There was a time when everyone thought brick-and-mortar retail would soon be dead. But is it?
Even after surviving the wrath of COVID-19, offline retail is as active as ever.
But new trends have emerged. One of them is proximity marketing.
In this post, we'll discuss how proximity marketing works and how you can use it to enhance customer engagement.

Proximity Marketing: How Does It Work?
The word "proximity" means "nearness in space," so there's no rocket science behind this concept. It involves targeting customers who are near or in 'proximity' to your physical store or outlet.
By definition, proximity marketing is a marketing technique in which you use your customers' location to promote your business or products. It happens through modern-day smartphone technologies, like GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
Proximity marketing is also referred to as hyper-local marketing because it's highly targeted.
So, how does proximity marketing work?
You can choose two ways to implement proximity marketing: using beacons or using QR codes and NFC.
Beacon-based proximity marketing involves setting up Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices at a particular spot. When users pass by the device, they'll receive content in the form of links, text, videos, or images.
While beacon-based marketing has myriad benefits, there are some pre-requisites to consider. First, consumers should have a Bluetooth-enabled device. If they've turned off the Bluetooth, this method won't work.
You'd also need to set up a beacon in a high-traffic area, so the advertising content can be sent to more people.
In addition, beacon marketing is passive. You would need to detect the device and ask the consumer for permission to share content, and once you get the permission, you would upload the content and send it.
The second way to deploying proximity marketing is through QR codes and NFC.
You can put up QR codes outside your outlet or on the walls. Link the codes with the content you want your consumers to see. Or better, include a benefit to encourage people to scan the code.
For example, you can put up a code that your users can scan and get a discount if they shop from your website. The biggest benefit of QR codes in proximity marketing is the ease of use. You don't need any hardware or infrastructure as you need with beacon marketing.
All you need to do is generate a QR code and display it outside your store. The QR code cost is low, so you can implement it to your marketing strategy without hurting your budget.

Benefits of Proximity Marketing for Small Businesses
Proximity marketing has emerged as an effective way to gain a competitive edge. If done correctly, proximity marketing can help you offer a personalized customer experience and generate immediate conversions.
Besides, with mobile marketing becoming the new normal, proximity marketing is set to become a huge trend in the upcoming decade.
So, why should you care about proximity marketing? Let's find out.
1. Seamless Geotargeting
Wouldn't it awesome if you could send an advertising message or notification to someone as soon as they came near your store? With proximity marketing, you can.
The beacons you install have a determined area of activity, also known as a geofence. When someone enters the geofence, the beacon sends a push notification to their mobile.
Customers are most likely to buy when they're in front of a store or outlet. How many times have you just walked into a cafe or restaurant because you noticed it was there?
Beacons ensure precise geotargeting, which increases your chances of attracting more customers.
2. Improved App Engagement
How many apps do you have on your smartphone? And how many of them do you regularly use? The difference must be staggering. A report from Social Media Today showed that an average person has 80-90 different apps installed on their phone, of which only 9-10 are of daily use.
This means even if your customers have installed your app, the probability of them using the app is low. But with proximity marketing, you can enhance app engagement.
When a user enters the geofence, the beacon can send an in-app notification. Since many customers are on their phones when shopping, they'll see the alert.
3. Instant Conversions
Let's say you wanted a new pair of Adidas Superstar for a while. One day, you made your mind to go and get them. You reached the store, but still, you were not sure whether to buy it or not.
Suddenly, you get a notification that Adidas Superstar sneakers are selling for a flat 25% off. Wouldn't you immediately enter the store and make a purchase?
That's how proximity marketing works. If done correctly, it can help you generate immediate conversions.

5 Tips to Leverage Proximity Marketing to Boost Customer Engagement
The benefits of proximity marketing are significant. But there's a challenge small businesses might face.
Proximity marketing is a fairly new concept, and not a lot of companies know about it. As a result, it's not easy to implement. The margin of error is bleak, but the chances of things not going your way can be substantial.
To help you overcome this hurdle, we're sharing five tips to leverage proximity marketing to boost customer engagement.
1. Pick the Right Location
First things first, choose the right location for your proximity marketing campaign. This type of marketing enables effective geotargeting, but only if there's a wide customer base in the area.
In a nutshell, pick a spot that gets a lot of traffic. It could be a supermarket, a large retail outlet, trade show, or shopping mall. Avoid areas on the outskirts of the city or hidden in a small street. You should want your customers to find you easily.
2. Use the Right Technology
As mentioned earlier, you can use beacons, QR codes, and NFCs to deploy a proximity marketing campaign. But which one's the best?
Well, all technologies have their set of pros and cons. Beacons are the most popular. You can send targeted content to consumers once they enter the beacon's area of activity. But setting up and using beacons can be technical and may require expert assistance.
QR codes are more beginner-friendly. You can create a QR code with a QR Code generator with logo and put it up outside your store. But on the downside, it'd only work if people agree to scan the code.
3. Pay Extra Attention to Notifications
Notifications are the most important aspect of a proximity marketing campaign. Your notifications should be timely and compelling.
Use different content types, such as text, images, GIFs, and more, to compel your customers to take action. Also, don't spam irrelevant notifications, or else you'll start to lose valuable customers.
4. Ask for Permissions
It's essential to respect your customers' privacy. You shouldn't spam them with notifications if they don't want to hear from you. Therefore, always ask for their permission before sending any messages or notifications.
When asking for permission, clearly specify what type of content you'd send them. Tell them why you're collecting their data and how it will be advantageous to them.
5. Stay Updated
Proximity marketing is a relatively fresh concept, and as it grows, new trends and opportunities will emerge. To stay on top of your proximity marketing efforts, you need to stay updated with the latest trends and developments in the field.
Be open to learning, and be on the lookout for new ways to engage your customers.

The revival of offline retail, the rise of mobile devices, and the growing need for personalization have all contributed to the growth of proximity marketing. It is gradually becoming the go-to marketing strategy for businesses.
If you aren't utilizing proximity marketing, now is the time to make the shift.

Author's Bio: 

Apoorva Hegde is a Content Marketer at MobStac.