For most CPGs, the customer engagement space is exceptionally cluttered. To achieve genuine engagement with key customer segments, marketing and sales departments must implement customer engagement strategies and seek to control every aspect of a customer’s shopping journey. Three forms of marketing are used to engage with the customer journey: field marketing, shopper marketing, and price promotion, each of these play a pivotal role in shaping, influencing, and ultimately inspiring the customer to purchase a product. Control, however, is expensive, so companies need to ensure each dollar invested has the best possible return. You may be wondering how to measure ROI in customer engagement. In this article, we’ll share four key steps to set your organization up to maximize ROI on customer investment.
3 Components of the Customer Investment Journey
Field marketing is when companies deploy personnel to build physical displays and interact with customers face-to-face. Matthew Brogie, a leading marketing expert, defines field marketing as “a brand’s effort to get their products in front of consumers in person, whether that’s at stores, events, on college campuses, or simply out on the street. In these settings, field marketing teams have a chance to engage with buyers one-on-one.” 
Field Marketing you may have encountered:
- At Coachella Music festival Perrier sets up a tent that emits mist to cool the weary party goers. Perrier branding is everywhere, and brand ambassadors are passing out free samples of their refreshing sparkling water.
- Walking along the promenade at your local pier, you see the new Chevrolet electric vehicle. You go up and check it out; there are information flyers to grab that tell you more about this new vehicle.
In the early 2000s, it became clear to CPG companies that the media and shopping options available to their consumers had dramatically expanded. With increasing choice, control, and availability, consumers’ loyalty to one chain was degrading. The traditional approach to field marketing thus became an insufficient means to drive brand engagement with the customer—more control was needed. Consumer Package Good’s marketing drilled into the actual shopping process, and it is there that shopper marketing was born.
The Retail Commission on Shopper Marketing defines the discipline as “the use of insights-driven marketing and merchandising initiatives to satisfy the needs of targeted shoppers, enhance the shopping experience, and improve business results and brand equity for retailers and manufacturers.”  The idea is simple: manufacturers and retailers must control the shopping experience to make it more enjoyable. A happier customer is more likely to purchase your product –a win/win trajectory for all.
Shopper Marketing you may have encountered:
- Large box stores realize the layout of their store makes it difficult for customers to encounter easy-to-grab snacks (which have a great margin for the store). To increase convenience for the shopper the Large Box stores put easy-to-grab snacks, in easy-to-grab locations at the checkout.
- People do not want to shop for cold and flu supplies when they are sick, they want to purchase before. So retailers have teamed up with cold & flu medicine suppliers to encourage and facilitate that practice. So in October/November, you may find the local pharmacy build large in-store displays for cold medicine, a month before you find yourself with the sniffles.
Price has two effects on the customer. First, it is a key differentiator of a brand. Second, and most relevant here, price is the final hurdle a customer faces once Field & Shopper marketing has funnelled them towards the product. Enter price promotion, the core effect of which is to reduce the price of a product. There are various ways to do so, but the critical thing to remember is that a business can move (set or change) a price.
To exemplify this relationship lets think about a monthly communication to customers. A promotional mailing list makes customers aware that a product exists, hits them a few times with intrigue on the quality and design. The same list then pushes the customer a notice of a price promotion. The final hurdle—purchase—is now overcome, and the customer buys the product.
Influencing the Customer
The customer journey to purchase is essentially a funnel that begins with a broad scope of considerations and ends with a decision to purchase. Field marketing, shopper marketing, and price promotion are all critical aspects of encouraging the customer along a journey through that funnel. There are many options available for CPGs to engage with customers on the buying journey, all of them having a cost. Thankfully measuring cost is easy.
Every business leader understands the need to invest in attracting customers and exhibiting customer care in order to grow a business. However, there is considerable debate on how MUCH to invest. Setting yourself up for success requires you do the following four things to best capture the ROI of promotional investments.
How to Calculate ROI in the
Track the Full Cost of a Promotion
Set up an enterprise system to track costs granularly
Each brand needs to have an overall code, but then below that, you need to break out further and track each item (such as agency fees, media, field spend, sponsorships, etc.). You should be able to identify the portion of agency fees that were related to developing your fall program, year over year. This way, in two years, when all your brand managers are new, they will know what the company spent on the fall media campaign and better be able to make spending decisions for coming campaigns.
