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How to Use Geotargeting in Marketing

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The Southern Oregon University online Master of Business Administration program with a Concentration in Marketing spotlights a course, Using GIS in Business, that explores location-based technology over the last three decades and how it can improve the bottom line. GIS marries geographic information to data and substantially impacts marketers’ ability to compile evidence, construct arguments and improve decision-making. 

What Is Geotargeting?

GeoMarketing defines geotargeting as delivering content based on geographic location. “This can be done on the city or zip code level via IP address or device ID, or on a more granular level through GPS signals, geo-fencing, and more.” Geotargeting entices marketers because it’s based on a person’s location, which may include her environment and mindset at the moment. It can be a cost-effective way to deliver relevant, compelling messaging to consumers who meet certain criteria and are physically near the business.

Think of drawing a circle around a group of people you want to impress, say professionals at lunchtime in a corporate park, SOU students gathered at a campus restaurant hub, or Rocky fans at the game. If you’re a sandwich shop, a bookstore or a sports apparel website, geotargeting helps you connect with likely buyers, using location and time to your advantage.

How It Works

In its simplest form, marketers use geographical and other personal information entered on their websites by visitors. IP spidering is the automated discovery of locations based on IP addresses by traceroute and signals, including pings, that can be sent out to find mobile device users. Through IP delivery by search engine optimization, companies can send content to users in specified locales. One of the most interesting technologies, geofencing, creates a virtual boundary, enabling marketers to reach mobile device users entering the area.

Real-world Examples

Urban Outfitters has long been an innovator in digital marketing. The company refined a complex geotargeting technology called “send-time optimization” that identifies when nearby past customers are most likely to want the company. This effectively re-engaged customers, with a more than 100 percent improvement across all messaging channels.

Whole Foods used geofencing to offer shoppers near its competitors better deals if they would make a last-minute switch. Imagine that — snatching business from competitors and making it your own!

Denny’s was a geotargeting pioneer back in 2014, applying location data along with targeting past customers. The mobile “Build Your Own Skillet” campaign captured hungry motorists and lifted in-store visits 12 percent.

Bonobos, an online men’s apparel site, opened temporary pop-up stores in local areas so guys could see the fashions and get measured. The company advertised within a small radius of these shops and drove traffic, which later translated to sales. uses geotargeting to enable people who are crisscrossing one another in the real world to connect virtually. App notifications tell users about romantic prospects nearby, presumably triggering “spontaneous” coffee shop introductions.

Marketers are creative people, and geotargeting gives them limitless opportunities to apply their imagination in new ways. Applications for this concept and the technologies behind it will continue to evolve. Learning more about geotargeting in the forward-thinking SOU MBA program just might put you in the middle of the action.

Learn more about Southern Oregon University’s online MBA program with a Concentration in Marketing.


GeoMarketing: GeoMarketing 101: What Is Geotargeting?

Justuno: 5 Ways to Utilize Geo-targeting in Your Marketing Campaigns

Target Marketing: How to Master the Art of Geotargeting Advertising

Braze Magazine: How Urban Outfitters Boosted Opens by 100+% and Lifted Conversions by 75%

Creativepool: How Brands Are Using Geolocation Marketing

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