Just about everyone agrees that online marketing can have a positive influence on the revenue for any business. However, there are some industries that have had a harder time making digital content work for them. A good example of this can be seen in grocery store chains, which traditional are the purview of print advertising. New research from Deloitte suggests that grocery retailers are seeing a dramatic increase in the amount of influence digital marketing has on their business.

Deloitte recently released the The Grocery Digital Divide and Grocery Experience report which was based on surveys commissioned by Deloitte that featured more than 4,000 U.S. consumers. The report shows major shifts in the way people use online marketing to help them make decisions at the grocery store. According to Deloitte, since 2013, digital's influence in-store across all retail sectors has grown a dramatic 300 percent, from 14 percent of all transactions to 56 percent in that timeframe.

The report shows several ways businesses can use digital advertising to boost traffic and sales. To start, three out of four (77 percent) consumers surveyed said they use digital touchpoints such as recipe websites and blogs to drive awareness and find inspiration. Similarly, 80 percent of respondents have used a digital device to browse or research grocery products, tapping sources like manufacturer and grocery retailer websites.

"People are making decisions about what goes in the grocery cart long before they get to the shelf or even the store," said Barb Renner, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. consumer products leader. "The majority of food and beverage purchases still happen in the store, but consumers' online or mobile experiences impact those purchases much earlier in the shopping journey. In our research, people saw room for improvement from grocers compared to digital experiences they find in other retail categories. Consumer products companies and retailers who create those digital touchpoints have a much better shot at getting the shopper's attention and loyalty before competitors, many of whom aren't even in the game yet."

The data suggests that grocery stores are beginning to be influenced by digital marketing at a rate that's similar to other industries. According to the researchers at Deloitte, the grocery sector is now close to categories such as health (51 percent), apparel (56 percent), home (58 percent) and auto (59 percent) in digital influence. To put things into perspective, grocery stores have a long way to go before their digital influence matches the biggest categories, such as electronics retailers (69 percent).

Another important takeaway from this research is that mobile devices are becoming more important for grocery retailers as well. The study's authors noted that alongside an overall digital influence growth, mobile's in-store influence expanded from 5 percent in 2013 to more than one-third (37 percent) in 2016.

When it comes to ROI, the data from Deloitte also provides a clear reason for grocery retailers to include mobile marketing into their campaigns. Mobile devices are driving the convergence of consumer and shopper behavior and expectations. In the recent study more than one-third (34 percent) of respondents reported they use a smartphone to help choose a brand during a shopping trip.

The survey also showed that issues like convenience, savings and speed are factors that affect how much people use online tools when grocery shopping. According to Deloitte, consumers who embrace digital options, such as on-demand local delivery, in-store coupons and instant rebates or mobile checkout,before or during a shopping experience end up converting 9 percent more often than those who shy away from digital leading up to their purchase decision.

For more recent research that can help business owners connect to online consumers, read this article about connecting with always connect consumers in the modern era.