By John Fleming, marketing director, Webtrends EMEA
A world of beacons and mobiles won’t necessarily make us shop till we drop. According to a recent IAB study, 66% of marketers believe location-based advertising is the ‘most exciting’ mobile opportunity for 2016; quite an endorsement given that even as recently as 2015 it only occupied a small part of mobile ad-budgets primarily because there had been difficulties with pinpointing the exact person with the right type of advertisement on the fly.
Location-based advertising and services hinge around the idea that wherever we are we always carry a smartphone or tablet with us, and happily share our location data with the various apps we use. This presents an opportunity for advertisers to personalise their messages to people based on their current location, in real time using in-the-moment data. A person’s location, gleaned from their mobile device, allows advertisers to send different messages to people depending on where they are.
iBeacons (the name for Apple’s technology standard,) or beacons, which allow mobile apps running on both iOS and Android devices to listen for beacon signals radiating in shops, are taking this one step further. They are closing the loop between online and offline experiences and allowing brands to send time-sensitive offers to customers as soon as they come within reach.
While implementations are still in their early stages, the promise to marketers is you can know what customers want even before they enter the store, from their names and shopping habits to likes and dislikes, and you can act on it. You have all the knowledge to deliver a communication that is personalised, timely and targeted; the marketer’s Holy Grail.
Marketers are excited about the new opportunities, but are consumers equally as enthusiastic?
To many, the idea sounds intimidating and invasive, bordering on creepy. Brands risk annoying the very people they want to entice and engage by bombarding them with offers to buy. There is also a concern that mobile and location-based marketing might increase message spam; the email spam story all over again, this time on consumers’ mobiles.
Clearly, it’s all about the implementation; communicating with consumers in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them with unwanted messages.
Brands are best advised to grow the customer relationship slowly, creating trust step by step. If you have customers who are already using a loyalty app, or following a brand on Facebook then they are more likely to welcome personalised experiences than someone who has just made a purchase.
Too high a degree of personalisation, too early in the relationship, might also be off-putting. Brands need to treat the customer with respect while making sure that any data collected is taken with their consent. This includes offering the ability to opt out of certain interactions, and being clear about this option upfront.
Right side of creepy
To stay on the right side of creepiness, personalisation should start with first hand data the brand has about the customer, such as purchase history, demographic information, and customer lifecycle data. Adding third party data acquired outside of the customer-company relationship, such as credit scores or the customer’s house value, requires more careful consideration.
The usage of beacons must also be subtle. An overload would only prompt customers to switch off their mobile phones’ location services, or delete the app. A survey among US consumers found that sending shoppers more than one push notification per store visit caused a 313% drop in app usage.
We all enjoy gifts so including a tangible benefit would make people more likely to accept the personalised experience. Customers like rewards, and the more instant the better, whether it’s a discount on a product they were looking to buy, or something that saves them time on their weekly grocery shop.
In summary, when you reach out to the customer, it has to be relevant and timely. Location-based, mobile marketing promises to achieve just that, but brands need to tread carefully. Remember, act responsibly and exercise restraint.
Location-based services with beacons will deliver the right kind of actionable intelligence to show us what customers want and when, and used in moderation and in the right context, brands can’t ever be accused of coercing us to shop till we drop.
Webtrends helps companies make sense of their customer data to drive digital marketing success, offering solutions in measurement and optimisation.