There are more Americans shopping from their mobile phones than ever before. Last year, one of the major search engine providers put out an advance warning to big box retailers: they were going to start weighing “mobile friendliness” more than ever before. Nowadays, websites that lack a mobile-friendly version do not even show up on the first page of search results. Businesses of every size are competing for customers’ attention and shopping dollars, but they have to figure out how to get their message to the average consumer.
We’ve all had similar experiences while shopping online: the advertisements on the side of our search results actually evolve over time to become more specific. Marketing and advertising programs “learn” what we like to purchase, which websites we go to on a regular basis, and what our common searches are about, and then make advertising choices based on the data they obtain from us. While it can be a real time-saver to get targeted advertising, not everyone appreciates the fact that major search engines and retailers want so much information about our internet searches and our personal information.
One exciting new advance that has changed the way we shop online is the advent of improved local search results. If you are out on an errand and looking for a place to eat, your mobile phone can deliver you quick and relevant recommendations. Several years ago, one search engine company rolled out an algorithm update that improved local businesses’ visibility for local searchers. An algorithm is a way to determine what information is relevant for a search, and the update helped increase map functionality and local businesses’ position on search ranking.
In general, American business owners want to continue to improve maps’ functionality in order to keep better track of their products while they are being delivered. Location intelligence software is evolving to become more precise: retailers need to know if their products are getting lost or wrongly delivered along the supply chain. The market for location intelligence software is growing because businesses need to interpret the customer data that they are collecting. Sales teams need to be able to know who they are trying to reach out to, and marketing departments need to know if their efforts are successful. Are people abandoning a sale due to difficulties with their internet connections? Or are they abandoning a sale because they have found another business that more closely serves their needs?
Demographic reporting software has been in use for more than a decade. An important part of marketing and advertising is knowing your customer’s psychology: how do you brand your business so that people will pay attention? Once you have customers’ attention, how do you generate repeat business and brand loyalty? These heavy questions have contributed to a new field of study called “data science.” Businesses need to know what the data they collect from their clients really means, and they need to be able to convince millions of people that they are the right investment. Location intelligence software can help businesses track the number of local searches for food, clothing, or music stores, for example, but it takes a data scientist to look at a sheet of metrics and determine what it all means for long-term customer acquisition and retention plans.
In the end, location intelligence software has the potential to change the way businesses conduct their sales and outreach programs: they can now pinpoint where their customer base lives and where we shop. They can keep track of when we abandon a sale, and can make highly-educated guesses about why we do so. Location intelligence solutions and geospatial data analysis is a growing field: in the next decade, the market for geographical surveyors and mappers is set to expand by as much as 30%. We may have achieved a high-resolution map of the entire world, but the psychology of the average shopper still remains something of a mystery to online marketers.