How to use what we learned this year, in 2019

And the end of 2018, location-targeted advertising is still only at the early stages of its astronomical growth. With a $17.1 billion spent in 2017, eMarketer predicted that spend would more than double by 2021. We were confident in its growth in our predictions last year, and we were right about a lot of things – particularly that brands did begin placing more emphasis on location intelligence. There’s no question that marketers are beginning to see the value of historical location data as a proxy for behavior, and that’s contributing to the increased investment in location data.

We saw a lot of exciting things happen in 2018, and we learned a lot, as you probably did, too. For example, you probably know already that companies that adopt data-driven marketing initiatives are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year than competitors. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t aware of that already. Based on that fact, what useful knowledge did we gain in the last year, and how can we use it to prepare for the year ahead? Let’s dig in:

Data is everything, and we have to use it intelligently and protect it forcefully. 2018 was quite a year for data in the news! With so many data hacks in the headlines this past year, I think we all gained a deep understanding of how valuable and how vulnerable our data is. At the same time, GDPR looked like it might mean the end of data-driven marketing in Europe. It didn’t. What we learned is 2018, more than anything is that we can’t take data for granted. We have to be extremely responsible with the data entrusted to us by consumers, and we must use it wisely to make it effective for them and for us.

As we noted in a blog post about GDPR earlier this year, “we likely aren’t facing a shortage of ads, but brands will need to be creative and consider how they collect and use data. The first step is that data collection must be transparently disclosed, and brands should clearly tell consumers that the information may be shared.” Beyond that, everyone in the eco-system has to be more mindful than ever about how they store and protect data. Keep all of this in mind as you kick off your 2019 marketing plans: Data is your most precious asset. In the year ahead, mine it wisely, use it responsibly, and guard it with your life.

More than ever, the most effective data is accurate data. Along with concerns about data breaches, security and privacy come concerns about data quality. We invest so much in data-driven marketing and advertising. If the data isn’t good, neither is the campaign – and that can mean thousands to millions of dollars wasted. When it comes to location data, this is especially true: precision and accuracy must be spot-on to deliver results, or marketers could be targeting people based on completely incorrect criteria. 100 meters off could be the difference between someone who’s visited your retail location and someone who visited a neighboring store. It’s huge.

Accurate data also solves a lot of the issues related to privacy and security as well: “Accurate data is inherently transparent, and that goes a long way in the age of GDPR, data breaches, and growing consumer uncertainty as to what is fueling Facebook and Google’s never-ending appetite for data.” So continue to insist on high-quality, accurate data as you build your campaigns in 2019.

Retail isn’t dead (nor is shopper marketing) and data-driven marketing is fueling growth for successful stores. We heard so much about the “retail apocalypse” and the “Amazon Effect” in 2018. While retail is certainly undergoing a transformation right now, it’s by no means dead. Some retailers are actually thriving. As we wrote on our blog earlier this year, “Target’s 6.4% Q2 traffic growth was ‘by far the strongest since Target began reporting traffic in 2008,’ according to a recent GeoMarketing article, and other large retailers are also reporting growing revenue in the era of Amazon and other direct-to-consumer behemoths.”

The secret to the success of these thriving retailers is (of course) data. Shoppers rank in-store browsing as their top means of product discovery, but digital ads (including mobile) were their second motivator. That means that even for retailers who sell online and in the physical world, getting shoppers into the store can have a powerful impact. Gil Larsen, Blis’s VP Americas has stated, “At every moment, especially in store, there are still ample opportunities to sway consumers even if they are at the point of purchase. Brands that aren’t taking advantage of this additional opportunity to persuade consumers are missing out on critical touchpoints within the purchase journey. By understanding where and what consumers are browsing via location and behavioral data, brands can create more targeted and highly personalized ads, increasingly the likelihood of conversion.”

The takeaway for marketers here is to know your customer and place offers that are meaningful to them in their path at the right time and on the right device. Tropical Smoothie Café used location data to promote a new offering and managed to increase their in-store traffic more than 25 percent over the average in their space. The tactics they used – including targeting competitor customers and retargeting their own visitors – can be used by retailers in nearly any market to drive positive outcomes.

All of these practical lessons have relevance in the new year. In this new and fast-paced world of data-driven marketing, you’re probably already ahead of the curve – after all, you’re reading the Blis blog, aren’t you? By putting your customers first, adhering to best practices, and using only the highest-quality data, you’re setting your organization and yourself up for a prosperous 2019.

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