Marketing strategies have certainly evolved over the years. Going back thousands of years, the earliest form of marketing was simple individual advertising. Merchants would set up a table displaying their wares and engage with passersby in the hopes of making a sale. Since then, the evolution of technology has improved the reach and quality of advertising and information sharing. Companies have increasingly expanded their range as the years go by. Town criers were replaced by newspapers, then came radio followed by television. And finally, the king of them all, the internet. Through the internet, companies can now market their products and services to the entire world.
Now that reach and exposure are addressed by worldwide marketing capabilities, companies have begun to focus on something new called proximity marketing. Proximity marketing has recently been defined and given a place in the marketing mix. But is it really something new or the re-envisioning of an age, old concept? To understand the importance of proximity marketing we need to explore the way in which it was brought to focus through larger initiatives.
Big data and analytics have forever changed the way results are measured and strategies adjusted to optimize a marketing mix. As companies recently adopted the use of analytics to measure and benchmark performance, something wonderful appeared in the data, the conversion rate. The conversion rate is a measurement of how many times a marketing medium is viewed by potential consumers vs. how many of those views resulted in the completion of a goal, such as a sale. With the conversion rate, advertisers can now measure the effectiveness of specific media campaigns and make adjustments to improve marketing strategies and increase ROI.
Understandably, conversion rates have now become one of the primary indicators of marketing performance. A common trend in analytical data is a much higher conversion rate near brick and mortar locations. This is true even through electronic media because of today's mobile connected consumer. Companies have always understood that there is value in local advertising, and conversion analytics confirms this concept. With Geo-targeting, companies can reach local audiences through online media and get them to stores.
Local advertising and careful placement increases conversions but it's still not true individual engagement. Although great strides have been made in targeted advertising, there has still been something missing, until now. Marketing has come full circle since the first man laid his wares out on display and began engaging those who passed by. We've gone from individual to local, to world and now a focus back down to individual engagement is taking place. Traditionally, individual engagement has been the responsibility of the salesperson. However, it is impossible for a salesperson to actively engage every person who enters a store. An active engagement digital solution was needed and found in proximity marketing.
Proximity marketing (also known as hyper-local or location-based marketing) is the localized wireless distribution of advertising content associated with a particular place. Consumers already on location receive targeted offers which increase that ever important conversion rate by connecting them with products they are near. 57% of consumers are more likely to engage with location-based advertising than through other means. Proximity marketing takes advantage of something 87% of the world already owns and uses every day, their smartphones. There are several systems which can actively transmit to cellular phones, but one of the cheapest and most versatile means of marketing using the physical web is through beacons. Beacons are local area transmitters which can push notifications to mobile devices in their vicinity, linking to everything from website URLs to coupons and daily specials.
Some big companies have already opted into the new mobile technology and the results have been nothing short of amazing! Coca-Cola reported a 24% click-through rate on a recent trial run in movie theaters. Half of the clicks resulted in a completed transaction and 60% clicked on the re-targeting ad a week later. McDonald's is a believer in beacons as well. McDonald's reported a staggering 20% conversion rate using the technology. Other retail giants like Target, Walmart, Macy's and Walgreens are also using beacons with great success. The list grows daily as more companies integrate proximity marketing into their advertising strategies. 42% of companies already have beacon technology in place with another 39% saying they will implement proximity marketing within the next three years. Google and Facebook have even taken notice and are working on proximity marketing propositions for local businesses. Android and iOS users can use the BeaconSage app to get lock screen notifications and view beacons.
Beacon technology is growing extremely quickly. To get an idea of the rate of growth, consider this, in-store retail sales influenced by beacon-triggered messages in the United States in 2015 reached $4.1 billion. In 2016, that number is expected to increase to $44.4 billion! By 2018 it is expected that there will be 4.5 million active beacons with 3.5 million of those being used by retailers. Non-profit organizations and event venues have recently begun using beacons as well. The applications for beacons and proximity marketing are still being discovered, but one thing is for sure: the next time you go shopping, you will be engaged.
Statistical Data Source: Search Engine Watch