Location-Based Apps & Your CRM: 7 Things to Know

By Features PCmag

If your marketing strategy doesn't incorporate both customer relationship management (CRM) and mobile location services, you're missing out on a vast, untapped reservoir of lead generation and contextual user engagement. Smartphones have a host of built-in location and geofencing capabilities, and apps of all kinds are making good use of them for targeted location-based marketing (LBM).

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That said, LBM (also referred to as location-based advertising [LBA]) isn't effective unless you know how it works, what to do and not to do, and how to take full advantage of the technology and all of the ways it hooks into your CRM strategy. A successful mobile-optimized sales, marketing, and customer engagement strategy can also take many different forms. From location-based texts, emails, and push notifications to geo-targeted ads, location or event-based social engagement, or good ol' fashioned lead generation made more efficient by mobile location data.

Here are seven factors to keep in mind with regards to mobile CRM, app-based engagement, and LBM.

1. It's Always Opt-In
One crucial factor when thinking about LBM: it's always opt-in for the user. When they download an app, they need to respond "ok" to the request to use the device's current location before the app can start triggering geofencing notifications and other location-based mobile marketing initiatives. If users cut off that crucial data tap from the get-go, your LBM strategy may be doomed before it has a chance to take off.

However, there are a couple of useful strategies you can employ to get users to opt in. First, you need to pick the right moment to ask for a user's location, and give them a convincing amount of context around why exactly you need it. Be transparent. If you're relying on an app-based marketing strategy, wait until the user taps on a feature that requires location to ask for it. Then, don't just give them a box with two options of either "OK" or "Don't Allow." Users should see a pop-up box that gives a short, friendly explanation of the value provided by enabling location in the app.

Will they be able to connect with nearby friends? Will they get access to deals, savings, or greater convenience in buying a product or service? Say so. LBM provides huge benefit to the end-user, you just need to make sure they realize that.

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2. Choose a Mobile-Optimized CRM
There's plenty of great CRM software out there for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and enterprises, and the best ones not only have mobile apps, but dedicated mobile-first functionality to empower salespeople out in the field. All three of our Editors' Choices for CRM, Salesforce, Apptivo CRM, and Zoho CRM, have dedicated Android and iOS apps and a bevy of mobile lead generation and management features for users to find and engage with new prospective customers.

Zoho CRM in particular even lets you find prospects nearby using a "near me" search to locate nearby leads for face-to-face meetings. In the Leads tab of the bottom mobile navigation menu, simply enter a search and click on all the contact bubbles that pop up for their location and all the customer data you need to plan an effective and personal lead strategy before hopping in the car to go meet them.

3. Craft Natural Notifications…Not Creepy Ones
Just because a user has shared their location with you, that doesn't mean they should feel like "you're watching them." This is a fine line to walk when you're trying to take advantage of a user's location to offer them a product or service, but it all comes down to the wording of that push notification or SMS text.

So when a geofencing alert triggers as a user's device enters the vicinity of a Starbucks, a notification like "There's a Buy One Coffee, Get One Free promotion going on at this Starbucks. Swipe right for exclusive coupon" will be far more effective and much less creepy than one reading "We see there's a Starbucks 0.1 miles away from your current location. Turn right for a caffeine boost."

4. Build a Mobile-First Ad Campaign
One of the most effective uses of LBM is for location-based ads that don't feel like blatant advertising because they provide the end-user contextual value. As your CRM and lead management software should already be integrated with your advertising and marketing platforms, you've got rich data about each customer to work with in crafting targeted mobile-optimized ads. Then if a user's location services cross a geofence near a particular store, data-driven ads or notifications can surface incorporating CRM data, such as the fact that you're already interested in the type of product that retailer sells. According to an infographic from MDG Advertising, 72 percent of consumers say they will respond to call-to-action (CTA) and marketing messages within sight of a retailer.

That also means, if the LBM campaign is retail-focused, that brick-and-mortar stores need the on-site hardware to support the campaign and take full advantage of mobile technology. Retailers need geofencing and beacon technology in place to recognize when a customer walks in, and immediately serve up the right ad, or send them the relevant coupon or promotion. Bluetooth beacon technology for retailers is becoming more and more commonplace, with big chains like Macy's, Lord & Taylor, and others jumping onboard, and some point-of-sale (POS) systems even come with geofencing and beacon tech built in.

5. Gamify Your Engagement
The brain science behind gamification is applicable across everything from e-learning to mobile app engagement, and the most effective way to leverage it through your CRM is by making a marketing experience "sticky."

Foursquare social check-ins may have only been a passing fad in the grand scheme of the app economy, but the app was onto something by pairing social location with stores and events and giving every check-in a point value. You can get mobile customers more engaged through a variety of gamified elements, from giving them points and badges for leaving reviews or filling out a mobile-optimized SurveyMonkey quiz when a beacon recognizes they've exited a store, or actually getting users to participate in "innovation games" like PayPal introduced a few years back involving frequent visits or location-based engagement.

Gamification is a great boon for social marketing as well. Incentivizing customers to like and share your presences and brand with coupons, credits, or a gamified points and leaderboard system has worked for ride-sharing apps like Uber for years in the form of referral credits, and another reason gamification should be a cornerstone of your Social CRM strategy for mobile.

6. Don't Forget Location-Based Email Marketing
The first point of interaction with location-based marketing will usually be a push notification or text message, but email marketing is where you can really pack in some rich location-based content for the customer. The email can be a more detailed follow-up to the push notification with sleek call-to-action buttons embedded throughout, incorporating all kinds of location data.

The email can include the nearest location of a store or service (synced to current geolocation) or more detailed descriptions of the location-based offer or promotion you're offering that won't fit in the tiny character allotment you get with push notifications. This is also where you can pull in a lot more CRM data about the customer's interests and preferences to personalize the experience while still responding just as fast as a notification to a location trigger.

7. Right Place, Right Time
Marrying mobile CRM efforts with location-based marketing is all about taking advantage of key moments when a user is in the right place at the right time. You've got to keep all of the above in mind—get that opt-in,use data to personalize the experience but don't be creepy, and give the marketing experience a fun, sticky feel while also providing real value—but those factors all play into treating LBM with a "carpe diem" attitude.

The epitome of this philosophy is event-based marketing. Concerts, sports events, and the like are a goldmine of contextual mobile marketing. Customers want food and drinks within a venue; they want apparel; they want temperature and weather info; provide all that in an easy-to-use app or through real-time notifications, and you've got a committed and dedicated customer for the length of that event. Start-ups like HYP3R are even beginning to gear CRM strategies exclusively toward event-based use cases, offering an "engagement platform for venues" enabling businesses and brands to identify and engage influential customers in real-time. So when it comes to location-based marketing that's taking full advantage of mobile CRM technology, as the late, great Robin Williams put in in Dead Poets Society: "seize the day."

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.