Putting aside all the bells and whistles, the goal of any marketing strategy is to entice customers into action by delivering the right message at the right time. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that location-based (proximity) marketing strategies have taken off with as much force as they have. Data by xAd via eMarketer showed that even in 2015, 80 percent of marketers worldwide used location-based targeting in their advertising.
Using Location for Real-Time Advertising
Proximity marketing involves using wireless services to deliver specific marketing content to mobile devices as customers approach a business. This is generally done through beaming technology like NFC, RFID, or good, old-fashioned GPS to encourage customers to interact with the brand. For example, a clothing retailer could create a unique 50 percent off promotion for mobile subscribers who pass within 20 feet of its storefront, enticing them to come in and shop.
And thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and their many location-based applications, it’s easier than ever for businesses to make use of the strategy. Businesses can use specific applications such as Google Map listings, Foursquare, or their own brand-specific apps to locate subscribers as they come near. In essence, proximity marketing integrates a business’s brick and mortar store with its digital strategy to increase the value of each.
Of course, proximity marketing has its challenges:
- Users have to opt in before advertisements can be sent.
- Businesses have to draw a fine line with messaging frequency; proximity marketing is unsolicited by nature; as such, it can easily fall into the category of spam if users feel oversaturated.
- As business applications integrate with user phones to determine their exact location, the company’s IT security and data privacy controls become absolutely critical.
But despite these challenges, there’s no denying the effectiveness of proximity marketing—and its rapid growth makes it a hot topic for marketers who understand the value of location-specific messaging.
What’s Next for Proximity Marketing?
It’s easy to see how proximity marketing can be used for basic advertisement and awareness, but companies are beginning to take their strategies to the next level by finding new uses for the data at their disposal:
- Aside from simply alerting customers, businesses are using proximity strategies to create a new type of value-adding data: Location analytics.
- Location analytics involve monitoring how long customers linger in the area, how frequently they walk by the storefront over a set period of time, and how frequently they respond to promotions.
- Businesses are combining these analytics with the data they already have in their CRMs (such as customer purchasing history or basic demographic information) to deliver laser-focused messaging with high rates of engagement.
By leveraging location as a key indicator of how and when advertisements are sent, companies are bridging their customers’ physical and digital experiences. In short, it’s mobile marketing at its finest.
Get Started with Mobile-Centric Marketing
As our consumer taste for mobile continues to grow, so too will our mobile marketing strategies. According to joint research by Nielsen and Google, 71 percent of consumers use their smartphones to locate brick and mortar businesses. And 93 percent of consumers who use their mobile phones to conduct product research end up making a purchase, usually at the brick and mortar store in question. And as location-based marketing strategies continue to evolve, we’re sure to see this number rise even further. For forward-thinking businesses, proximity marketing is no longer optional—it’s a must-have strategy for delivering real-time messaging to customers.
The weather’s cooling down and the leaves are starting to fall, which means that 2017 is on its way out. What a year it’s been—the marketing landscape has seen some drastic shifts over the past year, many of which were related to big data, advanced analytics, and the use of cognitive machine learning to deepen the insights marketers receive from their campaigns.
With so many exciting tech updates on the marketing horizon, I thought this would be a great time to review three of the big data trends that have defined 2017, courtesy of research done by IBM. Let’s dig in.
1. Acceptance That More Data Isn’t the Answer
In our information-hungry society, we tend to think that data is the answer to everything. It’s not. Not even close.
Most companies have only begun to scratch the surface of all the data available to them—IBM’s research estimated that 88 percent of all available data was considered “dark” to most organizations, meaning that it existed in unstructured forms such as images, natural language, or generalized behaviors that can’t be measured by traditional analytics. Think about that—88 percent of data untouched, never mind the constant influx of new data that we have coming in from all channels.
In response, businesses are changing the way they look at data and realizing that more is not better. Instead, 2017 has been about looking at new ways to assess the data we have on hand derive more meaningful insights from the noise. From the volume of data to its variety, to the speed of data collection, this past year has marked a shift towards data quality over data quantity.
2. Cognitive Insights for Consumer Connections
The point of all data collection vis-à-vis marketing is to learn more about our customers and deepen the connections we make with them. Traditional analytics have shown some success at this goal, but in 2017, we’ve seen the industry take a more drastic shift toward the use of AI and machine learning tools to assess broad data sets. Part of this has to do with the fact that most businesses have an unmanageable amount of data to dig through. IBM noted that by 2016, 90 percent of the world’s data had been created in the past 12 months alone. And this trend is showing no signs of slowing in 2017.
