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