Dana Severson

Copywriter | Marketer

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Is Location-Based Marketing Just Another Can of Worms?


Location-based marketing. It’s becoming a piece of many social media marketing strategies. With the help of geo-fencing, consumers get a text or offer from a local business as soon as they — or really their smartphones — enter a virtual parameter. It’s like targeted marketing, but only to people within a certain radius.
Cool, right?
As marketers, we’re always looking for more and more ways to interact with the public. And what’s more interactive than a smartphone? Plus, this avenue is so unique and ripe with possibilities. But there’s a catch. Some of the complexities could pose problems for you and the consumer.
Beyond offering a mobile coupon, what is the message doing to convert an average consumer into a loyal customer? Yes, the deal can drive people through the doors. But without the promise of another bargain, will it keep them coming back? If it doesn’t, your marketing dollars are better spent elsewhere.
On top of this, location-based marketing also feels a little out of place with the more inbound landscape of other social media strategies. As marketers, we’re now tasked to create useful content. Content that almost acts as a hub to add value, establish relationships, and build trust, which, of course, is then leveraged to convert consumers into customers.
Not a popular opinion, but the nature of location-based marketing sort of steps on the toes of this. All it’s really asking is for people to buy — and buy and buy and buy. Such an overt message can start to sound a lot like telemarketing. And we all know how the public feels about this. The No-Call list didn’t come out of nowhere. 
Yet even if your message isn’t met with skepticism, the question still remains of whether this marketing strategy is too personal. Think about it. You are touching consumers on their phones. And you’re only touching them when they step into your general area.
Convenient? Sure. Beneficial? Maybe. But there’s always the chance of alienating consumers. You are tracking their movements, which can be construed as an invasion of privacy. In fact, the government may get involved, so this could be moot in a matter of months. It appears that some third-party applications are collecting personal data without consumer consent. Yeah, we weren’t kidding about a can of worms.
But does this mean location-based marketing doesn’t have its place?
Not necessarily. Certain practices can make the process more practical — and a lot less creepy.
Opting in. Key to this is only connecting with those consumers who’ve opted in. Don’t send an offer to anyone who hasn’t authorized the communication. Otherwise, it’s just spam.
Choosing apps wisely. The same rule applies to apps. Ensure that any application sends offers to only those people who gave the go-ahead. Better yet, work exclusively with apps that are card-carrying members of the Mobile Marketing Association.
Offering more than deals. It may sound like a waste of a text, but offering more than deals can build trust and establish relationships between you and consumers. Tips, advice, and points of interest are often appreciated.
Before venturing out into the world of location-based marketing, get all your ducks in a row. Ducks eat worms, right?

What do you think? Is location-based marketing more trouble than it's worth?

This post was previously published at Beneath the Brand.


Copyright 2007-2014.  Dana Severson | Freelance Copywriter & Marketer.

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