What Retailers Should Know About Digital Circulars

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By Alvaro Bravo, co-founder and president, Aki Technologies

Many retailers struggle to reach people where they live and shop nowadays. The uptick in recent retail media network rollouts clearly shows retailers are searching for ways to maximize their marketing spend and increase revenue. Unfortunately, many mechanisms that used to work to reach shoppers are now obsolete.

One example? Print circulars.

Old print vehicles aren’t grabbing attention or influencing purchase behavior the way they once did. Most Americans—46% according to Pew Research Center—don’t even look at print circulars anymore. Fewer still visit a store as a result of reading one. Some retailers, like Walgreens and CVS, have addressed this by taking their circulars digital. This attempt to modernize (by simply digitizing) isn’t enough. Marketers must do more to bridge the chasm between their offerings and consumers.

While few retailers have unlocked the full potential of a holistic digital circular strategy, every retailer can explore a few quick wins—with or without a retail media network partner.

Prioritize off-platform digital circular extensions

Digital circulars on a retailers’ app or website will always be subject to a limited scale. Retailers can address this challenge by digitizing their circular content and serving it off-platform to existing and potential shoppers. By employing an off-platform digital circular strategy, retailers can reach an incremental audience, at scale, with relevant content where people are spending their time. This leads to successful conversions.

Personalize deals and offers

Print circulars are a one-size-fits-all format because they showcase the same deals, products and messaging for everyone. With digital circulars, however, retailers can tailor deals and offers based on the viewer using audience signals.

For example, a retailer can showcase diapers, formula and onesies to a new parent, a high-value offer to convert a competitive shopper, soup ingredients to subzero Chicago and grillable BBQ items to 75-degree Los Angeles. Personalization helps retailers create meaningful connections with shoppers and make the most of their marketing investment. The more variables, the better, so long as the personalization can be done dynamically. Typically, this requires technology that can handle many permutations in order to deliver a meaningful personalized experience that scales.

Optimize for any objective

Print circulars lack the timely feedback loop required to really understand if a promotion worked and why. Retailers who incorporate digital circulars into their promotional mix can freely optimize their marketing for a broad range of objectives, such as driving shoppers in-store, increasing their basket size, attracting switchers, promoting trial or building loyalty.  With digital circulars’ feedback loop, retailers can flexibly adjust their message, frequency and targeting to better reach their intended audiences in a way that bridges the void left by print circulars’ demise. Digital circulars also boast the ability to optimize between a mix of creative advertising formats. If a retailer’s message is simple or designed to showcase a few offers, rich media featuring a carousel of products is effective. Perhaps the most exciting, engaging video technology delivers some of the highest returns on investment. Video can be leveraged to communicate the most information, such as retailer events and multiple offers, in a highly engaging format.

To address the problem that many retail media networks have emerged to solve, retailers must find ways to reach people where they live and shop. Retailers who cultivate a holistic digital circular strategy can enjoy the benefits that digital circulars promise. The scale, personalization and optimization potential of off-platform digital circulars can help retailers meaningfully connect with customers and overcome print circulars’ limitations.

Alvaro is co-founder and president of Aki Technologies, which empowers brands and retailers to reach people by targeting pivotal moments in the consumer journey with personalized advertising.