Urban Outfitters: Geo-Data Insights Helped Generate Triple-Digit Revenue Gains

App-based messaging triggered by location via PlaceIQ and Appboy contrbuted to a 146 percent revenue rise, says Urban Outfitters' Andrew Rauch.

Location data is all about using a person’s current place along with understanding of the historical geographical patterns a consumer creates to deliver the right message at the right time.

Urban Outfitters’ goal this past holiday season was to refine its app-based messaging process in order increase engagement with its push notifications and content to ultimately drive sales.

Working with its long-time mobile CRM partner, Appboy, the retailer, which operates 240 youth-focused apparel and housewares stores throughout North America and Europe, tapped geo-data specialist PlaceIQ to bring greater depth to the basic location insights it already possessed via its app.

The result of what was ultimately a cross-channel campaign, thanks to PlaceIQ and Appboy’s collaboration: Urban Outfitters boosted customer conversions by 75 percent and increased related revenue by 146 percent.

“Our goal is to provide better experiences for our audience in this competitive landscape,” said Andrew Rauch, Sr. director, Global Digital Marketing at Urban Outfitters. “Our data enriched by PlaceIQ in Appboy’s mobile messaging and testing platform has helped with this goal. Effectively communicating with users through this location-specific marketing led to a 146 percent increase in campaign revenue.”

Outside The App

Among the tools PlaceIQ brings to the table includes access to data from 475 million location points of interest, 100 million unique consumers, and more than 10 billion daily place-based device movements that enables the creation of geo-based audience segments.

To put that into action, and build a clearer target Urban Outfitters’ messaging outreach, the retailer used PlaceIQ’s support for dynamic audience filters—based on real-world location information and other Appboy data―to deliver messages based on visitation and behavior outside the app.

As opposed to waiting until a shopper was near or in a store, for example, Urban Outfitters would use push notifications to promote party dresses exclusively to female audiences who frequent bars and nightlife locations.

Inside The App

Interestingly, the use of emojis and mobile deep-linking were also an intrinsic part of the marketing mix here.

The use of messaging to promote retail and e-commerce has been gathering steam, the younger demographic that shops at Urban Outfitters made that aspect a natural idea of the campaign.  For one thing, it allows the marketing to be a bit lighter and entertaining, versus sending a static image of coupon.

Appboy’s analysis of the trend toward emoji use by brands found that open rates for iOS and Android push notifications containing emojis have increased by 210 percent and 1,063 percent, respectively, year-over-year.

Still, despite the acceptance of emojis by consumers, being able to anticipate and respond with these image-based messages needs to be more than just hit or miss. That’s where PlaceIQ came in to bring the idea of semantics and context to the use of emoijs.

“There’s a lot of raw data that we pull in on user-purchases, items that consumers look at via the app and device meta-data, and we wanted to move our location targeting to the next level,” said Bill Magnuson, CEO and Co-Founder of Appboy. “We were able to target literally as to where someone was. But we wanted to add semantic meaning to the history of that location that the consumers we sought to reach had.”

Semantics And Context

In working with PlaceIQ, Appboy could get a better sense of what sort of behaviors and people tend to cluster around certain locations — and when. By understanding the specific behaviors surrounding specific areas at specific times, the belief was that Urban Outfitters would be able to send consumers messages that appealed to potential shoppers at the most optimal moment.

“Urban Outfitters was able to go back, combine the targeting information based on the consumers’ lifecycle and that would allow us to take action on their behalf to ultimate drive greater engagement, store visits, and ultimately, purchases,” Magnuson added.

To provide users with a smoother experience and increase the chances that messaging led to conversions, Urban Outfitters took advantage of Appboy’s support for mobile deep linking to send users right to the relevant page within the app when they tapped the message.

From there, it would look to “conversion events,” which were designed to ensure accurate monitoring of the impact of promotional campaigns. Essentially, Urban Outfitters used Appboy’s Conversion Events feature to track when the push notifications sent as part of this outreach resulted in a purchase.

Better Conversations, Higher Conversions

“One of the base premises of Appboy is that you can have better relationships with your customers if you have better conversations with them,” Magnuson said.

PlaceIQ has long sought to position itself as an engine for understanding consumer behavior rather than a tool for geotargeting consumers as they pass near a particular business. For CEO and founder Duncan McCall, the work with Appboy and Urban Outfitters is validation of that view.

“For the longest time, location-based advertising was synonymous with ‘proximity’ — you can certainly do push notifications based on geofencing audience segments within a small radius, and that’s fine,” McCall said. “But the idea of taking location and transforming it into clear real-world behaviors, that’s the mission and vision for PlaceIQ for seven years. Ultimately, location-based advertising can be defined as personalized marketing using the intersection of online and offline data. And that’s extremely powerful for brands like Urban Outfitters.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.