Why Mobile Marketing Needs to Evolve Past Physical Location

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mobile phone userWhile walking through Manhattan last week, I was bombarded by mobile push notifications from national retailers as I walked by their stores. By the fourth text within as many blocks, I was thoroughly annoyed — so those ads were actually having the opposite effect than intended.

The truth is, in order for location targeting to be effective, marketers must think beyond just physical location or proximity to their store. It requires a holistic understanding of how your target consumer uses mobile on their path to purchase. It means moving beyond the traditional mindset of “Who” you are trying to reach to include “Where are they?” “What are they doing? “What are their interests?” or even “What might their intentions be?” based on past behavior. Once those questions are asked and answered, the marketer’s job is to deliver information that entices, delights or fulfills a need for your product or service.  Here are three key steps that will get you there.

Step 1. Respect the power of mobile
For starters, respect the personal nature of the mobile device and realize that for many it’s a lifeline to the world. In addition to containing extremely personal information about where they’ve been, both physically and electronically, it also enables them to fulfill many basic wants and needs such as depositing a check or checking-in for a flight.  The intensely personal nature of mobile devices elevates consumer expectations about what type of ads they are served and how those ads are delivered.

study just released by Microsoft and IPG Mediabrands found that 55% of global online consumers expect technology to deliver surprising experiences that are uniquely tailored and “feel like coincidences.”  They expect personalized communications based on an in-depth knowledge of their likes, dislikes and behavior patterns, but they hate advertising that is annoying and distracting. Advertisers need to be able to deliver accurate, personalized content from “on demand” shoppers who are ready to buy, but also effectively deliver subtle, inconspicuous targeted messages based on the user’s interest. For example, on my walk through Manhattan I would have been delighted if one of those push notifications was from my bank, telling me the location of the nearest ATM or branch or better yet, how about a coupon from a convenience store chain I’ve frequented near home?

Step 2. Location Plus Context
Next, think about location as a powerful indicator of lifestyle — informing marketers about where people live, work, shop, and spend their free time. Thanks to the 74% of adults who have used their phone for information based on their location or shared personal information in exchange for free content, it is now possible to build robust user profiles at the device level and even target down to the shelf level within a store.

Bringing context to location based on user profiles, also enables advertisers to begin predicting what consumers are doing, or intend to do. For example, on each of my recent trips to New York City, I’ve taken the train from Grand Central Station to Darien, CT after spending a day in the city. A savvy marketer who predicted this trip and sponsored a text about the time and track of the next train as I approached the station would have earned a huge amount of goodwill from me. It’s all about delivering the right information to the right person at the right time.

Step 3. Make it Actionable
Finally, recognize that smartphone customers are on-the-go, so advertising must be immediately actionable. According to Google, 73% of mobile searches result in actions or conversions and 55% of those actions occur within 1 hour of seeing an ad. In addition, a clear ‘click and call’ phone number can increase conversions 6 – 12%.  With this in mind, make it easy for consumers to take action, whether it is a click, a call, a store visit, an appointment, a reservation or a web visit.

With location-targeted mobile ad revenues predicted to grow from $2.9B in 2013 to $10.8B in 2017, both advertisers and agencies have a powerful incentive to get it right. Understanding that mobile devices are intensely personal, that location is more than just geography and that advertising should be highly actionable, will give you a good start.

Deborah LanceDeborah Lance is EVP/Managing Director of Wahlstrom, where she is responsible for delivering Data-Driven Marketing Solutions with a local point-of-view.  By combining creative passion, strategic and technological insight, a belief in the power of partnerships, and a love for great ideas, Debbie helps drive client’s business further by delivering measureable results.