Location, location, location is no longer a mantra reserved for the housing market. Location is quickly becoming highly relevant for any industry, including retail, hospitality, entertainment, and healthcare. As location awareness technology becomes more powerful, so does a brand’s ability to target consumers with location-based marketing. The most successful location-based marketing will provide immediate, tangible benefits for both the consumer and the brand. In order to accomplish this, the focus is no longer simply on geo-location, it is now shifting towards micro-location.
While GPS can determine your geo-location reasonably accurately, it is much less accurate in dense urban areas and indoors. For location-based marketing to be truly effective, it must be able to track consumers into stores — where more than 94% of buying happens. Micro-location targeting uses technology that can pinpoint your indoor location to within a few feet, and that creates a world of opportunities for consumer engagement.
A number of technologies are being harnessed in the micro-location space. However, as no single technology is ubiquitous, some companies are employing multiple technologies in their micro-location products. There are trade-offs to each of these approaches.
WiFi – Free WiFi is a common service provided to consumers, however WiFi can become a commodity when it is utilized to gather location information from mobile devices that are on the network. WiFi triangulation requires at least 3 wifi hotspots and uses signal strength to determine the location of the user. Companies like Cisco, Aruba, and Motorola are partnering with mobile application providers to create in-venue marketing solutions that utilize standard WiFi technology.
Beacons – The beacon is the newest and perhaps biggest development in the indoor location market. Beacons are small wireless sensors that transmit data to mobile devices using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Beacons can be placed inside any physical space, are inexpensive and easy to install. With them brands can track and target consumers, delivering relevant ads, messages and offers on the spot.
With the fusion of micro-location targeting and mobile, brands can now be virtually present with their consumer at the time and place it matters most. Immediate in-venue delivery of the right information, offers, or personalized messages can help consumers save time, money, or simply make a better-informed purchase. When a brand knows where their consumers are, they can provide suggestions based on what they are looking at in a particular moment, guide them toward the most profitable areas, or alert them to specials on perishable inventory. For example:
• An entertainment venue has an excess of unsold tickets for a show that starts in 1 hour. They target a message to everyone within the property and promptly sell out the show.
• A restaurant is experiencing a slow night. They target all patrons as they walk past with a discount offer for dinner, effectively filling the open tables.
• A casino detects players leaving the property. They entice these players to stay by offering them free play credits, getting them back onto their casino floor.
Studies show that only 23% of marketers are using location-based data in their current mobile campaigns. Still, this technology is well-set to drastically alter the way brands market to their consumers, with spending on proximity-based marketing services expected to reach $2.3 billion globally by 2016. As the technology that supports micro-location targeting improves, it is up to brands to execute these marketing campaigns thoughtfully. By providing authentic added-value, brands can ensure that their consumers will accept and even embrace this real-time marketing approach.