At the right time in the right place with the right content

The smartphone has become an integral part of the customer journey for many individuals. Used as a personal shopping advisor on the shopping tour, the smartphone has long been an important tool for making purchasing decisions. And this is not only true for online shopping: in stationary retail, too, buyers can use their mobile companion to obtain suggestions or additional information about a product. They compare prices via smartphone and regularly read article reviews. The current G+J e|MS Mobile 360° study shows that collecting information before a purchase is no longer reserved for online trading: 27 percent of German mobile users use their smartphone to call up additional information about interesting products in the store and 26 percent compare prices directly on the sales floor.

The stationary trade is thus catching up with big steps when it comes to digitization. Because one thing is certain: the future of retail sales is digital. More and more smartphone users, especially the younger ones, have activated Bluetooth permanently. The digital consumer expects personalized address in combination with fast response times and services. At the same time, they want to be informed and entertained. In order to meet these expectations, Proximity Marketing, also known as Bluetooth marketing, is the key to success.

The digital and physical complement each other in Proximity Marketing

While Location Based Marketing covers entire areas with an accuracy of approx. 50 meters, the subcategory Proximity Marketing is mostly conducted at the shop level. With Proximity Marketing, the customer can be located with centimetre precision and thus content can be played even more focused. The target group is thus reached where it is easiest to activate: directly in front of the advertised product or service. The decisive factor in this form of digital marketing is “proximity”, i.e. the ability to communicate in a truly personalized way. The customer’s location serves as the most important information and trigger.

Revolution of the customer experience

Whether cinema operators distribute popcorn vouchers to visitors in the waiting area via a push message or the shopping centre navigates passers-by to an opening event of a shop, the application possibilities are manifold. At the point-of-sale, the chocolate manufacturer promotes its current campaign with a competition that sweetens the start of the new year or suggests recipes for chocolate cookies – the shopping list is also included. The drugstore chain reminds you directly in front of the shelf of the shower gel coupon available in the customer app. Ideally, the coupon is personalized and based on the customer’s history. The latest body lotion matching the shower gel is advertised via cross-selling. Consumers who actively decide to be addressed with this form of customer-centric marketing and service communication expect an enhanced product experience. To ensure that this is really fun, branded companies and marketers need to be creative.

The technology behind Proximity Marketing

The most common technical principle on which Proximity Marketing is based is a transmitter known as a beacon, which usually uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart. Depending on the provider, this can be as large as a two-euro piece and can thus be installed inconspicuously with a range of between ten and 30 metres. Via Bluetooth, the beacon can communicate with the shopper’s smartphone via a retail, manufacturer or customer loyalty application. When a smartphone that supports the technology and has a suitable app approaches the transmitter, the appropriately configured app plays out content such as competitions, additional product information or discount campaigns.

If several beacons are installed, the technology can be used to determine the exact position of the customer. The main challenge for the implementation of this technology at the moment are on-site conditions such as concrete walls or safety glass panes in the store. In addition, WLAN and Bluetooth may overlap, which often delays the transmission of messages. If, however, obstacles of this kind are taken into account right from the beginning, nothing should stand in the way of the use of Proximity Marketing – provided the technology is serviced regularly. 

Clear focus on customer benefits

Even if the technology opens up many possibilities, one thing should be clear: the focus is on the consumer and his needs, not on the product or the company itself. Parallels to social media and corporate blogs can be clearly seen here: Proximity Marketing will only be successful in the long run if I offer the consumer real added value or significant information. Clumsy advertising messages without a concrete offer or irrelevant information are boring and lead neither to brand loyalty nor to purchase. Because with Proximity Marketing, brands can also be managed in a targeted manner.

What counts for Proximity Marketing is relevance

As in marketing in general, the following applies: the better I know a customer, the more specifically I can address him. In the best case, customer profiles are stored in the app so that customers can be segmented according to their purchase history. Not everyone is automatically the right contact at the point-of-sale, for example for baby food! An evaluation of each individual campaign is particularly important in the initial phase in order to find out what is well received by consumers and what is not. Each campaign should claim for itself that the customer feels personally addressed with his needs. The information should generally be relevant for the customer, arouse or remind of a need and make its fulfilment tangible. Because what counts at the end of the day is the concrete customer benefit. Only if the customer recognizes a clear added value for himself, will he also use the content of the received push message. Ideally, this should then fully meet the customer’s expectations.

About the Author

Account Director Helen Mack HBI
Helen Mack
Account Director bei HBI Helga Bailey GmbH – International PR & MarCom

After a short excursion into marketing, Helen Mack has been serving HBI customers in the B2B sector for more than 15 years. Her current focus is on the exciting topics of sustainability, retail technology and logistics. In addition to consulting, her current tasks include text creation and event organization. Always in focus: how to increase the market presence and success of our clients.
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