Turn Frequent Fuelers Into Loyal Shoppers

How digital media at the pump can unlock revenue that's being left on the table.

Many of today's convenience stores are experiencing a customer behavior gap in the "last 20 feet" — from the fuel island to the store — that is cutting into profits.

A recent Dover Fueling Solutions survey found that nearly 70 percent of c-store visitors are frequent fueling customers who return to the pump more than once a week. However, on average, only 30-40 percent of those fueling customers will enter the c-store, according to NACS.

If convenience retailers can close that gap in the forecourt, turning their loyal fuelers into loyal c-store shoppers, they'll unlock revenue that's being left on the table.

To transform the weekly interaction of refueling into a robust customer acquisition strategy, c-store operators need to go straight to the source and implement the right technology at the pump. Fuel dispensers can serve as powerful digital advertising vehicles that attract and convert customers to buy new product categories, brands, fuels or service offerings.

Let's look at three significant marketing benefits of incorporating intuitive digital media at the pump:

  1. Higher return on advertising investment;
  2. A consistent brand experience for customers; and  
  3. More efficient customer acquisition through high-frequency advertising.      

Make Use of What You Own to Increase Return on Investment

Broad-reaching marketing campaigns that use channels like email, print ads and digital ads can come at a high total cost. But by tapping into owned inventory, such as your company website, mobile app and store signage, you can cut costs and maximize return on advertising spend. These owned assets help drive revenue without adding baseline costs.

For c-stores, the fuel dispenser is one of the most overlooked owned assets for digital advertising — but it's also one of the most valuable. By incorporating solutions like interactive screens, c-stores can run multimedia videos and banners without paying high costs to an external advertising vendor. In other words, increasing their overall return on ad spend.

We've even seen some fuel stations take this a step further and sell some of their digital ad space at the pump to other local businesses. So, they're not only getting a sales lift from their own advertising, but also adding a brand-new revenue stream.

Align Your Marketing Message From First Touch to Forecourt

Since customer acquisition marketing campaigns usually include multiple media vehicles, you want to deliver a cohesive creative and brand message across all of them to increase impact.

C-stores should use the same digital creative at the pump as other marketing touchpoints the customer might experience via email, in print or online, but with an enticing message that spurs a customer to act immediately. Some of the most effective campaigns we've seen for driving foot traffic are highly relevant and actionable, like special offers on food, soda, candy and sweets.

A consistent digital campaign helps c-stores minimize creative costs and improve customer recall, while an action-oriented message at the pump helps maximize conversion. This approach creates a highly efficient and cost-effective means to extend your online customer acquisition campaign to the forecourt.

Improve Your Acquisition Rate With Frequent Touchpoints

So, your marketing message is cohesive. Now, you need repetition of that message.

Have you ever noticed the same commercial air over and over again while you're watching TV? That's because a brand is betting on a longstanding marketing truth: the rule of seven. This rule states that a person must be exposed to a brand or message at least seven times before making a purchase. And while seven isn't some magical quantity, it's true that repeated brand exposure increases brand recognition and recall, improving the likelihood of a purchase down the line.

For c-stores, the more times a customer interacts with your advertising message, the more likely they are to make a purchase. High-frequency fuel customers will see a message at the fuel pump multiple times each week. This guides them toward a c-store purchase more efficiently than almost any other marketing vehicle.

For instance, one Kentucky-based fueling and c-store chain added large digital screens to their fuel pumps and advertised breakfast sandwiches during their customers' morning commute hours. After four months, their revenue from breakfast sandwiches was up by 30 percent and after nine months, it rose by 50 percent.

Each time customers return to the pump, they'll become more likely to act on your ads and raise their spend.

Build Awareness & Drive Business in the Last 20 Feet

Using interactive media for marketing at the fuel dispenser significantly increases opportunities for upselling and building brand loyalty. C-stores can promote new categories and food items, introduce new fuel blends, educate customers on product benefits, and even offer foodservice to drive store traffic.

Returning to that same Kentucky-based chain, they launched online ordering and saw pizza sales increase by 201 percent over five months when they advertised their food services and offerings at the pump.

Going a step farther, some digital media solutions on the market will even integrate applications like GrubbrrStuzo and Punchh, so a frequent fueler can place an order at the pump and then quickly grab, pay and go.

If you're aiming to optimize your customer acquisition strategy, take a critical look at your customer experience in the last 20 feet. That experience should go beyond fueling so that it attracts and engages your high-frequency customers to try new products and services.

Digital media at the fuel dispenser can help convert passive fuelers into in-store shoppers efficiently while making your marketing investments stretch further. Remember: Loyalty starts at the pump, so providing a top-notch experience will pay off.

Dan Seymour serves as product marketing manager, dispensers, North America for Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS). A part of Dover Corp., DFS is a leading provider of advanced energy dispensing equipment, electronic automation and payment systems, automatic tank gauging and subscription solutions to fueling and convenience retail customers worldwide. 

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.