Location Data Management 101: Seeing the Bigger Picture

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I recently met with a client who challenged me with a great question: how can anyone stay on top of all the terminology that proliferates in location marketing? The client gave as an example the confusion that exists between the terms data syndication, listing management, presence management and location data management.

I get the problem. We live in a fast-changing industry with constantly evolving technologies and business practices that are often dictated by movers and shakers such as Apple and Google. With change comes new terminology, which marketers need to understand in order to adapt. Location data management is no exception. Businesses that understand why location data management has eclipsed data syndication and listing management are going to leapfrog ahead those that don’t.

Here’s the distinction you need to know:

Listing management and data syndication are tactics. Location data management is a holistic strategy for treating data as a scale-able asset that creates a foundation for contextual content. The combination of location data and contextual content creates customers at scale.

Traditionally, listing management has focused on organizing and keeping accurate location data such as your name, address, and phone (NAP) — and then distributing, or syndicating, that data across a limited number of directories. So think of data syndication as a component of listing management — the distributing of location data after you’ve organized and made it accurate to your liking.

Some listing management solutions in the market rely on a paid inclusion model that focuses on buying data placements for your locations on marginal directories that earn little traffic. In actuality these approaches don’t create new traffic. They only give you some CPM-type of reporting on traffic that your brand already garnered naturally in organic results.

Many brands make the mistake of viewing location data as nothing more than plumbing for their local listings — or a component of a listing management strategy. But location data management is much bigger than listing management and data syndication.

Location data management means the ongoing management, publication, and verification of your location data to support contextual content. Your location data is your true beacon, not the devices you place in stores. It’s the item in the various search indices that indicates your business is the answer when your customers are making rich queries with location as a context.

Location data management goes beyond listing management to make your location data actionable and accessible across the entire discovery ecosystem — including search engines, maps, apps, operating systems, GPS, wearables, and more importantly in emerging technologies like self driving cars or anywhere search functionality emerges.

As a result of this owned and earned approach to location data distribution, your brand becomes more visible because your business data becomes more open and accessible to the data amplifiers who are in a position to help customers find your business. A business that adopts a location data management strategy of managing, distributing, and monitoring location data:

  • Ensures that its data is accurate and accessible — not only on listings but everywhere people encounter its brand.
  • Distributes its data across the entire ecosystems where “near me” moments of interest occur, by sharing data with data amplifiers, a term I use to describe to data aggregators such as Neustar Localeze and publishers such as Google.
  • Monitors the health of its location data constantly.
  • Uses location data with contextual content — such as a mobile wallet offer — to not only attract foot traffic but also convert visitors to customers.

The relationship between location data and contextual content is crucial. Brands can create contextual content in many ways, such as a retailer reminding repeat customers to redeem loyalty points as the shoppers are near or inside a store. Accurate location data ensures that a consumer has a seamless experience finding the business; a contextually relevant offer accelerates the journey from search to purchase. But you cannot have contextual experiences without a strong foundation of location data.

When you use a local marketing automation platform to scale contextually relevant content and location data across multiple locations, you scale the benefits, too. A mobile wallet offer multiplied across hundreds and thousands of locations can engage customers at scale, not simply in one place. When location data is combined with customer data — such as demographic profiles — as well as other contextual data (such as weather conditions) the results can be further amplified.

I’m not arguing that brands should ignore listing management or data syndication. But I do believe strongly that those two tactics need to be viewed in context of something much bigger: location data management. What does your location management strategy look like?

Gib OlanderGib Olander is vice president of product at Chicago-based SIM Partners.