8 reasons why proximity marketing will matter for retailers in 2011
Advancements in mobile devices and digital signage, coupled with growing consumer acceptance of mobile marketing, are opening up great new opportunities for proximity marketing to take off in retail this year. 2010 was widely proclaimed as "the year of mobile" by industry watchers and by 2012, analysts predict that more than 50 percent of digital content will be accessed on mobile phones instead of computers.
Proximity marketing exploits activities that consumers are already involved with — and enjoy — to offer retailers a new path to reach their audiences, affording a higher level of interactivity that didn’t exist before. Proximity marketing expands the scope of interactive marketing in public places — malls, food courts, cinemas, airports, etc. — to offer a more spontaneous and direct interaction. Think of it as taking location-based marketing to an even greater level of "local," and being contextually relevant in absolute terms. Proximity marketing allows retailers to leverage their strengths and create an even more memorable interaction for consumers and, by extension, motivate return visits and increase ROI.
The new shopper and the power of proximity marketing
Shoppers afflicted with ADD (Analog Deficit Disorder) see static signage as nothing more than wallpaper, but retailers can now transform these into interactive touchpoints which allow consumers within a certain range (usually about 300 feet) to receive relevant and welcome offers through their Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices. This combination provides shoppers with a medium that catches their attention and — with strategic content — provides them with bite-sized information that they can digest and use.
Consumers have information at their fingertips to decrease the number of trips made to a store, while increasing revenues for the retailer. Also, retailers and brands are finding that capturing shoppers’ attention while they are in the store is a prime opportunity for education, not just promotions. While digital displays are used for merchandising and promotions, the future is using the screens as a means for educating shoppers on the tools available to them to make informed buying decisions.
Here are eight reasons why mobile proximity marketing will accelerate in 2011:
1. Proximity-based means that consumers will be engaged through their mobile devices within a defined range (300 ft max. radius), so it is ideal for malls, department stores, retail outlets and locations with pass-by-foot traffic.
With pedestrian traffic a stone’s throw from your store or establishment, the odds are in your favor to lure them in. Since the compromise to divert their plans and head in your direction is minimal and does not require a parking space, consumers will be more receptive to receiving an offer that is in their immediate vicinity. Hubs of pedestrian traffic are typically loaded with retail options and consumers are there already in the mindset to make purchases, so the best time to communicate with them is when they’re already at their most approachable.
2. Bluetooth-signal based means that retailers can send information to consumers who are already primed and willing to receive content, i.e., coupons, videos, movies and music in rich detail to anyone within that range, at no cost to the recipient because there is no interaction through mobile carriers.
This connectivity element offers retailers unprecedented access to shoppers within a short range of their location, narrowing the odds of increasing their sales. In addition, once a consumer follows through with a promotion or offer, he will be more inclined to share that with a peer or fellow shopper thus turning one sale into a domino effect.
3. Retailers can integrate with their digital signage networks and/or kiosks in specific locations and broadcast ads to mobile devices to enhance mindshare and distribute advertising digitally.
Consumer recall is limited in this day and age where they are bombarded with visual stimuli all day long disguised as a must-see. By integrating with preexisting networks and kiosks, retailers increase their chances of connecting with the right consumers and having their information well-received and shared.
4. Retailers can record all devices identified and messaged, and record which ads/messages are being accepted or rejected by shoppers. Data is kept for review and future use, to improve advertising effectiveness.
The greatest discouraging factor for retailers to embrace new approaches to attracting and engaging consumers is inconvenience. The strategy behind proximity marketing and digital signage is designed not only for ease of use and but also frequency of use. By employing methods that can be implemented with regularity, each and every time you wish to communicate with your customers and the surrounding public, you increase your exposure and dialogue with the community thus casting your net farther and wider.
5. Unlike traditional advertising, proximity marketing is done in real-time; retailers can manage and measure their campaigns immediately.
The results of proximity marketing can be immediately measured — how many customers came to the retailer as a result of the campaign — and thus provide immediate insights as to what works and what reaps the greatest rewards. Retailers can plan campaigns with greater turnaround and market intelligence based on the previous day’s activity.
6. It is inexpensive as retailers avoid having to pay carriers to deliver their marketing messages, and they can simultaneously gather customer data that no one else can.
Retailers carry enough costs as it is, so the notion of adding on another expense to grow their business seems altogether unlikely. Proximity marketing is friendly to your bottom line and not only gives a greater bang for your buck but can also be used on an unlimited basis.
7. It makes mobile messaging in any location or application measurable and accountable instantly.
All campaigns should have a predetermined metric of success so that the positive results can be captured and those resulting in less impressive performance can be improved upon for the next go-around. The other aspect to keep in mind is that a retailer’s success story is another opportunity to tell a story to consumers — those you’ve already acquired but more importantly those you’re still trying to reach — and good PR for your brand is always valuable and well-received.
8. It is effective by identifying and messaging thousands of phones in a matter of hours.
Retailers do not have the luxury of time to roll out a campaign and sit around to see the results, and consumers want the best offers available now, while they’re in the market to make a purchase. Instant access to mobile devices is the perfect answer to both sides of the coin — giving the retailer the platform to communicate to consumers instantly and giving the consumers the option to be immediately notified of a good offer in their area.
Through these solutions, retailers are able to attract consumers, transact with them and measure the effectiveness of their actions — efficiently and quickly. Proximity marketing can greatly improve the customer experience by providing relevant and targeted content, unique engagement options as well as advertising and promotions at the point of sale. And because it is permission-based, consumers receive messages that are useful and wanted and that are delivered when the consumer is nearby — and thus more likely to take action or take advantage of the offer or promotion.
In essence, proximity marketing gives the power back to consumers, so they can access relevant content on their mobile phones in the palms of their hands. Proximity marketing allows today’s savvy and technologically oriented consumer to engage, communicate and transact how, when and where they wish to.
Alex Romanov is CEO of iSIGN Media, a developer of location-based interactive proximity advertising solutions. (Photo by Mark Yuen.)