Wouldn’t it be great if you could send a special discount to individuals when they walked past your store? Wouldn’t it be terrific if you could send a client a special greeting when he or she entered your office lobby? And wouldn’t it be awesome if you could reward your most loyal customers with instant mobile coupons?
Good news. All that, and more, is possible with location-based marketing, which includes location-based services, near field communications, Bluetooth marketing, and location-based advertising.
Location-based marketing is positioned to have a huge impact on how marketers reach out to consumers, thanks to its capability to customize marketing messages based on a prospect’s location and preferences.
Location Based Marketing Tools
LOCATION BASED SERVICES (LBS)
These are typically mobile apps that provide information or entertainment to users based on their location. Some of the best known LBS apps include foursquare, FriendsAround and SCVNGR, which allow users to check in at a location and, as a result, qualify for coupons or discounts. Other LBS apps include Localmind, which allows users to find out what’s happening at bars, restaurants and other retail locations in their neighborhoods; and Ditto!, which enables users to exchange recommendations about movies, restaurants, and other venues.
NEAR FIELD COMMUNICATIONS (NFC)
Interested in exchanging contact information quickly from your mobile device to another person’s mobile device? Would you like to share family photos wirelessly with a friend? NFC allows you to do that.
The NFC technology lets two devices that are within close proximity (between 2 and 20 centimeters away) exchange information. If you have Google+ loaded onto certain smartphones, you can exchange contact information with other users simply by placing the phones next to each other. In addition, with an NFC-enabled device
you can make payments using Google Wallet or PayPal. Just tap your phone into the NFC transmitter at the retail location and, after you’ve entered your security information, you can pay for your items.
This technology, like NFC, allows data transfer over short distances. If you’ve ever used a wireless phone headset, you were probably using Bluetooth. Or if you’ve ever exchanged contact information using the mobile app called Bump, probably you were using Bluetooth, too.
Bluetooth is different from NFC in that it can communicate over longer distances. Where, as noted, NFC can communicate with other devices between 2 and 20 centimeters away, Bluetooth can extend up to 10 meters away. In addition, Bluetooth can exchange more information per second than NFC.
In a nutshell, NFC is terrific for exchanging quick, short bursts of information; Bluetooth is better for more robust bursts of information over longer distances.
LOCATION BASED ADVERTISING (LBA)
LBA isn’t a technology as much as it’s a form of advertising. What do we mean by that? LBA uses various tools, such as GPS and geo-fencing, to locate people who might be prospects and send them messages.
For instance, say you’re in charge of marketing for a clothing store chain and you want to run a mobile display ad that targets prospects when they’re within walking distance of your location. You can do that using LBA. All you’d have to do is provide your mobile adnetwork provider with a list of your store locations. By using geofencing, the ad network knows when someone is within proximity of one of your stores. The result is that the prospective customers who are surfing the Net on their mobile devices will see a banner ad letting them know that your clothing store is half a mile away and is running a 25 percent off special on athletic socks.
Location-Based Marketing Best Practices
There are several best practices to consider as you set up your location-based marketing campaign. Some of them revolve around marketing fundamentals; others are more specific to this new and emerging field.
- Address consumer confusion. Most consumers will have a natural tendency to shy away from LBS, NFC, Bluetooth, and LBA campaigns. It’s human nature to resist something you don’t entirely understand.
- Provide clear opt-in instructions. You may live and work in a world where mobile marketing is common, but most people don’t. As such, you’ll need to explain as quickly and clearly as possible to your prospects and customers how to opt in to your location-based marketing program. Spend extra effort ensuring prospects that they can opt out at any time.
- Explain what to expect. People don’t mind getting marketing messages when they’ve opted in to receive. But they do mind being overwhelmed by too many messages and/or confusing offers. Explain to consumers what they can expect after they’ve opted in to your program. That way, you’ll avoid unpleasant surprises for your target audience.
- Test the campaign on unbiased candidates: Of course, you’ll want to test your campaign yourself. But the most effective way to test it is give it a whirl with someone who doesn’t know what to expect. This does not mean your spouse; he or she will be predisposed to approve of the program. The point is to test it on an objective subject—or 2 or 50. Testing your way to success is a good approach for any business.
Make it worth their while: You’re asking customers to opt in toyour location-based marketing program, so reward them for their trouble. There’s nothing more frustrating than opting in to a program only to find a better discount on a print ad or a direct mail postcard. If people go to the trouble to be part of
your program, reward their loyalty with special discounts.