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Personalization in Indoor Mapping

August 15, 2019 by Sam Slater

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As indoor mapping becomes more sophisticated, so do audience expectations. Just a few years ago, a simple map that depicts a specific building or campus may have been enough for an organization's stakeholders to get crucial information. As the technology has evolved and the same maps have turned into interactive marketing and wayfinding tools, a more sophisticated solution has become necessary.

Most marketers have begun to recognize that in today's digital environment, customization is the name of the game. Individual audience segments have very different needs and pain points, and all expect communication directed towards them in interacting with your content. Not surprisingly, that extends to your indoor maps as well.

Stated differently, a one-size-fits-all to your mapping solution is no longer enough. Let's take a deep dive into the increasing need for personalization, how that need extends to indoor mapping, and how you can build your maps to accommodate this growing audience expectation.

Custom Indoor Map

The Increasing Need for Personalization in Digital Communication

Good marketing has to be personalized. It's a statement that, to anyone in the industry today, seems almost too obvious. The statistics are clear

  • 72% of consumers engage only with companies who offer at least some content personalized to their specific needs.
  • 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service online when they experience personalized messaging along the way.
  • 90% of online shoppers are willing to share personal data if it means receiving more customized offers and content as a result.
  • 70% of millennials are frustrated with irrelevant marketing messages and openly navigate to brands who minimize that type of communication.
  • Personalizing marketing alone can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50% while lifting revenues up to 15%.
  • Brand loyalty among millennials increases by 28% if they receive personalized marketing messages.

Each of these statistics comes from a different study, survey, and source. Combined, they paint a powerful picture of a market that has come to value and expect messages tailored to their needs and demographics.

Note the lack of industry distinction above. While younger audiences are more prone to expect personalization, customers across the board are tending in the same direction. Mass messaging has left the arena, replaced by an era of mass customization.

Understanding Audience Needs to Build Personalized Strategies

It's easy to understand why your audience expects personalization. Potential customers share their data with that explicit goal, and have been shown the possibilities by some of the largest brands around. The more difficult question to answer is just how you can build effective messaging in this direction.

As suggested above, it's all based on audience needs. Put simply, you have to understand what your audience is looking for before you can deliver on that expectation. That means surveys, interviews, and competitive analysis. It's no wonder the market research industry has now topped $45 billion. 

How Personalization Expectations Extend to Indoor Mapping

All of the above makes perfect sense for digital marketers who have tools like CRMs and tightly curated digital advertising platforms at their disposal. It's not quite as natural of a fit for indoor maps, which have traditionally been considered to be relatively static representation of physical spaces. You can't personalize the actual hospital building; how are you expected to accomplish that feat with its digital counterpart?

The key here, of course, is the digital denominator in that sentence. Just as digital advertising capabilities have grown, so have indoor maps. Formerly static systems have increasingly built opportunities specifically designed to offer segmented, customized experiences for their audiences. You just have to know where to look.

Personalization Opportunities in Higher Education

timelapse of people walking on university stairs

Take higher education as an industry example. Marketers here know about the complexity of audiences: convincing prospective students to attend your university is very different from the alumni whose loyalty you need to build and nourish. Both audiences might attend your campus and visit your buildings for entirely different reasons. Can your mapping solution accommodate these reasons?

A new academic building should probably highlight the educational opportunities for students and families, and the names of the donors who contributed to its construction for alumni relations. The same is true for almost every other building on campus, and that's before you even consider other stakeholders like current students, new faculty, and local lawmakers.

Personalization Potential in Healthcare

Healthcare offers similar personalization potential to higher education. Your hospital might need to accommodate incoming patients on the one hand, and their visitors on the other. Even residential long-term patients have very different indoor wayfinding and mapping needs compared to outpatient visitors. 

Again, your audiences increasingly expect the map to accommodate their varying needs. The gift shop is a prominent location for visitors, whereas long-term care patients probably care more about the cafeteria. Outpatients, of course, just need to find the specific area and doctor's offices for which they came.

Break it down, and almost every industry has these types of personalization needs. You begin to realize that, as soon as you have more than one narrowly defined core audience, your indoor mapping needs to adjust to the questions, pain points, and problems of each audience segment. The question, then, moves from why to how.

Building Your Indoor Maps to Accommodate Customized Experiences

All of the above might sound perfectly realistic. It's relatively simple to explain the core need for personalization across industries. After all, it's impossible to talk about the future of wayfinding without mentioning these types of customization opportunities.

What's more difficult, of course, is discussing just how an indoor mapping solution might be able to accommodate these needs.

As you might imagine, the answer is far from simple. In fact, you can build basic segmentation into even the most static maps through the strategic use of map layers where possible. Of course, that doesn't represent the only potential solution. Dig deeper, and features like live data feeds and machine learning become potential gold mines of opportunity.

