How Savvy CMOs Can Leverage Location In Their Marketing Mix


It’s hard to believe it’s only been about a decade since ads made the leap from TV screens and billboards to iPhones in the palms of our hands, and a new era of marketing began. New digital technologies gave marketers a new signal of customer intent and new ways to convert this intent into business.

As far as advertising and marketing have come, many brands still struggle to harness these new intent signals in a way that customers embrace and appreciate. We’ve all heard consumers complain about irrelevant and irritating ads. People expect digital content to be meaningful and personalized to them — and they won’t be happy unless that’s exactly what they get.

According to a recent Adobe survey, 60% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to create content that’s timely and relevant, while 42% are annoyed when content doesn’t relate to their situation. That goes for mobile as well.

In fact, in the U.S., spending on mobile location-targeted ads is expected to top $38 billion by 2022, more than double that of 2017. At GroundTruth, we’ve identified location marketing to be a game-changer for brands, and we provide location-based services to help them reach the right customers with relatable and relevant content.

Are You Reaching The Right Audience?

From my perspective, running advertising purely using online data is like shoveling buckets of money down the drain. This method chases after people’s aspirational wants and dreams, missing out on real, everyday moments of purchasing inspiration that location data provides. Effective marketing needs to be about end results (e.g., sales) and not just buying impressions and clicks. New performance-based advertising models, such as cost per visit, can get the marketer one step closer to the transaction.

Take this scenario: Imagine you’re a high-end car brand trying to reach luxury car buyers in a particular neighborhood. Targeting someone based on their online behavior and IP address might help you find a cluster of consumers searching for luxury automotive brands nearby, but how can you be sure they aren’t teenagers dreaming about owning a fancy car? Likewise, a consumer might spend hours a day scrolling through pictures of Ferraris and Bugattis on social, but if they also shop at discount and dollar stores, they probably aren’t your ideal target audience.

Oftentimes, online is where we turn to get inspired, but offline is where we go to live. As a marketer, you want to reach people who are physically walking into the car showrooms of your nearby competitors — these are the audiences that are actually in the market to buy a high-end car. And probably in the market for auto insurance as well.

How To Leverage Location Marketing 

Location can assist consumers in many ways, from helping them navigate a new city to finding a movie or their ride-share driver. One aspect of location targeting that many do not consider is the weather. Weather forecasts incite customers to stop at coffee shops to get out of the rain and buy sunscreen and bottled water when it’s hot outside. These are the obvious ones, but any deviation from the norm causes changes in buying behavior. This can be driven by up to 20 different weather measurements — the most obvious is temperature; the least is changes in barometric pressure.

Smart marketers can tap into this and see positive sales lift. By coupling location targeting with local weather forecasts, you can deliver tailored and contextually relevant ads. For years, I have seen major big-box retailers utilize weather data for a range of marketing and merchandising opportunities, specifically adjusting in-store end caps to highlight products and stock keeping units (SKUs) that sell better during non-obvious weather conditions. In looking at sales data on specific SKUs in specific locations and weather conditions, you can spot and leverage the nonintuitive opportunities and see the results in the sales figures.

Location data like foot traffic patterns in your target area can also reveal a wealth of user insights about where, how and when your customer shops — information that can be applied to create more effective media campaigns. For marketers, location marketing used to be “where your customers are,” but today, with data, technology and optimization, location is now more “who your customers are.” This new insight into customer intent based on location is a critical signal that marketers can use to drive business results.

For example, if you’re looking to attract new customers, try serving ads to the mobile devices of those who have not visited your business but share similar location behaviors as your target audience or live nearby. Or even more impactful, use location targeting to steal share from your competitors. By tapping into location-based audiences, you can reach groups that over-index for cross-shopping in your vertical, including your competitors’ locations. Serve them ads tailored to their particular location or audience group for maximum relevance.

What’s Next? 

If you think about it, the fact that both marketers and consumers value mobile personalization makes perfect sense. Consumers understand that opting in for location services is helpful for weather, directions and more. When they receive a location-based ad that includes a coupon they can use in a nearby store, their location data turns into tangible savings on a purchase that benefits the customer and marketer alike. Meanwhile, incorporating location data can help marketers make smarter advertising decisions, stretch ad budgets and improve the performance of campaigns.

As has always been the case with advertising and marketing, this method of connecting with consumers will continue to evolve. I believe that marketers who learn how to leverage location marketing today are likely to find that their understanding of this tool will put them well ahead of the game for tomorrow.

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