Increasing Promotion Sales with IGA's Digital Ad

Jun 16, 2021

With summer meat sales and produce discounts designed to attract barbecue-minded shoppers, retailers need an easy and effective way to advertise those promotions to customers new and old. Enter IGA's National Digital Ad, which makes it easy to promote summer sales and offers a great opportunity to test different sale strategies.

"It doesn't get any easier or effective than taking a promotion you're already planning to drive summer sales, and throwing a couple hundred bucks into a digital promotion," says IGA CEO John Ross. "You'll spend less than you would promoting on print, and sell more."

After all, when combining digital and print ads, it can be difficult to know which ad is driving more (or any) sales, since print can't be effectively measured. That's why one IGA retailer chose to test out a digital-only promotion on organic produce and grocery to see if he could learn how the ad is driving in-store traffic on its own. Keep reading for the dramatic results.


Case Study: Martin's Market Fresh IGA Organic Sale

David Weber, manager at four IGA stores in Washington (Martin’s Market Fresh IGA in Cashmere, Okanogan Market IGA in Okanogan, Quincy Market IGA in Quincy, and Grandview Market IGA in Grandview), ran a two-week promotion on organic produce and grocery beginning April 21, 2021. He only advertised for one store (Martin's Market Fresh IGA) via IGA's National Digital Ad—and only spent $600 total ($300 each week). 

Weber's goal was to attract health-minded shoppers and alert the community to the store's organic offerings, as they have added about 2,000-3,000 natural and organic items in the last few years to better cater to shoppers. "Most people are trying to eat healthier and are reading labels, and I have a responsibility to get healthier stuff out to them," Weber says. As part of this health initiative, all of his stores are offering more organic produce and pricing it to sell. And by advertising solely in the digital ad, he would gain real statistics on who and how many people the ad reached.

Organic Sales Increased 376%

The promotion worked. Between the promotional savings and the reach of the the digital ad—which had nearly 90,000 impressions—sales skyrocketed. Total organic grocery sales increased 376 percent from 2019 organic sales during the two weeks of the digital promotion. It also benefited organic produce sales, which were up 74 percent over 2019 sales by the second week of the sale (and up 61 percent over 2020 sales, which were inflated due to the pandemic). 

376% total organic sales increase from 2019; 60x combined rate of ROI; 90,000 impressions

Weber is thrilled with the results, and happy with his first experience using the National Digital Ad to promote his local offerings. "I like it so far! The lasting results have been really great. Since the promotion, we're actually selling about $300-400 more a day in organic produce than we were in 2020 or 2019," he continues. "We're up 223 percent from 2019 in organic produce, and I thought I was doing a pretty decent job in 2019!"

In the 60 days since the promotion ran, Martin's Market Fresh IGA has added an additional lift in sales of $18,000, which brings the total combined rate of return on investment to date to 60x—a number that will continue to grow. 

By only promoting the sale on our digital ad, we can truly see how effective it was in bringing in shoppers and boosting sales." 

"There's no greater barometer for the true impact of digital advertising than what David did at Martin's Market Fresh IGA," says Ross. "By only promoting the sale on our digital ad, we can truly see how effective it was in bringing in shoppers and boosting sales. The numbers don't lie!"


Why Go Digital?

Weber's success is a combination of an effective promotion of the right product with the right pricing. Since he didn't use print to promote the organic sale, he can see exactly how the ad has impacted category and store sales. "It did work! I do plan to explore this digital thing more—it's a little bit mysterious to me how it works," he admits, but he agrees that the inability to measure print makes digital advertising an attractive alternative, especially for the cost.

Before the organic sale promotion, Weber had already reduced the four stores' print advertising. "I dropped print inserts and now have a single one full page on the back page of section A in all four towns; we're saving some money there," he says, explaining that the print inserts were charged by weight and got expensive quickly. With the digital ad, Weber isn't charged by weight—he can add as many offers and as much content as he wants, which is a huge advantage of the format. 

IGA CEO John Ross says that cost savings is just one of the big reasons IGA invested in this format for their members. "We want our retailers to have the cheaper, more modern, and much more effective solution we're offering through the National Digital Ad so they're getting more bang for their advertising buck, and more sales because of it," he says. "In most markets, print has fallen to such a low readership, it likely makes financial sense to give it up and move entirely to digital. But in those few markets that still have a substantial print readership, moving some of your advertising spend into digital is an easy way to slowly wean yourself off of print dependency."

Which is exactly what Weber is doing. He reduced his print dependency by removing the inserts, saving significantly. Now he can move those savings into regular promotions in the digital ad. "I'm happy with it, and I'm going to put another one together soon," he says, adding that he is considering a back to school digital promotion.

How Does the Digital Ad's Local Media Buy Work?

Weber's promotion is a testament to the power of digital and the accurate analytics it delivers, but how does it reach and attract shoppers? The technology is already in place for IGA retailers—there is a digital circular for every IGA store featuring national and regional offers that IGA has negotiated to help each store's customers save, like $1.50 off two Eggo Bites or $7 off two Budweiser 12-packs and any fresh meat. All the retailer needs to do is add local content—like their organic produce offerings—along with a small media investment—say $150 each week—and local shoppers will see that their IGA store is the place to shop for all their summer cooking needs.

The technology, created by the digital marketing agency Design House, includes an analytical system that measures the effectiveness of the ads and sees which offers and content resonate the most with shoppers. “There are detailed analytics, called visitation analytics, that allow us to track the user,” says Adam Zimmerman, Design House's creative director who led the platform design. “From the ad to the store visit, we can see what is working and what isn’t. And the system also gets smarter over time, using learning algorithms to deliver ads to high-intent shoppers." 

Ross adds, "And because it's a local investment, shoppers in your area will find your ad in the online spaces they visit most, like in their favorite apps, on their news sites, and where they're shopping online. That means less waste in markets with no IGA stores and more impressions in local markets." 

Ready for More?

Just as Weber tested out digital advertising through the National Digital Ad during his organic grocery sale, retailers can shift a small amount of their print ad budget into digital to get a taste of how it works. 

What kind of investment are we talking about? When it comes to IGA's National Digital Ad, a little goes a long way. "A single-store operator can spend as little as $600 a month to increase their local reach," says IGA Director of Digital and eCommerce Programs Sarah Rivers. She says that a small investment has a positive effect for retailers. "The average increase in ad exposure when switching from print to digital is 73 percent, and 27 percent of shoppers who see a store's digital circular end up coming to the store." 

In fact, in one example with a 5-store chain, their $7,500 investment—0.5 percent of their weekly sales—resulted in nearly 1 million ad impressions, 6,870 ad clicks, and a nearly $60,000 return on investment per week.

With those numbers, it's time for retailers hesitant to invest in digital to test it out for themselves. "Engaging with the National Digital Ad 2.0 is probably the single most effective thing an IGA retailer can do right now," says Ross. "By combining your local content with the national offers in the digital ad, you're going to see sales increases."

Ross encourages retailers to experiment with promotions that they have run before along with new, more aggressive discounts. "You'll learn how digital shoppers respond to a promotion and see which ones are most effective," he says. "Because you can control the number of people who see your digital ad each week by varying the media buy amount—which you can't do with print—you can afford to risk bigger discounts for aggressive bundling and not your monthly markdown budget."

Take it from Ross and Weber—it's worth a try, even once, to highlight local offerings and remind area shoppers that IGA is the place to shop for summer barbecues, picnics, and more. Think about your next promotion or sale, and get in touch about advertising in the Digital Ad. 

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