The Pokemon Go app that took over the world in July not only put augmented reality back on the map, it also threw location intelligence back in the spotlight as a powerful way to engage consumers and build strong customer relationships.
A recent study by the IAB Australia revealed 66 per cent of marketers believe location data is now the most exciting opportunity in mobile in 2016. Earlier this year, Forbes also noted 40 per cent of all advertising spend by 2019 will be based on location data.
“In today’s digital economy, customer experience is the new frontier for any brand to thrive in, and contextually seamless service delivery is the key for customer experience excellence,” managing director of digital brand agency Webling, Deniz Nalbantoglu, tells CMO. “Location data, combined with smart intent interpretation, is one of the main pillars of delivering this aspect very well.”
According to Nalbantoglu, the ability to predict your customers’ needs based on their location and destination, along with time and date, previous behaviour and other relevant data, then proactively offer the right service or offer in real time, is not only a very effective retention strategy, it can also generate new instances and revenue.
He suggests it’s a no-brainier for any digital business, such as Uber, or any place or destination-based bricks-and-mortar brand, such as shopping centres, hospitality, travel and retail.
“However, most brands that offer a service can also benefit from this approach, such as your insurance company sending you an instant approval travel insurance offer when you are in an airport,” he says.
Deeper insights into customer lives
“For example, if you are a supermarket chain, and you know when your customer is shopping at a competitors’ versus yours, could influence methods and timings of promotions for driving footfall, or other desired outcomes, for your supermarket,” he explained.
On its own, location data is incredibly powerful, but as Lassoued points out, when you combine it with other accessible metadata, it becomes almost omnipotent in its potential.
“For instance, combining location data with credit card information would give you a powerful picture of your customers buying habits and be able to close the loop from digital to store,” he continues. “This is something that applications like Acorns are building under the service of micro investing, and they have already started adding brands to that mix.”
Head of What’s Next at Adshel, James Fogelberg, and head of marketing, Charlotte Valente, see the ability to ‘listen and learn’ about a customer’s location as providing brands with a un-paralleled understanding of their customers.
“By understanding customers’ locations, brands can identify their behaviours and purchase intents based on where these customers visit, their frequency and duration of visit/dwell time,” they say. “It’s important to note that customer location insights form the foundations upon which to build greater insights on existing customer datasets held within brands CRMs.
“Should the brands’ marketing team then wish to communicate with the customer, they have the inherent benefit of tailoring the message and being more contextually relevant whilst also aiding the brands other strategic growth objectives.”
Creating a more personalised experience
Experts agree leveraging location data the right way can provide customers with the much sought-after ability to provide seamless, personalised and relevant experience.
oOH! has always had location as its core value proposition and now as it becomes a data rich medium powered by GPS, mobile and Wi-Fi, it’s opening up an ability to qualify audiences like never before.
“Brands want to play a more relevant part in the lives of their customers,” oOh!Media’s digital strategy director, Brendon Cropper, says. “Understanding and leveraging geo-location builds this relevance, which ultimately leads to engagement.
“And in a world of hyper media fragmentation and the rise of DOOH and mobile, it’s now possible for brands to reach consumers anywhere, anytime at scale.”
Oracle’s director of CX strategy and transformation, Kristi Mansfield, notes many of the vendor’s clients are looking to engage with customers beyond the initial service and product, and that using location data can be an effective way to offer a more personalised experience.
“When I work with our customers in the automotive industry, suddenly location-based services enables them to provide a fantastic experience for their customers,” she says. “For instance, if a car is low on petrol, location intelligence can help determine the nearest petrol station, or the nearest servicing needs. It’s very tangible and hugely beneficial in that arena.”
CEO and managing director of multi-channel messaging platforms OtherLevels, Brendan O’Kane, says location data also supplies marketers with a tremendous information source of interactivity in the event of services disruption, route re-planning or scheduled maintenance.
O’Kane also sees collecting location data to be “unbelievably valuable” for the retail and hospitality sectors.
