Why location data is a cornerstone of enterprise marketing

By Jonathan Crowl

Marketers can only work with the information they have in their hands. In recent years, though, that hasn’t felt like much of a limitation. New data channels have emerged, flooding marketers with information — indeed, many struggle to know what to do with all of it. Analytics solutions can help make sense of the mess, but marketers still need to understand which pieces of data offer the greatest potential insights and opportunities.

Of all the types of information now available on consumer behaviors, interests and characteristics, one stands above all the others in its importance. Location data has been a game-changer for marketers. Not only does it open the floodgates to a new layer of consumer information, but it has made local marketing campaigns much more effective and productive and is helping enterprise brands create experiences based on the individual’s place in the world.

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As local strategies evolve, brands are also realizing what it isn’t just your location that matters: Your context is also important. A consumer’s environment has a profound impact on his or her behavior. From there, the onus is on enterprise leaders to know what to do with that knowledge.

The purpose of location data

A large majority of US consumers already have devices that can provide location-based data and services. As AdWeek pointed out, roughly 90 percent of all US smartphone owners used location features on their phones. Consumers increasingly expect mobile apps to take location into consideration and to improve their experience as a result.

It’s important for enterprise brands to remember that location data isn’t automatically available. Consumers have to voluntarily opt in to sharing their data, and they’re unlikely to do so without knowing how that sharing will benefit them. Those private citizens know they have something that enterprises want. By opting in to location sharing, consumers are basically handing over information on where they live, where they spend their free time, where they shop, how they get to work and so on and so forth.

Marketers don’t need to strain themselves to see the benefits — the more you know about a consumer, the better you’ll be able to identify a relevant audience and target them through campaigns. Location data’s greatest strength is its ability to increase relevance for marketing campaigns.

How location works for enterprises

The applications for location data are widespread, and it’s hard to understate the potential impact for brands that use this information the right way. As Marketing Land reported, the most obvious benefit from location information is being able to optimize digital campaigns by considering offline actions. Keyword strategy, content creation, publishing platforms and digital channels can all be affected — just think of how much more valuable mobile marketing becomes when you can deploy a retail ad to consumers within three blocks of the store.

Location information can also improve personalization across campaigns and even improve in-store retail experiences. Audiences can be segmented based on their location information, retargeting can take offline data into consideration and online-to-offline referrals can be tracked using location to see which consumers visit a store after seeing a location-based ad. Meanwhile, location information can be used to generate insights that improve your marketing strategy and even your business operations, improving your spending and raising ROI.

In every case, location data helps bridge the gap between offline behavior and online behavior, creating a more comprehensive picture of online users. However, in order for that data to become available to brands, they have to build a consumer experience worthy of this sharing. There needs to be a value exchange.

What location has done to everyday engagement

Consumers are learning to expect mobile and branded experiences shaped by location, and enterprise organizations are wise to start strategizing with this trend in mind. An obvious place to start is with enterprise apps, which can quickly leverage mobile location information to power new, engaging experiences.

Apps such as Foursquare and StubHub automatically use location information to provide better service, whether that means finding good restaurants nearby or promoting tickets to upcoming local events. Meanwhile, retailers can use location information to change the app’s performance when a shopper enters a store. It might unlock limited promotions within the app or display a store map of the location the shopper is visiting. In a more general sense, recommendations and personalization can also be delivered by taking location into account.

Consumers don’t want to share their information for free, but they’re more than willing to exchange that data for experiences and engagement they find valuable. Given the rewards for enterprise brands, it’s a clear win-win for all sides.