The rise of the mobile consumer has spurred a call to action for marketers. The more active mobile lifestyle has revealed the importance of location-based marketing as a vital method.
Meanwhile, location-based marketing has become a celebrated tactic for marketers, with the resounding thrum of, "location, location, location!" ringing out in the trades on any given day, as words to the wise for all marketers looking to achieve one to one engagement with consumers.
But, guess what? No matter how popular, localization is not a standalone principle, let alone tactic. Localization needs a strategy, a framework and other key elements like consideration of consumer behavior, relevance, and personalization, in order to get the job done.
Location and Behavior
Location targeting is an effective component of a marketer's timeless goal of sending the 'right message, to the right person, at the right time (and now place)'. It's the place, of course. But so often, we approach location targeting merely as a tactical ability to message someone at a particular location. As exciting as it is to have the technological capability to capture and leverage a consumer's geographic location or proximity to a business, we must still consider a more complex consumer engagement equation.
We must first think, "Am I sending the right message to the right person at the right time and place?" But the thinking does not stop there. We should be questioning the nature or behavior of the place. For example, do I send a coupon to a person because they walk through the door of my business? Or do I send them a coupon because they are laying in bed at home, the night before they go shopping the next morning? What do I know about shopping behavior as it relates to location? Where do the most decisive moments live within location?
Why Relevance has Value
As you consider location and its implications, you almost have a responsibility to get relevant. True, relevancy is another buzz word, a popular concept for marketers. But the fact that meaningful localization cannot exist without it reminds us of its true potency. As powerful as the technological and tactical capabilities are for localization, in order to leverage this approach effectively, it's important to understand where and why these approaches fit. Just because you can hyper-geo-target someone, should you? How do you make your localized touch-point relevant?
The whole concept of right message, right person, right time and place, as a goal, is an acknowledgement that to "get it right" or to effectively engage is not about any one aspect - message, person, time, place-but about identifying and seizing the ideal intersection of them all. This intersection helps you get relevant and ultimately personalize the engagement.
Location awareness can help uncover and create relevance through proximity, timing, and context. Proximity itself can provide insight on someone's access: are they ever near my store? It also provides the opportunity to create immediate onsite engagement.
Location timing reveals recency, frequency, and other mobility habits, while also producing the ability to leverage timing prompts (e.g., as I walk through the door) for point-in-time, just-in-time, and for-a-short-time (while in the store) offers.
And, of course, location data and analysis can deliver the ultimate in relevance through context: uncovering consumers needs, interests, associations, and intents, as well as, in many cases, meaningful insight or likelihood of knowing what they are doing or thinking about at the time. It's on us to use this to round out the approach and truly personalize. We must do this in a privacy compliant way, of course. That's another topic for another column, however.
Adding Personalization to Complete the Picture
Understanding that it's the intersection of a number of things (and also that the "right person" is not every person, every time) will allow you to focus on knowing and personalizing toward individuals as defined beyond their location. Not every user within a given area will behave the same, and location tactics will produce varying results with different users.
Personalization is about knowing who within a geo-target will engage in a certain way and when, as well as knowing if, when, and which location tactics will generate the best results for each unique user. The goal of one to one marketing today is a personalized and engaging communication that converts and does so across platforms.
When you look closely, localization is just a companion piece to personalization. Yes, you can personalize an engagement without using location data and tactics, but the results can be better when you combine them. On the other hand, you can't use location tactics without getting personal, so you best have some insight into individual desires to be "right" about the use of that location.
In the end, no matter how popular, localization is no solo act. Location should never be a stand-alone approach. The same thing that makes it powerful when it works makes it the most off-putting to consumers, when it's not executed thoughtfully. After all, winning three customers is not worth losing five at the same time.