David A. Kaplan on Location-Based Marketing (Part 1/2)

David A. Kaplan on Location-Based Marketing (Part 1/2)

We invited David A. Kaplan, Managing Editor of GeoMarketing.com, to share the benefit of his 20-year experience and deep expertise in the world of digital marketing and advertising. Since he was happy to abide, here is the first part of our interview with him, in which he shares how geo-data can help strengthen local business and improve client relationships through location-based marketing!


How did you come to be the editor at GeoMarketing.com? What would be your essential definition of geomarketing?


Advertising and media have a natural influence on our culture and the way we interact with each other, while mobile devices and digital media have fundamentally changed the way we share ourselves with the world. With those interests in mind I’d been working for the better part of 15 years with Adweek, Mediapost, paidContent.org and AdExchanger until I met with Yext CEO Howard Lerman in December 2013.


In my work with those latter two sites, the idea of building a respected publication focused on niche areas of marketing held great appeal to me. Yext is focused on real-time listings verification (addresses, store hours, etc…) for everything from massive enterprises with thousands of outlets down to independent SMBs. Thus, they had an interest in sponsoring an independent news site focused on the frontier of Internet of Things, social media, local search and its relationship with brick-and-mortar businesses. From there, the premise and purpose of GeoMarketing.com became clear: to show how digital and physical marketing are inextricably intertwined, particularly when businesses and consumers are digitally connected in every facet of their daily lives.


Enterprise and larger chains with local focus have a multitude of ways to evaluate the Return-on-Investment they get from their advertising, customer mobility and geo-data – if SMBs want to compete, what type of local data should they focus on?


Well, it still amazes me that the most tired marketing conference line is mentioned in some form at every industry event: “Half of my advertising spending is working — I just don’t know which half.” Department store king John Wanamaker said that over a 100 years ago, but at least in local marketing, Big Data makes it possible to actionably target and understand consumers via digital channels. Predictive analytics in particular is helping to understand which ads are really driving in-store traffic and sales, and thus allow planning of campaigns to ensure consistent outcomes.


Beacons are also proving useful in creating in-store digital interactions (like sending a browsing customer a coupon when they’re near a particular product on a shelf). The advent of other proximity tools using ultrasound, LED lighting and magnetic positioning will also render even more geo-data on consumer behaviour that can help businesses sell more, beyond just sending virtual discounts. However, if those are too advanced for many SMBs, reputation management can be the best way for them to collect local data on their consumers and see how they respond, through reviews, to their offers, products and marketing efforts.


Local businesses are already quickly adopting Online Scheduling, is there a way that location-based marketing complements this?


The rapidly expanding ability of apps to anticipate what you need, based on where you are, is where location data becomes crucial. You can see it with the Google Now app which, by accessing your phone’s calendar and Gmail, can tell you when you need to leave for an OpenTable restaurant reservation or an American Airlines flight. Those same tools will find their way into consumers’ favorite stores, such as letting them know when a piece of merchandise has arrived or when a local contractor is available to meet, and these tools will be diverse and flexible to meet the discovery processes of different businesses and consumers.


How do you think location-based marketing impacts customer satisfaction?


The speed with which mobile phones provide information should help businesses make in-store shopping faster and easier, therefore more pleasant. Location is highly relevant to a business’ other functions. For example, if you’re a business that can market its wares related to the weather in real-time — “There’s a huge snowstorm coming, we have a sale on shovels” — that can obviously make a clear difference in what marketer makes that sale.


We’re also seeing greater adoption of location by financial services/fintech. The idea that your phone can let your bank know that you’re traveling has several levels of value, such as where to find the nearest ATM, or offering alerts related to a suspicious charge at a different location. For example, a number of banks can send warnings to a consumer in New York City telling them a charge was just recorded in Moscow. As I mentioned earlier, that kind of use of location can ensure greater trust and willingness to share one’s location with a marketer.


What would you say are good guidelines for local businesses that want to implement digital, location-based advertising, but may not know where to start?


Too many campaigns start out using a tool because of the sheer novelty – or worse, because a competitor is doing it. There has to be a concrete outcome or goal in mind that involves the use of location as a marketing factor. This is especially true when it comes to large, franchised enterprises: a brand may confer universal values and products (a McDonald’s french fry should be the same everywhere, right?). But specific locations and customers often have unique interests that reflect the customs of a particular place. After all, it may be January in New York and Florida, but the weather is still likely to be very different. These are physical and cultural differences that marketing messages must to take these differences into account.


In the second part of our interview, we’ll discuss a broader range of issues with David, including his observations on changes in content marketing, how location-based data meshes with consumer privacy, and what are the keys to more success for companies serving SMBs. In the meantime, follow him on twitter @davidaKaplan, visit www.geomarketing.com, and stay tuned!

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