Geotargeting 101

What is geotargeting?

Geotargeting is the method of delivering digital content based on a user’s location. Geotargeting can be as broadly focused as changing the look of a website depending on a user’s country, or as narrowly focused as pushing a milk coupon to a person on a smartphone in the dairy aisle.

Why is geotargeting useful?

Geotargeting helps marketers and advertisers increase the relevance of their content. For example, an ad for farming equipment is usually more applicable to an audience in rural America than in the heart of a city. By increasing the relevance of an ad through the context of location, you increase the odds of a sale.

The geo-target

It’s helpful to think of geotargeting as an actual target. The center of the target is your brick-and-mortar location. As for the rings of the target, they’re the varying degrees of accuracy and reach that a given geotargeting method will deliver content.

The rings closest to your location have the greatest degree of location relevance. However, they will generate the fewest impressions and are often the hardest methods to implement. The rings further out are easier to implement and generate far more impressions, but they lack the same degree of targeting accuracy and location relevance.

When choosing a geotargeting method, know first the audience and your desired reach, then choose the right level of geotargeting accuracy to match it.

The outer rings of the geo-target

The outer rings of the geo-target are your efforts to target users by country, region, state, zip code or city. You’re targeting a greater pool of potential customers at these levels, but the conversion rate is low, since the message is less likely to be relevant to the majority of those targeted.

A good example of this type of broad messaging is an ad that targets homeowners by mentioning their state in the ad copy. Although this method is broad and unrefined, an ad with a relevant location mentioned in it will still perform better than a similar ad without a location reference.

The middle rings of the geo-target

As we move closer to the center of the geo-target, proximity becomes more important. This level of targeting accuracy is usually established with geo-fences. Thanks to smartphones and their built-in GPS technology, marketers and advertisers can target only the customers within an established geo-fenced area, thereby increasing a message’s location relevance.

Until recently, geo-fences were usually defined by zip code or a designated market area. But geo-fencing technology like ProximityAds can now establish customizable geo-fences around an individual location. For example, this type of geotargeting would allow a coffee shop to target only the users within a five-minute walk of a location with a coupon for a drink.

As such, geo-fences are particularly effective at driving customers to individual locations. Since the further a customer is from a location, the less likely it is that they will convert, one can save on advertising by targeting only nearby users.

The ring next to the bullseye

If your location is the bullseye of the target, then beacons are the immediate ring next to it. Beacons work by sending push notifications to nearby users through Bluetooth and RFID technology.

Beacons are the most focused and direct form of geotargeting. In this case, we’re not talking geo-fences in terms of miles, but in feet. This makes beacons perfect for targeting customers passing by in a shopping mall or in a particular section of your store.

The convergence of customer and location data for omnichannel marketing

Geotargeting is effective by itself, but it becomes even more powerful when you start combining location and customer data to increase the relevance of your messaging. By targeting customers in the right place at the right time with the right message, the odds of a conversion dramatically increase.

Make no mistake, the fulfillment omnichannel marketing lies in creating a synergy between location and customer data. Brands that successfully manage the varying degrees of geotargeting accuracy will be at the forefront of the next evolution of digital marketing.

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