Geo-Targeting – The What, Why and How

If you own an online business and are looking for a way to spruce up your marketing and advertising campaign, you should read about Google’s plans to further capitalize on local and mobile advertising . According to Techcrunch, online advertising has become a booming business, where advertising locally and via mobile phones is the latest sweet spot for advertisers. How does this apply to you? Targeting potential customers locally or using geo-targeting is a powerful way to step up your marketing skills and bring in significant business.

What Is Geo-Targeting?

Geo-targeting is a fancy term for anyone who decides to market to audiences in specific locations. Using a fun example, let’s say you run an ecommerce site like Amazon and want to expand into the intergalactic space. You might place an ad or alter your website to target people from Mars. Here you can market them products that they can use specifically, such as spacesuits, oxygen tanks and masks.


Why Geo-Target?

Using geo-targeting as a part of your marketing and advertising strategy can increase your website conversions because you have the ability to connect with visitors in a more specific way. For example, the Container Store, a nationally recognized storage brand, saw a 72 percent increase in their interaction rate when comparing their geo-targeting campaign to their national one. They also saw an 8 to 1 online return on their return on investment. Why?

With geo-targeting, you can tailor your message to searchers by buying and placing ads that sync up with a potential customer’s country, state or city. You can also provide alternate content on your homepage that not only acknowledges where visitors are coming from but also provides different promotions or content based on the visitor’s location, maximizing the chances of fulfilling their needs, as well as making the sale.

If you look at wireless provider Clear 4G internet, for example, their landing page immediately asks visitors to input their zip code in order to show availability and promotions in their area. This is a savvy way to customize their marketing message and provide relevant information to specific demographics, upping your chances of increasing conversions.

Another way to geo-target is to have your website automatically recognize visitors’ IP addresses and then respond with specific pages that are tailored to the customer. For instance, let’s say you want to increase the amount of customers that come from the Las Vegas area, so you decide to extend a 15 percent discount to that particular audience. Having your site recognize that a particular visitor is from that area and then respond with a page that says, “Savings in Las Vegas,” detailing your products and promotions, is what geo-targeting is all about.

How to Geo-Target

If you are looking to place ads, there are a number of tools that you can use to promote your business to specific audiences. Two of the most popular are
Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM) and Google Adwords Location Targeting.

Yahoo! Search Marketing was one of the first advertising tools that was set up to allow advertisers to target potential customers in specific locations. To use YSM, once you’ve logged in:

  1. Go to “Campaign Settings”
  2. Click “Campaign Geo-Targeting”
  3. Click “Specific Regions”
  4. Input your location in the open field

And just like that, your ads will show up in search results and websites that target visitors with the locations you have specified.

With Google’s Location Targeting, you can customize your marketing campaign as well by:

  1. Clicking “Edit Campaign Settings”
  2. Clicking “Edit” under “Currently Targeting”

Then you can input your location in the “Search” field or elect to “Browse.” With Google’s tool you can also “bundle” locations together, i.e., Newark, Hoboken and Jersey City in New Jersey, and create a custom location.

If you are interested in tailoring your homepage, similar to the wireless business above, you can learn how to download databases and insert code on to your website here, enabling you to welcome visitors by their location and provide content based on your specifications.

If you use WordPress, you can choose which ads you want to display using a Geo-WordPress plug-in. How geo-targeting works for this application is it records visitors IP addresses and then responds with content or advertisements based on their location. Learn more about how to download and utilize this plug-in here .

When it comes to marketing and advertising, using blanket techniques to appeal to the public will usually have limited results. On the other hand, if you can pinpoint which markets are most important to your business, and then customize your message, you will likely receive a more successful response. Whether you decide to place ads in relevant markets or actually manipulate your website, you are sure to see an uptick in both traffic and sales.

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Search Engine Specialist - 12 year veteran SEO with multiple top 20 ComScore properties publishing experience. Enterprise level across international, mobile, and social media spheres. Advisor to startups for pre-launch optimization and ongoing SEO consulting.

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