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.

Defining Your Purpose: 4 Ways to Optimize Purpose-Driven Marketing

Ultimately, ensuring the success of purpose-driven campaigns comes down to building meaningful connections using all the technology, data, and creativity at one’s disposal to reach the elusive double bottom line. Here are four tips that can help marketers tap into data and technology to optimize their purpose-driven campaigns:

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.

November Focus: The Holiday Blitz is Here

This year’s holiday shopping season is not new (by definition), but there will be salient differences and revelations this season. The past year has seen lots of retail innovation as the industry looks to counteract the cautionary tales of late-adopting counterparts in the “retailpocolypse” graveyard.

It’s those innovations and integrations that will be exposed when put to the stress test of the holiday shopping blitz. After reading and writing about them in the pages of Street Fight all year, we’ll now get a look at how a lot of these implementations perform (good or bad) with greater shopping scale.

Now More than Ever, Local Strategy Differs by Vertical

The putative benefits of competing in vertically oriented channels come at a greater cost than was the case when GMB provided a unitary platform for all industries. Simply put, Google is serving the specialized needs of price-conscious travelers or those who want greater assurances when hiring a service professional, and in so doing, the company is creating additional channels to generate revenue through ads. More and more businesses will have to get used to spending their way toward greater exposure to their desired audiences — which is only odd in light of the fact that so much of local marketing has historically been organic in nature.

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.

Retail as a Service: Amazon Tips its Hand

Amazon has a knack for moving into new vertical segments and then applying its logistical mastery and economies of scale to carve out margins and undercut incumbents. Then, it doubles down by scaling things up to its signature high-volume/low-margin approach. As Jeff Bezos ruthlessly admits, “Your margin is my opportunity.”

The latest place for this to unfold is retail. No, we’re not talking about Whole Foods, though that’s part it (more on that in a bit). We’re talking about Amazon’s transformation of the in-store experience — upending and streamlining logistics just like it’s done in shipping and cloud computing.

Here are some predictions for how Amazon’s disruption of retail via licensing of its Go technology will upend the industry.

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.

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.

October Focus: Is Local Commerce Vertically Challenged?

We often refer to the many facets of local advertising, media, and commerce as simply ‘local.’ But it’s a bit of a misnomer because the local commerce universe is really made up of several galaxies.

That includes various products that help local businesses, both SMBs and multi-location brands, acquire and keep customers. It’s everything from SEO to listings management to point-of-sale systems. Beyond product function, there’s also vertical segmentation, which encompasses diverse industries from pizza shops to plumbers.

This will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of October. You may have realized we’ve been assigning themes to each month — September being about mapping, August about the connected car, and so on. These are all tentpole issues in local media, advertising, and commerce.

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.

Google Maps: The Under-Appreciated Discovery Channel

Blumenthal: Google Maps is/has become the primary discovery tool in many categories. That is a significant shift of which agencies and owners need to be aware.

Mihm: Yep. I’m not sure I would even have had our ThriveHive data science team look for this data point specifically had you not tipped me off. But sure enough, across our dataset of nearly 20,000 GMB Profiles, we found that Maps impressions outweigh Search impressions by nearly 3:1 (72% to 28% over the last 18 months).

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?

Channels Are the New Citations

Enter Phase Three. As my column’s title suggests, I would argue that the old concept of citation building has largely lost its relevance, and that thinking of the local network as a system of channels — parallel, somewhat independent sources of consumer traffic — is a more appropriate paradigm for where we are now. 

In all, there are approximately 10 independent sites and site categories that together make up the primary channels where any business should be well represented in order to be competitive.

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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.

Is Visual Mapping the Next Google-Apple Battleground?

As Google and Apple lead the way, we are getting closer to ubiquitous visual mapping. If that happens, there will be significant implications for entities that currently use search and mapping for marketing or online presence. They’ll need to make sure they are optimized in this new format.

This could lead to an extension of SEO to cultivate presence in visual experiences. Just like in search, correct business location and details will need to be optimized to show up in the right places. You don’t want the AR overlay for your restaurant floating above the salon next door.