Capturing Your Target Audience

Using geolocation marketing to increase focused traffic

Geolocation technology can help you hone in on people who are right in your area, even if they’re just there for a short time.

For those who are unfamiliar with geolocation marketing, the term (as well as geomarketing and geofencing) refers to using geographic information in strategizing and aiming marketing activity. Mobile devices transmit location information and geolocation marketing uses this information to send out targeted messages.

Geolocation marketing allows businesses to digitally set parameters around specific areas they want to target (a geofence), such as a mile around the store’s perimeter. When someone with a smart device comes into that ‘fenced’ area — and has the phone set to receive push notifications through an app or service — the business’s advertising will show up on the device. It works much like targeted ads alongside your Facebook messages or your email following a Google search or social media post for a related product.

“The value that geolocation brings to marketers and their consumers is the promise of greater personalization, the ability to satisfy consumers’ intent and the offering of a higher degree of relevant messaging between a brand and a customer,” says David Kaplan, a geomarketing expert from New York with 13 years in the industry. “That is the essence of hyperlocal marketing.”

This ability to pinpoint a specific area is something that appealed to Doug Robinson of Virginia Leisure in Chesapeake, Virginia. “We have a resort area that’s about 80 miles from us, and we have a lot of homeowners up here who have rental properties there. We wanted to see if we could get some of that business,” Robinson says.

While all the promises of more targeted marketing sound profitable, for business owners unfamiliar with geolocation marketing, jumping in can be intimidating.

Kaplan explains that a small business owner could test out a simple geomarketing ad by signing up for Google My Business, which is free if you’re just using the basics. With that you can create a Google Post. This lets businesses create short announcements, promotions and events, which can be found directly in query results and on Google Maps listings. Being positioned on Google Maps basically gives you free geolocation marketing, according to Kaplan.

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Small businesses could also invest a small amount (Kaplan suggests around $100) to put out a sale message to targeted individuals across Facebook. “That’s about as far as a do-it-yourself geomarketing effort can get you, unless your business happens to employ an engineer who is familiar with setting up a geofence around your business,” Kaplan says.

Another option is to start small with a basic geomarketing app. Apps (such as pushbots.com, pushed.co and growth.pusher.com/beams) are quick to set up and require little technical knowledge. They allow you to get your message out to android and iOS users quickly and easily. That said, only those who have downloaded the app can receive the messages, so they’re much more limited than regular geolocating tools.

If you want to truly test out the capabilities of geomarketing, “get with somebody who knows what they’re doing,” says Robinson, who has just started with geolocating himself. “Make sure you’re in complete understanding of how it works, what your expectations are and keep it at a reasonable budget [for you] until you feel more comfortable with it.”

Eric Cassidy, vice president of Valley Pool & Spa in North Versailles, Pennsylvania, agrees. “This is not a do-it-yourself thing like Google pay per click or Facebook ads,” he says of the full scale geomarketing model. “Team up with a good local marketing agency that knows the market and develop a campaign. And this is something that should be thought of in the off-season because it takes about two months to get fully set up.”

If you’re wondering how much money to set aside for a geomarketing campaign, you may need to start exploring. “Budgeting [geomarketing] for a small and midsize business is fairly wide, depending on what the goals are,” Kaplan says. “When it comes to a campaign with a digital marketing platform provider that offers location business services, you could expect to spend anywhere between $500 for a single store with hyperlocal targeting to $3,000 for a more regional campaign that could run several weeks.”

Some dealers may worry that customers will be put off by geolocation advertising. “Sometimes it’s as simple as building awareness,” Kaplan says. “Think of helping consumers solve a shopping problem by offering a clear value exchange in return for accessing their location. The bottom line: Think of this advertising as another way to perform customer service, not merely as a sales pitch.”