Do You Know Where Your Customers Are Right Now?

This post is part of the Content Q&A Series, featuring interviews with top content strategists and bloggers about their work and insights about the industry.

Knowing who your customers are is crucial for a successful content campaign. Knowing where they are is no less so.

Geo-targeting, detecting a customer’s location and using that knowledge to personalize content, can be a powerful tool. For instance, Google uses it in search results, and Hertz changes its car rental website depending upon the location of the visitor.

The Content Strategist spoke with representatives from Marketwire and Tracx, two companies geo-target in their campaigns for brands.

The Content Strategist: How does geo-targeting help out brands and marketers? 

Eric Berkowitz, senior manager of product innovation at Tracx:

There are a couple ways to look at it because geo-targeting applies on a case-by-case basis. The customer team wants to know which stores or franchises they are receiving the most questions, complaints or issues.

People will complain to the telephone company about reception in certain parts of the country. [Geo-targeting] helps companies understand where their brand is doing well and where they need to provide more customer care. We can help you understand where the leads are coming from for new businesses and [how to] acquire new customers. You can figure out where you want to target your marketing activities.

Sheldon Levine, community manager at Marketwire:

It helps companies to get in touch with the people that matter specifically to them. If I have a store in Delaware, it’s pretty much pointless if my ads are reaching people in Miami. [Geo-targeting means] reaching out and actually touching the people you’ll get the most traction with.

There are two sides to it. [The first is] Facebook, where my profile says I live in Toronto so companies inside the Toronto area can target me and show what’s relevant to me in my area. The second one is hyper-geo-targeting. This means that I checked in on Foursquare, and a store across the street is able to see that. They will say to come and check out their store as well. They know for a fact I’m outside their store, so why not target me while I’m there to go inside the store. If they can hit me right as I’m walking by the store, there’s a greater chance I will act on it.

What sites do you use geo-targeting on?

Berkowitz:  It works across a lot of the different networks. The most geo-located information comes from Twitter or Facebook. Any piece of social content can be geo-located. It depends on user preferences and what they make available in their social profile. They can write their location on a blog or forum, or check in using FourSquare. Picture sharing services [like Instagram] allow you to geo-tag.

How can you tailor content from the geo-targeting information? 

LevineFrom the geographic demographic, you’re able to learn about your community and audience. You can start making content that’s a little more relevant to them. If you’re a chain store that’s all across the United States but you notice that a lot of your community is from New York, you can start doing content pieces that have a little bit more to do with New York. People reading your content will be able to identify it and create that connection between themselves and your brand.

Should people be skeptical of brands being able to do this? Or is it a good thing? 

Berkowitz: There are best practices employed to leverage this kind of data in a way that’s friendly and useful, and will ultimately benefit the brand and customer. As long as the brand is thinking about and respecting peoples’ privacy, and they’re engaging with people in smart and relevant ways, it should ultimately make the customer more satisfied.

It just makes sense that that’s the way a brand should look at things. If you are in a city and you get certain ads from a business isn’t in your city, you think it might be a scam. If you tweet about how you need a camera and Canon, Nikon, or Sony contacts you and helps you find a store, that’s a good thing. In the end if you use this information wisely, it’s going to give you a more satisfied customer base.

Levine: There’s a two-sided coin to this. One side is yes, it seems a little bit freaky that brands might have all this information about you. But the flipside is that they can tailor content and offers a lot better to people because they know this information about them.

Do you want all these companes to have all this information about you? [Maybe not], however, because they have it, they’ll be able to understand you as a consumer a little bit better.

Anything you’d like to add?

Berkowitz[With geo-targeting], we want to empower brands with information so they can understand their customers and the information relevant to them. I think you can expect to see brands using analytics that allow customers to make better decisions for the future.

Image courtesy of Olivier Le Moal/shutterstock

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