Advertising for Retail Businesses: How to Tap Into Customer Motivations

07.13.2021 Sara Brasfield2 min

The economy is picking back up, with the U.S. consumer confidence index hitting a 16-month high. As a result, in-store shopping and traditional retail are seeing increased opportunity to connect with consumers antsy to spend their hard-earned money.

Consumers want to shop, and retailers are desperate for an influx of sales after a long, challenging global pandemic. But with consumers unsure of where to spend their money in a post-pandemic retail landscape, your retail advertising strategy will dictate your ability to reach new and existing customers—and, ultimately, your ability to drive retail sales while strengthening brand loyalty.

Looking for tips to turn business advertising into retail success? Start by understanding your customers’ basic motivations—and then look for ad channels and strategies that help you harness those motivations to deliver retail success.

5 Basic Motivations of Retail Customers

Although retail operations are gradually returning to pre-pandemic modes of operation, certain customer behaviors might not change as quickly as you’d expect. The consumer habits borne out of pandemic restrictions may take some time for your customers to abandon—and in some cases, new customer motivations and preferences may be here to stay.

Tapping into those motivations is your best approach when creating ad campaigns aimed at driving referrals, engagement, retail success, and long-term customer relationships. Our research conducted over the pandemic identified five key customer motivations to keep in mind:

  1. Information. In-store browsing and window shopping might still occur, but consumers are doing their research online to identify, evaluate and compare products prior to a purchase. Keyword targeting, paid search marketing, and other top-of-funnel ad campaigns are great tools to connect with customers by offering the information they’re seeking online.
  2. Efficiency. Consumers want shopping experiences that are fast and efficient. This means seamless shopping options such as in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and mobile checkout. It also means in-store signage and advertising that guides browsing and connects shoppers with featured products and deals.
  3. A short funnel. Many consumers are interested in getting their shopping done as quickly as possible. When it comes to retail, fast, even impulsive purchases can sometimes be more appealing than measured, methodical purchase decisions. Brand loyalty is also important, since brand familiarity leads to faster in-store and online visits for your customers.
  4. Social-guided purchases. Social media is a powerful driver of retail purchases, as well as referrals to online stores. Social advertising remains a valuable element of any retail advertising strategy.
  5. Customized experiences. Personalized shopping experiences and ad campaigns remain a top motivator for many consumers. Your retail ad campaigns can achieve this by leveraging targeting capabilities to deliver highly relevant ads at ideal times during the consumer’s day.

What Advertising Channels Get the Strongest Response

Understanding customer motivations is the first step in bringing back shoppers to your retail business. But you can maximize the impact of your advertising strategy by tapping into these motivations through ad channels that historically achieve the highest rates of engagement from retail shoppers.

In this category, TV stands tall among all other ad campaigns. According to research from Ad Mall, 65 percent of retail customers respond to TV ad campaigns—the highest of any category. But social media isn’t far behind: 63 percent of surveyed consumers said they’ve responded to ads on social networks. This trend is significant given the influence of social-guided purchases both during and after the pandemic.

Paid search ads also earned audience engagement at a 62 percent clip. Put the numbers together and these trends demonstrate the importance—and opportunity—of building multi-channel ad campaigns to promote your retail business to both new and existing customers.

Remember: the higher the engagement, the better your potential sales ROI.

A Targeted Approach to Reaching Your Audience

Strong ad campaign performance depends on targeted ads that maximize relevance and potential ROI. Along with more traditional targeting methods based on demographic, behavioral and other forms of consumer data, retail businesses can take their ads to the next level by improving campaign targeting through geo-conquesting and addressable ads.

Geo-conquesting is a powerful tool for reaching customers of rival or related businesses. This strategy can be used by social media, paid search and other forms of mobile advertising to deliver ads to shoppers at specific retail locations, including your closest competition. A women’s apparel business, for example, can promote a current sale or a new line of clothing to female shoppers at specific retail businesses that specialize in similar women’s clothing.

Geo-conquesting doesn’t just help you target relevant, active shoppers—it can help you claim a better share of your market.

Addressable ads, meanwhile, target multiple consumers within the same household. This targeting strategy can enhance the value of TV ads by adding new precision into ad campaigns targeted to the household level. If your retail business only caters to younger members of a household, for example, addressing ads help you deliver ads to those consumers without wasting your ad budget on consumers who aren’t in your target audience.

Looking for help to leverage these ad strategies and maximize retail campaign performance? Connect with a media partner that can quickly build and optimize retail ad campaigns to boost sales and advertising ROI. Contact us today to see how we can help.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than seven years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the (now virtual!) office, Sara loves spending time running, reading and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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