Last week many of the top marketing sites posted an article about a new and innovative campaign by Coke and Auntie Anne’s. You can check a few of the articles out here…
Adweek | Yahoo | ClickZ
So what was the big deal and how are they doing this? It’s actually a pretty simple idea but takes two different technology platforms and a great partnership to pull off. The partnership, of course, is between Coke and Auntie Anne’s. Taking the number one brand in the world, that happens to be a consumable, inexpensive, and often impulsive purchase and matching that with a chain that sells their products and often lives in malls (easier to geo-target since anyone located in the mall is in striking distance) doesn’t hurt a geo-targeting campaign.
The two technology companies are what make it really interesting, specifically the pairing of these two services. This is where most of the articles are giving the “innovation” credit, the idea to use the two in conjunction. You have Millennial Media that has been geo- and demo- targeting for a while now, but that isn’t enough on its own. The magic is in tracking the conversion and optimization (in real time), which Sparkfly does for POS systems. The diagram below gives an overview:
[This diagram was produced by these companies and is on several of the article sites]
When I see this I look at the components and see that they all existed prior to last week. We can already geo-target, we can track conversions, we can optimize things in real-time. So why aren’t we (meaning anyone who isn’t Coke and Auntie Anne’s) doing this? I mean, aside from the fact that not many companies have experiment budgets of significance (see that ClickZ article for Coke’s 70-20-10 rule). I think it’s because we aren’t making the effort to figure out how we can use the technologies to our advantage and we’re letting excuses get in the way.
I’m going to go out on a limb and think of some common objections to trying to run a campaign like this, keeping in mind that I don’t think many brands can run a campaign exactly like this. I do think many brands can take the concept and run campaigns that leverage the components in a simpler, yet impactful, way.
Common objection: “I sell X-product and (maybe) have some physical locations but no way to track POS conversions (ex. I don’t have the staff, the training, coupons, etc). Why would I waste my time trying to leverage geo-targeting with conversion optimization? I think I’ll address this concern in letter form:
Dear sir or ma’am,
Geo-targeting at its core is just relevancy marketing (or what I call “marketing”), so the key is to increase relevancy, test, then optimize. If you have physical locations then relevancy may be someone in the proximity of your location. If you don’t then the relevancy you can get from geo-targeting may be in the form of what the user is doing. For example, if I sell cars it may be important to know when a user is near the lot but it may also be useful to know when the user is at a gas station. If I know the user is at a gas station, odds are they are pumping gas and if they’re pumping gas I talk to them about the new hybrids we have on the lot. You hate paying all that money for gas, right? Well let me remind you that there is an alternative out there while it’s top of mind.
Don’t have the ability to track conversions? I would say you have some ability to track some type of conversion. That conversion would come in the form of clicking a link. Even better, what if you were running this as part of your email campaign*. If you have a person’s email address and you send to them on a regular basis then you can track behavior and more importantly, changes in behavior. That’s a type of conversion. We can geo-target to a limited degree in an email so why not hit up that same user near gas stations or your lots with your hybrid messaging in the email instead of the default message? Then track all the users that have received one of those high impact and relevant messages and see if that group has higher conversion rates over the next few messaging cycles (weeks, months, etc).
Ryan “That’s easy for me to say” Tuttle
One last note, on this innovative campaign: They were using Millennial Media’s demo-targeting (targeting mothers) to pinpoint users in addition to the geo-targeting. What if they had used the person’s email address and their loyalty program (MCR)? Think about the CRM data and impact they could have had. Think about how much more they would have known about the person in order to influence their behavior. What if I opened my loyalty program email and the email server knew I was on a mobile device AND that I happened to be near a mall? Now the message can read “Go to Auntie Anne’s now, buy a Coke, and we’ll double your reward points for purchases in the next hour.”
Think about it.
*You knew I would go there, right?