Location and the link to visitor engagement

Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

CMO Innovation had the opportunity to meet up with Özer Dondurmacıoğlu, the general manager of Meridian when he was in town last month. Meridian is a mobile-app software platform from Aruba Networks for advanced location-based features to improve visitor engagement.

With all the interest in location technology, we wanted to learn more about leveraging how location technology to increase engagement, how marketers can implement it, and the future of the technology.

How to use location tech

So how can location technology be deployed? Dondurmacıoğlu shared a couple of real-life implementations of location technology. The first lets users place a food order using an app, and then head straight to an express pick up line to collect their food - with instructions on how to get there, of course.

“It will tell you the closest offers based on where I am, what the beverage options are, and where to go to the pickup. You can add to your cart, and then follow the directions to the express pick up line,” he said. This could be implemented on employee-only apps, too, allowing them to find users for “in-seat delivery” service at venues such as stadiums or theatres.

Alternatively, friends can locate each other within the office, or at large scale events. He said: “You can try to find your friends within the location. The [Meridian] software development kit allows [for] smartphone to smartphone interaction. Meridian Apps act like a transport. You can find your location not only to placemarks, but also to people through their smartphones,” said Dondurmacıoğlu.

“Location technology is just one of the features for building a useful app,” he said, pointing to Levis stadium in Santa Clara, United States as an example of a success story. The stadium successfully increased the total number of user accounts from 17,000 names to 50,000 in their marketing database after revamping their user app to incorporate location capabilities, as well as bringing in $1.2 million in app sales alone and doubling their revenue.

Özer Dondurmacıoğlu, General Manager, Meridian

Start with a clear vision

Marketers looking to incorporate location technology need to first ask themselves if they have a clear vision and strategy to engage with their fans, says Dondurmacıoğlu. This is important as brands must identify and create engagements with their most valuable customers in this age of smartphones and multi-screening.

“The people in your fan database, people who care about your brands, the travelers, the frequent shoppers – they spend up to two to three times more with you than your regular shoppers. Since you can’t reach everyone in the world, you [need to] prioritize your VIP list,” he said.

“Do I have a customer relationship database? Do I know who are my big spenders? What is the next time to do to engage with them? Do I have enough budget to [incorporate] mobile web or an app? If the answer is yes, then I have a strategy,” said Dondurmacıoğlu.

The app angle is crucial, as the advanced features of Meridian does require active communication with smartphones. But how to convince users to download the app, much less launch it? Dondurmacıoğlu pointed out that users download an app not because of its cool location feature, but because they find it useful. These capabilities will obviously need to be planned and built into any app incorporating location technology.

The future of location

What does the future of location technology look like? Dondurmacıoğlu compared it to when Wi-Fi technology was first popularized, with dozens of Wi-Fi device makers entering the space with competing products. Similarly, he noted that there are probably over 30 vendors offering some form of location technology today.

Dondurmacıoğlu warned however, that ability to scale is where the rubber meets the road. Brands looking to deploy in an arena such as a stadium, for instance, or locations where the footfall number into the tens of thousands will need to consider three considerations, he said.

He ticked them off: infrastructure to support the load, integration of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth location based technology for the greatest accuracy, and integration. The last requirement includes integration of digital placemarks and maps with the physical environment, which ranges from people, IoT hardware and other physical devices such as lighting and digital signage displays.

Crucially, the integration is where the magic of location technology makes itself truly felt. He said: “You go to your doctor’s office, and the app automatically informs [him] that you have arrived. Or the content of a display signage changing based on the [demographics of] people standing nearby.”

Similar to the early days of Wi-Fi, “[the location tech] market will consolidate big time,” summed up Dondurmacıoğlu.

Further reading:

Location data helps marketers to better understand consumers

How marketers can make the most of location data

Finding meaning from location data