How to Maximize the Return on Your Super Bowl Advertising Investment

Every year, the Super Bowl represents one of the most high-profile advertising opportunities. As a massive global audience gathers for the big game, brands will pay handsomely to deliver their best creative. In fact, CBS has already sold out virtually all of its television and streaming video inventory for the game. The fact that fans traditionally pay special attention to ads during the Super Bowl broadcast makes these impressions particularly valuable.

But what happens next? Much of the consumer response to Super Bowl advertising will come online; even before the onset of the pandemic, ecommerce penetration had been increasing rapidly, and this trend has only accelerated over the past year. When interested consumers visit your website, will they become engaged enough to become customers—or will they quickly drop off and turn their attention elsewhere, diminishing the return on your investment? The difference is up to you.

As any football fan knows, momentum is everything. When customers have made the effort to visit your site, you want to do everything you can to keep them moving forward to a conversion—and remove as much friction as possible along the way. The key is to provide the kind of simple, seamless experience that makes it easy for people to complete their tasks, anticipates and responds to their needs, and reduces the need for inconvenient (and costly for the retailer) support contacts.

All too often, retailers fail to meet these goals. In a recent Consumer Retail survey, 43 percent of consumers reported having struggled with insufficient, incorrect, or confusing information in their online shopping experience, and 42 percent were unable to complete a transaction online. When faced with the need to reach out to customer service, a majority abandoned the experience instead—and took their business to a competitor. It’s no wonder retailers lose $18 billion in yearly sales revenue to shopping cart abandonment.

When an ad that runs during the Super Bowl—or in any other inventory, online or elsewhere—succeeds in bringing a consumer to your website, your investment is poised to pay off. Here are five ways you can help that customer across the goal line to convert your ad spend into sales revenue.

1. Focus on the right channels for digital interaction

It’s easy to get distracted by the hype around chatbots and virtual assistants, but customer preferences are clear: email and chat continue to be the most popular digital channels for interacting with an online business. Direct your customer support investments accordingly.

And don’t always wait for customers to ask for help—because many won’t. In the consumer retail survey, only 26 percent of customers had taken this step. When you see signs of struggle—hesitating on page, going back and forth or in circles on your site, hunting through your support pages—reach out proactively to offer assistance via live chat or email.

2. Identify and eliminate roadblocks in your customer experience

To clear problems out of customers’ way, you first need to know what the issues are. Ask your call center staff about the most common inquiries and issues that come up in their work, from product information and comparisons to shipping timelines. Find out which products and promo codes tend to underperform. Check your site analytics for common abandonment points.

Once you know why people tend to struggle, you can take action to remove the friction. If you’re getting a lot of questions about sizes (or exchanges for a different size), make your sizing chart more easily accessible through the product page, and make sure it’s clear. If people keep asking about your returns policies, make that information more prominent in your checkout process and confirmation emails. If customers tend to flip back and forth between multiple products, a user-generated comparison chart could be a useful feature.

3. Don’t make customers hunt for timely information

The right information in the right context can make all the difference. That’s especially true for customers who’ve been through a year of changing shipping policies, store hours, in-store procedures, and product availability. It’s not enough to put information somewhere on your website; it has to be right where it’s needed, from business-wide updates posted prominently on your home page. Are you offering curbside pickups? Have you had to change your returns policy? Which shippers are delivering the most promptly? If inventory has been an issue, make sure you’re clear about availability on individual product pages. Be up-front and specific about any differences people might encounter from normal expectations.

Guiding and informing customers throughout their journey will help build a sense of trust, confidence, and loyalty in uncertain times. Addressing their pain points promptly and proactively will prevent cart abandonments. A more successful experience from arrival to checkout will increase satisfaction and foster retention.

4. Help shoppers help themselves

Customers love a good self-service experience. In fact, according to Forrester Research, two-thirds of customers say that the most important thing a company can do to provide good service is to value their time such as through easy and effective self-service. That’s why it’s critical to do everything you can to empower customers for success, from clear information throughout their journey, to proactive guidance offered at moments of struggle, to easily navigated processes for applications, purchases, returns, exchanges, and so on.

An online journey designed for customer success will reinforce the feeling that your company has thought about your customer’s needs, worked to address them, and prevented friction and inconvenience in a time when so much of daily life has become more challenging. That positive impression will endure for the long term.

5. Head off inbound calls with proactive information

One-to-one phone support for basic information like order tracking, product setup, and warranty details is costly for retailers and inconvenient for customers. You might already provide the answers on your FAQ page, but why should customers have to hunt for it? Instead, greet returning customers on the first page of their next visit with the kind of information they’re probably looking for: a link for order tracking, a link for product setup, a link for warranty details, and so on. That way, people can find out what they need to know without having to get on the phone—and your live agents can save their time for calls where in-person expertise is really needed.

Whichever team you’re rooting for on the field, the Super Bowl can be a big win for your business. Just make sure you’re helping customers avoid fumbles on their way down the digital field and you can build a retail dynasty of your own.