4 epic mistakes marketers must avoid when using location intelligence

We check out the common pitfalls brands fall into when implementing a data-driven, proximity marketing strategy


Location intelligence and geo-mapping can be powerful ways to connect with customers and provide a more personalised, tailored and relevant experience. But placed in the wrong hands, and the technology can quickly spiral into annoying your customer and ultimately, ruin your customer relationships.

We speak to industry leaders, marketing experts and location data consultants to find out which epic mistakes marketers all too often make when implementing a location intelligence strategy.

1. Failing to understand your data and its accuracy

According to Ikon Communications’ head of digital, Sian Whitnall, there is nothing worse than a consumer being exposed to a “highly relevant” brand experience that has actually got them all wrong.

“IP addresses are not accurate enough for proximity targeting at a granular level, so you need to make sure you understand the location data that is being utilised and its accuracy,” Whitnall said. “And don’t plan your approach in isolation to all of your other customer touch-points. Quite often as marketers rely on specialists to execute this type of activity the resulting look and feel that customers experience can jar with the broader brand experience.”

Co-founder and CEO of software company ShareRoot, Noah Abelson, relevancy is so important in advertising and marketing, location-based intelligence is a must if marketers are going to achieve value-based engagement with consumers.

“But you need to ensure your app is relevant and palatable and has value for your customers,” he said. “If I’m in a store and you’re not targeting me with offers and promotions that are directly relevant to me, the experience is massively affected.

“So you need to take a macro view and take a step back – think about your customers, and how you can really impact their lives. “

Buzinga App Development’s co-founder and director, Logan Merrick, agreed location-based data and geo-mapping must be highly relevant and as non-intrusive as possible.

“It is important to ensure accuracy,” he said. “New technologies like Bluedot Innovation are allowing geo-mapping to be accurate to the centimetre, without using beacon technology. Leveraging these kinds of technologies could differentiate your customer experience and loyalty proposition from that of your competitors.”

Merrick suggested marketers start small and take an agile “build, measure, update” approach to rolling out location-based technology.

“This will ensure the product is built with customer feedback at the core of its features,” he said. “Ultimately, geo-mapping must be deeply integrated into the customer experience. Testing a slow roll out and iterative learning is integral to the success of geo-mapping technical capabilities.”

2. Ignoring the opt-in rule

One of the surefire ways to annoy your customers is failing to give them an opt-in for their geolocation experience, oOh!Media’s digital strategy director, Brendon Cropper, said.

“Consumers need to opt-in to experience true, one-to-one brand funded geolocation experiences, otherwise you run the risk of consumer backlash,” he claimed. “But in a targeted broadcast sense, I think people actually appreciate and value the effort brands make tailoring geo-location communication.”

Like all good marketing, Cropper stressed the need to put customers first in all location intelligence thought processes.

“Learn how your customers want to experience your brand,” he said. “Is it while they are on the move or while the brand is on move? It can be one or the other - or both.”

3. Failing to add value

Experts also agreed customers will quickly become annoyed by irrelevant push notifications and services that fail to offer a personalised or enhanced customer experience.

“Location intelligence must enhance the customer experience, not detract from it,” Ogilvy’s head of data, Salem Lassoued, said. “There are multiple examples in marketing today where a new technology or data source has become main stream and thus has been abused and ruined the customer experience. Email and SMS are primary examples where direct contact with customers has led to spamming and overuse of unwanted communications.”

The other issue for brands when it comes to location data is the device that is collecting that data: The mobile phone, he said.

“Unfortunately, too many brands, even in 2016, have not developed a mobile-first mentality,” he claimed. “Even when customers do consent to pass their data to a brand, businesses are ill-equipped to deliver a valuable, creative or effective use of that data back to the consumer. Mobile advertising is probably the biggest culprit here, where the ads are poorly geo located, irrelevant and then intrusive or annoying.”

4. Breaking down privacy and trust

One of the major customer concerns with location intelligence is the storage of personal data and how it is used, Oracle’s director of CX strategy and transformation, Kristi Mansfield, said.

“The use and storage of data, is an area organisations and marketers need to be very careful before they launch their location intelligence strategy,” she said. “Some customers don’t know how to turn off location settings on their phone and some may not even be aware their data is being captured.”

When launching a mobile-based service using location data, she recommended organisations build a sense of trust with their customer.

“Location-based intelligence can be hugely powerful and drive engagement, but only if done in a way that customer can trust and is of benefit to them,” she added. “You need to demonstrate to customers what the benefits are and be transparent in order to provide that better experience.”

Lassoued pointed out privacy surrounding location data is a big issue globally. “The main point of using such sensitive data would be common sense,” he said. “If you even remotely think the use of the interaction could be creepy or annoying, then don’t do it.

“With this in mind, brands should be open and honest about why and how they are using consumers’ location data and how secure the data is. Permission is important. Be upfront with customers about why their location data is being used and make sure the communication is clear, and compelling, and give them reasons to opt in. This way, brands will potentially avoid any risks around strategic use cases of the data.”

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