As I write this, I am not sitting at my desk. I need not even be in my office, nor at my home. With the aid of a small rectangle in my pocket, I could be writing to you from almost anywhere in the world, untethered by wires and unburdened by the constraints of the traditional working environment. With more sophisticated technology comes the ability for increased spontaneity in our movement, safe in the knowledge that wherever the wind takes us, we possess the means to find our way home or towards the next adventure. The freedom to explore is now continuously at our fingertips.
It’s this very concept that has given flight to many of our favourite apps and services like Uber and Airbnb, businesses that are taking over the world as we speak. These companies champion the kind of discovery and impulsivity that was largely unfamiliar to us just a few years ago and now seem like an entirely natural part of our everyday lives. Uber doesn’t care where you live or where you work, it cares about where you are and where you want to go.
As our movements become less predictable and our craving for exploration grows, it’s only logical that new tools emerge to cater to changing needs and in an effort to attract the attention of these elusive mobile consumers. After all, to any companies nearby that are smart enough to take notice, your location can become an extremely valuable piece of information. As a result, more and more brands are finding interesting ways to utilise location-based technologies, bridging the gap between online and physical channels for consumer engagement. At best, this results in intelligent and personalised experiences. At worst, it’s just creepy.
The basis for most of these use-cases is a technology called Geofencing, which allows brands to target messages to people within specific locations. However, the ways in which different companies are utilising this technology indicates the breadth of opportunity in this area.
Testing the water with campaign activations
The most common implementations of location-based marketing are around events or campaigns with limited longevity. This can provide the ideal testing ground to see whether your consumers are willing to engage with this kind of technology and to trial new services. One notable recent example came from Gordon’s Gin with their #YayDelay campaign, which measured cumulative train delays alongside conversation on Twitter to decide when was the best moment to offer a much-needed drink in a nearby bar to commuters that had been held up. This smart campaign focused on relevance and timeliness, offering their product to consumers when it would be most appreciated. It’s also an excellent demonstration of the spontaneity we discussed earlier, appealing to the impulsive nature of modern consumers.
Another simple execution of campaign or event-based location marketing is Snapchat Geofilters. These are remarkably easy to set up through their online, on-demand platform and can offer a surprising and delightful experience to your audience. Consider setting up a custom Geofilter for your event, encouraging visitors to share their experience on Snapchat with a fun, relevant frame. Alternatively, you could encourage users to share their in-store experiences by placing the filter over retail locations, potentially even offering discounts or offers to those who choose to use the filter. Just remember to ensure that the platform you choose for your campaign suits your intended audience. For example, Snapchat Geofilters are likely to work best with younger audiences that may already be active users on the platform.
Example Snapchat Geofilters we have produced for clients
Offering an added convenience
Another way in which many brands are using location technology is to maximise on convenience, intelligently targeting their audience with relevant messages and offers to place their brand front of mind and most convenient. One brand which has tackled this challenge successfully has been Costa Coffee, utilising native advertising on navigation app Waze to target consumers within range of their Costa Express locations and offering them the opportunity to navigate directly to the store. The activation resulted in more than 15,000 consumers deciding to divert their route towards their nearest Costa and more than 65,000 ad engagements.
If your business has multiple retail locations, one simple way to introduce location-based marketing is through Facebook’s Local Awareness ads format. Using this ad type on Facebook allows businesses to target customers in their local area and provides some unique call-to-actions that have the potential to drive real impact such as initiating a phone call or messenger conversation with the business or even giving the user directions towards the store itself.
What’s next for location-based marketing?
We’ve discussed a number of applications for location data in marketing but in order for this technology to be truly transformative for your business, you will need to take it beyond simple activations. Location data can be extremely powerful and unlock unique insights into your consumers lifestyles and behaviours. For example, an increasing number of retail brands are utilising spatial analysis or location analytics, placing sensors throughout retail outlets in order to learn how their customers behave while in the store and using the insights to optimise their experiences and drive them towards desired outcomes. When we think about location data in this context, we begin to recognise the potential significance of this technology.
An interesting case study to explore here is premium spirits brand Patrón. Patrón mapped psychographic and demographic data about their audience against the location data of more than 12 million users in Foursquare. By layering this new dimension of data on top of what they already knew, Patrón were able to develop complex consumer profiles and serve up uniquely personalised ads to consumers based on their own tastes and preferences. This example from Patrón further illustrates the enormous potential of location data in marketing. Whether offering new services and conveniences to your audience or gathering sophisticated insights into their behaviours in order to offer a personalised experience, there are numerous ways in which your brand could utilise this technology moving forward.
As Zuckerberg provides evidence to Congress over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and GDPR looms over us, it’s easy to develop a less-than-positive outlook on the future of marketing, especially where it concerns personal data points such as location. However, it’s important that we view these developments as an opportunity to address the flaws in our existing strategies and ensure transparency with our audience without stifling creativity. Now is the time to think about how we can build exceptional consumer experiences without sacrificing the privacy or rights of our audience.