Why location data matters – even if you’re not a retailer

When people think of geomarketing — the integration of geographical intelligence into different aspects of marketing, like sales or distribution — they usually think of retailers. B2C companies can certainly target customers much more effectively when they know where those customers are. But location-based data can be used by any company, including those targeting businesses. Geomarketing can be used to book meetings, expand a company’s reach, or even find the best market.

Geomarketing opens up possibilities for B2B companies beyond a mere regional head count. Because of improvements in marketing technology, it’s now possible to track multiple geolocations at once, all while gathering rich data. And the data isn’t just relevant at that point in time, as it is with retail. B2B businesses can use this data to track the entire customer journey. With that level of tracking, businesses can begin to understand how ads drive store traffic and ultimately purchases.

Geomarketing and the silk route

Here’s a little-known secret: geomarketing isn’t new. It’s been around since merchants traveled the Silk Route from China to Europe.

Consider that the Silk Route ran through many different empires, kingdoms, and cities. Each locale was unique, and residents wanted different goods from the Far East. Therefore, Silk Route merchants became the first geomarketers, catering their offerings to each individual location.

With the growth in today’s digital economy, location has become even more critical. As we move away from physical stores and have fewer in-person touchpoints, it’s vital for businesses to understand all nuances in terms of neighborhood, culture, and customer journey. Every buyer is now a digital buyer.

“Geobased marketing provides contextual relevance for both marketers and sellers, but even more important is the use of location data to drive customer experience,” states Cindy Zhou, a B2B marketing professional at Constellation Research. A lack of personal proximity has led to a lack of intimate feedback — that’s why the data from location-based technology is so important.

Think back to when people had to deposit their physical paychecks at the physical bank every week or two. It was easy to build trust and understand the customer’s needs. Now, people rarely visit actual banks, opting to use an app instead. As businesses looking to leverage geomarketing, we have two challenges: accessing that data regularly enough to create the personalized experience customers are looking for and doing it in a way that protects privacy and utilizes the best cybersecurity.

According to a new Carnegie Mellon University study, mobile apps check a customer’s location more than 5,000 times every two weeks. That’s more that 350 times a day! That kind of frequency allows businesses to meet customers right where they are, and advances in blockchain technology will continue to improve privacy and security offerings.

Geomarketing: Beyond retail

Where would Uber and Airbnb be without geolocation? What about social media, which keeps tabs on user location via tags and other data? Can you imagine any of these 21st-century businesses without geodata?

Diana Wertz, a digital marketing expert at L2, puts it simply: “Geomarketing gives businesses more control over sales and customers — they can integrate their app or website with Uber to drive customers to the nearest store (as Cole Haan does), or they can list inventory levels and availability at local stores in real time to drive shoppers to the store. Geomarketing better enables businesses to get customers from wherever they are to stores, events, or other locations that might benefit the business.”

As we continue to improve the technology, it will become imperative for businesses of all kinds to figure out how to optimize it. Think about tourism, which is expected to grow to a $2.6 trillion market in the United States by 2027. That kind of growth is ripe for geomarketing.

If you’re a city like Nashville, your goal is to attract as many tourists as possible. Location data will help you understand foot traffic, ride-sharing data, and other important metrics. Over time, you will begin to understand why travelers choose Nashville over, say, Atlanta or Indianapolis. As a growing city, this kind of geomarketing and location data will help you increase your appeal.

“Another non-retail example I use is sports arenas,” Zhou says. “Geomarketing can look at concentrations of crowds at concession stands, restrooms, etc. and direct customers to other locations with less wait time. Not only is it providing the customer a valuable service, but it can offer concessions in more remote corners of the venue increased foot traffic and an opportunity to push offers.

“Specific to B2B marketing, geomarketing for events to notify attendees of sessions that match their persona or reminders to visit a booth for giveaways is another customer experience and marketing one-two punch.”

That’s just a handful of examples. Consider how knowing where your customers are will help you literally meet them there.

Engagement is the most challenging obstacle for businesses — and also the biggest opportunity for marketers. Utilizing location data will allow businesses to uncover insights about their customers that will more closely mimic real-life data. Like those original geomarketers on the Silk Route, we will be able to build trust and provide exactly what customers want — exactly when they want it.

– by Gurvinder Sahni

Rewarding loyalty is a must for online retailers and brands

Last year’s Black Friday data shows quite clearly just how important eCommerce has become to consumers.  While high street footfall dropped, online purchasing soared, but retailers and brands cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Recent research that MetaPack carried out amongst over 3500 consumers in the UK, US and Europe illustrates sharply that shopper power determines the strategic decision-making for eCommerce retailers and nowhere more so than in the delivery choices that they offer.

To keep customers loyal, retailers need to stay on their toes.

