Today, we’re excited to share with you an interview with Margot Langsdorf, VP Client Services at shopkick, a mobile app used by 12 million shoppers that gives you rewards for walking into stores. Beacons are the hot topic for this edition: Margot discusses the current state of location-based marketing strategies and its future.
What are the opportunities and risks with beacons?
Margot: Beacons can be a huge opportunity for retailers and brands to connect with consumers, but only if they are used thoughtfully. To shopkick, that means making sure the consumer sees value in every interaction with a beacon. When we think about use cases for beacons, it starts with how the consumer will benefit, and then we figure out how marketers can derive value around those use cases. This is paramount to our success as a company, as shopkick is a consumer company first and foremost, and the relationship and trust that we have with our consumers is key to our success.
For example: American Eagle has found a winning formula that benefits both their bottom line and their consumer by leveraging our in-app currency—kicks—to help influence consumer behavior in-store. American Eagle knows that X percent of shoppers convert when they walk into the store. Because of the quality and fit of their product, that percentage goes up exponentially when they try on clothes. Thus, we worked with our partners at American Eagle to craft an experiment to see if we could use beacons and our rewards currency to help drive customers to try on clothing. What we found is that by offering a very small reward—think ten cents—we were able to drive twice the number of consumers to try on clothing versus the control group. This is one of the first beacon use cases to really be a win-win: a win for consumers, and a win for the retailer.
The greatest risk for retailers and brands when using beacons is losing the trust and mindshare of the consumer if the messages are either 1) too frequent 2) not-right for the context or 3) unwanted at all. The last thing you want to be seen as is another vehicle for spam. For retailers and brands, this can erode brand equity. For shopkick, this can cause the user to delete the app from the phone. Thus, it is critical to be very strategic about the frequency, tone, and value proposition of each communication with the shopper via beacons.
How have beacons changed the way marketers are thinking about customer retention and engagement?
Margot: Beacons, along with other digital and location based technologies, have allowed marketers to speak to shoppers with more relevant, more contextual, and more personalized messages while they are making key purchasing decisions in store. In the past, brick and mortar retail had been a real black box for marketers, especially in the CRM space. The only time a retailer even knows when you are in store is when you swipe your credit card at the checkout. With beacons, retailers and brands can start the conversation with the shopper farther up the purchase funnel, and help to give them a more informed experience in store.
What are some of the common mistakes that companies make when building out a location-based marketing strategy?
Margot: Location-based marketing can be a powerful strategy in a marketer’s tool kit. But not all location-based technologies and products are created equal. The message that you send to someone who is on the block of the store versus what you send to the consumer when they are in aisle is very different. Imagine welcoming a shopper to a store when they are down the block at a competitor’s location. You lose trust and credibility quickly.
What is the future of location-based marketing?
Margot: I think it is hard to think about the future of location-based marketing in a silo. To me, the future of location-based marketing really is less about location-awareness, and more about customer awareness. With beacons, cross-device identification, and a strong CRM database, marketers will soon be able to truly thread the needle between a shopper’s online, offline, and back online again behavior.
How did you develop such expertise in mobile? What advice would you give to others looking to do the same?
Margot: I am fortunate to have a role that constantly exposes me to new mobile strategies, mobile companies, and mobile experts that I am able to learn from to help guide my day-to-day work. Working with the mobile, innovation, and emerging media teams at some of the largest brands means I am exposed everyday to what is new, what is working, what isn’t working as well, and what consumers are excited about in mobile.
For those whose roles do not give them this exposure, there are plenty of sources to learn from. You can follow mobile influencers on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook—Brian Wong at Kiip, Caterina Fake at Findery, and Neil Blumenthal at Warby Parker, for example—to see what they are excited about in the space. You can track your favorite brands as a consumer to understand how they are using mobile to affect the path to purchase. You can read the trades to stay on top of trends: Shop.org and NRF have great publications, AdAge always has great articles on how marketers use mobile, and TechCrunch and PandoDaily keep you up to date on the start-up space.
Margot oversees Client Services at shopkick, where she helps retailers and marketers drive revenue growth and shopper engagement. Before her current role, Margot oversaw shopkick’s Retail Partnerships practice, where she managed and launched some of shopkick’s largest partnerships, including Target, Macy’s, and American Eagle. Prior to shopkick, Margot learned that a big company doesn’t mean little risk, when she worked at Lehman Brothers creating strategic, cross-divisional relationships for its largest clients.