woman on cell phone
SMBs can take a page from the big brands when it comes to location-based advertising PHOTO: Matthew Kane

At the height of the Thanksgiving shopping season, Small Business Saturday inspires millions of Americans to visit local stores. 

Last year, over 95 million consumers shopped local. They spent $16.2 billion, accounting for an estimated 35 percent of their holiday gift budget — presenting tremendous opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses.

Free online resources such as American Express’ marketing collateral site and social media promotions such as the #ShopSmall movement on Twitter can help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) take advantage of Small Business Saturday. 

However, if local business owners use only the standard marketing playbook, they may be leaving profits on the sideline. What more can they do? 

Location-based mobile advertising is the perfect advertising strategy. Due to recent technology innovation and consumer adoption of location sharing, SMBs can now use the same tools as big brands.

Here’s why hyper-local mobile advertising is right for SMBs. 

Reach Your Customers Where They Are

Our phones are with us all day long. They are the first screen we look at in the morning and the last one we see at night. Americans spend more time with their phones than any other device. 

It’s not just time, it’s also numbers. Seventy-two percent of US consumers have a smartphone. Because smartphones are so connected to our daily life, they are an essential place to message shoppers.

Location-Based Audiences

Data based on real-world behavior is a powerful way to determine if consumers are interested in certain products or services. 

Let’s say an owner of a yoga studio wants to reach people who lead healthy lifestyles. We can infer that people who go to gyms, use jogging paths or visit health food stores would be interested in information about yoga classes. 

Location-based audiences are built on this type of visitation data. Many location-based advertising specialists take this anonymous behavioral data, consolidate it and create audiences based on people’s habitual activities. This helps advertisers reach consumers who are genuinely interested in their products or services. When messages are relevant and meaningful, they’re not intrusive, they’re helpful.

Proximity Marketing and Geo-Aware Creative

Proximity marketing is another effective tactic. Small businesses can reach consumers in striking distance of their shops. 

On Small Business Saturday, shoppers get hungry too. Local restaurants can serve ads to people nearby. Ads with dynamic geo-aware content such as maps, store distances and directions, can help hungry folks get food fast. 

Advertisers can also go after the competition’s customers with geo-conquesting. This tactic serves ads within a range around competitor locations. Ads with coupons or other promotions will incentivize consumers to try the advertisers’ business. 

Check the Results: Did It Work?

How do you know if that ad investment was effective? Every type of advertising impacts people differently. Geo-fencing tactics that inspire consumers to act now can have immediate results. On the other hand, audience-focused campaigns typically see benefits over a longer timeframe. 

Furthermore, traditional digital metrics such as Click Through Rate (CTR) only tell part of the story. Larger campaigns can correlate advertising to in-store visits, letting advertisers know if people who saw their ad really visited their store. 

However, not all foot-traffic studies are equally reliable. To ensure a study is valid, one key question advertisers should ask is, “where was the location data sourced?” If the data is sourced only from third parties such as exchanges, and not directly from mobile app publishers, that should raise red flags — according to eMarketer up to 80 percent of location data on the exchanges is unreliable. Location-based advertising is only as good as the data that powers it.

Make the Most of It

SMBs are primed to benefit from Small Business Saturday — consumers plan to spend one-third of their holiday shopping budget at small businesses. 

Most SMBs are sure to get a morsel of that opportunity. However, the ones that promote themselves actively, with strategies such as location-based mobile advertising, will enjoy a bigger piece of the pie.