Increased usage of mobile devices gives advertisers new and attractive ways of retaining and acquiring customers. More than ever before, we can now personalise messages to customer segments, whilst overlapping accurate geographical data. By using the full power of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies, marketers can display a diverse range of content on mobiles. Technology has enabled the crucial ‘point of purchase’ to be influenced at the right time, with the right message.

But what exactly is proximity marketing (also known as location-based marketing)?

It’s a form of advertising which involves targeting mobile-device users with personalised content (e.g. an offer, coupon) based on how close they are to a specific location (your shop, or an event etc.).  Even better, most proximity marketing campaigns work two ways, so the customer, after being located, is then invited to take an action.  Which leaves us, as marketers, with a fantastic footprint of data to use to improve our product/services in the future.

Here we cover the seven ways to get this technology working for you. Have a think about you could use these features to make a bigger impact with your customers in a new and powerful way.

1. Mobile devices – use SMS marketing to send short “buy now” reminders to a database of people in close proximity to a specified location.

2. Wi-Fi – brands can partner with entertainment or travel venues to access to the welcome splash page on the Wi-Fi log-in (for example, for travellers on the train to the Netherlands via Eurostar wanting to use the free Wi-Fi).

3. Internet enabled-device with GPS – Using GPS data, you can send advertising messages to the phones of customers within a one-metre radius! How? Agencies, such as ours, broker deals on behalf of clients with mobile advertising partners. We use a variety of apps and mobile sites, highly detailed customer segmentation, clear geographical boundaries and independent tracking of each ad impression.

4. iBeacons/Bluetooth – Use iBeacon or Bluetooth devices to deliver teaser content within stadiums/venues to attendees. For the iBeacon solution, the company will need to have an App, or at least access to a partner’s App. 

5. NFC – creates a great way of encouraging deeper brand engagement with customers, via an RFID chip based in a fixed location within the venue area. For example, with a bar or restaurant, NFC enabled bar coasters could be tapped by customers to show them special promotions. Agencies (like ours), also work with outdoor media companies to incorporate NFC within billboards, posters and transit locations like bus stops/train stops, whereby customers can download content like video/games.

6. QR codes – these offer a cheaper solution like NFC, whereby a small code is printed on items like posters, magazines, brochures and coasters. By accessing the code, the customer would receive further information about a brand/product. Done well, QR codes provide an opportunity to surprise and delight new and existing customers and build/establish longer lasting relationships.

7. AR – Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. Probably the most difficult of the proximity marketing solutions, we suggest this for those with budget (£100k+) and time. Treasure hunts work well for brands looking to create campaigns; think ‘Pokémon go’ which dominated the hearts and minds of consumers all over the country, and world!

Given over two billion people in the world use smartphones and pinpointing locations has become even more accurate, successful proximity marketing campaigns have become highly sought. When it comes to advertising, you need to be seen where your audience is most likely to be, and this technology presents marketers with innovative opportunities for reaching their audiences; don’t be afraid to experiment and have some fun while doing so!


By Amber Williamson, founder of Digital Willow

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