Location-based mobile marketing: the high street’s saviour?

With spending on the high street continuing to drop, retailers are asking themselves how to drive consumers back into brick-and-mortar stores. In the constantly connected mobile world, does the answer lie in location-based mobile marketing? John Barratt, product lead for 2ergo, discusses the opportunities of location-based technologies for retail brands.

The growth of online stores has changed consumer shopping behaviour – last year we spent £26.8bn through internet shopping. In the meantime, the proportion of purchases made on the high street has fallen from nearly 50 per cent in 2000 to 42.5 per cent in 2011. It’s expected to drop below 40 per cent by 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics. These statistics are sending many independent retailers, dependent on their bricks and mortar stores, into a blind panic. However, they shouldn’t view the growth of mobile commerce as a threat or danger to their business, but as a method for them to link on and offline messaging in a way that will appeal to the modern-day shopper. There are many ways in which retailers can do this, including exploiting location-based technologies to bring shoppers back to stores. According to Juniper Research, 1.5 billion people will be using location-based service by 2014 and 63 per cent of iPhone owners use location services at least once a week. This method enables brands to adapt marketing messages based on where consumers are located geographically. There are a number of different ways in which location-based marketing can be carried out by creating hyper-local content and connecting with customers. Checking in: geolocation and taggingThere are an array of social media platforms that enable users to tag their current location or upload photos from a specific place, including Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram. Recent statistics from the Mobile Marketing Association show that 26 per cent of mobile users regularly use a map that automatically determines their current location, while comScore states that 11 per cent of UK mobile phone owners use check-in services. This provides the perfect free advertising opportunity for retailers. By making sure that you are listed on the key check-in sites, such as Facebook and Foursquare, you’re enabling your customers to promote where they are and what they’re doing to all of their followers. Bear in mind that a large proportion of these people are likely to be located close to your store, and you potentially have a large captive audience. Modern-day advertisingLocation-based advertising has been around for years. Think back to the days when you used to browse your local newspaper for new store openings and relevant deals. Mobile banner advertising is the next step, enabling retailers to produce even more targeted messages, not just incorporating location but also tailored to a particular person’s age, sex and preferences. Retailers going down this route should make sure that they state the location of the user in the creative, as well as using mobile maps and carefully analysing campaign reports to tweak messages where necessary. Rather than waiting to see how a weekly or monthly newspaper advert performs, you can get instant feedback and act quickly. Push key messages via textSMS or text messaging is the backbone of mobile marketing. Consumers don’t even need a smartphone to access it – any phone make or model can receive and send a text, making it the perfect location-based communication tool. But it’s the evolution of text messages from SMS to in app messages that promises to bring retailers and consumers together like never before. Recent statistics released by O2 Media Ad Effectiveness show that location-based messages have driven a 50 per cent increase in footfall and 25 per cent increase in purchase. This is probably because they deliver personalised marketing into shoppers’ hands as they move in close proximity to bricks and mortar stores. Consumers are able to take advantage of offers and experiences that are relevant, local and immediately redeemable – no printing or searching on the internet is required. Retailers who are interested in location-based messaging need to build up a database of opt-in consumers prior to any campaign and personalise all messages, such as special discount or last minute offers on tickets to build customer loyalty. They should also think about their objectives, whether it be to increase footfall, promote a specific product, to target consumers by demographic and time of day or to acquire new or target existing customers. Apps to bring bricks and mortar to lifeMost brands have moved on from wanting an “app for apps sake” and are now putting much more thought into how they can use them to find new ways for consumers to engage with their products. High street retailers can combine apps with product in-store to improve customer experience. For example, fashion brands could encourage consumers to swipe a barcode for product information and an interactive video/ fashion show of the product being worn. Food outlets can help to drive repeat sales by using apps to streamline the order process, by remembering customer orders or directing people to the nearest store. Larger retailers have often already incorporated various services into their apps. For example, Argos allows you to find your nearest store, check local stock and reserve items to pick up. Whether you choose to use one or a combination of these location-based marketing tools, the most important thing to remember is to personalise and tailor your messages to suit individual customers. We’ve all fallen victim to the generalised messages offering us huge insurance payouts for accidents we have been in and know how annoying it can be, especially to receive it on such a personal device. By taking time to develop relevant messages and offers, you’ll have the best chance of developing a loyal, connected customer base.Maps image via Shutterstock

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