Now that so many people carry around personal location devices on them almost constantly, location-based marketing is becoming a very attractive tactic for advertisers.
In fact, Pew Research Center data shows that 64% of American adults own smartphones – or in this case, personal location devices. Further, smartphone ownership is higher among younger Americans with typically higher incomes.
Location-based marketing comes in a number of forms with geo-fencing being one of the more well-known and potent. Geo-fencing is essentially blocking off a section on a map and targeting your audience within that area with offers, push notifications or other communications. Despite the somewhat creepy implications of sending geo-targeted messages to consumers, location-based marketing comes in a number forms, and is increasing in popularity among marketers.
According to digital advertising firm MaxPoint, location-targeted ads accounted for 85% of its clients’ mobile ad spend last holiday season. MaxPoint CEO Joe Epperson told Mobile Marketing Watch that "the shift in mobile ad spend toward location-targeted campaigns is driven by new technologies, deep expertise," among other factors. More importantly, he explained, was that through location-based intelligence, brands are able to improve their multi-channel, multi-device campaigns.
But not all location-based marketing is conducted via geo-fencing, and not all location data is created equally, warns Tony Longo, co-founder and CEO of Ground Signal, a location-based technology platform.
"The newly appointed president of Foursquare, Steven Rosenblatt, recently said 'If you don’t have a ground truth, you don’t have anything,'" he told Marketing Dive. "There are so many companies that claim to have location data or access to that intelligence – but do they really? Getting location from a user’s bio on Twitter is not real location data. For example, last week, I was in New York City, so therefore any content I produced on my social networks should be tied to NYC, but if you were looking at my bio, these tweets would have been attributed to Boston."
The first thing, then, that marketers need to know about location-based marketing, Longo explained, is that they have to really understand the type of data they're using, where they're getting it from and what they want to accomplish with that data.
Integrating location into a multi-channel marketing strategy
Location gives marketers an added dimension in being able to engage an audience and meaningfully connect with them by leveraging viewpoints and habits and then adding the location element.
"Right now, marketers have an X and a Y axis, but no Z axis, so it lacks dimension," Longo said. "By leveraging location, we provide more insight – and dimension – into why a specific audience might say, act or respond to a brand in a certain way, while also being able to reach them in a more personalized and meaningful way. That’s a powerful tool for any marketer."
For social media in particular, Longo called location the perfect filter "because it allows brands to find the most relevant people, at the most relevant time, in the most relevant place."
In terms of adding location into a marketing strategy, Longo offered five tactics:
- Geo-fence your store, or locations where your products/services are being sold, to engage with customers who are physically on-property to create a more personalized experience.
- Geo-fence competitors’ stores/locations to engage with their customers, especially those who may be having negative experiences. Turn that negative experience with a competitor into a positive experience with your brand. (What Longo called "conquesting.")
- Power marketing efforts through experiential marketing. All events happen at a specific location – this can be leveraged heavily to connect with influencers and consumers at a specific event, in a specific location. The idea should be about both what you're doing as well as where and with whom you are doing it.
- Leverage social data at scale to build target audiences by precise location for dramatically improved ad targeting; or, understand audience segment behaviors about, for example, what they talk about on social, where they post from or who influences them.
- Find targeted local influencers around your business; for most location-based businesses, engaging random influencers will provide very little value. What's important is finding individuals with social influence among your local audience.
In fact, Longo sees the convergence of influencer marketing and location as a rising trend.
“The marriage of location and influencer marketing is going to take the marketing world by storm in 2016,” he said, citing research from Captiv8 showing over $100 million a month is being spent by brands on influencer marketing on Instagram alone.
"Location connects marketers to local influencers, and local influencers connect brands to broader target audiences. Bringing these two strategies together is going to completely change the customer experience, and the way consumers interact with brands," Longo said.
Brands finding location marketing success
Two examples of brands finding success with location-based marketing include Loews Hotels and Momentum Worldwide. Ground Signal, Longo shared, helps Loews monitor its brand through location-based search for its customer service. It scans for guests sharing experiences on social media, as well as helps find user-generated content to repurpose in other marketing efforts.
Momentum is a digital agency focused on experiential marketing that uses location-based targeting for their event marketing. Using location data, they are able to find and engage local influencers or people who have posted from similar past events, and then encourage them to promote one of their events.
Longo said Ground Signal clients have seen a two- to five-times increase in social amplification around onsite experiences through location-based engagement. Though brands need to sift through the data they get for useful information, location data provides advertisers a way to improve personalization. He predicts that as modern marketing evolves, location-based marketing will become an essential component of advertisers' strategies.
"Location is the foundation to everything we do as humans – eating, drinking, walking to work, going on vacation, visiting your parents or friends, even binge watching shows on Netflix," Longo said. "With mobile and social nearly at scale, we see location marketing as a huge differentiator – and it’s just the beginning."