Proving Hyperlocal Targeting Can Hype Sales

I hope we are long past asking whether this is the “year of mobile,” because it always was the wrong question. For marketers and media buyers, the question always should be, is this the year mobile makes an effective case for your attention and money? Personally, I would like to declare this the year of the mobile case study. Let's make this the year when all of those tech startups and their media and agency partners focus on demonstrating where, how and how much their mobile investments paid off in measurable ways that affect the bottom line.

If mobile is that medium putting a marketer nearer to the consumer when he or she is closest to the point of sale, then the most compelling case the medium can make is its impact on retail sales itself. Not an easy case to make. So I was intrigued by the enthusiasm that car care maker and 3M company Meguiar’s and its agency FRWD had for campaigns they ran last year focused on proving the connection between hyperlocal targeting and sales.

“We wanted to tie the mobile program to sales, not only for proving to customer teams but because we had never seen it tied to sales,” says Matt Doherty, mobile director, FWRD. Mequiar's had already established a strong brand presence through a rich mobile web site, mobile-optimized how-to videos and advice, and a text-messaging club that offered newcomers product samples. The company also used third-party shopping apps to encourage in-store shoppers to scan information on products for more information. The ad campaign driving people to these resources was fairly simple: an early sprint push often triggered by local weather.

The program used local profiling and targeting platform PlaeIQ to focus on five markets and to do store-level geo-targeting. PlaceIQ used Meguiar’s sales data to determine the optimal markets with the richest target populations and market share, then used the the location profile to figure out the best places and times of day to hit people in these locations with custom creative.

The hyperlocal targeting technique is not dependent on tracking an individual user in a space so much as having a high level of understanding of who is likely to be in a space at any give time of day. PlaceIQ analyzes location profiles down to 100x100 meter tiles. “If you are targeting this tile at this time of day you are very likely to hit the target,” Doherty explains. “The real value of location is about getting the right person at the right time, not just their proximity to the store.”

They were targeting what PlaceIQ called “Auto Moments.” They looked for locations with recent buyers of used and new vehicles, auto commuters and shoppers for accessories and services.

As Doherty makes clear, location targeting was not the only piece of the puzzle. FWRD and Meguiar’s had already built an SMS club that was active in the targeted markets and a wealth of touch-optimized creative ready to engage the interested user.

They tested this model against a series of controls, using each retailer’s own store sales data to make comparisons between the four cities targeted and three markets not covered with the campaign.

“We delivered a 118% lift in sales,” Doherty says. On an ROI basis, they realized $1.31 brand sales lift on every dollar spent. “There was a clear correlation between impressions and sales,” he says.

Using  rich media, which included Medialets creative technologies, led to 109% lift in click-throughs. The campaign also demonstrated the value of a highly optimized landing experience. Among those who landed on the Meguiar’s site, 83% browsed the product listing, 21% watched the how-to videos and 20% used the store locator.

The campaign also provided information on previously unknown affinities and segmented behaviors. Older audiences in Cleveland were more responsive and engaged, for instance, but in the Houston market it was college-aged students and young adults who were most engaged. “We learned what tools are generating higher engagement rates so when we plan future campaigns we can target with more intelligence,” Doherty says.

I know that the brand is excited by the early results, because we have Meguiar’s  Senior Marketing Manager Kristin Ryba presenting more about this case and the larger Meguiar’s mobile program at our Mobile Insider Summit on Captiva Island, Fla. in February.   

The importance of these case studies is multi-faceted. For the mobile platform itself, of course, we need more instances where marketing and ad programs are linked to sales. If proximity to POS is one of the selling points of the medium, then that case has to be made more forcefully and explicitly.

But in the larger scheme of marketing in an age of big data, it's important that brands present these kinds of cases to their retail partners. As Doherty says, the campaigns now give Meguiar’s “A new capability [as] a proven ROI driver to bring to their [retailer partners] teams they can use to negotiate shelf space, end caps and to go after co-marketing dollars.” After all, the idea is to use the retailer’s own store data to prove the brand is driving sales and traffic. How can a partner argue against his own data?  

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