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With the right permissions, you can gain key context regarding app users when they’re out and about, making it possible to send them targeted emails, push notifications, texts, and ads. Known as location-based marketing, it’s an effective way to provide more meaningful, personalized experiences.

The rise of mobile devices has given marketers a window into customers’ lives in a way nothing else can. With the right permissions, you can gain key context regarding app users when they’re out and about, making it possible to send them targeted emails, push notifications, texts, and ads. Known as location-based marketing, it’s an effective way to provide more meaningful, personalized experiences and to drive foot traffic to your nearest retail stores.

In years past, the key challenges when it came to location-based marketing centered around ensuring that you had access to the right kinds of location data—and ensuring that your personalization and targeting efforts resulted in thoughtful experiences, rather than creepy or unnerving ones. But over the past six months, the rise of COVID-19 has shaken up the location marketing landscape, raising important new considerations for brands.

The Challenges of Creating In-Person Experiences in a Post-COVID World

There’s no denying that COVID-19 has significantly impacted the retail landscape. Brick and mortar stores that have been closed for months in much of the world are just now opening with new restrictions. And customers who have come to enjoy the convenience of shopping online may be still hesitant to shop in person, due to health and safety concerns.

None of this means it’s time to abandon location-based marketing. In fact, it’s the perfect time to retool your cross-channel marketing strategy to address customers' concerns in thoughtful, personalized ways as stores reopen. Location-based marketing can help you target users who have received your messages about the new shopping experience, and have started venturing out. Since you’ve already started building trust and communicating how you’re planning to keep them safe, they’ll be more likely to respond to communications about your brick and mortar locations than customers who haven’t yet ventured out.

Three Types of Location-Based Marketing Tools

If you’re new to location-based marketing, exploring all the tools out there may seem daunting. So, before you get in over your head, here’s a quick overview of three of the most popular ones.

1. Location targeting

Location targeting, also known as geotargeting, lets you send targeted messages (emails, push notifications, texts, etc.) based on a user’s last known location. You can also take it one step further by segmenting your message by demographics to refine your audience. Imagine you own a clothing chain in the New York City area. Location targeting makes it possible for you to send a text to women aged 18-25 who are in Brooklyn to tell them about a one-day sale at the nearest store.

2. Geofencing

Just like it sounds, geofencing involves creating a virtual “fence” around a geographic area to target all the users who enter, exit, or dwell in it. It’s not as refined as location targeting, but it does allow you to reach everyone within the “fence” who has given you permission. For example, say you own a coffee shop that’s just reopened, and you want to promote a new flavor of iced coffee that you have available for your to-go service. You could send a push notification with a special offer that would only appear to users who were already near your storefront and able to easily pop by.

3. Beacons

Once a user enters your store, strategically placed beacons can offer insight into how they navigate it. Beacons are small devices that communicate with smartphones and tablets through Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to collect information about customer movements. You can use this information to alter the store layout, send real-time notifications, and send special offers at a later date. In today’s shifting retail environment, beacons have the potential to play a key role in an in-person shopping experience that’s much more health- and safety-conscious than ever before. Imagine that your brand has just reopened one of its department stores—you could potentially use data from beacons to send an email with a discount code to users who visited a display for a new skincare, but didn’t buy. That makes it possible to provide a personalized in-store experience while also allowing indecisive shoppers to purchase without having to come back to the store.

Location-Based Marketing in Action

Now that you know a little more about location-based marketing, it’s time to see it in action. By leveraging the Braze customer engagement platform in concert with Radar’s location data solution, among other technology partners, a leading QSR brand used geofences to increase active app users by more than 50 percent. Check out our case study to find out how!

Jennifer Keck

Jennifer Keck is a copywriter and founder of Keck Marketing. When she isn't writing, you can find her watching B-horror movies or exploring hiking trails in upstate New York.