Location-based marketing is nothing new, and it is not solely a digital responsibility, as mobile application developers and marketing agencies may have told you. Since lithography was invented in 1796, large and small businesses have placed posters and billboards along high-traffic roads and pathways in hopes of influencing a passerby to visit a store or buy a product. Direct mail has been proven as a superior location-based tool since the United States Postal Service (USPS) initiated the Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP codes) in 1963.
Still, today there is an ever-growing spectrum of ways to leverage the peer-to-peer (P2P) network of smartphone users that may be in your ideal customer audience. More than ever before, people are allowing their smartphone's settings for location services to work with most applications, the camera, email, and the browser. This presents marketers with the opportunities to push messages to these users when they are in the proximity of a store or in a certain part of town. It also provides every business with a website and email marketing the opportunity to peek into the behavior and insights from the inbound location data coming from wireless consumption of such media.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT LOCATION
Increasingly, your known and prospective customers will expect the emails you send to them and the digital advertising you place in front of them to be more personalized and contextually relevant. A brand-no matter the service or product it purveys-is charged with learning more about these audiences in order to deliver more meaningful messages and produce more relevant digital content experiences for those times a prospective buyer clicks on an email, signs in to social media, or lands on a website.
FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR LOCATION-BASED MARKETING IN 2014
1. Listen and Ask Questions: Year-to-year mobile web traffic is nearly doubling, and more than 50% of all brand emails are now consumed on mobile devices. Google Analytics often rolls out additional tools to help you see where mobile traffic is originating from, alongside other insightful mobile metrics. Together Mobile is a tool that creates brief mobile web experiences that are shared via a URL placed anywhere-online and offline-to cultivate customer intelligence and generate owned rich media. You're going to need all of this for visual storytelling.
2. Be Social, Really: As more people tag locations in their social media posts and photo sharing, social networks are starting to perform as useful search engines to see where friends and connections have been and/or what they've Liked. MomentFeed and Expion are platforms to manage local social content and monitor what is being posted about a brand's specific locations and markets.
3. Mobile Search: Smartphones are now the primary device that Americans use to search and discover where and what to buy across nearly every segment of retail and service-based business. The "where" and "when" of a person may help define a person's disposition to buy, and search engines are getting smarter (just like the phones), delivering search results that are near or within a certain proximity to that user. Google AdWords allows you to tailor what people will find in search results based on location, time of day, and device type.
4. Go Offline and Outside: Smartphones are used everywhere-while walking down the street and either riding in a train or car (hopefully, not while driving). Compelling calls-to-action and messaging in the line of sight of customers can be an effective way to drive mobile engagement. This includes out-of-home media, outdoor media such as billboards, and transit media that is seen as part of bus shelters or subway stations and within or on vehicles. In those nondigital forms, each of these media can include specific URLs or phone numbers that correspond with the location of the media placed. TUIZZI can help you reconcile GPS data from digital analytics tools and reports to place billboard in locations that are most likely to intercept your ideal customers.
5. (Almost) Nobody Can Pass Up a Deal: It may be Google, Yelp, or Foursquare that people are using to find the whereabouts of a specific product, service, or general business location. These, and many more "way-finding" apps and websites, are great channels to have promotions or discounts placed in front of a prospective buyer at the right time and the right place. And now, Amazon Local is leveraging the growing Amazon and Amazon Prime shopping audience to empower you to send deals within a specific geographic area to those people who have opted-in and shown a preference for similar products or services.
This is only a short list. The world of mobile technology and the many ways wireless devices connect to the internet and other devices will only provide you with more options to achieve location-based marketing success. More than anything, be human in your marketing-personal, relevant, and local!