Yext Gets in the Customer Engagement Xone

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Fast-growing Yext, which continues to add senior-level executives at an impressive clip, is also broadening its suite of location-based targeting products with the launch this week of Xone (pronounced “zone”), a beacon-based program for businesses to engage in-store consumers with relevant content. Xone’s central feature is Tips, which enables businesses to customize and deliver messages to smartphone users who pass within range of an in-store Xone Beacon.

Yext co-founder and CEO Howard Lerman

In a blog post, Yext co-founder and CEO Howard Lerman said his company sees “stores struggle to engage in-store consumers who don’t have their apps installed.” With Xone, local businesses can communicate with and provide actual utility to in-store visitors without compelling them to first download an app, something many consumers may regard as an unnecessarily cumbersome step.

Yext cited examples of a number of different types of information business can deliver with Xone. These range from Wi-Fi codes and new product information to standard-issue sales promotions to incentives to download a brand’s app or become a social media fan or follower. Yext CMO Jeffrey K. Rohrs signaled the longer-range engagement potential of Xone Tips, adding they can help brands “build audiences for their own apps, owned content, and social media communications.”

Clearly, though, Yext is thinking about ways participating businesses can go beyond using mobile and beacons simply as a distribution channel for coupons. In fact, a sequenced content delivery approach that starts with Wi-Fi codes and progresses to new product information and sales promotions could be very effective at engaging consumers because it would give them need-t0-have information first, then facilitate deeper exploration of the brand, offers, and promotions. Think of it as a tool for businesses to facilitate discovery and exploration among their customers, essentially extending their digital pre-shopping activities to the physical store.

In a recent Street Fight interview, Estimote co-founder Steve Cheney pointed to the role beacons can play in making the shopping process more efficient for consumers, in part by making the physical world more easily navigable. Yext’s announcement seems to fit within that framework.

Cheney also noted the online-to-offline attribution benefits beacons can bring. It’s likewise possible to see how Xone could help businesses not only track in-the-moment engagement but also cultivate audiences that could later yield online or in-store purchases.

The Xone program is aimed at any business with brick-and-mortar locations, although one can imagine Xone Tips being particularly useful for retailers and quick-service restaurants in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls and urban centers that really speak to the power of place. As Lerman put it, brick-and-mortar should be where brands “have the greatest home field advantage.”

Noah Elkin is Street Fight’s managing editor.