Proximity Marketing uses cellular technology to send marketing messages to mobile-device users who are in close proximity to a business. The market is defined by those with Bluetooth or Wi-fi technology, and the message is sent out electronically by businesses hoping to digitally connect with nearby consumers.

Via the Wi-fi or Bluetooth signal, proximity marketers can send content that’s similar to a mobile application program (app) that appears automatically on the mobile devices of consumers. While the audience is limited to those in the proximity of the business and those using its Wi-fi or Bluetooth signal, the message is very user friendly and reaches those most likely to visit a store.

Just about any business or service that is operating from a fixed location can implement a proximity marketing strategy. Some examples include:

  • Major retailers, such as Ikea or Macy’s, can send store maps and coupons or offers to apply for their credit card or to enroll in their loyalty or rewards programs.
  • Hotels can inform guests about on-site events and promotions or can offer to enroll them in loyalty or rewards programs.
  • Restaurants can send special menus/daily specials, coupons, offers for loyalty programs, or perhaps send trivia questions or other games to help them pass the time while they wait for their table to be ready.
  • Shopping malls can offer a proximity marketing benefit to their tenants by putting together a package of coupons or offer a discount at any mall retailer.
  • Travel hubs such as airports and public transportation centers can provide maps or display ads that can be sold to local tourist destinations.
  • General information about a product or service can be delivered through proximity marketing even if the fixed location of the business or service agency changes.

Public officials giving speeches at community centers can, for example, provide important public-service announcements or event information to constituents in the audience. Also, trade-show vendors marketing their products at a convention can send promotional or educational information to the attendees from their current “popup location.”

With more than six billion mobile phones in the hands of consumers today and with the numbers steadily climbing, phones are becoming a basic necessity of the 21st century. This makes just about every consumer with a smart phone potentially susceptible to a proximity marketing campaign, particularly younger, tech-savvy shoppers who are more likely to own smartphone and use them while shopping.

Locations such as shopping malls, large retail outlets, and trade shows, where consumers are generally planning to spend at least an hour or two, are prime areas for a proximity marketing campaign. These customers are both actively shopping and also more likely to be lingering and open to proximity marketing information, promotions, and suggestions. One of the key benefits of proximity marketing is that its messages reach a high percentage of potential customers who are in the area.

The main purpose of the proximity marketing plan is to connect with customers while they are near your business or service and spur them into action.

In the case of mobile messaging, it’s important to consider adding an opt-in component to your campaign. More and more, customers value control over the messages they receive and desire privacy from unwanted solicitations. A simple opt-in invitation, delivered via mobile device, such as: “Would you like a 20% discount on your purchases at the mall today?” can effectively engage nearby consumers without seeming too invasive to their shopping experience.

Mobile devices are made for short messages and quick interaction, and there is intense competition for the attention and time of the mobile device user. Therefore, in developing a proximity marketing plan, messages must be sharpened and honed to be as clear, concise, and impactful as possible.

Because the proximity marketer’s time with each potential customer is so short, it’s critical to create goals for that interaction. If the goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to the business and maximize sales that day, then an electronic coupon or special offer might be the best strategy. If the store has a high turnover rate, the goal may be to make a connection with customers by offering them incentives to return.

Once the proximity marketing plan is developed and implemented, it should be constantly monitored and adjusted. The digital and interactive nature of most proximity marketing campaigns provides the advantage of real-time data collection of response and success rates. If a message is failing to connect, it can be easily and quickly adjusted.

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