Location-based marketing has been described as “the intersection of people, places, and media.”
This evolving new capability centers around the idea of understanding your customers’ context — such as their current location, their location history and their current or historical beacon proximity — to deliver more relevant, timely content as a result.
Enabled by apps, mobile marketing leaders are using location-based audience segmentation to craft smarter messages to engage their mobile customers and win a greater share of smartphone and tablet screen time.
However, brands must tread carefully. When you collect location data but fail to provide a relevant, valuable experience — and worse, when you cross assumed privacy boundaries — your customers may disable location sharing… or delete the app altogether.
With the continuous evolution of location technology, three key concepts are emerging: presence, history and proximity. Brands can now deliver the perfectly targeted message in the most relevant time and place, and achieve levels of engagement other channels would drool over.
Beacons: Microlocation Brings New Possibilities
With beacon deployments, your brand can detect their customers’ location within a matter of inches. This allows you to understand who’s attending an event, or precisely where someone is within a store. And, according to research we’ve conducted, many consumers are accepting of both location tracking and push messaging — the opt in rates average 62% and 51% respectively.
Brands can craft specific and engaging real-time experiences for their customers — or, alternatively, use historical location or proximity information to target future campaigns. Knowing precisely which parts of the store someone browses can be the difference between sending a follow-up message about tires or tiaras.
At SXSW 2014, Eventbase used beacons and other location technology to speed up registration lines and deliver custom content for select interactive sessions. These location uses improved attendee participation by streamlining experiences and delivering content meaningful at that moment.
However, location-based features don’t end solely with faster lines or valuable real-time information. The company also conducted in-app chats with nearby users for simplified networking and audience polling.
In a retail setting, location services can be used to guide shoppers through the store, help locate products on their shopping lists and serve up special messages for in-store shoppers. Visitors to Walgreens’ (our company’s client) stores who have the company’s app installed find that their loyalty card automatically appears when they’re near the store, and they’re easily able to access coupons and this week’s specials. At Target, installing the Cartwheel app lets users clip coupons right in the store environment, and their savings are applied when the checker scans the personalized bar code displayed on the smartphone screen.
Beacon technology is expanding the opportunity to meld indoor environments with digital experiences, serving up relevant content based on shoppers’ location within stores.
During this year’s Mobile Saturday at SXSW, Asif Kahn, Founder and President of the Location Based Marketing Association, noted that “every major retailer we work with is testing iBeacons right now.”
Location Information Beyond Just Standing “There”
Location is especially powerful when it’s combined with an understanding and knowledge of what customers see as “important” and what information they value receiving.
A prime example of a company leveraging location and customers’ interests is outdoor retailer, REI (one of my company’s clients). REI uses this insight to fulfill its mission — to inspire, educate and outfit members for a lifetime of outdoor activity and stewardship — by delivering messages that are most relevant to the customer.
“It’s really about contextual relevancy — if you are going to send a message based on where a user is located, it has to be pertinent at that moment in time,” said Chris Marley, Program Manager for mobile at REI.
REI used location history to alert users who have been near one of its retail stores to its biggest and localized event, the annual Garage Sale. By knowing which of its stores customers have been near in the past three months, REI can more accurately target store-specific messages and offers.
REI also segments users and sends engaging messages to smaller sections of their customers based on specific activity interests. By segmenting these customers, a guest interested in snow sports might receive skiing- or snowboarding-related messages, but not necessarily messages surrounding biking.
Creating Comfort In Active Location Technology: Transparency
Understanding customers’ expectations for privacy and respecting their boundaries are critical for brands using location technologies. Your messages must deliver relevant, engaging and valuable experiences in order to keep and grow the trust that consumers are placing in brands.
Companies must be aware of how often they message, and set appropriate limits. Consumers will quickly disregard information if constantly bombarded by any type of messaging, whether targeted to location or not. Being transparent and creating an open dialogue with customers about how their information will be used is critical.
On mobile, consumers are not just a click away from the competition, they are only two-clicks away from revoking permissions or deleting apps altogether — and offending brands will rarely get a second chance.
Above all else, the SXSW Mobile Saturday panel agreed that when using location-targeting in mobile apps, it’s important to think about the customer first and the brand second to deliver experiences that are relevant to the user.
Location and proximity offer an exciting new future for marketers as they will inevitably conceive of amazing ways to build their brand using this massive new data set to reach out and enhance their customers’ lives. We are excited by what we are hearing already, and look forward to working in a new era of innovation.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.