Retail Marketers, from Associates to C-Level, Are Split on Ad Platforms. Here’s Why.

What advertising platforms do retail marketers wish they could spend more time on? This was a critical question in Sidecar’s 2021 E-commerce Marketer Survey, and it revealed interesting disparities when looking at the data by job role, from associates to the C-suite.

C-level respondents prioritized Google paid search ads, or text ads, at 65%. Associate- and manager-level respondents chose Amazon (37%) and Instagram advertising (37%) as their platforms of choice. Director- and VP-level marketers, on the other hand, prioritized Facebook (52%). Interestingly, the associate- and manager-level cohort gravitated toward emerging advertising channels, including TikTok and Snapchat, more than their colleagues.

On the surface, it seems experience may play a role in retail marketers’ preferences. C-level marketers may value Google paid search because it is one of the most established platforms, with over two decades of performance data to guide spend. Conversely, marketers who may be earlier in their career gravitate toward more nascent advertising platforms which they are often tasked with learning, like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

I think channel preferences go one layer deeper. The job roles we surveyed value different stages of the shopping journey, which I believe is reflected in the channels respondents chose. Marketers interested in reaching new audiences may gravitate toward social advertising, while bottom-funnel, sales-driven marketers often value platforms like Google Shopping and Amazon Advertising.

In reality, all of these advertising platforms can play an important role in retail marketers’ advertising mix, and depending on sales needs — filling the funnel, nurturing leads, or converting — certain channels may require more time and budget than others. At Sidecar, we’ve seen that regardless of platform, developing truly cross-channel strategies that cover the full shopping journey drive better results for our customers than siloed digital advertising.

Targeting Full-Funnel Search Intent

Search ads, particularly Google text and shopping ads, can target every stage of the funnel thanks to granular keyword and audience targeting. 

One Sidecar customer serving the niche racing and first-person-view drone market provides an excellent example of the full-funnel search approach. Because the drone market is relatively young, the retailer saw an opportunity to educate shoppers about this technology and establish itself as a thought leader in the field.

For text ads, the retailer bid on educational search queries like “What are FPV drones?” and directed shoppers to informational landing pages. Then, on Google Shopping, it retargeted these same shoppers and homed in on high-intent, branded keywords to drive greater ROI at the bottom of the funnel.

After the first three months of implementing this full-funnel approach, the retailer saw return on ad spend (ROAS) increase 41% for its text ads and 125% for shopping ads. 

Nurturing and Converting New Audiences on Social

Social plays a valuable role at the top and middle of the funnel, and when working in tandem with search advertising, can drive greater engagement and sales for retail marketers. One Sidecar customer, an outdoor retailer, increased ad revenue 196% year-over-year after combining insights from search and social ad campaigns.

Using dynamic ads for broad audiences on Facebook, the retailer prospected users to build a list of shoppers who never visited its website. After growing that list on Facebook, it retargeted these new shoppers with Google Shopping ads to nurture them toward a purchase. The retailer also pulled retargeting lists from Google Shopping to re-engage site visitors on Facebook. As a result, Facebook ROAS increased 123% year-over-year.

Capturing the Sale on Marketplaces

Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart are valuable platforms for high-volume sales and moving through excess inventory. In addition, retailers can utilize marketplaces for new customer acquisition and brand awareness, as one Sidecar customer realized.

This retailer sells medical devices that require a prescription, but Amazon does not allow these types of products to be sold or advertised on its platform. The retailer also sells medical device accessories that customers often need to replace, and these products are authorized for sale. The retailer allocated a significant budget to its accessories business on Amazon, allowing it to tap into a new customer segment and increase brand awareness.

At the same time, it advertised its medical devices on Google and Bing. Shoppers who may have discovered the retailer through its accessories on Amazon could then purchase from its full catalog of medical devices via Google and Bing ads. As a result of coordinating advertising across channels, the retailer increased ROAS on text ads by 62% year-over-year. Amazon ads skyrocketed in the first six months of this strategy, growing orders 664%.

It’s All Connected

No two customer journeys are exactly alike, and the successes we’ve found vary across industry, company size and goal. We have seen one constant, though: Coordinating advertising strategies across multiple marketing channels amplifies sales because of the nature of modern online shopping.

Shoppers navigate regularly across social media, search engines and marketplaces, providing rich data insights about their shopping intent and interests. Without a unified marketing strategy, it’s challenging to put that full spectrum of data to use. Retailers must not only have a presence in these various channels, but they must utilize them in a unified manner to achieve their goals. Siloed data and siloed marketing are no longer an option. 

Chris Corrado is the Chief Customer Officer for Sidecar, part of Quartile. He is a member of the company’s senior leadership team, overseeing the department of customer strategy managers and analysts who help retailers excel in search, social and marketplace advertising.

Retail Marketers, from Associates to C-Level, Are Split on Ad Platforms. Here’s Why.

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