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GeoMarketing 101: What Is Proximity Marketing?

Proximity Marketing lies at the intersection of mobile and location, where big things are happening for marketers.

From geo-targeting to beacons, location-based technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers — but it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important “geo” concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: understanding proximity marketing.

What Is Proximity Marketing?

Proximity marketing refers to the use of location technology to communicate with consumers in a certain place via their mobile device.

This can take several forms: It could involve setting up a geo-fence, so that customers who pass within a certain distance of a store receive a message or see a special offer. Or, in a business that has deployed beacons, opted-in consumers could receive beacon-triggered messages while shopping in the physical location.

Essentially, the idea is that communication between a business and consumer — whether that means ads, greetings, or otherwise — is more successful when it is relevant, and understanding a user’s location makes it more likely that the message will reach them at a time and place when they can be receptive. For example, when is it particularly likely that a customer would stop and try a new type of dish soap? When they’re passing near a supermarket — and then especially if they’re already inside shopping in the dish soap aisle.

How Are Brands Using Proximity Marketing?

As marketers have increasingly grown to understand the efficacy of incorporating location data, proximity marketing has taken on a new life over the past two years — and there are plenty of examples of its use.

Both Lord & Taylor and Macy’s have deployed beacons across their U.S. stores, and Macy’s looked to a combination of geo-fencing and the Bluetooth proximity devices to facilitate a 2015 Black Friday campaign.

Here’s how it worked: Before Thanksgiving weekend, Macy’s geo-targeted mobile users near a Macy’s location, encouraging them to download the Macy’s app (meaning that the store could then send them in-app beacon-triggered messages). Then, if these customers walked into a Macy’s on Black Friday — having downloaded the app — they received an alert letting them know that they could play the “Walk in and Win” game in order to win prizes ranging from gift cards to celebrity meetings. Macy’s called the proximity targeting effort “highly successful.”

There are plenty of examples of geo-fenced ad campaigns, but that Macy’s case study makes for a particularly interesting one because it combined “nearby” proximity marketing (users passing near a store) with the more specific example of on-premise targeting.

To learn more about the diverse applications of proximity marketing — and why location data is inexorably linked to in-store sales — check out the links below.

How Brands Can Resist The ‘Commodification’ Of Proximity Marketing Data

xAd Location Ads Produces 34 Percent Rise In Denny’s In-Store Visits

What The Coming 30,000 Local Political Campaigns Can Teach Retailers About Geo-Targeting