The Basic Level: Map Layers Defined By Audiences

woman smiling at computer in coffee shop

Almost as long as indoor mapping has existed in the commercial maps, layers have been a part of it. The concept is simple: you have one base layer, the core layout of the building. On top of that, you can 'layer' pieces of information depending on the audience.

To stay with the examples above, consider a hospital that has a layer for both patients and visitors. The former group now sees doctor's offices highlighted, while the latter sees the gift shop, rooms for admitted patients, and other information relevant specifically to then. It's easy to imagine similar customization in higher education and throughout industries.

Layers are typically self-serve, meaning the audience can select the appropriate section for themselves. Of course, you can also link to them. It's a basic way to ensure that segments of your audience only receive the information most relevant to them, while still having the option of branching out should they fall into another segment or are simply curious.

While these layers are often segmented by audiences, you might also find them separated based on specific topics. A college campus might highlight the sustainability of its central building in one layer while a hospital might have a layer with just the doctor's offices. The core concept, of course, remains the same.

This is the most basic level of personalization. It keeps your map static, but (literally) adds a few layers of complexity to it. While comparatively easy to set up and manage, more in-depth solutions can offer potentially significant benefits over this basic opportunity.

The Next Step: Feeding in Live Information for Specific Audience Segments

Let's take it a step further. Customization means not just personalizing to your audience, but also making sure that the map is relevant at a given time. That, in turn, can be accomplished through the addition of live data feeds into your indoor map.

You might be familiar with this concept from free outdoor mapping apps like Google or Apple Maps. Think about the traffic that feeds into your direction and adjusts your time. A construction zone or accident may be pointed out to you. The same concept, it turns out, can improve your indoor mapping as well.

Live data feeds can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Directions Magazine, for instance, points out how the Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to influence this technology:

In the coming year, we'll see larger-scale deployments of sensors embedded into lights and other furniture in both new developments and older building retrofits. That's not to say that sensors will be completely ubiquitous by the end of the year, but the incorporation of location sensors or beacons will become the standard in new buildings. This trend will mitigate pain points we've seen around the lifetime of battery-based beacons and make it significantly easier to enable IoT projects with native infrastructure.

IoT data and RFID tracking through beacons over short distances allow companies to easily pull in data that improve map quality and relevance. A given member of your audience, walking into your front door at a specific point in time, can now leverage their exact location with the data reliant on that location. Personalization becomes a dynamic force, going beyond static layers to improve audience experiences across the spectrum.

The Final Challenge: Machine Learning and Smart Maps to Customize Over Time

brainstorming on paper between laptops

Of course, we're still only scratching the surface of what personalization in indoor mapping may look like in the future. Live data adds a dynamic dimension that's impossible to ignore. At the same time, it's far from the final frontier as it relates to a more relevant, customized experience.

Imagine a map that can connect directly into your audience's information, accessible through their phone, to learn about their habits and preferences. Such a map might recognize that a daily visitor or employee tends to stop at the coffee shop in the mornings, and show directions to that coffee shop as well as live data on how long the wait currently is (live data, anyone?) only during the hours when the visit might actually happen.

The possibilities here are almost endless. Through data from your CRM or directly from the audience, you can begin to build machine learning capabilities that predict future actions and adjust the maps automatically. The experience of place extends from the physical location to an integrated, digital-physical environment. The lines between the virtual and real world are beginning to blur.

We're beginning to see solutions that look to address this directions, but we're only on the onset of discovering the possibilities of this concept. What we do know is that, through the increasing capabilities of both mapping software and the data that feeds into it, these possibilities reach much further than many initially thought. Truly smart maps are in our future, and their coming soon. With them will come a degree of personalization that has been unseen in the industry to date.

The Baseline: Work With a Reliable Software Partner

It's a complex subject. Your audience wants and expects personalization, but your indoor maps cannot naturally accommodate them.  You might need an upgrade specifically designed to address the segmentation, data needs, and build-outs in that area. Of course, a project like that is impossible to take on without a reliable partner.

The partner word is operative here. A mapping software vendor who simply helps you with the implementation and then jumps off can accomplish the first level above, but probably won't go far beyond that. Instead, you need a true partner who understands your business needs and target audience, and helps you build a solution specifically designed for the individual segments of that audience.

Concept3D has long been at the forefront of advanced indoor mapping solutions. Our tools include live data feeds along with the layers needed to accomplish even basic levels of personalization. We've worked with a variety of industries, and can bring that knowledge to you in order to maximize your audience capabilities. Contact us today to start the conversation, and begin to build your indoor maps in a way that satisfies and exceeds your audience's personalization expectations.

Topics: Campus Map

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