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4 Creative Uses of Location-Based Technology in Digital Marketing Campaigns

Digital marketers have been the proverbial ‘kids in a candy store’ for the past five or so years. The technology on which new marketing campaigns can be built improves almost daily and enables them to reach consumers more and more directly. For the past few years, one of the hottest digital marketing trends has been geo-targeting, which can be easiest described as the ability to contact consumers through their mobile device and segment the information sent to them based on their physical location. There are a number of geo-targeting apps and devices currently available for marketers. Below are four examples of how brands and businesses are utilizing this technology. Best Buy/Shopkick – Shopkick is a creative geo-targeting system that a number of major retailers are adopting. Basically, this is how it works- A Shopkick radio  is placed at a store’s entrance that transmits a certain sound frequency. Customers with smartphones are encouraged to download the Shopkick app which, once activated, utilizes the phone’s microphone to listen for the sound. Once the sound is recognized, the user is ‘checked-in to that location and information about that store can be pushed to their phone. Electronics retailer Best Buy has teamed up with Shopkick to make shopping at their stores more interactive. After checking-in to a Best Buy on Shopkick, customers are able to earn rewards points, find special deals and play games to win prizes like free song downloads. This is a pretty effective way to offer incentives for giving a business permission to tactfully push information to their customers in a more targeted and intimate way. Subway’s Geo-fence – tells us about sandwich-maker Subway’s most recent foray into the world of SMS (text) messaging. This time, they are integrating geo-targeting into their SMS campaign. Basically, Subway customers in Britain opt-in to this new SMS program. Once they have opted in to the program, they will receive MMS messages on their mobile phone when they near a participating Subway restaurant. Their phones are ‘recognized’ as participants through a ‘geo-fence’ that Subway has created around their shops. The MMS messaging content can include anything from local deals to the location of the nearest shop. Again, an creative example of brands targeting their likely customers when they are most likely to be ready to consume their product. Sears/SCVNGR In-Store Scavenger Hunt – SCVNGR is a foursquare-like geo-scavenger hunt application that has grown significantly over the past year or so. Basically, users download the SCVNGR app and perform specific tasks for points.  Most of the tasks are based on checking-in to a specific location using the GPS on their mobile device. recently highlighted retailer Sears’ latest campaign that uses SCVNGR to drive people to specific areas of their stores. Customers check-in to Sears on SCVNGR when they arrive at the store. They then are challenged to snap pictures of particular items in the footwear and fitness departments to receive points and win rewards/discounts. This is a very creative way to generate additional foot-traffic to less-popular parts of a large multi-department store to spur new sales and interest. Nokia’s foursquare/NFC Auto-Checkins- If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that weduites are huge foursquare fans. Why? Because it is fun and useful. For the newbies, the basic premise of foursquare is that you create and manage your profile online and then check-in to the places you go to using their mobile app. Based on a user-generated database of location-based ‘venues,’ your phone confirms that you are physically at a certain location when you check in and you receive points or social currency (badges) for the check-in. The person with the most check-ins to a specific venue becomes the mayor of that location. foursquare is a great tool for businesses that want to offer deals and rewards to the customers most likely to frequent their venue. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a chip placed in mobile devices that allows for easy data transmission based on a quick touch. Some uses of NFC in the future will be as a credit card replacement, as a means to gain information on a product in a store, to exchange information from one mobile device to another, etc. NFC technology in mobile phones is private in the sense that it can be turned off and on the same way Bluetooth and Wireless transmitters can be. NFC-enabled phones are already on the market and most ‘smart’ phones going forward will have the technology. According to, Nokia has recently launched a web store that includes posters and stickers that feature NFC tags. When a visitor with an NFC-enabled mobile device taps the poster or sticker, they will automatically be checked in to the venue on foursquare and will receive any deals or rewards that the business owner is offering. Bottom line: Digital marketers that are not excited by technology like Shopkick, SCVNGR, Geo-fencing, foursquare and NFC need to be checked for a pulse. In a world where collecting data and targeting audiences reigns supreme, geo-technology is allowing us to be much more efficient and creative in reaching customers.
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