Mobile Engagement: Moving Beyond Location To Understand Consumer Context

Is your mobile mar­ket­ing per­son­al­ized to give con­sumers the right infor­ma­tion or offer at the right time?

Carla Fitzgerald By Carla Fitzgerald from Smith Micro. Join the discussion » 1 comment

We live in a ful­ly con­nect­ed world. With an esti­mat­ed 7 bil­lion mobile sub­scrip­tions world­wide, the ques­tion fac­ing mar­keters is: What can busi­ness­es do to ful­ly har­ness the pow­er of this tech­nol­o­gy in order to con­nect with con­sumers in mean­ing­ful ways? Sim­ply offer­ing a mobile app with a mini-Web expe­ri­ence falls short giv­en the vast poten­tial of smart­phones that are more pow­er­ful than a lap­top was 10 years ago. The secret to achiev­ing a new lev­el of mobile engage­ment lies in har­ness­ing the untapped pow­er of smart­phones to under­stand con­sumer con­text. This con­sumer con­text is revealed once mar­keters shift their view of mobile as mere­ly a chan­nel and approach it as a rela­tion­ship.


Mar­keters who always talk and nev­er lis­ten with­out observ­ing and remem­ber­ing what peo­ple like, what they do, and where they go, won’t keep rela­tion­ships long.

The tech­nolo­gies we uti­lize need to be smarter.

We need to observe more than loca­tion and we need to com­bine a series of events over time to real­ly under­stand con­sumer con­text, pref­er­ences, and intent in order to open the door to real engage­ment.

By tak­ing advan­tage of mobile-detect­ed trig­gers and com­bin­ing this infor­ma­tion with pur­chase his­to­ry and oth­er cus­tomer data, busi­ness­es can, for the first time, cre­ate high­ly per­son­al­ized mar­ket­ing cam­paigns that engage con­sumers with the right infor­ma­tion, offers, and/or mobile ser­vices, at the right time.

Beyond Location To Contextual Insight

The advent of loca­tion-based ser­vices that uti­lize bea­cons, GPS, Wi-Fi, mag­net­ic fields and even LED light­ing, offer valu­able insights into con­sumer behav­ior and pref­er­ences.

Busi­ness­es can see where con­sumers are going, when they go, and how long they stay to some extent.

This infor­ma­tion can be used to trig­ger offers; how­ev­er, when sup­port­ed with addi­tion­al con­tex­tu­al data gleaned from a smart­phone, such as dwell time, repeat vis­its, app activ­i­ty, etc., cus­tomer pref­er­ences and intent can be bet­ter inferred.

If loca­tion is the only dri­ving fac­tor, mar­keters run the risk of annoy­ing con­sumers much like the guy hand­ing out lewd post­cards on the Vegas strip.

To make loca­tion-based mar­ket­ing rel­e­vant and real­ly ele­vate con­sumer engage­ment, a con­tex­tu­al view of that infor­ma­tion is sore­ly need­ed.

For exam­ple, a base­ball fan at a ball­game will pass sev­er­al food sta­tions on her way to her seat. Rather than bar­rag­ing the fan with offers, a con­text-enabled app (assum­ing opt-in) can observe her lin­ger­ing in front of a burg­er joint for two min­utes, and detect­ing sev­er­al veg­e­tar­i­an-relat­ed apps on her phone, can offer a deal on a meat-free mush­room burg­er.

Context = Personalization

Being able to gain a con­tex­tu­al under­stand­ing of con­sumer cir­cum­stances and behav­iors allows for true per­son­al­iza­tion of mobile engage­ment that doesn’t just involve pro­mo­tions, but also per­son­al­ized ser­vice.

Con­sid­er this retail exam­ple:

A cus­tomer enters a home improve­ment store and receives a wel­come mes­sage on his smart­phone. The mes­sage asks if he needs help shop­ping today. He taps ‘not now’ and heads to the washer/dryer sec­tion. His phone inter­acts with bea­cons and detects that he’s been dwelling in the sec­tion for 15 min­utes. The phone also detects that he’s launched Yelp and Con­sumer Reports mobile apps.

Armed with this cir­cum­stan­tial knowl­edge, the store sends a price match­ing noti­fi­ca­tion to his device, offers free deliv­ery on washer/dryer com­bos, and asks if he needs assis­tance from a home appli­ance expert. The cus­tomer taps ‘yes’, gets the details he needs, and decides to make his pur­chase in store that day.

In this exam­ple the cus­tomer isn’t just offered a dis­count, he’s offered cus­tomer ser­vice at the right moment, from the right per­son, and remind­ed of the advan­tage of tak­ing home what they want­ed on the same day.

Even with­out any noti­fi­ca­tions sent to the device, these con­tex­tu­al insights of dwell time and app usage would help to iden­ti­fy show­room­ing behav­ior, allow­ing stores to plan bet­ter staff cov­er­age on the floor.

It’s an excit­ing new mobile world for mar­keters, but with­out a full con­tex­tu­al pic­ture, mar­keters are left with a big gap between what can be offered and what should be offered to con­sumers via mobile.

A con­text-dri­ven approach bridges that gap, bet­ter uti­liz­ing the intel­li­gence of smart­phones to enable high­ly rel­e­vant and time­ly engage­ment with cus­tomers.


Are you har­ness­ing the pow­er of smart­phones to under­stand con­sumer con­text and build rela­tion­ships with con­sumers?

Carla Fitzgerald

Written by Carla Fitzgerald

Chief Marketing Officer, Smith Micro

As Chief Marketing Officer at Smith Micro, Carla is responsible for corporate and product marketing, technical sales, technical publications, business development, and investor relations.

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