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Leveraging the “Geo-Factor”: Using Mobile and Location Data to Drive Engagement

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
22 July 2014

The ecommerce market is fast and furious right now, and the companies succeeding in online sales are the ones that understand the importance of listening to digital consumers — tracking their behavior to learn exactly what they want to buy, when and where they want to buy it.

Amazon first proved the digital-listening principle when the company pioneered its content recommendation engine. Over the years, many progressive ecommerce sellers have followed suit, and with good reason: The future of digital marketing is about utter personalization — delivering relevant experiences to individual buyers, at the right time, in the right place, and on the device of their choice.

The World Has Gone Wireless

These days, “the device of their choice” increasingly means mobile. In January 2014, mobile Internet usage overtook PC usage for the first time ever, according to CNN. And eMarketer predicts that “mcommerce” — ecommerce on mobile — will be responsible for 20 percent of all retail ecommerce sales by the end of this year.

This opens up huge opportunities for strategic brands that optimize Web tools for ecommerce on-the-go — requiring mobile buyers to do less scrolling, searching, and clicking, and offering streamlined payment options. In fact, Apple and IBM just announced a partnership to help companies innovate on iOS devices with business-specific applications.

But there’s more to mobile than convenient Web buying. It’s no longer enough to track what consumers are doing online; now you to need know exactly where and when they’re doing it. I like to refer to this as the “geo-factor.”

Nielsen quoteAs Brett Relander notes for Entrepreneur, almost 70 percent of mobile consumers want businesses to be within five miles of their physical location. Smart retailers can use this information to boost in-store conversions with deals and information pushed to opted-in shoppers’ mobile devices when they are on-site.

Relander continues: “Barcode and QR-code readers on mobile can generate sales for bricks-and-clicks retailers. eBay’s mobile site lets you browse classified ads from the neighborhood you’re in.”

Tracking Down Your Mobile Customers

Getting mobile right requires a lot of data, which means marketers must have the tools in place to gather, analyze and make sense of all the digital breadcrumbs consumers leave for them to follow.

DestinationCRM lists three types of behavioral data that can help marketers track and listen to digital consumers:

  1. Public data — The footprints consumers and organizations leave as they post to their social channels, websites and blogs.
  2. Private data — The information businesses collect on their own customers through branded mobile apps and sensors.
  3. Brokered data — The information third-party providers collect — from Web cookies, physical-world foot traffic, etc. — and then resell.

Capturing this “brokered data” means putting the right tools and integrations into place, such as inserting Web tracking code on your website and connecting geofence location data into your central marketing automation platform. This location-specific data can then be used to deliver exactly the type of relevant, personalized content consumers are looking for. And this is the power of digital listening — taking the principles Amazon pioneered to a whole new level.

From a mobile and location data perspective, this might entail using a combination of geofence data, ZIP code information and check-in behaviors to trigger messages and serve up content on your website, in your emails, and via SMS and push notifications that reflects a customer’s in-store visits and physical mailing address – as well as other information in your database you’ve collected about that person.

Throughout the first half of 2014, my blog posts have focused on the importance of listening to customers. Now I’m shifting gears to talk about how you can use these listening skills and the data you’ve captured to deliver the kinds of relevant, personalized content that differentiates you from the competition, drives conversions and builds loyalty among existing customers.

Stay tuned, and keep sharing your own ideas and insights with me @TMcCormick2011.

Related Resources:

1) Video: “iBeacon and the Next Generation of Location-Based Marketing

2) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program

3) Blog: “2 Ideas for Customizing Content: Weather and Language Personalization


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