As so many consumers use mobile to make purchasing decisions on-the-go, the power of location-based email marketing is greater than ever.
Location-based email marketing allows incentives to be delivered at the right time and right place. For example, by creating consumer loyalty reward programs promoted via email, it presents the opportunity to cross-promote other products and services based on where the subscriber is geographically located. It is a powerful medium because it gives marketers the opportunity to engage customers in real-time and deliver value when they’re most receptive.
Starbucks is a company that uses customer loyalty programs promoted through email to its advantage. While the coffee house doesn’t send location-specific emails, Brent Rosengren, chief client officer at Atlanta agency BrightWave, believes it still creates a sense of personal connection through its email messages. Many consumers perceive Starbucks, the largest coffee company on the planet, as their neighborhood cafe because they’re so attached to their regularly visited location. For that reason, people see their emails, which include personalized offers specifically customized with the individual’s name and interpret them as being for specific locations.
“It draws a personal connection that makes it feel like it’s coming from your location, even though they don’t necessarily know where your favorite Starbucks is,” Rosengren says. “I feel as if I’m walking into Starbucks and the barista knows exactly what my order is; I’m not a customer of Starbucks. I’m a customer of the Starbucks on 14th and Second.”
That sentiment mirrors the way people feel about Friendly’s. Bill Chiccarelli, the restaurant chain’s field marketing manager, says that if Friendly’s plans to close 20 locations, people only care if their Friendly’s is one of the 20, and more often than not, this connection is enhanced through personalized email connection.
“We’ve heard it loud and clear,” says Chiccarelli, whose BFF email program is a huge part of the restaurant’s marketing strategy. “People say, ‘That’s my Friendly’s. That’s the one in my town where my neighbor’s kids worked, where I took my kids for ice cream, where I take my grandkids for ice cream.”
This focus on location and personalization in email marketing is especially key where Millennials are concerned, says Rosengren. According to research BrightWave is currently wrapping up on Millennials’ email habits, the younger generation is so tech-savvy that they simply expect marketers to know who they are and what they’re doing. A company that fails to do this will generally be looked at unfavorably by Millennials, he adds.
“I think the expectation they have is, ‘You need to know who I am, you need to know where I am, and if you don’t, I’m going to think poorly of your brand. If you do do those things, I’m not going to give you extra credit,” Rosengren says.
Ray Renteria, vice president of product development at business data provider Avention, thinks there’s a lot more to location-based email marketing than just geography and tagging names onto email messages. In his opinion, the best examples take into consideration are behavioral characteristics like what someone is doing in a specific place at a specific time. For example, if a potential customer is attending a trade show at a nearby convention center, the most important thing to understand is why they’re at the trade show in the first place.
“The idea is to target within some geographical proximity but it’s not just about lat-long,” Renteria says. “That’s the bottom of the hierarchy of location-based marketing. If you move up that stack a little bit, it becomes a function of who’s your best target, who’s your best prospect, and using data to determine that. [Location] is an empty vessel without other [behavioral] attributes.”