Geo-marketing: Delivering Real-Time Relevance on the Fly

Once again, digital technology has paved the way for another highly effective marketing innovation: location-based marketing, aka geo-marketing.

Generally speaking, geo-marketing involves utilizing location data, typically provided via your smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS), to deliver locally relevant and targeted messaging to the right audience, at the right time.


Location, location, location


While location-based messaging and advertising has been around for decades (think of the “human billboard”– that guy walking the sidewalks wearing a sandwich board on his back, which dates back to the 19th century), it began to flex its digital muscles with the 2nd generation iPhone in 2008, the first release to include GPS as a standard feature.

Here’s why that’s significant: The GPS of a mobile device determines your location at that precise moment. With a forecast of around 6 billion smartphone users by 2020, all likely equipped with GPS, marketers can now leverage geo-location strategies to craft targeted and relevant ads more effectively than ever before.


“One-size-geo” does NOT fit all


Although geo-marketing serves as the overarching term for this marketing channel, numerous approaches to the channel can be employed, depending on your desired audience and overall strategy. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the two most common approaches: geo-fencing and geo-targeting.


Geo-fencing vs. geo-targeting


Geo-fencing is the practice of using GPS to identify and isolate a specific geographic boundary– for example, a business location, trade show venue or conference hall. Once this is established, triggers are set up that send location/event-specific messaging or offers via text message, email alerts, app notifications, etc. when a mobile device-—any mobile device with GPS capability— enters (or exits) the specified area.

This last point, “any mobile device with GPS capability,” is what can make geo-fencing the perfect strategy—or the absolute wrong strategy for geo-location marketing. General rule of thumb: if you’re trying to reach a wide audience without concern for age, gender, socio-economics, etc., then geo-fencing is likely your best strategy.

However, if you’re trying to reach only a specific portion of mobile devices within that defined area, then geo-targeting would be a more effective approach. Think “smart” geo-fencing.

Geo-targeting allows for in-depth segmentation of your mobile audience within the geo-fenced perimeter. Also, multiple campaigns can be executed in parallel, further segmenting both demographics and messaging of the mobile device user.


Only the tip of the geo-iceberg


Although geo-fencing and geo-targeting have become the more widely known channels in marketing circles, many other “geo-strategies” are emerging as GPS technologies continue to evolve.

Geo-conquesting, for example, could be considered one of the more insidious, or brilliant, approaches to a location-based strategy.

Generally, this is the act of trying to lure your competitor’s customers away by geo-targeting their place of business or anything considered “rival turf.” By promoting your product or service with an enticing message or offer, you’re at the very least creating brand awareness to a segment of the market that’s currently buying from your competitor. Even better, that message or offer may just spark a change of heart, leading to a conversion for your team! Want to see it in action? Just check out what Burger King did to McDonalds recently, then you decide—insidious or brilliant!


A few final words


This post is intended as a high-level overview of the location-based marketing channel. In future articles we’ll explore other factors to consider before choosing this as a component of any marketing campaign: pricing strategies, how to set up a location-based campaign, and common challenges/obstacles, to name a few. Stay tuned!