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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Geotargeting

Geotargeting has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for marketers, and for good reason. The ability to reach your target customer based on where they are spending their time is a revolutionary advancement, increasing a business owner’s chance of delivering the right message at the right time.

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Tim Ross is president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail campaigns to the automotive repair industry. Mudlick Mail has worked with close to 1,000 automotive repair and transmission shops across the U.S. and Canada, helping them improve their car count and increase sales. The company teaches its clients how to understand consumer-buying habits and shows them how to create effective systems to maximize the value of their marketing campaigns.

Geotargeting has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for marketers, and for good reason. The ability to reach your target customer based on where they are spending their time is a revolutionary advancement, increasing a business owner’s chance of delivering the right message at the right time.

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For those unfamiliar with geotargeting, it’s the practice of sending advertising content to a user’s mobile device based on their current location, or a location recently visited. Mobile ads can be served within apps and also internet browsers, with the majority being served within popular apps. The nice thing about geotargeting is that you can also customize the geographic area you want to target, from as broad as the country level, down to your state, city or specific zip code. You can also set up a “geofence” to isolate an area and target users that enter that zone. A good use of geofencing would be to set up a “zone” around nearby competitors so that anytime a potential customer visits that zone, they’ll receive an ad promoting your business. Geofencing technology has become unbelievably hyper-targeted and now allows you to draw custom shapes around whatever area it is that you may want to target, whether that is a particular business or an entire shopping center.

Geotargeting can also help reveal a lot about your potential customers’ behavior and shopping habits – data you can use to inform your digital advertising campaigns and overall marketing strategy.

It’s clear that geotargeting can serve as a powerful tool. But, implementing any new marketing strategy can be tricky. It’s wise to take a step back and figure out how geotargeting can work for you – in terms of both customer acquisition and retention. Many of the shop owners we work with have just begun embracing this new technology and have learned many valuable lessons in the process.

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Here’s a few dos and don’ts we recommend based on their experiences:

  • Do your homework. It’s clear that you can’t afford to skip mobile-based marketing, but getting educated on digital trends like geotargeting will be key in helping you avoid paying for mobile strategies that won’t serve your business well. While there are plenty of marketing agencies willing to help you incorporate geotargeting into your marketing program, it’s essential to understand how the practice works and what you’re getting into. Take time to read about the subject and don’t be afraid to ask fellow business owners for their advice.

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Digital marketing is a great way to reach customers who seem to be spending more and more time on their mobile devices, but if you abandon traditional marketing channels, you could be missing out. These days, you have to employ an integrated approach. Your digital outreach should complement your other marketing efforts, including direct mail or email marketing. If a potential customer gets a postcard from you in the mail, sees your ads on Facebook and then gets a message promoting your services when they drive by your shop, they’re more likely to think of you when they need a tune-up or a repair. Remember that prospective customers need to see your marketing messages multiple times before your brand creates a permanent impression.

 

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  • Do stay consistent. Employing geotargeting every other month or every other quarter isn’t going to produce any meaningful results. In order to gauge the effectiveness of this particular tool, you need to create a plan and stick with it – just like you would diet or exercise program. Taking a month or two off also leaves room for your competitors to fill the gap you’re vacating. You want to be top of mind when your prospects need service and maintaining the same level of activity month after month will help you achieve that. The other reason consistency is so important is because in an integrated campaign, all of your marketing components work in concert. If you drop one of the pieces, it’s going to impact the other parts of the puzzle.

 

  • Don’t cast too broad a net. In the automotive repair business, keeping your focus hyperlocal is going to be your best bet. There’s no point in sending content to potential customers two zip codes away. Unless you’re located in rural area, those folks are more likely to get their cars serviced at a shop that’s closer to home. The problem is that since mobile impressions cost much less than other forms of marketing (such as direct mail) it’s tempting to believe that you should allocate any additional budget to a wider area, thinking you’ll bring in more customers with that approach. The real goal should be to hit only the best of the best in your target area and focus on frequency. You want the highest income households located closest to your shops to see your ads at least 8 to 10 times during the course of a campaign.

 

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  • Do measure results. Tracking is always important regardless of what type of marketing strategy you employ. Evaluating success with geotargeting can be done in a variety of ways. For our clients, we typically set up a geofence around different homes and business located near their shop. Once an ad is served in this zone, we continue to track the devices ads were delivered to. If a device enters the four walls surrounding the actual business that was served a mobile ad, we consider that a conversion. We can also track visits to the shop’s website that were driven by the mobile ad in a specific geofenced area. Another way to determine success is to exclude a certain number of prospective customers in your key zone from your campaign. That way, you have a control group to measure against. If you still get a good response from that control group without geotargeting, you may be able to credit another advertising method for driving traffic. Whatever you decide to measure, make sure you look at that metric over the course of the entire campaign versus rather than just a snapshot in time.

 

  • Do keep your staff informed on your marketing plans. There’s nothing worse than having a customer call your shop based on a promotion they saw and encountering an employee who has no idea what they’re talking about. Your front line employees need to know what offers are out there and where they’re being advertised so they are well prepared to capitalize on any leads your campaign might generate. Keeping employees in the loop will help you maximize your ad spend and convert more sales. If you don’t do it already, consider holding weekly meetings where you can educate staff about upcoming promotions and new marketing efforts.

 

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Americans spend more than four hours a day on their smartphones, so reaching them on the platform where they are most active is going to be crucial for your marketing efforts moving forward. Geotargeting is a great way to enhance your mobile strategy and spending the time to understand it and how it can impact your business is well worth your time.

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