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April 6

COVID-19: Just Follow the Footprints

These are unusual times to say the least. For many businesses, the tried and true strategies that you leveraged to find new customers mere weeks ago are now completely irrelevant. In the B2B world, there are few, if any, prospects in the office to call, visit or send physical sales materials to, and tradeshows have given way to virtual events. In the B2C space, brick-and-mortar retail has essentially evaporated beyond essential products like groceries, fuel and healthcare with no clear timeline for a return.

R E S U L T S

901 Against Covid-19: Memphis Business Community Survey

How do we get back to the business of growth? See what survey respondents had to say.

So, what’s a business owner to do in this Coronavirus economy? Play offense by leveraging marketing technology to follow the footprints.

These are unusual times to say the least. For many businesses, the tried and true strategies that you leveraged to find new customers mere weeks ago are now completely irrelevant. In the B2B world, there are few, if any, prospects in the office to call, visit or send physical sales materials to, and tradeshows have given way to virtual events. In the B2C space, brick-and-mortar retail has essentially evaporated beyond essential products like groceries, fuel and healthcare with no clear timeline for a return.

So, what’s a business owner to do in this Coronavirus economy? Play offense by leveraging marketing technology to follow the footprints.

It’s common knowledge that consumers leave footprints on the internet based on the search terms they use and the sites they visit. Did you know they leave footprints in the physical world as well based on where they travel with their smartphones? So, in a world where you can no longer sell to people at a tradeshow or market to them in-store, there is still a way to reach them. Enter geofencing.

Geofencing is simply a strategy for using GPS, Wi-Fi or a cell signal to define an invisible geographic boundary which allows you to deliver ads to those entering that physical boundary. You simply determine the specific coordinates of the area you want to target – as large or as small as you want – and when anyone “trips” that invisible geofence, you can serve ads to them through many of the websites they already visit.

There are five primary types of geofencing campaigns and all are applicable for both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) companies.

#1: Event-Targeting Campaigns

Event targeting allows you to market to people entering a particular event or venue during a specified date and time. As soon as they cross your invisible geofence, during the window of time you specified, they will begin to see your ads delivered through the websites and apps they already frequent – including websites like WeatherChannel.com, ESPN.com and the major news sites, just to name a few. If you like, you can control which sites deliver your ads. What’s more, your ads can be delivered for weeks or months after the event if you like.

Practical B2B application: Let’s say that you’re in the janitorial space and generally target trade-show attendees. Oh wait, trade shows don’t exist at the moment. Don’t despair, as you can target attendees of past tradeshows. So, if you always target a particular industry tradeshow, you can target the attendees from last year’s show with geofencing. Just set up your geofence for that prior tradeshow location, along with the date and time of that show, and geofencing platforms can pull last year’s show attendees retroactively by device IDs – a unique identifier for a smartphone – and begin to deliver display ads to them. These device IDs can also be imported into LinkedIn, allowing you to deliver ads or InMail messages to those attendees through the LinkedIn platform.

If you sell distance learning in the education space and are disappointed to learn that the big industry tradeshow will be held virtually this year, you can deliver ads to last year’s attendees right after this year’s virtual event.

Practical B2C application: Let’s say that you have a restaurant in midtown. You’ve closed due to the “safer at home” ordinance but you are still delivering food. In fact, you’re delivering all over town versus just to your neighbors in midtown – one part of town per day on a regular rotation. Your email list is probably largely midtown focused. So, to expand your marketing to foodies who live in other parts of town, you geofence past food festivals in those specific areas and deliver ads to those consumers the day before you’re scheduled to deliver to their area. 

#2: Conversion-Zone Campaigns

If you have multiple locations, this may be the strategy for you. Conversion-zone campaigns allow you to deliver ads to customers who trip your geofence at one location as an inducement to return to any of your locations.

Practical B2C application: Let’s say that you have three retail storefronts that are closed at the moment due to the “safer at home” order. Thirty days prior to the likely reopening of your stores, you can begin executing a geofencing campaign to consumers who have  visited any of your stores in the 90 days prior to the store closures. The ads could announce your re-open date, if known, and a special offer to the first 100 customers who visit your stores and mention the ad on opening day.

#3: Competitor-Conquest Campaigns

If your competitors’ customers are your prospects, geofencing could be just the tool you need to identify them. Competitor-conquest campaigns allow you to set a geofence around your competitors’ retail or office locations and deliver ads to those visitors, many of whom you could assume are your prospects.

Practical B2B application: If you are in the IT, financial, accounting or legal space, there is an increased demand for your services at the moment. It’s normally pretty tricky to pull a client away from a competitor – as these services are rather “sticky” and a change can be seen as daunting by most buyers. During this time, however, these critical vendors are either proving themselves as a valuable partner or proving themselves irrelevant.

