Businesses are already leverage geolocation strategies using customer-facing apps like Foursquare, and back-end location data platforms (that customers don’t interact with directly) such as Blis and Navmart.
Consumers with smartphones are already using many geolocation apps—think about the rapid growth of geolocation-based businesses like Uber. There are also many rebate apps, such as ShopKick, that will ping a user when they’re near a store where a special offer is available. Some rebate apps even let users earn points toward rewards like gift cards, simply for walking into a store.
Consider how Pokémon Go became a worldwide craze a couple of years ago, and you’ll start to understand the power of a GPS-driven sales plan. Geolocation is trending, and there are plenty of ways small businesses and startups can leverage the technology to boost sales. If you’re looking for ways to boost the effectiveness of your sales strategy, here are some ways to get started.
1. Location-based offers
The ability to provide offers based on your consumers’ location is invaluable, especially for companies serving a global audience. For instance, the might include offering a product for cold weather when snow hits in a specific region. Types of offers can vary widely, but if you look at local events, socioeconomic challenges, and preferences, you should be able to brainstorm the perfect offer for the location you are currently targeting.
You can easily tie into big events in your area, including festivals and holidays. Try to really think outside the box with this type of geolocation targeting. What’s unique about the area you’re focusing on, and how can your business tie into this unique quality?
2. Merging brick-and-mortar and online shopping
Many retailers with brick and mortar stores are struggling, in part because if they don’t have something in stock, people just purchase it from an online competitor such as Amazon.
But, merging geolocation technology into your inventory system can help drive traffic back to local stores. This is especially useful if you have more than one location. If people visiting your website can see that the item they want is actually in stock in your physical store, they’re more likely to give you their business. People do still want to have their items immediately, if possible.
Big companies like Walmart.com use this approach—customers can enter their ZIP code to see what’s available at their local store in real time. Kohls offers something similar.
But it’s not just a tool for giant corporations. One way that small businesses can take advantage of this tactic is through cloud-based inventory management software. Small businesses can use cloud-based software that utilizes real-time sales analytics to make sure their stock levels are automatically updated every time a sale is made.
This allows both the physical and cyber stores to stay as up to date as possible. It’s simply not possible to have the same level of insight and control when you’re tracking your inventory in excel spreadsheets or using an inventory system that’s not in the cloud.
3. Create sales territories
Creating sales territories helps your team become more efficient. This approach helps your team manage their time and resources better with more efficient travel routes and fewer issues with overlapping efforts.
Think about a sales team without territories: Two or more salespeople may touch base with the same customer. Not only is this inefficient, but it can be irritating to a customer who is trying to weigh options. It is almost like in-person spam.
Now, consider a sales team with territories. Each person has specific customers to reach out to, and there are no duplicate efforts. A company can reach out to even more potential customers at the same time.
While sales territories aren’t a new strategy, it is important to note that the sales territories of today are becoming more advanced thanks to data-mapping technologies. No longer is a sales territory just populated by potential customers. Mapping technologies can now be imported with outside data that allows sales territories to become a more personal view of a potential customer that when analyzed will assist in reaching out to that customer.
4. Analyze your data
Studies have proven that companies that implement a scientific approach to sales see as much as a 200 percent increase in overall productivity. One of the benefits of analyzing online stats is that when you’re forecasting future sales, you’ll have a lot more detail on what the consumer is buying than if you try to guess based on an average customer model.
Instead of assuming a 35-year-old soccer mom will want your product, you’ll know exactly which soccer moms have done a search online for a product like yours and which ones live in your area. These details can be priceless.
Data analysis tool options range from free to paid. For businesses new to data analysis, Google Analytics is a great tool that’s easy to learn and free. IBM offers both free and paid versions of their IBM Watson Analytics. Consider your knowledge about data and how complex you want your data reports to be and find the best analytics option for your business.
You can also use your findings to target consumers with paid online advertising on Facebook or other social media platforms, really increasing their effectiveness. For example, you can use Facebook lead ads—ads that ask users to complete a form to get more information about your company—to gain highly targeted leads. Facebook offers a variety of targeting options so that your ads reach people in your target demographic.
However, if you’re just guessing and not basing your targeting on data analysis of your current customers, your ads are a lot less likely to be effective—which is why data is so important.
5. Ping the customer
Another thing a geolocation app can do is remind customers to come into your store when they’re nearby. Imagine your typical foot traffic at your local mall is busiest on the weekends, but some of your customers forget to stop in. You can now push out a reminder at a high traffic time via an app you’ve enticed a customer to download.
If you have the resources to create your own app unique to your store, feel free to take that route. For businesses where that isn’t an option, apps such as Shopify allow you to manage and customize every aspect of your discounts and offers.
You can offer a limited discount, let them know about a new product that has arrived and is in stock—you’ll know what they want, after all, because you have all this data gathered from the apps, platforms, and strategies outlined above—or simply ask them to come by and check out your in-store specials. One of the biggest benefits of geolocation for sales is the ability to send relevant offers just when customers will pay the most attention to them.
6. Create a value exchange
For geolocation to work effectively, people have to allow you to track their location in the first place. For some people, this might seem a bit creepy. After all, you don’t want someone to know when you leave your house, or when your teenager is shopping alone at the local mall. Nervousness about being monitored may be enough to turn some people off from allowing geolocation services on their phones.
However, if you can offer them something of value and establish trust in the relationship, they may just get on board. For example, give them an instant discount for downloading the app and allowing tracking. Also, don’t try to force them to complete lengthy signups for mailing lists. You can push an ad to them anytime you want via the app, although you should limit this only to things your research shows they will be interested in. The last thing you want is for them to feel like you’re over-communicating or spamming them.
Geolocation tools and strategies are very likely to grow in the coming years. More and more businesses are finding ways to integrate it into their sales and marketing strategies.
Leveraging big data to grow your business and increase sales might seem complicated, but don’t let the wealth of options overwhelm you. Start simple, and see what works for your company.