiences and showcase your product with high-quality visuals/content.
    • Use geotargeting to build an audience around store locations that sell your product.
    • Remember your audiences on social media platforms are borrowed audiences since these platforms are geared toward advertising purposes. Unfortunately, organic growth is no longer an opportunity for brands.
B. Retail Media
    • This is where you influence consumers at the point of purchase.
    • Retail media are marketing assets controlled by retailers, including everything from shelf talkers, apps, social content and digital couponing.
    • Retailer media lets brands create a holistic experience – one that spans across platforms and connects the in-store experience to the virtual one.
    • Your brand can directly connect with the retailer’s audience at the point of purchase.
    • From placing display ads on Walmart’s homepage to having content featured on a retailer’s social media platform to sponsoring products on search results pages, there are a lot of options and in-app opportunities for brands to gain a competitive edge.
2. Calls-to-Action

The call-to-action or CTA is incentive-driven messaging, like a promotional code or special offer, that provides value to your audience while motivating them to complete a task (i.e. Sign up for our newsletter, Click to learn more, Start a Demo, etc.).

Typically, we use CTA messaging at the end of blogs or alongside gated content to drive higher engagement. These “end-of-the-funnel” pieces of content function as helpful or engaging resources and database builders since users unlock the gated content in exchange for “opting in” with their name, phone number, email, etc.

Whether driving traffic to your website, serving up specific products in your online store or helping you build a database through gated offers, be sure to incorporate call-to-action messaging strategically across all your digital efforts.

3. Remarketing and Retargeting

Remarketing and Retargeting are great ways to re-engage someone who has visited your website or app. Once they’ve interacted with your brand, keep them engaged with relevant content, resources or incentives that advertise your brand. 

As Neil Patel says, when the lion’s share of first time website visitors don’t convert right away, you shouldn’t blame it on your current system of marketing. Instead, take what you’ve learned and put it to use. In this way, Remarketing takes the prospect’s info that you’ve gathered and sends them relevant sales emails, and Retargeting serves ads on third party websites to people who have visited your website, keeping your brand and products top of mind.

4. Email Marketing

Thanks to triggers within your email marketing and customer database, you can keep customers engaged beyond their original touchpoint (ie. the abandoned cart, the eBook download, etc.). This helps cultivate consumer interest, drive repeat purchases and develop brand loyalty. So, while social media is your window to the world, your email database should be the framework holding your consumer messaging together.

Most email marketing services bolt onto or include a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. We recommend researching the tool that will best serve your needs and enhance your productivity. For instance, if all you need is email marketing services, economical choices like Mailchimp and Constant Contact are simple in structure and user-friendly. However, robust programs such as Salesforce, HubSpot and ACT! Email Marketing offers full customer and marketing integration.

For any sales funnel strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so try, tweak and repeat often!

Element #5: Data and Analysis

Finally, what good is a well executed shopper marketing strategy without the proper reporting and insights to back it up? 

Measure Your Shopper Marketing Efforts Thoroughly

Compiling the data around your shopper marketing campaign’s activity is how brands measure their overall performance and tie their marketing dollars to the results that gets them more cash for the next budget. Smart brands comb through the data to see if they’ve met the key performance indicators agreed upon at the start of the campaign. 

In the end, reporting and insights from that data are what drive (and prove) your brand’s shopper marketing success. And, with so much info available to your brand, you can refine your approach and optimize the next step of the sales funnel based on your data-driven decisions. Plus, insights around the customer journey help you design more meaningful, personalized experiences for your consumers. 

While the traditional metric for success is a campaign’s return on investment (ROI), it’s important to establish what’s working well across all your efforts, including how content is performing, which platforms are successful at reaching your audience, what shopper marketing tactics are achieving your brand goals, etc.

Utilize These Proven Data and Analysis Tools:

Google Analytics

This web analytics service places a line of code into your website which allows it to measure every facet of your website’s performance from traffic to backlinks to bounce rate to internal search behavior, etc. You can use these metrics to track ROI easily.

Google Search Console

Another Google freebie, this reporting tool also builds traffic and performance reports, while also branching more into the Google Search side. It offers insights into how you can monitor, maintain and troubleshoot your website’s Google ranking and improve how Google sees your website.

Facebook Insights

This tool tracks user interaction on your brand’s Facebook business page. Similar to Google Analytics, you can expect detailed analytics on what’s working and what isn’t. These insights help you target ads at specific audiences and share more relevant content.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

As we mentioned earlier, a CRM can come from a variety of sources but, in the end, it should make it easy to manage the interactions and data around your brand’s customers and prospects. As a sales and marketing tool, it can streamline processes and keep you better connected with your customers.

Transforming Shopper Marketing Campaigns into Sales Enablement

One of the most undervalued aspects of shopper marketing and the data it can generate is sales enablement. Once you establish a proven system or produce high-performing content that gets results, have your marketing team package the consumer data up for your sales team to use in retail. 

Having a deeper understanding of your customers will help your sales team make more informed decisions while delivering more value for your retail partners.

In fact, organizations with sales and marketing alignment achieve an average of 32% more year-over-year revenue growth – while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease in revenue, according to an Aberdeen Group study.

Tying it All Together

In the end, the common thread throughout each of these steps is to create relevance with consumers. Is this a current goal for your brand? If not, it’s time to decide if you will take the “ONE DAY” or “DAY ONE” approach for your shopper marketing goals.

“Investing in Customer Experience initiatives now has the potential to double your revenue within 36 months.” – The Temkin Group

Where’s this extra money coming from? The consumer! So, as you consider your upcoming shopper marketing strategies, do you have the resources, insights and expertise to take market share from your competitors and drive the most return on your investment? 

Cliffedge Marketing can help! We make it easy to bring campaigns to market quickly and easily. 

Shopper Marketing Assessment Quiz