Location-based marketing can deepen your relationships with your customers by offering them personalized, relevant experiences. It can also drive revenue and increase your operational efficiency.

Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and an array of location-based technologies — from Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Wi-Fi to Near Field Communication (NFC) and beacon technology — it’s easier than ever to reach your customers with the “right” offer at the “right” time.

Location-Based Marketing Challenges

According to recent research from Forrester (registration required):

“Intelligence derived from data based on consumers’ location not only helps drive them to stores and other physical locations but also provides in-depth, often-overlooked insights that help advertisers discover consumer attitudes and behaviors. These insights enable organizations to deliver the mobile moments needed to win, serve, and retain digitally empowered customers.”

But many marketers remain wary about embracing the potential of location-based marketing, the research found. They believe getting accurate location data is too complicated, even while acknowledging it increases ad relevancy and drives consumers in-store.

  1. More than nine in 10 (94 percent) marketers are struggling with location data. The challenges range from inaccurate location data to lack of knowledge about third-party data providers.
  2. A lack of deep consumer understanding plagues more than one-third of respondents: 38 percent have difficulty contextualizing historical insights about consumers and 37 percent can’t target customers granularly.

Forrester surveyed 203 senior marketers in March 2017 for a report commissioned by mobile marketing platform Verve.

Location Data Basics

Location-based marketing is the intersection of people, places, and media.

Location is most meaningful in relation to other events, people, and things. The key is to use location-derived behavioral data (where your customers shop, when, and for what) in tandem with other data to help establish the best time to serve ads based on interest. “Taking all data into consideration ensures that you gather the right location data, reap the most benefits from it, and ground the insights you derive in a larger strategy,” the report notes.

To put location in context, learn to listen.

Knowing the physical location of your customers is helpful. But knowing the related conversation is even better. Consider using a technology that offers you the ability to listen to the social/location conversation by combining sentiment data from Twitter and other services with the location data.

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Your location-based marketing is only as good as the data it uses.

The quality of location data varies widely, differing in accuracy, scale, and access. So ask questions: Know the source of the data you plan to use, the Forrester report suggests. Is it from a first-party SDK, a publisher, and/or a beacon? How accurate is the data and how is it validated? What types of location tracking are available for gathering historical insights, cross-device tracking, measurement, and attribution?

Personalize location-based experiences.

Do more than provide your customers with a location-based discount. Segment your marketing to emphasize customer service and unique engagements. Give your most loyal or frequent customers a more thoughtful deal than a one-time visitor.

Build your brand experience with creative location-based offers.

Think about opportunities beyond a discount on a product or a service. Instead, reward your customers with personalized creative offerings, like an invitation to a unique experience or the chance to download music while they wait in an unusually long line. Think about what you have to offer that won’t erode your margins, but will still be something the customer wants and will associate with a positive customer experience.

Noreen Seebacher is the content evangelist at Arke, where she researches, writes and continues her long career in news reporting as a brand journalist. Noreen lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with her husband, her dog and four formerly homeless cats.