In the last few hours, the average person reading this article has checked emails, searched the internet, skimmed news feeds, sent text messages, driven places, and/or made a phone call. Perhaps that person looked up the ingredients to a recipe while standing in an aisle at the grocery store.
And probably checked Facebook or Twitter while waiting in the pickup line at their child’s school. This is today’s interconnected, omnichannel world. Movement from one channel and device to another happens seamlessly and unconsciously. People are constantly seeking and receiving information so readily available, it’s more surprising when we can’t find exactly what we’re looking for than when we can.
Forrester principal analyst James McCormick explains that a byproduct of hyper-digitalization is the age of the consumer. In the past, brands could drive the narrative of conversations with customers. Today’s consumers, empowered by connectedness, have come to expect highly-personalized engagements, rather than megaphone advertising. When brands don’t meet expectations, customers can easily become disenchanted and look to a competitor.
James believes that, “The brands that offer the most consistent and best experiences will generally win out the day.” These brands are leveraging data to gain deep customer insights during key engagement moments. “Insights deliver value by definition. So, they inform an action. They inform a decision that is optimal for the business and if it’s the right insights they inform great customer experiences as well.”
Companies doing this well have an understanding of their customers’ environments during moments of engagement. For instance, successful businesses are able to serve a digital display ad with a coupon for a key ingredient in the exact moment that a busy professional might be looking up the recipe in the grocery store. How can they do that? With Location intelligence.
Competitive-minded businesses have depended on geographic information system (GIS) technology for years to decide, for example, where to open a new store. Today, the IoT is allowing brands to leverage location intelligence derived from GIS technology via wearables, mobile devices, connected cars, smart cities, and in stores to drive ongoing customer-centric strategies.
Businesses can now take physical surroundings into account when executing highly-personalized digital engagements.
Here are three examples of companies doing it well.
Location Intelligence Fuels Hyper-Growth in Retail
A giant Russian retailer opened a jaw-dropping 2,500 stores last year, making this company the fastest growing retailer in Europe. Growth at this scale was not previously possible, but thanks to location intelligence technology, delivered through the Geospatial Cloud, retail executives can now see and predict trends in certain geographic areas.
This intelligence is helping the company automate its new store location selection process by taking a dizzying array of data points into account including the location of nearby competitors and the ability to secure liquor sales permits based on proximity to schools.
The company is also empowering 800+ regional employees across nearly every department to leverage location analytics and make recommendations on behalf of the company. That includes individual employees on the ground looking at possible locations, regional directors who crunch potential sales numbers, and the committee that makes final investment decisions.
The results are impressive: company profits grew from $233 million in 2015 to $538 million in 2017.
An Old-School Advertising Method Gets Personalized
In today’s super-personalized digital world, many assumed the days of out-of-home (OOH) advertising were numbered. One large billboard advertiser is on a mission to prove everyone wrong and bring back one of the country’s most enduring advertising mediums.
The advertiser recently partnered with a major airline and high-end fitness club to target digital billboard ads for travelers from specific flight numbers and originating cities as they leave LAX. The perfectly timed ads encourage travelers from long-haul flights to visit a web page where they can book a workout class to preempt jetlag.
The lesson here? Delivering the right message within the right context is not a digitally-exclusive marketing technique.
High-End Grocery Retailer Gets to Know its Customers All Over Again
Most retailers analyze demographic and location data when opening a new store location. But following a slump in sales, one high-end grocery retailer recently leveraged location intelligence software to get to know its customers as if for the first time.
The unexpected results empowered key strategic changes. Here’s what they learned:
- The highest-value customers were high earners, active in the community with children school-age or older.
- Some of those customers were shopping 25+ miles from their homes, presumably near their places of work.
- The best customers valued an efficient in-store shopping experience over home delivery since most of them were busy professionals who weren’t home during the day.
With these newly discovered insights, the retailer was able to take actions designed to delight customers such as redesigning store layouts, customizing advertising messages for core customers at key locations, offering more of the most popular products including free-trade items, creating a new digital newsletter focused on community events, and developing an online-ordering tool that will allow customers to pre-order groceries and have them ready for pick up at the store on their way home from work.
Companies Must Keep Up
Forrester’s James McCormick believes that by 2021, companies that don’t adopt an insights-driven, customer-centric, strategy will struggle to stay alive. Technology and customer expectations are evolving too rapidly for non-adopters to keep up. It’s a bold prediction that will have far-reaching implications if it turns out to be true.