Instead of blanketing the market with ads, consider geofencing your competitors’ offices and delivering highly targeted ads to those people who frequented those offices for the past six months. One ad strategy to consider might be a head-to-head comparison of how you stack up to that particular competitor.

Practical B2C applications: Let’s say that you’re a pharmacy. You know that most consumers refill their prescriptions every 30 days. Establish a geofencing campaign designed to target those visiting a competing pharmacy, only deliver the ads 25 days after their last visit – just prior to refill. Your offer strategy might include a value add with first purchase or an incentive to set them up – hassle free – for mail delivery where they don’t need to risk their health to stay well.

If you host in-person events and are now taking them online, you can target past attendees of competing events and deliver ads to those prospective buyers days before the tickets for your virtual event go on sale to the general public. Your ad strategy could take this approach: “If you liked that event, you’re really going to like this one.”

#4: Customer-Loyalty Campaigns

While geofencing is best known as a new customer acquisition tool, it can be even more effective at building loyalty and driving incremental sales from existing or past customers.

Consider building a geofence around your business in order to re-market to your customers after they visit. If your stores or offices aren’t open now, you can retroactively geofence.

Practical B2C applications: If you own a retail clothing store, geofence your locations over the past year and deliver ads to your past store visitors with a special offer for their first online purchase.

A restaurant could geofence their own location over the prior year as a way to promote curb-side pick-up or delivery services.

A music venue can geofence their own space during prior events as a way to market virtual events.

#5: Prospect-Office Campaigns

Geofencing a targeted prospect’s office is a popular compliment to B2B sales outreach. The idea is that you establish a geofence around a group of prospect offices each month. Employees walking into work trip the geofence and begin to see your ads seemingly everywhere. It’s a great strategy for building quick brand awareness prior to a direct outreach by your sales team.

This campaign strategy may not sound highly relevant at the moment due to COVID-19, but it is.  With the device ID targeting mentioned previously, you can retroactively collect the device IDs of users who have been in the building’s geofenced boundary.

Analytics

The beauty of geofencing is in the depth of the reporting. Seven metrics to keep your eye on include:

  • Click-through visits – Number of visitors to your business who clicked your ad.
  • View-through visits – Number of visitors to your business who received an ad but didn’t click it.
  • Total visit rate – Percentage of users who were served an ad and then visited your business.
  • Cost per visit – Total campaign cost divided by the number of visits to your business.
  • Days to convert – Average number of days it takes consumers who were served an ad to take the desired action.
  • Organic conversion rate – Percentage of customers who will convert without an ad.
  • Campaign conversion rate – Percentage of customers who will convert specifically because of an ad.

For conversion-zone and customer-loyalty campaigns where you goal is to attract a customer back into your store or business after an initial visit, it’s important to distinguish between the behavior a consumer would have engaged in despite your ad and how that truly differs from ad-driven behavior. You can do this by setting up a control group of consumers for comparison.

So, let’s say that you establish a retroactive geofencing campaign for customers visiting your store this past February and that number is 10,000 customers. You plan to begin marketing to them on May 1 which is a month prior to your likely re-opening date of June 1.

Before delivering ads, first extract a control group of 10 percent of those customers or 1,000 who will not receive your ads with only the remaining 9,000 receiving ads. If 50 of those 1000 customers visit your store anyway in June, without having been served an ad, you know that 5% (50/1000) of your customers will visit again without a prompt from an ad. These are your organic converters.

Of the 9,000 customers who received ads, let’s say 3,000 visit your store in June or one third, but we know that 5% or 450 (9000 x 5%) would have visited anyway despite the ad. So your campaign conversions equal 2550 (3000 minus 450).

Omnichannel Marketing

At the end of the day, geofencing should be just one of several marketing strategies you are leveraging simultaneously to reach your targeted buyer. In the unprecedented times in which we live, we must get more inventive with the channels that we leverage, but it takes consistency and frequency of message across multiple channels to drive buyers in need to take action.

Give thought to search marketing, website retargeting, social-media behavior targeting, and category-contextual targeting as compliments to geofencing.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing the most effective sales and marketing strategies, like these, that forward-thinking companies are executing during this crisis. My hope is that you’ll find additional inspiration to advance your vision forward with a full-on marketing offensive.

If you would like support in creatively adapting your sales and marketing strategy to ensure your company thrives coming out of this crisis, let’s talk. We are currently partnering with clients to shift products and services of focus, adjust target markets and messaging, test modified pricing structures, overhaul B2B sales strategies and invest in brand-building during this unprecedented time.

Lori Turner-Wilson is founder and CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. A fast-growing agency of seasoned professionals, RedRover is the only Memphis agency to integrate sales training with marketing strategic planning and execution. RedRover has a uniquely intense focus on achieving measurable results for its clientele, as the only Memphis area agency to offer its clients a results guarantee. The agency’s diverse client roster represents nearly every industry vertical in greater Memphis.

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