Social Media Week Los Angeles continues this week, as tech-savvy professionals gather in one of the most famous locations in the world – Hollywood, Calif. On Tuesday, it was this location where Shoutlet and an all-star panel gathered to discuss where location-based marketing is headed.
Going SoLo: How Brands Are Driving Sales & Personalizing Customer Experiences with Social, Location-Based Marketing, included Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver, Forrester’s Nate Elliott, and the President of the Location-Based Marketing Association Asif Khan, with Movember Digital Strategist Kory Klem as moderator.
During the discussion, the panelists agreed that location-based marketing is opening up new possibilities for more relevant, creative marketing campaigns, but that there are still hurdles. For companies, these include successfully integrating location-based technologies into larger-scale campaigns and moving past simple couponing. For consumers and brands, there is a level of concern about privacy that will need to be addressed as location-based technologies advance and see higher adoption rates.
To set up the conversation, Khan offered this diagram to illustrate the reach of location-based technologies into the marketing spectrum. It goes beyond mobile marketing, he said, and encompasses everything from traditional media to mobile payments.
This technology is just beginning to be harnessed by brands. Among some advanced applications of location-based integrations:
- Technology currently being tested in the UK that automatically tracks in-store flow patterns and can also determine whether visitors are men or women.
- American Express’ partnership with Foursquare, where AmEx users can sync accounts and automatically get discounts.
- VH1 social outreach to people who check in at specific locations.
- Virgin America’s use of location-based features in a campaign to promote new routes to Mexico. People who checked into specific taco trucks were able to receive a discount on Virgin America flights to Mexico.
- StarHub’s groundbreaking campaign that fixed RFID tags to clothing. When specific items of clothing were brought into dressing rooms, different genres of music played, highlighting the idea that fashion and music both allow consumers express themselves. Watch a video case study here.
- KLM airlines Meet & Seat lets passengers use social tools to choose which fellow flyers to sit near on flights.
- KLM also brought personalized experiences to travelers. A team at the airport watched for check-ins, researched the interests of flyers based on their social network data, and brought them personalized gifts at the airport, such as a bottle of wine.
- A campaign where an album, served through an app, would only play if listeners were physically in Central Park.
Companies are starting to do some exciting things in location-based, but the majority of brands are still in the beginning stages, Elliott said. Many are still hovering in the bottom left box below.
As companies’ efforts mature, location-based features should become invisible, as we saw in the example of fitting room music from StarHub, Elliott said. Right now, standalone tools are generally being used, and the ultimate goal is more than to integrate in to a larger program. Eventually, the technology itself will evolve to where it is fully seamless, Weaver said, and customer wouldn’t even have to remember to check-in or take action. “Technology should never get in your way,” he said.
Among the challenges is the reliance on couponing and giveaways. The case study metrics that exist today for location-based services revolve around redemptions, and “we have got to get past that,” Elliott said. This will not only help brand campaigns evolve, but it will help steer users toward using location-based services without the promise of a discount. As the technology advances, the questions of privacy also grow. How to combat this? Make the action worthwhile. Value has to be exchanged to encourage people to share their whereabouts. People will become more open to sharing if the tools are used well, Elliot said.
In the case of KLM’s personalized gifting: “It’s not about couponing, it’s about brand,” Khan said. “It’s about creating experiences.”
Marketing for geo-social is a value exchange – it’s about utility, value, and relevance. #smwlashoutlet
— Renée Radia (@HotelMktgROI) September 25, 2012
For brands, the location-based future is bright, if they are willing to expend the effort to make it so. It takes equal parts creativity and technology for companies, Weaver said. “The use of technology doesn’t make you a clever marketer.” With companies spending sizeable dollars on Facebook and Twitter, it’s important that if they have products for sales in any location, they start connected location-based to their efforts, said Khan. The people who have self-identified as liking your brand on social networks need the opportunity to also learn where they can access your products. “99.9% of companies have not connected these two,” he said.
At the very least, companies should verify their social presences on location-based networks as a first step, Elliott said. He also recommended keeping the audience segments you’re pursuing in mind as you’re planning out your strategy in this area. With 75% of people taking action after seeing location-based messaging, the potential is there for results.