Location data is everywhere. It's embedded in the photos we share, the GPS-enabled apps we use, and the online transactions we make. And, today, users are more willing than ever to share location data with brands in exchange for more personalized content and tailored promotions.
That's really the idea and the promise of location-based marketing—using location data to boost engagement, offer more personalized experiences, and build loyalty with users.
For us marketers, understanding more about a user's location provides valuable insight into intent. If users are standing near a retail location, they may be expressing interest in your brand. The opportunity to engage users at such a critical time is what makes location-based marketing so exciting.
The technology is still new, but right now you have ways to experiment with and use location-based marketing to enhance your campaigns and boost ROI.
Here are five areas of location-based marketing that have plenty of room for experimentation.
1. More Meaningful Personalization
Personalization is critical for a mobile-first strategy. So what can you do to improve mobile personalization?
Start with effective user segmentation. Dig into the data and learn as much as you can about your users: their preferences, the content they're most engaged with, the offers that appeal most to them, and their favorite app features. Then, use such data to identify the content, promotions, and cadence at which you should be sharing via mobile.
Even simple things such as incorporating first names and curated shopping lists are effective ways to personalize the mobile experience.
2. Providing Relevant Content
Content is the glue in the engagement construct. If your content is effective, it holds users' attention. If your content is irrelevant, the bond is broken and users are more likely to ignore your future communications. Location-based marketing requires effective content.
Brands are experimenting various ways—using creative tools like augmented reality, macro- and micro-maps, and beacons to provide useful information. For instance, a hotel, upon a guest's check-in, may provide a video about spa services to the customer who's shown interest in that via an app.
Or take the South by Southwest Festival. This year, the festival used more than 1,000 beacons to communicate with attendees about networking opportunities, events going on nearby, and other useful info.
The content was not merely inherently relevant; it also provided unique incentives for users to stay engaged.
3. Rewarding Loyalty
Providing incentives for using your app boosts engagement and loyalty.
For instance, you might provide users with an exclusive promotion or use a reward points system. Some retailers provide users with rewards for completing actions, such as points for visiting a physical location, or opening a map while within the store. Thus, brands are able to not only reward a customer who has shown interest in the brand but also enables them to gain insight into the user's in-store preferences.
Another effective strategy that brands are implementing: mobilizing their loyalty card programs. If your most engaged customers are in the proximity of one of your locations, you can deliver relevant content in real time. You might send a notification: "Hi! You have earned $5 off your next order!"
That's what's interesting and exciting about location-based marketing: the ability to provide incentives when they matter most.
4. Using Location Data to Enhance In-Store Experiences
More than half of consumers say they use a mobile device while shopping.
If they've opted into sharing location data, that fact allows you to better calculate customer dwell times, understand traffic flows, and recognize where customers are interacting with beacons and display devices.
Location-based marketing makes it easier than ever to refine the in-store experience to better serve customers. And not just at retail locations. Store heat maps can be used in stadiums, hotels, museums, airports, and more to improve traffic flows, reconfigure layouts based on region or seasonality, and refine merchandising displays.
5. Taking Advantage of Mobile Wallets
Mobile wallets are much more than just a method of payment. Just think, in our actual wallets or purses we store things like loyalty cards, coupons, and recipes. Applying this concept to your location-based marketing strategy, your focus should then be on how to take advantage of mobile wallets—not just mobile payments—to interact with customers before, during and after a purchase.
One example would be enabling customers to easily save coupons on their smart devices. For instance, if a user has saved a coupon, you might send a reminder to use it when the user is in the proximity of one of your retail locations.
Mobile payments are an important piece, but don't forget to take into account the entire wallet.
A Few Final Thoughts
Marketing to the mobile generation requires creativity, and location-based marketing is all about combining that creativity with technology to provide personalized, real-time experiences.
Of course, we are dealing with what's still a new technology, and there are many kinks that need to be worked out. For instance, there's a fine line between an app that provides relevant, cost-saving, and personalized content, and one that's, well, annoying, irrelevant, and (worst of all!) creepy.
But the key is experimenting with finding that balance now—because location data has the potential to ring in a new era in marketing.