Basic performance analytics can’t begin to crack “dark” data or derive any type of meaningful insights from huge and disconnected data sets, but with AI-based analytics and machine learning algorithms becoming common tools for big data analysis, we expect more businesses to tap into this wealth of information to create more meaningful connections with their consumers.
3. AI’s Role in Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing as we know it today has been around for a few years, but its use is soaring in 2017. Forbes predicted that 2017 would be the year of influencer marketing, but what Forbes didn’t predict was the role that AI would play in connecting those influencers to brands. It’s no secret that companies that successfully leverage influencer marketing gain valuable brand exposure. But on the other side of the coin, the rise of influencer options makes it more critical than ever that businesses connect with the right social media personalities.
Companies are beginning to understand this and apply more powerful AI algorithms into their influencer search in hopes of finding the perfect candidates. Given that there are millions of influencers out there to choose from, we expect an influx of advanced influencer matching tools to enter the marketplace within the next few years.
Forecasting the Future of Big Data
The biggest data trend that we’ve seen in 2017 so far is the realization that data production has far outpaced data analysis. We have too much junk and no way to organize it—and business owners are tired of trying. In response, organizations have pushed development of new cognitive analysis tools that can assess these data sets in more advanced ways. And while the fruits of these labors have yet to be seen, we’ll be eagerly watching to see what the future has in store for big data.
Could 2017 be the year of mobile?
I know, I know—marketers believe that every year is the year of mobile.
Mobile adoption in marketing strategies has been growing fast lately, thanks in no small part to Google’s aptly named Mobilegeddon update in 2015. Marketers have scrambled to adapt their strategies ever since, but most efforts so far have focused on business-to-consumer relationships.
There’s no denying that this is an important area to target. But in my opinion, most businesses still struggle when adopting mobile-centric customer engagement strategies targeted at the other side of the coin: Business-to-Business (B2B) enterprise.
Mobile in the B2B Market
First off, let’s all collectively agree to stop referring to mobile as a “channel.” Calling it a channel implies that the concept exists in a silo; that it’s an avenue of marketing outreach independent of other touchpoints, such as your website, social media, or paid ad campaigns.
It’s not. The most drastic shift we’ve seen in 2017 is mobile’s ascension from a box that marketers check to a platform-free strategy that takes a holistic approach to the customer experience.
It’s this distinction that will empower mobile usage as a force to be reckoned with in the B2B world. Business users these days use their devices in conjunction with their worksite-based desktops to explore and enhance workflows that exist outside the office. Naturally, these customers want, and expect, a seamless mobile experience across all touchpoints that helps them make smarter decisions to take back to the office.
Data-Powered Mobile Experiences
These strategies are based around the idea of integrating mobile with every aspect of the buyer’s journey, free of platform restrictions or physical location. B2B buyers should be able to browse information as easily on their devices as they do on their desktops. But the hidden bonus of mobile usage is in the vast amounts of data that users can collect to strengthen their B2B relationships and build much-needed trust with their buyers.
This is quite evident in the push toward mobile optimized websites. Mobile-friendly websites have become the standard, and rightfully so. Businesses can learn more information about customer behavior through their mobile devices than their desktops (regarding application use, retargeting, geotracking for location-based ads, etc.) and can leverage this information with their content creation strategies to develop personalized experiences for business consumers.
Personalized experiences through seamless mobile integration is the name of the game. And while there are multiple ways to skin this particular cat, we’re a big fan of dedicated business applications. Dedicated mobile apps can be a great way to track usage statistics and gain valuable behavioral insights. Applications are one of the best ways to reach B2B buyers, as they offer the perfect way to deliver customized marketing collateral. They gather information for data-backed decision making. And their use makes it easy for businesses to leverage other vital sales tools, such as ecommerce integrations.
Mobile Mastery in 2017
If you choose to go down the mobile app road, make sure you’re actively tracking and optimizing the application over time. The goal of the app is to give customers (and B2B customers in particular) simple ways to enhance information flows in exchange for vital usage information that will allow you to optimize their experiences even further.
Only time will tell if 2017 is truly “the year of mobile”, but whether it is or it isn’t, it’s the perfect time to expand your mobile strategy for better B2B engagement.