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For SMBs’ Tight Budgets, Location Data Analyzing Foot Traffic Should Pay For Itself

AreaMetrics’ Carey and Brandon Bennett have found that analyzing brick-and-mortar foot traffic data is key to understanding the in-store impact of every marketing dollar spent.

The perennial marketing problem associated with Big Data is that the resulting information overload prevents any real action from being taken. Seattle-based analytics company AreaMetrics is aiming to solve that problem for SMBs who want to get a clear handle on whether or not their digital ads are driving foot traffic to their places of business.

After a recent relocation to Seattle from Honolulu, two of AreaMetrics founders, Carey Bennett and Brandon Bennett, who are married, secured $2 million in funding, which is going to use helping the company expand from its current client base centering on big-box retailers, to a wider variety of businesses including big chain restaurants.

One thing they’ve found as they’ve expanded their client base is that smaller businesses tend to not have the manpower or technical ability to fully make use of the foot traffic data (collected by iBeacons) that AreaMetrics provides the way larger retailers can.

To make up for the attenuated marketing tech budgets that SMBs have, the Bennetts promise direct results for dollars spent by providing a dedicated team who focus solely on analyzing and putting to use accurate location and foot traffic data as the “key to leveling the playing field between online and offline retailers,” Cary Bennett said.

GeoMarketing: How can SMBs find complements in analyzing their online and offline data?

Brandon Bennett: The fact that the offline establishment has the capability to show tangible goods rather than where people who are shopping online order something, they don’t like it, they ship it back. When you see something in the physical store, you know exactly what it is. On the other hand, the online world has far, far more data about what the customer’s typical online behaviors are and what they’re likely to be interested in.

90 percent of dollars are spent in the real world and yet all of this data is only available online.

Carey Bennett: Using beacons, we’re trying to level the playing field to get offline stores that data. We want people to know what floor do people come into their stores on, where do they go first, really understanding their path. It’s like a click-through on a website. You can see where they go, in what order, and what they ultimately end up doing. We’re trying to provide that same online-style data to retailers.

Do you visualize the store’s sales and visitation the same way as what a website attracts?

CB: Time on site is like click through rate. I can see the walking patterns, the time spent, all the same things you can see through Google Analytics on a website but for a physical store.

Do retailers who have an online presence already understand the importance of that data better?

BB: Absolutely. The larger their online presence, the more understanding they have of the power of this data. When they’re large enough, they have enough technical power to know what to do with it, but smaller retailers will have a bit more of a problem understanding the use of that data.

CB: Even if the team is large enough, they don’t necessarily know what to do with that data.

Do you consult with the retailers to help them understand what to do with the data?

CB: We used to work with a lot smaller companies who didn’t really know how to use the data we were giving them, so we built a dashboard to kind of help them understand what’s the best way to take advantage of the data. We noticed that the largest companies would rather take our raw data and create their own system for managing it.

How are restaurants different than big box retailers in terms of location data?

BB: They’re after a lot of the same things, but restaurants are particularly interested in a certain metric: are they successful at attracting people to walk in off the street. So we measure for them things like how many people are walking by vs. how many people are coming in. That way they can test out new promotions and new signs and ads outside the store to see if that affects how many people see them and walk inside.

From the data you’ve seen, what’s the best thing retailers can do to take advantage of location data?

BB: You have to truly understand the impact of your marketing dollars. There’s a lot of things that you can measure but it’s most effective when you can validate the impact of when you spend money on marketing. It’s not just “what does my foot traffic look like,” it’s what impact do these different types of marketing initiatives have on my customers and are my dollars being spent correctly.

CB: Invest in a team. Smaller companies can do one or two people, but every business that collects foot traffic data like we do should have a team of people who can dedicate their time to analyzing that data and putting it to work.

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.