JCPenney Optical Drives More Store Visits With Google Advertising

JCPenney Optical is a retailer of optical products and services, operating licensed departments in almost 400 JCPenney stores across America. Historically an offline advertiser, they invested heavily in print and magazine advertising, as well as mailers. Their offline goal was to extend their customer reach. But the brand wanted to see if digital advertising could help them increase in-store traffic.

So JCPenney Optical came to SEER Interactive, a Google Partner agency, with the challenge to develop a plan that takes some of their offline marketing spend and see the results if they were to shift a greater portion of their budget to Google online ads and explore new digital opportunities. JCPenney Optical’s internal marketing team developed the ad content while SEER Interactive implemented and managed this effort within JCPenney Optical’s AdWords account.

Retailer’s Goal to Drive In-Store Traffic

JC Penney’s main objective with this campaign was to drive in-store traffic through targeted digital impressions and conversions. For JCPenney Optical, conversions include customers who have self-scheduled or made an online appointment, signed up for a newsletter, printed a coupon or offer, or used the store locator.

Working with SEER Interactive, JCPenney Optical and partner U.S. Vision shifted funds from print into digital for the Spring Collection campaign in April 2014. The retailer launched a monthlong test using the Google Display Network (GDN), YouTube TrueView, and Lightbox Ads to determine how digital’s targeting, reach, and cost-effectiveness could help them find a new audience and provide new business opportunities.

Part of the Engagement Ads suite, Lightbox Ads help brands find new customers who are interested in their message and only require advertisers to pay when users engage. The format lets advertisers build interactive product catalogs instead of static printed versions, so customers can browse and take action.

TrueView ads helped JCPenney Optical engage their audience through interest categories and remarketing. JCPenney Optical’s combined TrueView and GDN campaign efficiently distributed their message across platforms, leading to much greater reach, traffic and engagement.

JCPenney Optical also recognized the importance of mobile and adjusted their bids to ensure top positioning on smartphones and other mobile devices. With customers commonly searching while on the go, the retailer wanted a strong mobile presence whenever anyone needed to locate a store.

Going Beyond Impressions or Even Clicks

To ensure that their ads reached the right audience, JC Penney Optical created a new digital campaign using targeting capabilities and more visually engaging ad formats. They ran their campaigns in cities with JC Penney Optical stores, focusing on reaching an audience of women and moms.

Each campaign segment also focused on bargain hunters and value shoppers. The Lightbox campaign highlighted the Spring Collection to tie into the Display and YouTube marketing efforts. These formats were efficient and cost-effective ways to distribute promotional video across multiple platforms. This helped JCPenney Optical boost audience reach while increasing customers engagement with the brand.

Jeffrey Pierson, director of digital strategy for U.S. Vision, which operates the retailer’s in-store optical centers, says, “JCPenney Optical had some great assets, including video and a pdf lookbook, that were a perfect fit for Lightbox Ads. With limited time to make an impact, we wanted to make sure we were using the most engaging ad formats to make a lasting impression.”

He adds, “The striking Lightbox format held the attention of viewers and increased the odds of brand recognition and positive association. This replaced a printed version of the catalog and made it come to life online in an engaging format.”

The YouTube ads also helped boost reach and brand-engagement rate.

Thanks to detailed reporting tools for evaluating customer interaction – such as expansion rate, site clicks, and pages viewed – Pierson says, “We were able to draw conclusions about the impact these ads had on viewers. Going beyond impressions or even clicks and optimizing toward engagement allows a stronger, more memorable brand experience with our target demographic.”

Boosting Conversions and Driving Store Visits

Overall, the Spring Collection campaign garnered 30 million impressions. That was 8.3 times more than in April 2013, on a budget that was only six times higher – making the digital Spring campaign 38 percent more efficient. Conversions (especially scheduling an eye exam online) increased by 285 percent.

Pierson says, “The click-through rate (CTR) and level of engagement of the display campaign greatly outperformed the other formats and our historical benchmarks. We were pleasantly surprised by the percentage of users who click to the website after watching – and the traffic driven by the ad following plays. This was among our most successful efforts.”

The use of the store locator jumped eightfold during the test period, compared with a month earlier. Altogether, JCPenney Optical and U.S. Vision found that the Spring Collection digital campaign was more effective in driving revenue than a print campaign alone.

Pierson says, “More focused targeting and dynamic, engaging ad formats delivered a more relevant and memorable brand experience for customers exposed to these campaigns.”

Finally, JCPenney Optical’s mobile presence was key in driving store traffic. The use of store locators on mobile devices soared 649.5 percent, proving the importance of having a strong mobile presence to capture on-the-go customers.

JCPenney Optical’s Future Investment in Digital

The very strong campaign results proved the value of Google online ads to JCPenney Optical. They’re now planning to invest much more in digital advertising as part of their total marketing strategy.

Pierson says, “We’ll continue to push for seasonal fashion collections for shoppers. And we will run another digital push that replaces offline spend.”

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