5 Innovative Ways to Use AR in Holiday Marketing

A technology that was once considered to be on the fringes of digital marketing has moved into the mainstream, as retailers around the country find new ways to use AR in their 2019 holiday campaigns. From virtual try-ons to camera filters designed to drive people into physical store locations, there’s no limit to the number of ways creative marketers can use AR. Enterprising retailers are capitalizing on the momentum as they come up with smarter ways to help shoppers contextually visualize what products will look like on their bodies and in their homes.

Let’s take a look at how five major companies are using AR for holiday marketing this year.

6 Trends to Watch in Holiday Search Marketing

With fewer than two months to go until Christmas, retailers are already kicking their holiday search marketing tactics into high gear. Holiday sales this year are expected to increase roughly 4% over 2018, according to the National Retail Federation, and consumers are expected to be especially price-conscious. How will the retail industry respond to the changing dynamics in search marketing?

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends expected to influence holiday search marketing this year, from tactics for extending the local reach of holiday campaigns and how those tactics convert customers at the point of decision to newer products like Local Inventory Ads, which allows marketers to feed store-level inventory into Google search.

In Fitness Industry, Vertical Platforms Cater to Specialized Operations

Online appointment booking platforms are a dime a dozen, used by businesses in a huge range of industries. But among fitness businesses, specifically, general use booking platforms aren’t very common. That’s because fitness businesses are more likely to use vertical-specific tools designed to meet the needs of specialized operations.

Perhaps more so than any other industry, health and wellness has shown a great desire for verticalized technology solutions. Although verticalization isn’t limited to the health and wellness industry, fitness studios and related businesses are much more likely to use technology platforms designed specifically for their industry.

The Vertical Approach to Grocery Marketing

More than just a niche market inside the retail vertical, grocery marketing has grown to become an industry unto itself. According to eMarketer, grocery is the “least penetrated but fastest-growing category” in e-commerce. Explosive growth, fueled in part by the rising popularity of online grocers and on-demand delivery services, like Instacart, that deliver goods from brick-and-mortar stores, is behind the prediction that the grocery retail market will reach $12.24 trillion globally by 2020.

CPG brands and supermarket chains have been quick to adopt vertical-specific marketing platforms and tools. Although there are plenty of local retail marketing solutions that could be adaptable to the grocery industry, the supermarket itself is a unique environment and that makes verticalized solutions even more desirable in this arena.

6 Marketing Automation Solutions for Cannabis Businesses

The cannabis vertical is filled with dispensaries, laboratories, growers, manufacturers, and on-demand delivery services. More broadly speaking, the industry is comprised of plant-touching businesses (growers, processors, dispensaries) and ancillary businesses (delivery apps, payment processors, technology solutions). What businesses in both of these categories rely on is marketing to attract and retain customers, which helps to explain why the number of marketing automation solutions for cannabis businesses is growing so quickly.

Here are six examples of marketing automation platforms aimed at the cannabis industry.

To Meet Consumer Demands, Automotive Marketing Goes Vertical

While customer feedback is coming in from every direction, the automotive industry has done a better job of funneling reviews into vertical-specific platforms than some other industries. Large auto retailers like AutoNation are making major data stack investments, while others are working to improve their online ratings and reviews by engaging more frequently on sites like Facebook and Yelp as well as on automotive-specific platforms like Cars.com and Edmunds.

How Can Brands Capitalize on Google’s Latest Ads Update?

Almost a month has passed since Google officially killed its ‘average position’ metric. The metric was retired on September 30, and marketers using Google Ads have been encouraged to transition to using ‘prominence metrics’—made up of the search top impression rate and search absolute top impression rate—instead. Google’s announcement was designed to give brands the opportunity to update their strategies before the average position metric was axed to hopefully make the transition a seamless process.

To understand how that transition is actually working in the real world, and how brands are adapting to the change from one metric to another, we connected with Walker Sands Digital’s Ryan Sorrell. A digital marketing expert with experience deploying competitive content analysis for B2B clients, Sorrell shared his thoughts on how Google’s decision to axe the average position metric will impact brands going forward and which new opportunities are at play as Google shifts its sights toward automated bidding strategies.

Olo Deal Helps Restaurants Access Traffic From Google’s Platforms

Ninety percent of consumers research restaurants online before dining—more than any other business type—and the vast majority of those web searches start on Google. The search giant plays an important role in the success of restaurant marketing online, making it a desirable partner for any digital platform serving the restaurant industry.

Partnering with Google often means increased search traffic and a strengthened position within the restaurant vertical, which helps to explain the enthusiasm coming from Olo’s recent announcement that it will be working with Google to allow its restaurant partners to receive orders directly from Google Search, Maps, and Google Assistant.

6 Scheduling Platforms for Fitness Studios

One of the most exciting verticals right now is the fitness space, where the number of boutique gyms and studios is on the rise. Scheduling software has become an absolute necessity for fitness studios, giving clients a way to quickly book classes, pay for memberships, and even check in from their smartphones.

Here are six scheduling platforms serving the fitness vertical.

Direct-to-Consumer Brands Are Winning at Personalized Messaging. Here’s Why

According to new research conducted by Braze, a company that specializes in growth marketing automation, direct-to-consumer brands beat non-direct-to-consumer brands with 58.6% higher messaging open rates across channels.

One reason for the higher open rates is because direct-to-consumer brands show greater willingness to use automation and iteration to personalize messages and speak to customers at a point in the journey when it makes sense for them.

