As the new year begins, PerformanceIN continues its annual tradition of connecting with performance marketing experts to get their single biggest prediction for the industry in 2017.

In this piece, Libby Darley, digital strategy director at iProspect, expects 2017 to be the year location-based targeting and beacons become more mainstream.

You don’t need to be a digital expert to notice that the population is more reliant on mobile technology than ever before. In 2016, smartphone penetration reached a peak of 81% in the UK and as a result, the everyday consumer is always on, increasingly on the go and – most importantly – constantly connected.

This has given rise to a digital economy where traditional business models are being forced to change, constantly under threat from ‘disrupter’ brands who have put digital and, more importantly, mobile at the heart of their operations.

If the technological and logistical implications weren’t enough, this growth and focus on being digital first has driven a surge in customer expectations of both brands and their products. We want everything immediately, and are at the beck and call of our mobile device. We can probably blame Amazon for this, but according to research from IBM, 76% of consumers expect organisations to understand their individual needs.

A recent iProspect survey on personalisation with 4,500 respondents across eight markets found that while consumers are broadly accepting of personalised messaging, there needs to be a clear value exchange.

Personalisation is nothing new. We’ve been reaping the benefits in digital marketing of using data to better target and vary messaging across platforms for a while now, but there are developments coming from the likes of Facebook and Google, practically every week, suggesting that we’re just at the beginning of the journey of one-to-one communication.
In order to get to that nirvana of true one-to-one messaging and truly offer the value exchange that is expected by the mobile savvy consumer, we need to understand not only the consumer and what makes them tick, but more contextual factors too.

Location-based targeting, and the data generated as a result, is making this a reality, allowing brands to serve ‘in-the-moment’ messaging to their customers based on intent signals and behaviour. For example, when a known app user is in the vicinity of your retail location, why not serve a push notification featuring an offer or product release to entice them inside? Consumers in the iProspect personalisation study cited real-time offers based on location as the third most useful type of personalised communication from brands, after price promotions and more detailed product information.

The growth in availability and, of course, affordability of beacon technology has also been a massive driver in this trend, and it’s enabling brands to link up their offline and online environments more seamlessly. With the ability to target at a more micro-local scale, retailers are now increasingly using beacons to help deliver a more personalised and engaging in-store experience to entice greater footfall.

In 2017, we can expect beacons and localised targeting techniques to become more and more mainstream, with brands increasing their investments in this area as a means of delivering the ultimate personalisation of the right person, the right moment and the right message.