Welcome to the New World of the Hyper-Mobile Marketer

Direct marketers are in many ways like investigative journalists, always focusing on the five Ws – the why, who, what, when (with the order depending on the product or solution) and, now with greater accuracy, the where to create a hyper-targeted mobile customer experience that goes beyond just people and media.

Smartphones, with all their proximity and magnetic sensors, cameras and apps, power a new mobile narrative for brands such as Wal-Mart, Nivea and Coca-Cola with a shift toward focusing on location-aware relevant experiences and engagement. Remember the adage “share of conversation equals share of wallet”? Well the same can be said for share of relevance. The more you stay relevant to a consumer, the more utility the consumer has for your brand, thus greater adoption and ubiquity. Think mobile-data driven buyer segments sharpened by data inputs such as magnetic field concentration levels (from your mobile phone) to quantify footfall traffic (versus the standard in-mall visual traffic survey) to using location beacons to provide real value for your customer in the way of their lifestyle (see the Nivea and Coca-Cola examples to come).

The caveat in all of this big-data-driven location-aware marketing will be how the epicentre of trust and data privacy are valued and employed throughout the user experience from an app, platform or mobile phone experience versus the flipside scenario where non-compliance to data privacy is rammed down the consumers’ throat creating a sense of self-resignation as the accepted new normal in a hyper-mobile world at large.

Let’s start with a look at how Wal-Mart uses a blend of mobile-data and geo-behavioural data to increase store footfall traffic.

Wal-Mart Uses Mobile Data to Identify and Court Dynamic Audience Segments
A greater number of marketers are using real-time mobile data to geo-fence a mobile campaign, giving their campaigns a map-based boundary for activation. Drive by the Starbucks and yes, the app does remind you to add money onto your card or promotes the special drink of the day a la pumpkin spice or peppermint mocha, of course. As marketers, let’s think inside the box for a minute though – not outside it – and see where this goes, shall we? Why not use the parameter of any user who has visited your store over the past year, coupled with mobile location data on where customers have been in terms of restaurants, clothing stores or brand retail outlets to instantly provide marketers with a richer, more dynamic set of customer profile data to help them go beyond the who, what and why by adding in where and when into the mix to create more meaningful mobile-data-enriched buyer context that, quite frankly, online and household data simply lack.

Wal-Mart in the U.S. hired a firm to help track users who had been to a store through proximity and location data from its Savings Catcher mobile app. The mobile ad campaign targeted users as they were consuming mobile content thereby offering a closed-loop feedback cycle from watching the mobile Wal-Mart ad to direct footfall store visitation traffic.

By using the who along with the where Wal-Mart was able to provide greater context around mobile engagement and provide better campaign ROI by focusing on store visitation rather than just views, clicks or time spent on an mobile ad.

Nivea’s Lifestyle Utility – A Skincare Company that Cares about Kids
Nivea, a company well known for skin creams, had a unique approach to location-aware data combined with a sense of user utility that made the Nivea customer more loyal to its products than ever. This was achieved by focusing on providing a Bluetooth sensor paired with a mobile app to make sure your time on the beach is made for enjoying the sun and not worrying about your kids becoming lost. A brilliant idea that melds the mobile experience with a Bluetooth beacon to make sure you enjoy the brand’s product in its natural state: having a carefree day on the beach soaking up the sun (with Nivea lotion of course).

The vehicle for the Bluetooth beacon was a clever magazine ad, which had a perforated wristband that parents could tear out and use as a safety monitor in the event of a child straying to far out from a predetermined range via the mobile app. Should a child go outside a specific radius, the mobile app would notify the parent.

No child lost means a happy day at the beach and so Nivea goes from being one of many skin creams on the market to THE skin cream that makes life’s outings like a day at the beach a little bit more enjoyable and safe.

While kudos need to be given to Nivea for an innovative approach to using location-aware data with tracking capabilities – what if the same type to technology is used all the time to track users wherever they go all the time?

I’m not referring to a “God’s Eye” type software as in the Furious 7 movie – let’s bring this to reality and something happening in the here and now: Uber and its change of the app’s data usage and tracking policy.

Uber Illustrates the Good, the Bad and Ugly Aspects of Data Privacy
In the mobile app world we’ve all become accustomed to the constant non-stop gathering of our online and mobile data. Google, Amazon, Pandora – they all do it.

Where would you be if your Google Now cards didn’t remind you that your flight is just a day away or that you’ve passed the same community centre four times already so it might be an important location for it to remember, right?

Taxi-service app Uber, as of July 15 is updating its privacy policy to reflect a more connected location data-driven approach to collecting data all the time, even if permissions were not granted or whether the app is running actively in the foreground or in the background. What does this mean for the consumer if a brand like Uber is continually deducing your precise location?

Privacy is a slippery slope – yes, there is always that give and take in the digital world of granting permissions to apps, watching ads or video, being retargeted and the ever-present cookie of user history for the data-crunching being used by the programmatic algorithms. I wonder though, will brands take the matter of data collection and privacy too far before consumers either resign themselves to the practice or such an experience causes backlash of app abandonment altogether?

Let me put this in marketing ROI terms or, even broader, in the context of brand ROI – lose the trust of your customer and they may never use your app or engage with you as a company ever again. Provide a smarter contextual mobile experience paired with an everyday utility and you’ve got a winning combination that any smartphone user would understand. Just as the smartphone is now ubiquitous to consumers’ day-to-day – if you provide me a way to connect and act through my phone you’ve got my share of wallet too.

Mirza M. Baig is the digital marketing manager for GMC Software Technology.

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Mirza M. Baig

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