Mobile Geolocation: Big Opportunities For Marketers By: Gib Olander, director of business development, Localeze
About The Author:Gib Olander, director of business development, Localeze (www.localeze.com) As director of business development, Gib Olander has helped Localeze become the largest local search business listings identity management provider, serving local search platforms, businesses and consumers. Over the past decade, Gib has become a recognized thought leader in search, local search and online content management and speaks frequently at search industry conferences.
Location-based services (LBS) like Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt are adding another dimension to the mobile marketing toolkit for local businesses. And, with new geolocation sites launching everyday, it is crucial for merchants to take a closer look at how they can turn local-mobile advertising, promotions and incentives on LBS sites into a golden opportunity.
Not so long ago, a local search was focused on the “What” and the “Where,” e.g., hair salon in Chicago. Today, the “When” is playing a critical role as consumers check into location-based sites on their smartphones and provide timely tips and location details like photos, reviews and other unique information. LBS recognizes a user’s location and helps share that information, linking real-world locations to a user’s physical location with online and mobile via a social network.
More than 90 percent of the U.S. population subscribes to a mobile service, and with more than 285 million U.S. mobile users (according to CTIA), mobile is now driving local search. App developers have taken notice realizing the great potential of geolocation and now 6,000+ location-based
Store Location Data Most Important
With this, new targeting opportunities for businesses have been created on mobile devices. So, where does a business begin? First, they should ensure their name, address, phone number (NAP) detail is accurate across search engines, social networks and LBS sites so consumers can quickly call or locate them. According to a recent survey from JiWire, 61 percent of respondents indicated that store location data is the most valuable feature of mobile LBS. That means that a business’ NAP is the information most sought after by shoppers.
Specials Nearby on LBS
Second, businesses should try offering a special or coupon to capture consumer attention. Geolocation is on the precipice for marketers – evolving from a gaming or friend application into a utility. Users are seeking sites more out of necessity, e.g., I want to find a great ice cream shop with an incentive near the restaurant where I just ate dinner.
Some savvy marketers are finding geolocation is critical in reaching consumers and increasing sales. For example, retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Gap are targeting customers with LBS apps, group buying discounts, mobile coupons, and bar code scanning games. Gap recently gave away 10,000 pairs of jeans to the first customers who checked in at a U.S. retail location via Facebook Places on their smartphones. The company has also offered a 25 percent discount for a Foursquare check-in.
Geolocation campaigns are giving retailers valuable details about who their customers are, where they live and what they are most interested in. For example, with geolocation detail in hand, Starbucks can target a conference attendee early in the morning with a coffee special, while a nearby Marriott can let attendees know that free Wi-Fi is just across the street. A nearby restaurant can make an offer later in the evening.
The great thing about LBS is that marketers can choose which customers they want to target thereby increasing the chances of a sale.
User Reviews, Recommendations and Sentiment
Finally, businesses should monitor what is being said about them on LBS sites, as geolocation users are 38 percent more likely than the average U.S. online adult to ask friends and family for their opinions before making a purchase decision, according to a July 2010 Forrester Research geolocation report. These facts scream the importance of establishing a business’ online mobile presence given the purchasing influence of LBS.
So, what is ahead for businesses and location-based services? The most critical step is clearly establishing a local search business listings identity (NAP) to saturate the local search ecosystem including geolocation sites. Also, it is imperative that a business takes time to engage customers with something of value, not necessarily just a cheaper price, but useful detail like a new product carried or upcoming store events, e.g., a bakery might offer a new pie recipe or a seasonal flavor for its loyal customers.
Understanding the spatial network of “Who” and “What” is around a business and in addition “Where” and “When” a consumer is around a business is crucial for LBS marketing. The when is very important to both a business and consumer. For example, in the past, if Jiffy Lube had an open bay, they might hold a sign on a busy street saying special oil change offer right now for $20. Today, in addition to the physical sign, Jiffy Lube can make incentives available to nearby customers via mobile devices. For Jiffy Lube, it’s worth offering an extreme offer to a customer that can buy at that exact time, as they aren’t earning any money at the moment. For a user getting an offer for ice cream nearby after dinner may incent them to make a purchase they hadn’t intended to make. The same ice cream shop might make an offer for fresh squeezed orange juice in the same spatial network in the early morning hours. What is relevant to a consumer in an area is often dependent on the time they are there. For marketers, LBS applications offer new ways to tap into this relevancy.