Paul Hanrahan
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Could this be ‘the next big thing’ for digital marketing?

Proximity marketing is a new way to engage and attract audiences and customers that is particularly well designed for cultural organisations. We take a closer look at how you can use this smart new tool to grow your audience.

What is proximity marketing?

Proximity marketing allows marketers to target and attract potential audiences based on where they are as well as who they are through the use of geo-locating techniques. It’s defined as the localised wireless distribution of advertising content.

The content being pushed out is specifically targeted to devices in a particular area. The location of a device may be determined by:
• A mobile phone
• A Bluetooth or WiFi device within range of a transmitter.
• An Internet enabled device with GPS.

In practice this might be a push notification through a bespoke app or a targeted advert on another network.

Why is it suited to cultural organisations?

Proximity marketing is particularly effective for smaller organisations with limited budgets. It’s an alternative to expensive ‘catch all’ marketing solutions. Plus, it’s especially good if you need to attract an audience in your immediate vicinity.

By restricting who sees your advertising content to people who could realistically visit you in the next 24 hours, you’re only paying to advertise to people with a very high chance of converting. Hyperlocal adverts and incentives means reduced waste on irrelevant audiences.

Research conducted by Trip Advisor found that globally almost half (42%) of travellers using smartphones say they usually use their smartphones to book activities for a trip. Geo-locational marketing provides an excellent opportunity to target these people looking for activities on the go.

Proximity Marketing in Action

Shakespeare’s Globe in London has recently used this approach successfully. They were struggling to compete for visitors being up against big West End shows (and their big marketing budgets).

So to change tack, agency Digital Willow was hired to increase audiences and instead of spending money on above-the-line advertising, they used GPS, geo-location techniques and programmatic buying. The case study from Digital Willow, also reported in Econsultancy, revealed that the team focused on pinpointing advertising messages to mobile phones in the actual vicinity.

They looked at the site itself as well as the competing attractions nearby, such as Big Ben, the London Eye and the Tower of London. A one-mile radius was setup around each location to catch the attention of people in the area.

They also narrowed down their target audience to tourists from Spain, France, United States, Germany and China. The reason for the additional restriction on the target audience? These were the exact nationalities that the Globe had previously seen ticket sale success with.

Marketing messages were also sent to tourists logging into the WiFi of partnering hotels and the ads appeared on apps with high popularity among tourists, including Tube Map, London Bus Checker and XE Currency.

So what were the results?

Well, they were pretty impressive to say the least. Following the implementation of the Globe’s geo-locational marketing approach, the venue saw  an increase in ticket sales of 30% year-on-year.

  • The campaign saw a click through rate four times higher than the industry average on mobile devices
  • Over 1 million impressions had been served to international tourists just 33 days into the campaign
  • Of those 1m+ impressions, almost 9,000 clicked and over 3,000 registered on the website
  • The overall click to conversion rate was 34%

Done right, proximity marketing is a win-win situation. Potential audiences get up to the minute information and offers, allowing them to be spontaneous and enjoy cultural experiences during their visit, while you attract a new audience to your work with minimal spend.

Main image credit: Phone_Smartphone by Dariusz Sankowski (CC BY 1.0)