Your Customers Deserve Better Than Real Time Geo-fencing

Brick and mortar businesses like restaurants and retailers have an enormous opportunity to interact with their customers through digital. Mobile and connected devices are the best chance for marketers to get across to their audience since the invention of the television. For some obvious and some not obvious reasons, this massive change in the way people behave has been much more beneficial to online than offline businesses. In order to survive, traditional brick and mortar businesses will need to think more like the startups and online businesses that threaten their existence. Here are some tips to re-orient the way you think of marketing to offline customers:

1. Be Adaptive

The goal of the people who make our devices is to keep users looking at their screen for as long as possible and coming back as often as possible. Thus it would naturally benefit web-based businesses in a much larger way because part of that attention on their screens keeps driving purchases and ad revenue. And while restaurants and brick and mortar businesses have seen decreasing store traffic because of some factors out of their control, they have often not adapted and equipped themselves to succeed. Part of this responsibility falls on the marketers, and part of it falls on tech vendors for putting other priorities first. Most marketing teams are using systems built for e-commerce, regardless of their business model. They are built to mimic the experiences of online companies. Marketing for offline businesses requires a much different set of tools than for online businesses.

For e-commerce, it is as easy as linking a series of taps or clicks to get the user’s attention, driving them to a landing page, and creating the path of least resistance to buy. For brick and mortar businesses it is much different. Where a user can create an online purchase from anywhere, in order for a message from a brick and mortar store to lead to a purchase it requires that the message be delivered in context to where they’re going and what they’re doing. Location matters when you receive a push notification from your favorite coffee shop because with brick and mortar, there is an extra step. Instead of clicking a button, you have to convince them to actually get up and walk into your store. Therefore, you have to engage them at a time when it is most convenient for them.

2. Be Prescriptive

Mobile phones are a huge opportunity to create customer moments that lead to behavior. We call them moments because they are not transactional in nature. It is not just point and click, it is luring them to you in a way curb appeal never could. You have the opportunity to provide real value in a moment of need. Whether that need be information, goods, or offers, you can achieve these moments when you’re there for your customers in the exact right place at the exact right time in context to what they’re doing. In order for your business to succeed above your online and offline competition, you have to know what people are going to do before they do it. Only then can you effectively influence their behaviors. For example, if your store sits next to a highway, you can’t use a real-time geofence because people are miles down the road before they see your message. Or if they’re walking quickly on their way to work, by the time they enter your geo-fence they likely don’t have time to stop for coffee at your shop.

Customers who feel like a brand adds value in the right moment are five times more likely to make a repeat purchase than those who feel like you’re just trying push your product. In order to add value it is important to reach your customers at times they are making decisions, and that means reaching them before they reach your geofence.