Geolocation is here, and smart retailers should get informed about this technology as they plan future marketing campaigns. Pew Research Center estimates that 77% of all Americans now own smartphones, and with the U.S. population now standing at approximately 3.25 million, that means that there are about 250 million customers walking around searching for products and places with geo-trackers in their pocket.
What is Geolocation? Geolocation is simply the identification of the geographic location of an object, such as a computer terminal or a smartphone. Web search engines regularly use geolocation to return relevant search results to users who ask the question, “Where can I find (insert product name/store/restaurant) near me?” The geo-tracking software on the smartphones everyone is carrying these days finds the relevant places where the user can find what they are looking for. This type of geolocation allows your customers to find you. Another way of using geolocation is to let you find your customers. Geolocation that helps you find your customers and customize ads specific to their location or to what they may be shopping for is called Geomarketing.
Coming to a smartphone near you – According to the Local Search Association’s Local Mobile Search Study, 70% of smartphone users in the U.S. (or about 175,000,000 million people) will allow geolocation services to be enabled on their phone if they believe that it will result in coupons and/or savings when they shop and dine out. That’s a lot of people, but luckily most small retailers only care about the ones who are within a fairly small radius of their store location. Using geolocation services to create marketing campaigns is called Geomarketing, and the process of finding the consumers you wish to target with your advertising is called Geotargeting.
How To Use Geotargeting in your Geomarketing campaigns – For the most part, small retailers want to target the customers who have already and will be shopping for the products they sell, for customers who are geographically close to the store location at any given time, and those who may be searching for products in response to an event in the area. In order to find out who is shopping for the products you sell, you will either need to find a marketing company that is well-versed in Geomarketing, or you will need to begin an Adwords campaign on Google or a similar program on another search engine. Facebook also uses geolocation to help you target customers in your area when you use Facebook ads. All of the above platforms will let you customize your marketing for various criteria such as previous and current location of the customer, keywords previously searched for, and some will even let you send ads for geographically specific events. For example, a retailer who sells shovels and snow blowers may want to target an area with a forecast of heavy snow with ads for those winter storm specific items, and they may want to send ads to those who have searched specifically for those items in the last few days or even hours. Take a look at Searchengineland.com’s article “10 Practical Tips For Using Geo-Location To Reach Your Target Audience” for more examples of how you can customize your marketing campaigns.
It is amazing to think of what technology has done for the advertising/marketing industry. Smartphone/mobile usage has changed the industry in ways that can be exciting and extremely useful for small independent retailers, but also very confusing. This blog post only scratches the surface of what can be done with geolocation services and advertising campaigns. In order to use it effectively, a great deal of research should be done before venturing into the world of Geomarketing. Do your due diligence and get yourself informed now so you can ride the wave of Geolocation/Geomarketing all the way to the bank!