The Clash Between New Marketing Approaches and Privacy

Technology continues to develop and evolve at a rapid rate, with new marketing approaches such as location-based marketing taking centre-stage in many major brands’ marketing plans for 2015 and beyond.

Location-based marketing uses the GPS feature in smartphones, now owned and used by over 50% of the UK (, 2013), to send the user offers and discounts based on their location or proximity to a business. For example, a restaurant may send a lunch offer when a smartphone gets within half a mile of the building, or hotels may target users at airports with room discounts.

O'Loughlin Marketing

For businesses, the advantage to this form of marketing is that it targets customers at the time when they may be most likely to make a purchase, and encourages them to engage with the business by clicking on links straight through to the offer or website. It removes the time period between receiving an offer and taking it up, which increases the likelihood of the sale being completed.

However, this brings up a privacy concern for many people with smartphones, as the thought of receiving messages at any time they are near a business directly onto their phones is potentially intrusive and therefore unnerving. Of course, this also clashes with the desire to receive money-saving offers and discounts!

Location-based marketing is not just available to large organisations and brands, and can be used by small businesses as a way of increasing sales and attracting potential customers. Small businesses who are interested in using this approach should consider the following:

  • Consider your audience and send appropriate content which appeals to them and is relevant to what you want to achieve (i.e. sales, offers, etc).
  • Ensure that your targeted recipients have opted in to receiving marketing communications, and ensure you provide a clear route for opting out.
  • Use available location-based marketing platforms to target your audience, such as Foursquare or Facebook’s new local awareness feature to set up localised campaigns.
  • Start small, and test your messages to get them right.
  • Try to make your messages personal, so that the audience feels that they are written just for them. An offer which is perceived as tailor-made for the recipient is more likely to be successful than something which reads like a generalised advert.

The way in which businesses can overcome consumer fear of receiving unwanted messages and encourage consumers to opt in to receiving marketing messages is to provide clear information on what they are likely to receive, and when they may be likely to receive it, so that they can make an educated choice about whether they are happy to receive such communications. It is clear that the nature of these campaigns will be more successful with a younger audience, who are more likely to embrace new technologies and intrusive marketing campaigns as they are generally more readily used to such methods, having grown up with the development of such technologies.

For those who wish to avoid location-based marketing, a number of apps exist which block mobile tracking and shield smartphones, ensuring greater privacy. However, for many the pay-off of receiving usable offers and discounts will make the intrusion worthwhile and their privacy an acceptable sacrifice. In time, this pay-off is likely to lead to location-based marketing becoming more prevalent in marketing campaigns as it becomes more keenly accepted by consumers.

Businesses should be aware that not all recipients will be happy to receive their messages, and so business owners may also wish to inform their staff of campaigns, and how to respond if complaints or queries are received. This will help to protect your brand if someone does take offence to receiving your marketing messages.

If you have tried location-based marketing, or are planning to, please get in touch and let me know how you get on.


Published by

Bright Eye Deer Marketing

Social media services, bespoke content creation and marketing strategy for small businesses.

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