Digital marketers view the increased adoption of smartphones and close to a billion active users of social media as a strategic marketing opportunity to effectively target and drive sales. In addition, the emergence of ‘SoLoMo’ (Social-Local-Mobile) as a unified approach and as an integrated technology holds enormous potential for retailers across the world to target customers within the physical proximity of their brick and mortar stores.
The ability of SoLoMo to weave together the physical location of shoppers, their mobile devices and their presence in the social media has opened new and dynamic targeting and communication channels for retailers. SoLoMo has given retailers the means to connect online engagement with offline transactions.
Given the benefits, SoLoMo is set for an accelerated adoption by retailers and across venues such as malls, airports, city centers etc. It will enable retailers to provide shoppers with the extra incentive to complete a desired purchase.
For the uninitiated, SoLoMo is the convergence of the three of the most effective mediums for digital marketing, namely Social, Local and Mobile. The marketing messages through the SoLoMo medium reach the intended audience right at the point of purchase through push or pull approaches to marketing. SoLoMo can be characterized as hyper-localization on social steroid. Hyper-localization has existed for a while now, wherein people get localized search results based on dimensions of geography and time. The addition of a third dimension by the means of social provides an additional avenue for marketers to reach out to their end customers.
SoLoMo presents many opportunities to Gen X marketers. Some of the scenarios are:
1) When a user arrives in the vicinity of a retailer he is registered with and checks in using a service such as Foursquare or Facebook places with his smartphone, his smartphone displays the relevant offers and discount coupons to be used at the point of sale. This allows retailers to target potential customers where it matters the most.
2) Apps like Shopkick provide its users with reward points or “kicks” on their smartphones to be accrued by simply walking into affiliated stores. These could later be redeemed for discount coupons or rewards.
3) A florist’s application on Facebook has access to your friends’ birthdays and reminds you of the birthday along with their stores in your vicinity based on your current geo location using your smartphone and suggests gifts you could pick up for them.
SoLoMo Engagement Platforms
The integrated nature of the SoLoMo model requires the support of technology platforms. These platforms provide a cohesive solution for digital marketers to deliver customer delight.
The right kind of publishing platforms allows marketers to create and manage mobile sites/apps, which form the key medium of interaction with the brand. An alliance with a social service provider like
Foursquare can tell businesses about the location of a visitor based on his “Check-ins” and personalize the buying experience for its users based on their current location.
Tie-ups with mobile ad delivery platform like InMobi, Leadbolt, and Vserv etc would allow businesses to deliver rich banner and interactive ads on smartphones. SoLoMo can be extended to redeem the coupons sent out on smartphones using emerging technologies like NFC or Near Field Communication to get the benefits of associated discount or promotion at the point of sale, thus creating a completely engaging mobile shopping experience for customers.
There is also a need for brands to make themselves visible to customers when they initiate a local search. Therefore, retailers have to follow SEO best practices and ensure that their business appears at the top of the search results.
Undoubtedly, SoLoMo provides a unique opportunity for retailers to provide an omni-channel experience to its end customers and increase the ROI of their marketing efforts. However, it is also a cause for concern to customers. For instance, sharing their exact location is a major privacy concern for many customers. Similarly, customers are wary of being flooded with unwanted and irrelevant offers and coupons when visiting shopping centers.
There is a need for effective steps to ensure that customers’ privacy and retailers’ interests are balanced and a win-win solution is created for both the parties.
Incidentally, the US congress is debating 26 different bills on wireless privacy concerns and state level legislations on how marketers can use the private data of customers.
To conclude, SoLoMo enables digital marketers to attract their customers in progressively innovative ways while increasing relevance. Social, local, customer interests, intent and a personalized experience will have an important role to play in the future and SoLoMo shows great promise in delivering a truly contextualized real-time experience.