Location, location, location. Our mindset and choice sets are all heavily influenced by the physical space we occupy and our proximity to a desired location, person or event. Consumers now carry tools in their pockets that allow them to find what they need with the click of a few buttons or a few quick swipes. That (often mobile) behavior is so easily, consistently and immediately rewarded that it has become nearly universal amongst consumers. Looking for a deal nearby? Want to know how others rated their experience at that venue? Need directions to a particular store or their hours of operation? Searching for a pet sitter in the neighborhood?
Even when consumers aren’t consciously querying for location-based info they are targeted by virtue of their location in both desktop and mobile environments as marketers work to anticipate their specific and immediate needs to increase the relevancy of their messaging and improve the efficiency of their media expenditures.
Here are some of the basics to begin using location to improve your marketing results.
When You Have a Physical Location
If you are a retailer or another storefront business with a physical location you should be using at least the foundational location-based tactics to reach the right customers and drive them in store. Past the front door, retailers are also using beacons and other technologies to micro target consumers once they are inside the store, based on aisle or other internal locators.
Both geo-targeting and geo-fencing are important to consider when banding either your campaign or your audience targets and both have a place in your strategy. Start by limiting your paid advertising campaigns to the radius around your store from which the majority of your customers hale. This helps grow brand awareness with the consumers who are most likely to visit. With Google AdWords, advertisers can also increase bids to various radius lengths. This means that you can spend more money to reach users who are closer to the store compared to people who have a further distance to drive. Incorporate location-based keywords in your site copy for SEO reach and also in your paid search efforts to help ensure that your audience finds you on both brand and non-brand terms.
Social media presents many local opportunities to activate consumers and encourage them to extend their experience within their own circles. For instance, if you have the resources and appropriate content, your business may warrant a Facebook page devoted to your location(s) instead of or in addition to a national presence. This takes advantages of the local flavor and language and opens the door to promotions and offers that make perfect sense to your local users but may not to a national audience.
Other localized social media opportunities abound. For instance, Instagram offers a location feature that allows users to add a location to their photos or search for photos based on location. This is a smart way for brands to not only become aware of what is being posted about their brand but also opens the door to repurposing user generated content. Kimpton Hotels does a really nice job with this. Encouraging location tags goes beyond just hashtag usage (which may or may not have a direct correlation to the brand) and is a smart way to have photos directly tied to your brand with no confusion.
Centers of Strong Brand Awareness and Buyer Presence
If you have a strong regional presence but also sell online (or maybe you are in the process of expanding geographically) you should incorporate different targeting options beyond location to build and reach your audience. If an expansion strategy is supported with a broad awareness campaign in either traditional or digital channels, that will drive demand that you want to capture but experience has taught us that the brand familiarity of a local presence will increase the likelihood of conversion, so think about that when structuring budgets.
Be sure to run two separate campaigns, one regional and one national with the local region(s) excluded. That way you can more easily optimize bids in search, social and programmatic campaigns along with messaging, offers and landing pages. With this approach, you can spend more budget (increase bids) on locations where there is a strong brand presence and you have a better chance of converting on non-brand terms and more awareness-based messaging. Within a national campaign you can decrease bids to save budget and address the larger competitive pool.
Remember that location also often translates into weather differences that can be mined for relevancy in language, offers and product selection.
Content, Contests, Sweeps and Special Promotions
Having localized content or promotions helps connect your brand to the community. This is especially true with a new location opening in that market and can be helpful when tied to real time events like sporting events, food festivals, concerts or grand openings.
When Dunkin Donuts gives away free coffee after every Eagles win, it helps connect consumers to the brand and the community in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. This can also be done with social advertising and paid search ads featuring localized content or promotions.
Our digital tool sets allow us to layer targeting options to account for many factors so avoid using location to stereotype your audience. For example, just because someone lives in Colorado doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an avid skier. The California tourism board did a fun campaign around this.
Marketers can effectively use geographically-focused strategies to run efficient and targeted advertising campaigns by directing their budget to those efforts most likely to resonate with a specific audience. Location, location, location is really about relevancy, relevancy, relevancy, something all marketing should be striving towards.
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