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Walked Right into That One: How Location Technologies Revolutionize Customer Engagement

Staying one step ahead of the competition, optimizing customer experience and building loyalty to power growth means constantly looking for new ways to reach consumers with personalized, valuable content. The Power of location technologies in achieving that goal is present and undeniable, so we decided to dive a little deeper

Picture this; you’re walking through an unfamiliar part of town, heading for a conference you’re speaking at in a neighborhood in which you’ve never set foot. After half an hour, you realize that you’ve just passed that cafe on the right for the third time. You’re meant to be on stage delivering your presentation in 10 minutes, but at this rate, you’re going to miss the entire event … Fifteen years ago, you would have had to admit defeat and popped into that cafe to ask for directions, but today, whipping out your smartphone and plugging your destination into Google Maps will reveal exactly where you are, and exactly how to get to where you’re going. Looks like you’ll have to make that presentation after all … 

Location-tracking isn’t new, but what IS relatively new is marketers utilizing these capabilities to create hyper-personalized messaging and content that reach users at the precise moment they’re primed to engage – and by default, elevate engagement and compel a purchase: 

  • 91% of marketers believe that location data is a key ingredient in driving personalized campaigns (MarTech Today) 
  • 59% of consumers are willing to share their location data in exchange for personalized in-store offers and promotions (Accenture) 
  • Location-based push notifications have a 60% higher open rate compared to non-location-based notifications (LeanPlum) 

To help your team start thinking about upping the ante around their personalization efforts with location technologies, we’ve taken a closer look at the most commonly used ones, along with a few use cases, to get the inspiration flowing. Jump in, and start planning! 

Beacon Technology 

Using beacon technology – small, battery-powered devices (beacons) that communicate with nearby mobile devices through Bluetooth low energy (BLE) signals – is a relatively quick and low-investment way for brands to connect with customers in their brick-and-mortar locations. They can be implemented almost anywhere throughout a brick-and-mortar store (really useful in areas where smartphones might not have a GPS signal), so that when a customer passes one of these innocuous devices, a relevant, personalized message can be triggered and sent. 

Perhaps the most compelling use-case for beacons, however, is that they enable brands to capture invaluable customer data as they move around a physical location in real-time; where do they spend most of their time in-store? Which areas do they avoid, or pass through quickly? Which products do they purchase together? With these rich customer insights, brands have the data to hand to help them continually fine-tune their messaging and amplify their personalization efforts. 

By utilizing these tiny devices, brands can deliver highly targeted, valuable content and offers to customers based on their location and preferences: 

  • In-store navigation: Beacons can be used to provide customers with indoor navigation support, helping them to find products and get around the store more easily. 
  • Personalized promotions: Beacons are perfect for delivering targeted offers and promotions to customers based on their location, purchase history and preferences. So for example when a customer walks through the very department where their online ‘wish-list’ sneakers are on sale, a timely, unmissable discount via push notification would be the perfect trigger action. 
  • Customer engagement:  Beacons are great when it comes to elevating the personalized in-store shopping experience, and by default, engaging customers at precisely the right moment. As customers walk around a store, beacons have the capability to deliver interactive experiences straight to customer smartphones: so when a customer is in-store browsing a new range of cosmetics, for example, the trigger action could be an SMS with a link to a product demo video, along with a buy-one-get-second-half-price offer. Irresistible! 
  • Ordering and payment: Everyone loves a quick and easy purchase experience, especially when they’re pushed for time. For example, in QSRs, beacons can be implemented to enable customers to place orders and make payments directly from their mobile devices – so they can grab lunch and head back to the office without the usual time-wasting queuing. 


Geo-fencing is a location-based technology that creates a virtual boundary around a physical location using GPS or RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology. They can be created around a small physical location like the areas around a shop or shopping mall, or around an area as large as an entire city.  

