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.
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.