“We see it as a very data-driven concept,” he said. “One of our clients, a big hotel chain in the US, has a membership program offering the ability for customer to opt-in for location tracking. They want to ensure that when you walk into the lobby of the hotel, that you get the right experience. And that’s an interesting thing, because they will know that if I’m a VIP member, I do not just want to be pushed a $2 drink coupon upon arrival.
“The trick is to marry your location data and intent, while leveraging as much information as you have about your customer.”
CEO and founder of location-based software platform Local Measure, Jonathan Barouch, also points to its hotel client, Accor, which is leveraging location-based intelligence to connect with customers in new and more effective ways.
Accor is using geolocation social to connect with customers in new ways so they can resolve any customer complaints, he explains.
“At the same time, they’re creating a more customised and personalised experience,” he says. “The power lies in the ability to really target a refined customer base.”
Another example of a more tailored personalised experience is that offered by online beauty retailer, Adore Beauty. The Australian beauty ecommerce player identifies a customer’s location in order to create personalised call-to-actions such as free shipping offers to Melbourne or promotional codes targeted to Sydney buyers, its marketing manager, Shanthi Murugan, says.
“Eighty per cent of our business comes from the Australian market, so we focus on the locations where we offer a unique service, such as same-day shipping to Melbourne metropolitan customers.”
The secret sauce
One thing that is keeping marketers cautious about location is the ‘creepiness’ factor. Pitney Bowes’ managing director, Nigel Lester, sees different types of consumers responding differently to the concept of location-based data.
“Millennials are much more open abut providing information about themselves and turning on location services, it’s all about the benefit back to the consumers,” he says. “But if I know I’ll get a more tailored experience, it’s more likely I will turn on the location services.
“Businesses need to show to the customer they are adding value – they need to demonstrate what is in it for the consumer, not just for them.”
According to Lester, location intelligence is underutilised currently by marketers, although he finds lot of the digital commerce and business intelligence vendor’s clients are increasingly embracing it as a competitive advantage.
“They hold their cards close to their chest as to how they are using it,” he says. “But the explosion of mapping in the consumer end is waking up more and more organisations to look at how they can better use location intelligence.
“I think leveraging location-based data is almost like adding that secret sauce – it gives marketers actionable insights, to generate better sales, stronger market penetration, while understanding the highest value customers. But to get the right outcome, you need to understand your marketing position, ensure the accuracy of the data, and clarify the core objectives you wish to achieve for your business.”
But equally, failing to understand your data and its accuracy can be a pitfall. Ikon Communications’ head of digital, Sian Whitnall, says there is nothing worse than a consumer being exposed to a “highly relevant” brand experience that has actually got them all wrong.
“IP addresses are not accurate enough for proximity targeting at a granular level, so you need to make sure you understand the location data that is being utilised and its accuracy,” he warns. “And don’t plan your approach in isolation to all of your other customer touchpoints. Quite often as marketers rely on specialists to execute this type of activity the resulting look and feel that customers experience can jar with the broader brand experience.”
Co-founder and CEO of software company ShareRoot, Noah Abelson, adds relevancy is the key ensuring your location-based activity is palatable and has value for your customers.
“If I’m in a store and you’re not targeting me with offers and promotions that are directly relevant to me, the experience is massively affected,” he says.
“You need to take a macro view and take a step back – think about your customers, and how you can really impact their lives. “
4 tips on using location-bases data and geomapping to enhance the customer experience
- Location is only half the equation. People are seldom stationary, and their journey can tell you a lot. Where they were and where they are going is as important as where they are now.
- Location makes the marketer. People need different things at different locations. When your target is at a sports stadium vs a train station, they are almost entirely different people and applying the same profile and logic will not work.
- History repeats itself. Your customer’s previous behavioural patterns are great way to tell what they might do next, maybe even before they know it.
- Be useful or be gone. The difference between being a lifesaver or an irritation is one simple question: is this really useful for the customer?