We asked our cohort of research respondents how likely a positive delivery experience would be to encourage them to shop with that retailer again, and in the UK a massive 84% said very or somewhat likely.

Of course, the flip side to that is when a delivery goes wrong – in fact, over a quarter (29%) of Brits said they would never shop again with an online merchant following a negative delivery experience. When it comes to winning and keeping customers, delivery has the power to make or break the online shopping experience.

Loyalty benefits

Amazon, which knows a thing or two about marketing to its customer base and keeping it happy, has set much store by listening closely to what shoppers want and creating competitive advantage. Prime, its loyalty programme, now offers many benefits to members, but what it is best known for is free, one- or two-day delivery on most items that it sells on its marketplace.

Amazon understood early on that customers will have no compunction in abandoning an online shopping basket if the delivery choices on offer are unsatisfactory, and instead of taking that risk, it promised to provide a high standard of delivery choices and enfolded its shoppers into a long-term, highly beneficial commitment in return.

This works well with consumers who value personalisation and individualism and want their loyalty to be recognised and rewarded. In the UK, 69% of our survey respondents said that they would like the eCommerce websites they use regularly to offer a delivery loyalty program, with their loyalty rewarded by free or quick delivery. Looking at the total number of respondents, 86% said they would even prioritise shopping with that retailer.

So, it’s not surprising that other online merchants are following in Amazon’s footsteps and introducing loyalty schemes that customers are prepared to pay for. Typically, however, today’s savvy shopper is fully aware of how best to make this work for them. Over a quarter (27%) of shoppers from our survey already belong to at least one programme – a further 22% subscribe to two or more schemes. The younger they are, the more likely to be taking advantage, with 68% of millennial shoppers utilising up to seven delivery loyalty programmes

Consumer willingness

If retailers are considering launching a loyalty scheme it’s worth noting that 39% of consumers say they plan to join at least two programmes in the next year.

The privileges that consumers perceive come from membership of a loyalty scheme have distinct benefits to their relationship with the retailer. Most say they shop more with e-tailers that offer delivery loyalty programmes – and almost a third are prepared to pay an annual fee for premium benefits that eliminate the need to factor in the delivery cost of their purchases.

What is also telling is that 42% say that loyalty schemes make them feel special and 55% will prioritise one retailer over another if it offers a delivery loyalty programme – an important fact when considering strategy for the year ahead.

One other area in which online retailers could make changes that would encourage loyalty from customers is by working in consolidation with each other. This might be particularly appropriate for those e-tailers looking to drive down the cost of delivery – or utilise drop shipping fulfilment or crowd-sourcing warehousing strategies to achieve greater proximity to customers and fulfil orders faster – our research shows that shoppers are more than eager to participate in multi-vendor delivery loyalty programmes.

Almost three quarters (71%) indicated that the idea of joining a scheme involving multiple retailers and brands working together to offer premium delivery services held a strong appeal for them.

One final point for consideration. Consolidated delivery, particularly as part of a loyalty scheme, ticks many boxes for consumers, but there are indications that it might also prove popular with those that are interested in buying from retailers with green credentials.

27% of consumers said that they care a great deal about the impact on the environment of their online shopping deliveries whilst 47% say it’s a big concern for them. It might just be that the consolidated delivery trend has the potential for more than one positive outcome.

– by Bruce Fair

Young people place huge amount of trust in verified reviews

There has always been a debate about whether verified reviews or personal recommendations from friends and family are the biggest influence on an individual’s purchasing decisions.

New research from reviews and customer insight company Feefo, has found that, at least when it comes to financial decisions, young people place a huge amount of trust in verified reviews. In a survey where the company asked over 1,000 UK consumers between 16 – 34 about their attitudes to financial sectors, 85% said that they trust verified reviews more than any other source.

That means that young people trust reviews more than their own friends and families when it comes to financial decisions.

“This is compelling evidence that verified reviews have a major influence on younger adults when they take big financial decisions,” said Matt West, CMO at Feefo.

“Banks, lenders and insurers that fail to offer trustworthy, easy-to-use review systems are sacrificing a huge commercial advantage among young adults, who are looking for mortgages and loans as they start out in life.

Increasing loyalty

The financial industry is an interesting case because people rarely actually switch their bank accounts. The results of the showed that both switching and non-switching consumers value verified reviews. 82% of respondents that had never switched said that they would use verified reviews to make their decision.

Of the respondents that had switched, 88% described reviews as “highly persuasive”.

“In the hyper-competitive era of fintechs and challenger banks, financial services organisations need to maximise every means of engaging with customers,” said West.

“Out-of-the-box solutions can provide a bank’s customers with reviews they trust, using advances in artificial intelligence to provide personalised drill-downs and summaries. As well as enticing new customers and dramatically increasing loyalty, review systems tell a financial services provider what it is doing right and where it is going wrong. They are definitely revenue-builders.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

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