Ensure a Culture of Accountability
Even if you have the best enterprise system with a diverse mixture of codes available, it’s all for not if your personnel dump all costs related to marketing for a brand on one code. You must ensure a culture of accountability in tracking your data.
Strong Data Collection Procedures
Store Level vs Wholesaler
Some CPG companies ship products to a few wholesalers, which then ship products to many stores. This highlights the importance of a B2B customer engagement strategy and adds a further filter to your internal sales data as wholesalers build and deplete inventory. To ensure you have a good trend over time, you need to know how much inventory each wholesaler is holding. This data should be collected monthly, at minimum, preferably with an automated submission process.
POS vs Shipments
It’s essential to think about where the customer sits in your sales data. If you’re a company that sells products into stores, the level of sales you see in the enterprise reporting system will not be true customer sales. Stores build and deplete inventory as well; this will skew your ‘sales’ data. Price promotion will impact sales to stores (after all, you are impacting the price to the store), whereas marketing promotions will affect consumer demand at the stores. To adequately measure marketing impact on sales, it is vital to get the Point of Sales (POS) data (store-level sales data).
To have an industry-leading data collection and analysis organization, your company will need to integrate some sort of tool. A couple of popular ones are Qlik and Excel. Wait, Excel? Yes! You don’t need to spend millions of dollars and a year of integration time to gain critical business insights from your data. Often you can get 80% of the way there just by using Excel and having the right people processing the data. However, Excel has its limitations, namely, visualization and ease of use. These require a different tool, such as Qlik , which can be used by less data-savvy colleagues to make data-based decisions in real-time.
Hire the Right People
To use the data that has been collected and stored correctly, you need to hire the right people. Having data experts, whose only job is to partner with the business to unlock insights will allow for an ROI to be computed. There will be considerable debate on what is the best way to calculate the ROI, given all the complexities that exist in the market today. So make sure you have a reliable data team that can defend a point of view and back up their recommendations with reliable data.
An expert team is nothing if their insights are not part of the decision-making process. The organization needs to be committed to integrating the ROI insights into the build-up of new programs. Managers from the previous year will be hard-pressed to accept that their campaign failed (from an ROI perspective). So senior leaders need to ensure that new ideas have incorporated learnings from previous work.
Hand-in-hand with integrating data-based ROI insights is firm-wide buy-in. Brand managers, sales reps, field execution managers, and all those that touch the campaign have to buy-in and trust the process.
You are Not Alone
No campaign is executed in a vacuum. To know whether a lift in sales (or lack thereof) was due to a campaign or something else, the company must do its best to track those something elses. For example, track prices of all products you compete with, this will allow you to see if a competitor went on sale during your promotion, and pulled sales away from you.
Be part of an industry group in the geographical area that you sell in; this enables data-sharing on sales volume. Beer Canada , for example, shares certain sales data with its member organization, allowing each to know how well their brands are doing in the space. If you are producing or selling beer in the USA, you would want to become a member of the USA beer industry group, the Beer Institute.
The world is full of purchasable data, some of which could offer critical insights. Neilson, for example, provides a wide range of products that track sales and spends in many industries. Media companies can follow how much each company is spending, which in turn can show you the amount of pressure your competitors are adding to the market. Additionally, there are several new data tracking start-ups: ‘Placer.ai’ and ‘Decision 6’  track foot traffic and can show you where customers are physically moving in relation to your execution areas.
If you have a sales team, you have an internal connection straight to your customers, and it should be leveraged. Sales teams can provide survey data and updates back to a centrally managed data base, which can be leveraged to inform ROI calculations. Take photos, complete surveys, have the data team sit in on sales calls. Be connected!
As we enter a new decade, CPG companies have more customer engagement options than ever before at their disposal. Which also means more competition for those same customers. In this ever-changing environment, it is critical to direct customer capturing investments to the best options available. As ROI is the best measure to determine which tactic to invest in across field marketing, shopper marketing, and price promotion, an organization can only succeed if it sets itself up to determine the real ROI of their investments. Luckily if you track the full cost of promotions, collect robust data, hire the right people, and look around, your company will be able to navigate the space with ease.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Maxwell Gregory is a Consultant at Revenue Management Labs. Revenue Management Labs help companies develop and execute practical solutions to maximize long-term revenue and profitability. Connect with Maxwell at email@example.com.