How businesses can track customers through Smartphones

Posted: 28th February 2017 10:45

Information is money. The more you know about your customers and their habits, the more power you have to persuade them to buy. Your customers’ smartphones are among your most valuable tools. Here are some ways that businesses are tracking consumers via their mobile devices.

Location-Based Advertising

Customers often give apps permission to use their location without thinking about it, and this can work to businesses’ advantage. When a customer has a high-quality smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 on a reliable network, such as T-Mobile, location-based ads will pop up on the phone and may motivate a customer to buy.

Consider an example. You might own a clothing shop in an area where there are a lot of other clothing retailers. When a customer parks near your store, you can send an advertisement that lets the customer know you’re having a special on jeans. The ad might change the customer’s mind about where they are going to shop that day.

Wi-Fi Requests Lead to Location Information

A phone’s GPS is only one way in which a phone’s location can be pinpointed. Latanya Sweeney, the chief technology officer for the Federal Trade Commission, explains, “in order for your phone to make a connection on the internet, it's constantly sending out a unique number that's embedded in that phone, called the MAC address… And by using these constant probe requests by the phone looking for Wi-Fis, you could actually track where that phone has been, how often that phone comes there, down to a few feet. Which is much finer than, say, the GPS location that your phone might be giving.”

This information can be truly indispensable for businesses. When you know where customers are going within your store, you’ll gain insight into how you arrange your products. If an item isn’t selling as well as you expected, move it to a more prominent position. If customers always seem to go to the wrong area when they’re looking for something specific, you can rearrange your products to make them easier to find.

Specialized Discounts

When customers sign on to your business’s open Wi-Fi network, they have to agree to certain terms and conditions. If you include a clause in those terms and conditions that allows you to look at a customer’s browsing history, you can find out what they’re shopping for.

Some Westfield shopping malls are doing this to their advantage. When a customer checks the price of an item at a store that is outside the mall, Westfield then sends a coupon to the customer to motivate them to stay inside the mall.

If you choose to do something like this, it’s best to be transparent with your customers. They may become upset if they later find out that you tracked them. Even though this kind of tracking is legal if you cover your bases in your Wi-Fi’s terms and conditions, most people don’t read those terms and conditions. To engender trust with your customers, you might decide to put up signs or make it clear on your Wi-Fi sign-in page what information you are collecting and what you plan to do with it.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Tracking

If your retail business is online, it is fairly easy for you to set up a system that lets you track shopping cart abandonment; you can even do this through the free Google Analytics program. You can look at mobile shoppers versus desktop shoppers. Do people complete the shopping process on their mobile phones? If not, how can you improve the experience?

You’ll get insight into where in the sales funnel your customers abandon your site. Do they put items in their cart but never proceed to check out, or do they go to check out and skip out on you at the last minute? Use the information you gain to improve your site or app’s customer experience.

Tracking your customers’ activities is one of the best ways to get to know their wants and needs better. Via location-based advertising and other methods, you can grow your business.