Using a user’s geographic location data to push information about services or offerings nearby or in the user’s proximity primarily, through mobile devices over a network is called as location-based services.  Location-based marketing has grown since last decade due to the increased adaptation of smartphone and tablets.

Location-based marketing utilizes services to match a user’s location, discovering nearest ATM, weather forecast at your location, tracking a vehicle’s distance from the user etc. are some examples of location-based services as such. It is effective, targeted and ROI impacting when done right, else, it can turn away your customers easily. The success lies in doing it right for your customers.

Push or Pull Marketing?

It is a mix of both, Pull for instance in an example when a user seeks information based on his geographic location. Let’s say, a user searching nearest restaurants on the mobile device.

Push as mentioned above, let’s say an SMS on your mobile device when you are at a mall to buy ice cream on 2nd floor with 30% discount.

Applications of Location-based services include:

  • Location-based games & AR
  • Location-based advertising
  • Business intelligence & analytics
  • Emergency support & Disaster management
  • Tracking, mapping, discovery & information

Early adopters of Location-based marketing:

Active check-in using tools like Foursquare, Gowalla and Whrrl etc, has been well known in the location-based industry for some time now, the current trends are more about the passive use of location to share location-specific information to the end-users.

Facebook and Twitter are now embracing and pushing users to tag updates basis their geographical location, Google news is now customized to your location, any search with queries ending “near me” are few classic use cases of the same. “ice cream near me” for instance gives authrization to google to use your location and show most relevant search results in your proximity.

6 Ways Location-based marketing is helping you do business better:

  1. People flow analytics and securityHelsinki airport, manages the flow of people through its facilities by sensors installed throughout the terminal complex for security and advertising both. Airports are also pushing notifications while on travel such as Time to leave for the gate. Gate changed, reserve 10 minutes more time to go to the gate etc.
  2. Better performance on Organic Search: Location-based marketing performs better in search engines rankings if your business is listed, Listing Properties on web portals such as Google Places, Yelp and Facebook etc. ensure better locational search rankings for you. Advertisers even have option to bid money to rank above local search results now.
  3. The impulse to sales conversion: A prospect near to your store has more potential to convert into a buyer than a person at a distance. For instance, as a marketer, you might want to push an ad to a person who is near your umbrella store on a day it rained suddenly. Thus, Location-based marketing helps shorten the sales cycle from attracting to action.
  4. Targeted and affordable: Since it’s very location specific, it is also targeted, every business listing makes you more visible. Companies such as Foursquare incentivize users to share location and explore for instance.
  5. Reward customers: By comparing location-specific ad push vs actual sales made, repeat customers can also be awarded more often to ensure repeated buying behaviour. For instance, inside an airport, movement of your prospects could also help in understanding the buying preferences.
  6. Navigation Integration: Business listings today are often integrated with maps (driving and directions) it also helps users to identify places of interest while travelling.

Growing concern over privacy

Unwanted messages today are often perceived as spam. Consumers do not prefer sharing their location information and there is a growing concern of spam. Though few publishers and websites today are providing pop-up notifications for asking users location or accepting cookies. A lot of users are still not comfortable with the idea of being tracked to date, despite of regulations like GDPR being in effect, big advertizers like Google have found creative ways to share such information.

The Way forward for Location-based Services

Consumers and millennial today prefer personalization but not at the cost of entering their privacy zone. There is a thin layer between sending offers through push advertising using location-based marketing vs spamming, The first impression of any unsolicited message is spam, this can only be successful when users are given the decision-making power over what they would prefer to be informed for vs what not. This can be done through your ad servers or probably using an app is the safer bet as users will surely have consent agreement while downloading your application. Publishers today should also give the users a control of opting in for a specific type of service or product they would prefer receiving updated and offers for. Though it is adapted to an extent by few publishers, there is a long way to go. This will ensure opted in choice for information and users would be happy to share their location with you, therefore, enabling better business. Ones you win a consumers trust, the journey only continues further. A win-win situation for both your business and your consumers is the way forward for location-based marketing.

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Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

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