7 Loyalty Platforms for Restaurants

One area where restaurants have particularly specific needs is in promoting customer loyalty. Vertical-specific loyalty platforms for restaurants tend to have features and capabilities that more generalized loyalty platforms do not. For example, many loyalty platforms for restaurants are tied to reservation systems, so waiters know customers’ preferences before seating them at their tables.

Although the number of loyalty platforms for restaurants is growing every day, we’ve put together a list of seven important players that anyone who is interested in this space should be following.

These Retailers Are Using Mapping Tech to Change the Shopping Experience

Over the past few years, a number of national retailers have added mapping technology into their mobile apps. Even more retailers have given store associates handheld devices with integrated indoor location features, putting the answers to frequently asked questions—like where products are located and how to get to certain store departments—at their fingertips.

Even though location and mapping technology is embedded into many consumer-facing shopping apps, and it’s used by retailers to fuel both their marketing initiatives and back-end operations, publicly explained use cases from retail brands are rare. Here are five examples of how retailers are applying the technology and using mapping to fundamentally change the in-store shopping experience.

What Comes Next for Indoor Navigation? Enterprise Success, SMB Struggles

Gimbal COO and CMO Matthew Russo says that at scale, indoor location technology is advanced enough that it works incredibly well. Russo says that at Gimbal, he has worked with major brand clients who are able to understand when a VIP walks into their lobby. They also know if the customer has waited too long at a check-in line, and they’re able to present customers with special offers or keyless check-ins at their rooms.

“But if you’re a pizzeria owner with a single storefront looking to send a push notification to people walking by, you probably won’t see the results you’re hoping for,” Russo says.

Could those scaling issues be holding back the indoor navigation industry, and if so, what’s the solution?

Strategy for Bolstering Brand Safety Online Combines AI, Human Linguists

Despite promises that they would do better, platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and others are still struggling with the issue. Brands don’t want their ads appearing alongside extremist content and hate speech, but flagging every piece of content that could be considered inappropriate is not an easy task.

The challenge has opened the door for a new industry of “authenticators,” which use technology to help brands avoid inappropriate content online. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, these technology providers are usually able to evaluate the quality of an ad impression in real-time and help their brand clients avoid anything that could be considered inappropriate. Or at least, that’s what the goal is.

5 Privacy-Focused Mapping Solutions

Mainstream navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze seem to dominate the marketplace, but consumers who are interested in maintaining as much online privacy as possible have options to choose from, too.

Innovative mapping and navigation companies are launching new platforms with user privacy in mind. Framing themselves as the “private” alternative to general use navigation apps, these platforms collect minimal personal data from users and often work without tracking user locations.

Here are five examples of privacy-focused mapping platforms.

retail store

How Retailers Use AI, Mapping to Boost ROI on Store Remodels

Walmart, Walgreens, and Sephora are all using artificial intelligence technology to improve the retail experience. While the majority of use cases for AI in retail have focused on enhancing the shopping experience for customers, forward-thinking analytics firms are innovating and developing new uses for their existing AI technology.

The analytics firm Fractal Analytics is pushing forward in the retail space with its own solution that relies on AI to forecast the cost of retail store remodels, as well as determine the ROI from large-scale renovation projects. Although Fractal works solely with Fortune 500 companies, the solutions it is developing could be adopted more broadly throughout the retail space.

5 Cannabis Payroll Platforms

Growers, dispensaries, and other businesses that operate in the legal cannabis industry are caught between federal and state regulations, which make banking and payroll a challenge. Despite marijuana being legal in many states, cannabis businesses are still on shaky ground at the federal level, and banks in particular are skittish about partnering with the industry. Without solid banking partners, local cannabis businesses can have trouble keeping up on payroll. So what’s the solution?

Rather than waiting for Congress to make a decision on potential regulations that would shield banks from federal punishment for maintaining accounts for cannabis businesses, more dispensaries and growers are moving toward using web-based cannabis payroll platforms designed specifically for their industry.

Gimbal Innovates to Track Consumer Trends in the Physical World

For years, marketers have used Google Trends to uncover insights based on search data. Now, executives at the advertising and marketing automation platform Gimbal are hoping their newest product will serve the same purpose for the physical world.

Built on top of an independent location data set, Gimbal Trends has been designed to provide marketers with a comprehensive view of consumer behavior in the real world. The product was released this morning, and already Gimbal is seeing interest from companies in the entertainment industry that are interested in leveraging the data to optimize their decision-making processes about upcoming events.

7 Indoor Mapping Platforms for Retailers

More than half of shoppers (57%) have used a retailer’s mobile app while in-store. In order for their apps to provide the greatest amount of value, retailers need to tap in to location features, including indoor mapping. When Street Fight first wrote about indoor mapping tools back in 2013, the technology was still relatively young. Now, the market has had time to mature and retailers looking at integrating indoor mapping technology into their mobile apps have an even wider array of vendors to choose from.

Here are seven companies with indoor mapping solutions for retailers.

6 Recruiting Platforms for the Marijuana Industry

Cannabis startups are struggling to recruit job candidates who understand the cannabis market, which is opening the door to an entirely new vertical for technology firms with recruitment platforms. With the market itself still in its infancy, a handful of key players are vying to become the go-to recruiting sources for the cannabis industry as they work to match employers with job seekers who understand the state-by-state rules and regulations that govern the marijuana market.