Geo-marketing is the Future of Your Small Business

on September 27, 2019

Do you share your location with the apps on your phone? If you only share your location with food and drink apps, you’re not alone.

According to an Airship study that looked at 700 million consumers around the world, the popularity of location sharing has seen considerable growth for apps from the Food & Drink and Entertainment industries—despite a diminishing global opt-in rate for location sharing overall.

The study found only 9.7% of North American users shared location data in March 2019 (down 25.4% from the previous year) but location sharing was up 160% for the Food & Drink industry and 43% for Entertainment. Other major industries like Retail, Travel, and Media saw a drop in opt-in rates.

Airship location opt in table

This growth is great news for Food & Drink or Entertainment companies that use an app for their services. That’s because location-based marketing initiatives are associated with increased sales, customer growth and higher engagement.

A study from Lawless Research found that companies using location data in advertising campaigns increased sales by 89%, grew their customer base by 86% and increased customer engagement by 84%.

So how can businesses use location data effectively?

Location-Based Targeting Must Provide Value

The General Data Protection Regulation, commonly known as GDPR, is a relatively new regulation from the European Union that has had a ripple effect on data privacy practices around the world. Even American businesses have had to adjust their marketing practices just in case their customer list includes even one EU citizen.

GDPR has also had an impact on email marketing; the regulation makes it easier for potential customers to opt-out of mailing lists, complicating the process of converting leads. To adjust, more businesses are trying to reach customers with mobile push notifications, which can pop up on your phone screen anytime. According to the Airship study, 67% of consumers around the world will let businesses and apps send them notifications.

SeatGeek push notification

Shifting to mobile notifications may be a very smart move that not only respects GDPR but also puts less stress on our overcrowded inboxes. After all, the average consumer receives a whopping 117.7 emails every day. Doesn’t a daily push notification sound very manageable in comparison?

Location sharing in general may be down, but its popularity for Food & Drink and Entertainment industry apps is telling. Consumers are willing to share their location data, but only if there are immediate benefits.

This holds a critical lesson for any business that wants to use location data to target customers: Your targeting must provide real benefits to consumers. They absolutely will opt-in and share location data, but only if they are rewarded.

As Mike Stone, SVP of Marketing for Airship explains, “For today’s ‘show me’ consumers, great customer experiences trump the best advertising campaigns. These highly contextual, increasingly rich and actionable messages enable brands to build genuine relationships by proactively engaging and supporting customers at the moments that mean the most.”

How Location Sharing Can Help With Marketing 

There are many ways you can use location data to market your business. A survey from Carto found that the top three uses of location data were to identify new consumer markets (41%), improve marketing strategies (37%) and improve customer service (36%).

In its most simple application, location sharing helps people find your business. Here are some examples:

  • Delivery company apps like Foodora can show customers the nearby restaurants they can order food from
  • Directory apps Yelp and Google My Business can tell their users which services are close by
  • Movie apps like Fandango can help users find the nearest theater

If you have your own business app, you can take the value of location sharing to the next level. With an app, you can create push notifications to engage returning customers.

For example, if you own a local dance studio with an app, you can use push notifications to let your students know about the sale on dance shoes at the studio or about an unlimited summer dance class pass. If you send these push notifications when students are in your app or neighborhood (or right in the studio), your marketing may be even more successful.

How to Enable Location Services on Your Phone

If you’re using an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Sharing and toggle location sharing to on or off. If Location Services are on, you can indicate if you’d like to share your location with specific apps while you are using the app or not at all.

location services on iphone

Android users can check which apps can see their location by going to Settings > Security & location > Location.  If you’re an Android Q user, whenever you open an app that collects location data, you’ll be asked if you want to grant that app access to your location all the time, only when you’re using it, or never.

Android location services screenshots

If your business has an app, you can use location data to target potential customers who have enabled location services on their phones in the same way as above.

Wrapping it Up

Digital marketing has danced on the edge of privacy and personalization for a long time. Now that consumers are more aware of how their personal information is being used—and governments are stepping in to protect that information—it makes sense that we’re seeing some shifts in how much access consumers will give to businesses.

But people are willing to give up some privacy if they like what your brand is offering and if it brings value to their lives. If location sharing continues to grow and businesses can respect customer privacy, location data could open up a promising new marketing channel.

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