Mobile customers are on-the-go. With 74% of smartphone owners claiming to use their devices to get information or directions specific to their location, it seems that a latent understanding of where you are has become something we expect from our mobile devices and the services which run on them. From making personalized recommendations to offering helpful information, mobile apps have an opportunity to surprise and delight their users by engaging them through location-aware experiences.

Location plays a major role in industries where events define the primary customer experience. For media and entertainment companies, physical events have often served as a key touchpoint for engaging audiences. Designing apps that are aware of how users are moving in and around event venues are an opportunity to offer more personalized and relevant content and products.

For example, the newly minted mobile platform of the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium offers proximity-aware features like directions to stadium points of interest and in-seat concession delivery. Taking the example of sporting events a step further, geo-fenced push messaging has the potential to drive ticket sales by providing the means to blast last-minute ticket deals to app users in the area around a particular venue.

Engaging mobile users based on their location is a strategy that can be leveraged in many other industries besides entertainment. Travel-related products and services create value for users by facilitating their movement from point A to point B. Leveraging users’ departure or arrival locations enables online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotel booking apps allows you to design more compelling personalized experiences. Bangalore-based mobile travel guide startup Trip38 is making excellent use of iPhone and Android devices’ native mobile location services to make their app users tours around the world more convenient and delightful by offering tips and deals on nearby attractions, products and services.

For travel in particular, user location can be married with other information to create surprisingly unique experiences that app users will remember. If you’ve had the pleasure of staying in the winter wonderland that has been New England this year, OTAs like Priceline or Orbitz could leverage your location in combination with current and forecasted weather conditions to preemptively offer you timely getaways to more temperate destinations like Florida or Mexico. Would you take it? I certainly would! And doing so would would represent a huge win for both the travel app and users able to avert the snowstorm.

And let’s not forget about the biggest use-case for location-based marketing: Retail. Retailers are constantly looking to deliver the best and most memorable shopping experiences, and many of our favorite merchants have already started experimenting with geo-fenced and iBeacon-based messaging. Unfortunately, these new tools have at times been deployed without adequate thought into the frequency or targeting of messages, resulting in a net detraction from the overall shopping experience.

According to a mobile strategy exec we spoke to at one of the world’s largest retailers, the core value of location to customers is threefold:

  • First, to provide general proximity-aware information like store hours of operation or a virtual map for wayfaring;
  • Second, to provide a discovery experience of new items and offers available in a customer’s physical proximity;
  • Third, to combine location with other information about specific customers – such as recently viewed or purchased items – to create a truly personalized app experience through location-specific recommendations.

For example, users who have previously added items to their virtual cart but have yet to checkout may be reminded and of their pending items or offered an incentive to purchase as soon as they enter a physical location with their items of interest available to take home that day.

The mobile opportunity is fundamentally a local opportunity, and the earlier you start thinking about how you can reduce the friction or enhance the utility of your mobile app by putting users’ location into play – the sooner you will start to see the true return of investing in a mobile strategy.