Locate Your Customers: Proximity Marketing Is no Longer Optional

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.

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Mark Olson