The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on June 22, 2014

A user-first approach to location-tracking

A user-first approach to location-tracking
Amelia Bernier
Story by

Amelia Bernier

Amelia is in marketing at Punchkick Interactive. Amelia is in marketing at Punchkick Interactive.

Amelia works in marketing at Punchkick Interactive.

“Big data” is a major buzzword right now. And companies looking to collect, deploy and monetize customer information face a number of hurdles—not the least of which are the customers themselves. Recent revelations that Android may be developing a competitor to Apple’s iBeacon have resparked conversations about the right and wrong ways to track devices and their users.

Generally speaking, people simply don’t like the idea of companies tracking their location, nor their phones automatically activating various sensors just because they happen to be in the general vicinity of another device’s sensors. In fact, a recent report by Consumer Action found that only 26 percent of consumers believe online marketers “consider your privacy when you are online.”

When considering a mobile marketing strategy that utilizes location tracking, a series of user-centric factors should be evaluated before diving in.

Punchkick strategists Chris Losacco, Billy Collins and Dan Cortes discussed five non-negotiable tactics mobile marketers should put into practice to help users feel comfortable and build long-term relationships founded on true app loyalty.

1. Discover and communicate the value

Gather in-depth information on customer pain points—related to the solutions you can provide—and design a product that uniquely seeks to solve for these frictions.

“If this step isn’t completed with the utmost care, don’t even bother moving onto step two,” adds Chris. Adding value to people’s lives is the only way a product will survive, especially when intruding into a user’s life by requesting location data.

There are two veins of thought at this junction: how can the solution deliver value to customers where they didn’t know it existed, or how can it create value by simplifying the task at hand.

“Mobile marketers must educate the user and demonstrate tangible value first before ever requesting permission to track or collect information,” Billy shares.

 2. Understand the technologies needed to deliver value

Decide whether general proximity or exact location is needed to deliver value to users, then explore which location tracking technology is appropriate for the user interaction. Not only is it important to know what technologies are available for enabling location awareness within mobile solutions, but it’s critical to understand market perception of the tech—choose the technology with a positive connotation.

Chris says, “the more intrusive the mobile solution is, the more value it has to add.” If iBeacon is the technology of choice, realize it takes buy-in from users to download the app iBeacon communicates with, allow for location to be enabled, as well as enable Bluetooth.

Dan makes an additional point regarding the prerequisites for location services, like Bluetooth:

“The idea that Bluetooth can be used for an on-going purpose (like getting push alerts from beacons), rather than an activity purpose (like connecting to a bluetooth headset), is new, therefore research around users leaving their Bluetooth enabled consistently is just becoming necessary.”

There hasn’t been a lot of research on the matter yet, and what is available won’t have the strongest statistical validity. That said, internal research from Empatika found about 50 percent of North American mobile users “already had Bluetooth turned on.”

Of course, Apple’s iOS 7 update automatically had Bluetooth enabled, the assumption that, in order to make iBeacon work out of the gate, people need to have Bluetooth running.

3. Develop optimal user experience for implementation:

“Mobile consumers are all or nothing,” Chris says. While mobile marketers may be able to prove their value up-front, they need to consistently deliver experiences that are timely, relevant, and customized to the user in order to build loyalty over the long-term.

This means creating a seamless user experience that helps users feel they’ve trusted their data to a worthy company. However, the moment mobile marketers fail to act with a user-first mentality, they’re prone to negative reviews, bad press, and deletion of their app entirely.

Dan explains that app developers are starting to look at timing when asking for device permissions. An app that asks for the whole caboodle up front may come off as too invasive. Instead, waiting to ask for permissions until they’re necessary can increase the number of users who opt into app permissions.

If your app has a feature which requires location, don’t ask for location services until the user is going to use that feature. If the reason for asking for these permissions isn’t clear, consider explaining why you’d like to use these services.

4. Allow for user customization and opt-out

“Expectations for mobile are based on all mobile experiences,” Chris explains. Never consider the app in a silo, as users are now accustomed to being in control, so never assume permission.

Dan reminds us that it’s up to the user to give your app the permissions it’s requesting. If a user denies your app location services, and your app isn’t completely dependent on this, don’t prevent them from using your app.

Instead, build as great an experience as possible without these services, and remind your users that they could be part of an even better experience by granting the app these permissions. Trust can take time, so if users grow more comfortable within an app and are reminded later to grant location access, they may feel more comfortable doing so.

5. Constant iteration

Test, test, test. Location technology is constantly changing and solutions should evolve with time, as well based on user feedback. At this point in the process, it’s important for companies to nurture what they’ve created and pay attention to what the location data is telling them about their customers’ wants and needs.

Remember that delivering value is paramount—so try to avoid thinking of the product as “done” and instead, consider trends that are shifting and how new needs can be met.

For many consumers, no technology is more personal than mobile. And for mobile marketers, no technology is better at serving customers with personalized experiences that can move the needle. Hopefully, the five tactics here can provide a baseline that will help facilitate productive conversations about your mobile marketing strategy.

Related Articles