Digital Marketing

Closing the Loop on Retail Marketing ROI

Despite glum predictions, US retailers saw steady growth in 2017 and finished with a record-breaking $598 billion holiday season, proving once and for all that retail is not dead. Even e-Commerce colossus Amazon is making concerted moves into retail.

In spite of its growth, tracking and proving retail marketing ROI can pose a challenge for marketers. This piece will explain how to set the right goals, gather the pertinent information, and provide your clients with detailed and practical insights that prove your retail marketing ROI.

Before you get started, keep in mind that you can’t prove ROI without first setting a performance baseline. This can be tricky in retail, so make sure that you ask your client whether or not they have records of in-store activity, such as foot traffic, sales (both number and volume) and promotions that you can combine with the information from the online side of their business.

1. Set Goals Linked to Business Outcomes

Retail businesses are less concerned with how many people visit their stores than they are with how much money those people leave with them. That is why it’s crucial to set correlational goals that illustrate how consumer behavior relates to revenue and profit.

Here are some examples of business-outcome-based goals:

  • Decreased customer acquisition cost: Are you able to bring more customers through the doors using the same amount of marketing dollars, or maintain the current level while lowering marketing costs? Can your campaigns attract a new customer base?
  • Increased sales volume: Are you able to persuade customers to take home more items per visit? Can you nudge them into purchasing the higher value item?
  • Increased sales amounts: Are you able to increase the number of people who come through the doors and make a purchase?


Statistic: Average daily consumer spending in the U.S. from July 2016 to July 2017 (in U.S. dollars) | Statista Understanding seasonal patterns (such as vacation season) in retail can help you figure out whether things are going well.


Since retail can be a highly seasonal business, you’ll want to account for any potential fluctuations in future business in both your planning and any reporting that you do. According to the most recent Gallup Polls, consumer spending tends to slow in January, August, and September and peak in December, April, and July.

If your client’s merchandise is impacted by seasonal shopping, make sure that you account for that in your goals to avoid underperforming by default. If the retailer has limited physical locations, you may also want to keep tabs on current and future construction, events and openings happening nearby that could impact the numbers.


foot traffic measurement for retail Source: ShopperTrak. Tools like ShopperTrak or Aeselabs help retailers track in-store analytics through sensors, mobile apps, and information gathered when customers log into the local WiFi network.


Depending on the size or age of your retailer, they may not have a comprehensive picture of in-store information for you to work with, making it difficult to set your baseline and prove your ROI. If in-store behavior is one of your client’s top priorities, you may want to throw in the towel, quit your job and go home and drink cocoa.

I don’t blame you. But you could also invest some time in the beginning estimating current levels of traffic and consumer behaviors. Tools such as ShopperTrak or even Google Maps track daily visits to locations, which you can then combine with purchase information and past promotions to get a general picture.

2. Design Smart KPIs

Once you’ve determined your business outcome-based goals, you’ll want to design KPIs that align with those goals.

You’ll find many possible options for tracking in our extensive list of e-commerce KPIs, but the ones that are absolutely critical are customer acquisition cost (CAC), average order value, sales conversion rate, and revenue generated from marketing campaigns (incremental revenue).

Physical locations are an expensive investment, so be sure to track the two channels separately (and to track multiple locations separately, if they have under 10 locations). This will help your client decide whether or not to keep physical locations open, and also allows you to show off your ability to drive growth in all channels.

Retail can be a unique beast in that it requires you to combine hard-to-track in-store intel with online indicators. Before you commit to performance metrics that involve the former, you’ll want to research how your retailer is tracking that information and what will be available to you.

3. Align your Campaigns with your Goals and KPIs

A retailer’s physical foot traffic may be hard to track, but fortunately, most shoppers leave a clean digital footprint that you can use to prove your marketing ROI. Design campaigns that target both online shoppers and those who prefer a more traditional experience.

Just like with online-only advertising, you can use codes, promotions and customized printed promotions that are redeemable online to give you deeper insight into what is driving customers through the doors. This is as simple as a link or QR code the customer scans in order to retrieve a voucher, and if your retailer’s clientele is less digitally oriented, it could be displayed throughout the store or conducted via a text-based sign-up campaign.


CafeX marketing campaign -- coupon and Instagram ad Use codes, promotions and customized printed promotions that are redeemable online to give you deeper insight into what is driving customers through the doors. CafeX combined digital and in-store promotions to attract customers to their new location on Market Street in San Francisco, CA.


4. Measure Retail ROI With Closed-Loop Reporting

Once you’ve planned your campaigns, use AdStage’s software to schedule a number of ads targeted towards your ideal audiences, and measure engagement and retail marketing impact using closed-loop reporting, combining paid marketing campaigns data with your conversion data, online and off.

advertising data integration

AdStage Team