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5 Creative Location-Based Strategies Mobile Marketers Can Use to Drive Holiday Foot Traffic

The holidays are coming up, meaning in just a few months, brick and mortar retailers are going to be knees deep in ornaments and tree clippings, gearing up for the biggest sales season of the year.

It’s never too early to start preparing for the holidays. Christmas might be a couple months off, but believe us, consumers are already writing up their wish lists. Brick and mortar stores looking to make the most out of location-based retail strategies during the holidays should combine the five examples above. The holidays are the most important time of year for retailers; let’s go into the season with guns blazing. 

What is location-based advertising?

Simply put, location-based advertising lets brands market their products to consumers in a specific location, leveraging the fact that people are almost always with or on their phones.. The technology uses location data on mobile devices to pinpoint where consumers are located, enabling marketers to personalize messages to users in particular locations in real-time.

According to Facebook, mobile affects 56% of in-store sales. That’s huge. In the past, brick and mortars were afraid that digital e-commerce would decrease in-store activity, but the truth is that for retailers to be successful, the two must work in tandem — especially considering that consumers who use digital while shopping in-store convert at a 20% higher rate than those who don’t.

Location-based advertising can be used during all times of year, but by coupling this highly effective mobile advertising strategy with the bustling holiday season, retailers can win big and bring herds of mobile users to local brick and mortars.

Here are 5 location-based mobile advertising strategies brick and mortars can use to drive foot traffic to their stores during the busiest time of year.

5 location-based retail strategies for the holidays

1. Facebook dynamic ads for retail

In September 2016, Facebook extended its dynamic ads capabilities to brick and mortar retailers. Until now, retailers could only use simple Facebook ads to promote their in-store products, with no way of tailoring their ads by local product availability, local pricing differences, or local promotions.

But with dynamic ads, brick and mortar businesses can customize their ads based on shop location, showing which items are available in specific local shops to smartphone users in those areas.

facebook dynamic ads for retail


This new update could be a game changer, as merchandise runs out quickly this time of year. As you’re gearing up for the holidays, you can try creating a dynamic ad for a special Christmas sale. Consumers viewing the Facebook ad in New York City and consumers viewing it in Boston will only see which items are available near them. Instead of seeing irrelevant ads displaying products that might not even be available for purchase, the consumer can then contact the nearest shop, buy online, or bookmark the product for later.

In addition, the targeting in Facebook’s Shop Visits feature helps brick and mortars advertise their stores to consumers who are most likely to visit their shops, which in turn decreases the stores’ cost per shop visit.

2. Snapchat geofilter campaigns

In early September, Bloomingdale’s celebrated the fall launch of its 100 Percent campaign by creating an in-store scavenger hunt with Snapchat’s geofilters. Inspired by Pokemon Go, Bloomingdale’s attracted consumers in-store by hiding hundreds of Snapchat geofilters at local stores across the country. The retail giant prompted shoppers to visit their local branch, search the store for hidden geotags, and snap a picture or video. This would enter consumers in a contest to win a range of prizes.

It’s been over ten years, roughly since the birth of Facebook, that retailers have been trying to master the art of social media marketing. This type of location-based advertising marks a new age in truly being able to bridge the gap between digital and in-store experiences. This holiday season, retailers looking to make the most out of their online profiles should consider running similar location-based campaigns. It’s an innovative approach to dramatically increase foot traffic to brick and mortar locations, and it has the added bonus of driving real consumer engagement with your brand on mobile.

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3. Google Display Network location extensions

This fall, during New York City’s Advertising Week, Google announced new products to help brands and marketers combine their digital ads with their in-store sales. According to Google, 30% of smartphone users who visit a website or app on their phones buy something in-store within a day.

At the event, Google released its Location Extensions feature, which “encourages people to visit you in person” by adding a location tag (including address, Google Map directions, phone number, business hours, and more) on Google Display Network advertisements. In addition, Google added measurements such as “store visits for display” to help retailers measure the impact location advertisements have on their in-store visits.

Location Extensions and Store Visits

Home Depot, for example, used location extensions on display ads targeted towards home decor enthusiasts browsing on their phones within 15 miles of a Home Depot store. The campaign delivered 8x in-store ROI, and 93% of sales generated by the ads happened in-store.

This coming December, brick and mortars can build customized Christmas themed display ad campaigns that target nearby people. The amount of foot traffic generated by ads is bound to multiply during the busy holiday season.

4. Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go was the hit of the summer, but just because the craze has seemingly slowed down doesn’t mean that brick and mortars should write off the in-store traffic opportunities just yet. (After all, Pokemon-branded merchandise is still on the rise.)

In July, when Niantic and Nintendo released Pokemon Go, we heard stories of brick and mortars located near PokeSpots or Gyms profiting from the immense amount of foot traffic. Soon after recognizing the revenue potential, Niantic opened their app to “sponsored locations.” McDonald’s in Japan became the first sponsor, and with the help of Niantic turned their 3,000 Japanese branches into Pokemon Go gyms.

But as many have pointed out, retailers don’t need to be as huge as McDonald’s to benefit. In New York, for example, a pizza restaurant owner paid $10 to have a dozen Pokemon lured to his store. His pizza sales went up by 75%. That’s significant ROI for such a small budget.

The age range for Pokemon Go is young, with about two-thirds of players in the lucrative 18-24 millennial market. If retailers are already selling products targeting this age range, Pokemon Go can be a great way to get foot traffic to the store during the holidays.

5. Beacon advertising
inmarket-mobile-beacon-hero

Increasingly, brick and mortar stores are taking advantage of beacon technology, which uses bluetooth low energy (BLE) devices that transmit an identifier to track users’ physical location and trigger a location-based action. The beacon emits a BLE signal communicating that a smartphone with the retailer’s mobile app installed is in the same range as the corresponding device sitting in the retailer’s store.

In malls, shopping outlets, and airports, each of which are notoriously packed during the holiday season, stores can use beacons to determine that a user is near their store and send personalized, tailored push notifications promoting a sale to lure the nearby user in. Typically, push notifications receive a 4% to 8% open rate, but beacon-driven notifications receive 25% to 30%.

“Get 15% off your total purchase if you use this offer within the next hour,” a notification might read.

Once retailers get users inside, beacon technology can keep consumers in-store for longer, by helping consumers navigate to a specific section, shelf, product, etc.

Even if retailers don’t have a huge amount of engagement, or a large user base on their mobile apps, they can still partner with beacon providers and destination apps (like Foursquare) that have millions of users to get the most out of beacon technology.

This highly personalized strategy helps brick and mortar stores overcome the challenge of in-store marketing. Over time, beacon technology can also help apps learn which promotions are most relevant and which items their users like, ultimately increasing consumer engagement long term. It’s effortless for the user, but means everything for the retailer.

Today, with the majority of people attached to their phone at the fingers, it’s becoming increasingly important for brick and mortar retailers to bridge the gap between mobile product searching and in-store conversions. By incorporating location-based retail strategies into their marketing toolsets, retailers can take advantage of data driven solutions that target and pinpoint relevant consumers. Such location-based retail strategies present retailers with the opportunity to dramatically increase their in-store sales.

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