Part of the brilliance of geofencing is in the sheer flexibility it offers; complex geofence perimeters involving intricate polygons around very specific areas are totally achievable, allowing businesses to be very precise about where they want the geofences to be – and where they don’t want them  (freeways, for example, where it’s not going to be appropriate to disturb drivers). It’s also entirely possible to have hundreds or even thousands of geofences – or even geofences within geofences! But however they’re used, geofencing is a very, very powerful message-targeting tool that allows for personalization efforts to get really creative … 

Geofencing in action 

  • Foot traffic optimization: For example, a push notification or SMS with an invite to a live product launch event happening ‘in store now!”, with a redeemable discount code on the new product range, or a QR code to present at the till for a discount on the jeans the customer left in their online shopping cart last week. They can also be used to trigger an event as a customer leaves a physical location, so for example, “Enjoyed your visit? Rate us on Tripadvisor and enjoy 10% off at our cafe next time you’re in-store!”. 
  • Competitor campaigns: Geofences are the perfect tool to implement around competitor locations – aka geo-conquesting – so that brands can capture customers when they’re in these locations, and ship campaigns that reach them with personalized promotions and compelling content created to keep them from straying. So for example, if a customer is nearing a competitor store, your geofence around that location could trigger a very compelling time-sensitive offer that lures them away from your competitor and straight back into your arms; “We think you’ll love these pants so here’s 20% off if you purchase in-store before 5pm!” 
  • Loyalty programs: Geofencing can be used to reward customers who frequently visit specific locations. So for example, if a customer visits a store 2 or 3 times a month, geofencing might trigger a push notification on their 3rd visit with a coupon to use if they visit again before a certain date; “Hey, Joe – great to see you in-store again today! Here’s a 15% off coupon to use against that jacket you’ve got your eye on if you visit again before the weekend!”. 

NFC (Near Field Communication) 

Not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of location targeting, NFC – or near field communication – made its debut in 2002, and today is frequently utilized by big brands to connect with customers to deliver these hyper-impactful moments that can make or break a campaign.  

NFC works by enabling nearby NFC-enabled smartphones to communicate with an RFID chip (radio frequency identification), so the chip can send content to the smartphone user. Most commonly used in stores for contactless payments, brick-and-mortar brands that have cottoned on to its capabilities use the NFC to instantly share content (video, product reviews, etc) when a customer points their smartphones at the chip, usually found on in-store posters, at points-of-sale, flyers, product shelves, or even on the products themselves.   

NFC in action 

  • Product discovery: When a customer enters a store, their NFC-enabled smartphone can be used to browse NFC-tagged products,  learn more about them, and enjoy personalized offers and discounts that they can redeem on the items they try on. 
  • Coupon and discounts distribution: NFC tags can also be placed at the front of a store to trigger the sending of coupons, in-store event invites, and product demos as customers enter. 
  • Capturing invaluable first-party data: As customers walk around a store and interact with products (much like beacons), brands can gather invaluable customer insights that can help to enhance personalization efforts. 
  • Customer Loyalty Programs: An NFC tag could be placed at the entrance of a store; when the customer taps their phone to the tag, they are automatically enrolled in the store’s loyalty program. Points could be accumulated with each visit and later redeemed for rewards. 
  • Contactless payments: Place NFC tags in-store where customers can tap their phone on the tag to quickly and securely make a payment.  

A final word 

Optimizing the customer experience and building the loyalty needed to power growth and stay one step ahead of the competition means constantly looking for new ways to reach consumers with personalized, valuable content. As we make big strides into hyper-personalization, we’ll see more and more brands – big and small – refocus their strategies around location technologies to deliver moments that really matter to customers. To find out how Optimove can help your business reach its personalization goals through location-based marketing, let’s get the conversation started

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Pauline Fyfe

Pauline is a content writer, copywriter, and marketing professional who specializes in writing for start-ups, scale-ups and growing tech brands. She graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in London with an MA in Design at a time when the Internet was just coming into being. Deciding that’s where her real interests lay, she’s pursued a career focused on digital marketing ever since - and never looked back!