Location has always played an important role in marketing, but the explosion of the internet caused some to shift their focus. With just the click of a mouse, consumers could shop far beyond their immediate geographies, reaching retailers and products that may have been out of reach in the past. All of the sudden, location felt less relevant.
But perspective on location is changing again. It’s becoming a primary focus of marketers, but with a new twist, thanks to mobile technology. Smartphones and social media have made a massive impact on the way consumers communicate and make purchases, as well as how businesses advertise. According to the Pew Research Center, a whopping 95% of U.S. adults own a cell phone of some kind, and another study reports that 80% of social activity is done from mobile devices.
People are posting content on the go, and this gives businesses the ability to understand where people are when they publicly post on social media. Using that information, they can engage with them at the right time, making the communication feel more organic and less like an intrusive sales pitch. This change is making location a primary focus of many marketing campaigns, and social media platforms are getting in on the action, developing location-based, mobile-first products and features.
The importance of location-based marketing is only expected to growing. Local marketing analyst BIA Kelsey predicts that geo-targeted ad sales will rise from $12.4 billion in 2016 to $32.4 billion in 2021. As social media giants Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat battle it out for advertising dollars, it’s expected they will continue to develop more ways to integrate location into their products and offerings.
Location-Based Marketing for Business Success
With location-based marketing, a company can go beyond publishing social media content and hoping customers will engage with it, or only reacting to customer service issues. They can engage in a meaningful ways with people who are at their locations, experiencing their company or product in real life, right now.
Want to make the most of location-based marketing? Here are three ways location-based marketing can contribute to business success:
- Find unexpected ways to “surprise and delight”. Combining location-based intelligence with mobile lets marketers engage on a whole new level. For instance, suppose the owner of a new puppy heads to a pet store to pick up supplies, and posts about it publicly on Instagram. The pet store could receive an alert, and respond with “Congratulations on your new puppy!”, along with a coupon for a free toy. Over time, thoughtful touches like these can lead to tremendous loyalty among customers, who feel like individuals rather than anonymous customers.
- Capitalize on the ripple effect. When people are surprised and delighted, chances are they will post about their experience on social media channels, as well as mention, and many times follow, the company. This is as good as a recommendation, and allows you to reach beyond that one individual and build affinity and loyalty among that person’s network of friends and followers. This word of mouth is the most credible, and therefore valuable, form of marketing.
- Keep a watchful eye on the competition. Another great benefit of location-based marketing is the ability to see what your competition is up to. Check the public social activity at competitors’ locations, and use that information to benchmark your own social performance.
In some ways, marketing has come full circle. We started with direct interactions with customers in a physical place, transitioned to using broadcast media to share one message with millions at a time, and today, we are back to building relationships with individuals at locations, but through social media.
Using location-based marketing as part of your overall marketing plan can allow you to discover public posts at your locations, create easily executable engagement strategies, and delight your customers, which in turn will be beneficial to your business.