How location-based technologies can set your business apart from others

July 28, 2021

 

Today, the Internet provides numerous opportunities for businesses to market their products or services. We have more people hooked on the Internet than ever. In recent years, social media has emerged as an especially promising platform for businesses to reach existing and prospective customers around the world. So much so that it's almost impossible to imagine a business not using social media. However, this also makes it much harder to stand out. In this article, I describe in detail how businesses, particularly small ones, can benefit from using location-based technologies like geofencing and beacons for marketing.

 

First, let's talk about how location-based marketing (LBM) works and why it's effective. As the name suggests, LBM is a form of marketing that uses a mobile device's location to promote your product/service. For example, say you have a retail store that sells fruit juices and beverages with organically sourced ingredients. When someone is close enough to your store, you could send out a push notification describing a 20% discount off the first purchase from the store. LBM is so effective because it allows you to send relevant promotions to people who are highly likely to become your customers. In this regard, you can achieve a higher conversion rate than just publishing posts on social media.

 

Now that you have a basic idea of what LBM is, let's dive into the different ways in which you can make use of it. Geofencing is one of the more popular methods. Geofencing allows a software program to define virtual boundaries around real-world geographic areas. These virtual boundaries are called geofences and can be dynamically generated - like a radius around a point location - or can be predefined, such as airport boundaries. Geofencing typically makes use of GPS, RFID, WiFi, or cellular data. It allows the administrator of an app to set up triggers so that when a mobile device enters or exits the geofences defined by them, they can act such as sending out a push notification. Several geofencing apps use Google Earth while others use real-world coordinates or maps. This has tremendous use in marketing. Say you run a small business that sells high-quality top-grain leather shoes in a popular shopping area where other shoe stores ply their trade. You could use geofencing to send discount codes to shoppers who enter a designated area near your competitors' stores, luring them away. You could offer passersby, who otherwise have no intention to buy shoes, a 20% discount on the first purchase. An opportunistic ice cream parlor could advertise its various flavors in this way in the summer. A stationery store can target school/college students this way during exam season. A Chinese restaurant can offer diners 20% off the bill to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

 

Beacons have been seeing a lot of use lately. A beacon is a small Bluetooth-enabled device that can send alerts to smartphones based on how close the users are to its location. While geofencing can help bring prospective customers to your store, beacons can keep them engaged once they're inside by enhancing their shopping experience. The following are some ways in which beacons can be used:

  • Track customers’ movement inside the store to send them targeted information, discounts, or ads depending on which items they’re examining.
  • Help customers find their way around the store better, so they can find what they’re looking for faster.
  • Notify passersby of ongoing campaigns, offers, and sales.
  • Allow shoppers to create digital lists and use those lists to persuade them to buy other stuff. For example, if a shopper picks up a jar of peanut butter, you could send a message to the beacon-powered app with the message, “Would you like some bread to along with your peanut butter?” This can help drive more sales.
  • Drive your loyalty rewards programs.

 

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is also gaining traction in the marketing industry. RFID systems are composed of tags - conveniently called RFID tags - and a reader that makes use of radio waves to read them. RFID can help businesses in the following areas:

  • Inventory management;
  • Detecting theft;
  • Finding items;
  • Streamlining and potentially eliminating the checkout process;
  • Etc.

 

Ever wondered how tap-and-go payment apps like Google Pay and Apple Pay work? Well, they utilize a method of wireless data transfer called Near Field Communication (NFC). An evolution of RFID, NFC involves wireless data transfer over radio waves between two compatible devices. Unlike other wireless technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi, NFC requires much less power. That is why you can have passive devices - like the ones involved in mobile payment services - that don’t require a power source of their own and can instead be powered by an active device such as your smartphone. This is the reason why NFC can prove to be so useful in marketing. Say you run a high-street fashion store. A lady walks in looking for the perfect dress for a night out. She decides on which dress to purchase but is having a hard time trying to find the right accessories. Rather than look for a member of staff for help, she taps her phone on an NFC-powered display that takes her to the store webpage that has recommendations for suitable accessories.

 

QR codes can also be used similarly. Unlike NFC, every smartphone these days can read QR codes, thereby making them a useful weapon in your marketing arsenal. They are cheaper to implement than NFC systems and are highly visible and easily recognizable owing to their signature look. However, QR codes have their disadvantages, including requiring good lighting conditions, opening an app to scan the code, being vulnerable to physical damage, and being much less secure. Since QR codes are ubiquitous these days, you could have a combination of an NFC tag and a QR code, so that those with phones with no NFC support can still interact with your business.

 

By now, I’m hopeful that you’re convinced of how location-based technologies can take your marketing up a few notches over traditional social-media-based digital marketing. In an era of cut-throat competition, LBM might just make potential customers knock on your door rather than your neighbor’s.

 

At Forest, we take pride in using cutting-edge technologies like location-based marketing to help boost our clients' sales. Our clients are critical to us, and we always strive to use the latest and greatest techniques to help them attract more customers. If you would like to boost your business with our help, please get in touch with us today.

 

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