This article originally appeared in the Sept. issue of CUSTOMER magazine.
As technology capabilities have advanced and permeated more and more facets of our lives, the line between digital and physical experiences has blurred. So has the border between physical and digital marketing channels. How will this affect the customer experience?
Although science fiction writers generally have a dystopian take on how it will play out, an integration of physical and digital marketing can actually be a very positive development for customers.
Location-aware technology and mobile communication tools like smartphones are enhancing commercial transactions, delivering actionable information to customers in the right place and at the right time. The impact on the customer experience depends on the type of strategy merchants and advertisers adopt.
Some top merchants have begun to link point-of-sale digital signage with mobile messaging capabilities. This can enhance the customer experience with relevant, permission-based communication and targeted offers while generating ROI for retailers.
Proximity Marketing at PoS Drives ROI
Proximity marketing combines digital signage and mobile technology to deliver interactive messages in a multichannel context. Previous attempts to merge marketing channels like text message offers were far less effective since they didn’t take the customer’s location into account.
With proximity marketing, retailers can reach customers in a specific location near the point of sale. That enhances the customer’s experience by providing offers on items in which they’ve already displayed an interest via their presence. And a permission-based messaging strategy, which gives consumers the chance to opt-in before receiving messages, protects customers’ privacy while enhancing their shopping experience.
A restaurant in Canada that deployed a proximity marketing strategy demonstrated the medium’s potential to drive revenue. The restaurant added an interactive component to its existing digital signage, using a proximity marketing transmitter to identify mobile devices within range and broadcast offers to customers. The restaurant generated between $5,000 and $10,000 in additional revenue, improving ROI by up to 660 percent.
It was the most successful marketing campaign in the restaurant’s history.
Customer Consent is the Key
Proximity marketing campaigns like the one at the Canadian restaurant are possible because of technical developments like digital-out-of-home media, such as digital signage and billboards, and the widespread use of mobile devices. DOOH media gives marketers the tools they need to broadcast messages, and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets give customers the tools they need to receive messages when they’re on the go.
With hundreds of millions of smartphones and tablet devices in use worldwide and time spent using mobile devices growing each year, marketers have more opportunities than ever to reach potential customers. By using digital signage as a platform, retailers can now deliver digital offers that are relevant to the customer’s physical location.
Another key factor driving widespread adoption of proximity marketing is the fact that 100 percent of modern smartphones use Bluetooth technology, which enables location awareness. Bluetooth allows compatible devices to communicate at a range of up to 300 feet. Customers already use Bluetooth for many functions; it’s a trusted technology, and its integration into proximity marketing campaigns drives consumer acceptance.
Enhancing the Customer Experience and Protecting Privacy
The customer retail experience can definitely be enhanced by a well-designed proximity marketing strategy. It targets customers who have displayed an interest in the product or service by visiting the retail location. It asks customers for permission prior to sending messages. Retailers and marketers can send rich media messages that contain valuable offers that help customers save money.
A well-designed proximity marketing strategy also builds in customer privacy protection. Proximity marketing tools that use Bluetooth technology safeguard vital data since the only identifying information transmitted is a hardware signature. That means no phone numbers, customer names or other private data is collected. Retailers and marketers still gain valuable insights on their customer base and campaign success by analyzing responses and other data in real-time.
By blurring the line between digital and physical space, proximity marketing is changing the way customers engage with store locations and interact with brands and products. The exchange of messages and delivery of offers in close proximity to the point of sale foster a greater sense of engagement, which fundamentally changes the customer experience.
Proximity marketing offers a whole new take on the traditional commercial experience, providing context and immediacy that have the potential to change the way consumers and brands do business as fundamentally as social media changed interpersonal communication. In this way, it is transforming the customer experience.
Alex Romanov is CEO at iSIGN Media (http://isignmedia.com/), a North American multiplatform advertising solutions company that utilizes Bluetooth, mobile, Wi-Fi and location-aware technologies to deliver rich media, permission-based messages to engage consumers more deeply and cost-effectively.
Edited by Braden Becker