At the risk of stating the obvious, the internet, and by extension, smartphones, have redefined borders in marketing. Businesses can find work from the other side of the globe; brands can advertise in any and all countries simultaneously, and companies can now boast an employee-base with more cultural diversity than a Benetton ad.
All of this sounds like great news for marketing, but marketers are struggling to keep up with the advances in technology, as evidenced by the number of nationally-targeted generic PPC campaigns. But content that tries to please everyone rarely leaves a lasting impression on anyone. That’s why geo-specific marketing is so vital.
geo-specific marketing works on the concept that graphically diverse content, and locally-specifical targeted ads appeal to a more varied spread of consumer. For marketers, it not only enables a more efficient media spend, it can also provide a significant advantage over competitors. In fact, 60% of advertising professionals already believe geo-targeted ads deliver a stronger ROI than generic ads and 50% said they deliver a higher response rate.
So how can you begin to integrate geo-specific marketing into your own campaigns? Read on for some top tips on how to make your content both international and locally relevant.
Develop a local vernacular table
Every region, country, and even every city has its own cultural and linguistic nuances. When creating ad content, it’s vital to consider not just what you say, but how you say it. Filtering your advertising language through the vernacular of a target region can make a huge difference to your success rate. Of course, international companies should have already included translations for different countries. But even when marketing to two countries with the same national language, you should try to tailor the content to their specific dialect.
Say, for instance, you run an international digital video rental store based in the UK. In Britain, to advertise a newly returning show you would most likely refer to it as the ‘new series’. However, the US more commonly uses ‘seasons’ in reference to a string of episodes. Failing to make the distinction could see your ranking slide in America, as people searching using their own national vernacular find other, more culturally relevant entertainment offers.
Customise the channels you use
Last year, the Local Search Association (LSA) of the US released data showing mobile devices surpassing PC use in the search for local businesses and services. While this should warrant a change in focus for companies based purely in the US, companies operating internationally should already have a clear idea of mobile consumption in other countries.
India and China both rely heavily on mobile technology, and businesses based in these countries have already tailored their content and ads accordingly. Mobile has the added advantage of pinpointing exact locations, allowing you to integrate offers into the ads providing they are in a nearby location, further increasing the relevance of your ad above competitors. With geo-specific marketing, it’s not just who you market to and with which content, but also the channels you use to reach them.
Develop locations with limited uptake
By dividing regions, you gain a stronger understanding of the areas in which your content is and isn’t working. By being able to directly compare different geographic locations, you can edit your content and ads according to what works best in each selected region. Take a look at the websites and ads of local competitors and try to break down each element – the tone, language used, page layout, etc. – and experiment with each.
Alternatively, you can choose to drop under-performing regions from your campaigns entirely. Remember, one of the central strength’s to geo-targeting is that it restricts your ad-spend to ensure you only reach out to relevant visitors. This allows you to focus your budget and time, but can leave you open to losing what little influence you have in other regions.
Personalise the marketing experience
Personalisation is a must in modern marketing. Companies risk alienating consumers by not tailoring their content, and this includes the geographic location. Even incorporating language with locally distinct vocabulary for different regions is a form of personalisation. In fact, studies have shown that 67 % of smartphone users want ads displayed to them customised to their city or zip code, while 61% want ads customised to their current surroundings.
By referring to the areas in which your geo-targeted ads are being shown, you can relate to your customers directly and further reduce wasted impressions. For local businesses, in particular, personalisation equals greater brand recognition and a greater ROI.
Target geo-specific events
You can personalise your content even further by referring to geo-specific events. By referring to an upcoming local, regional or even national event, you can add a timely element to your content and channel the exposure into increased ROI. Of course, marketers already look to integrate anticipated events like local sporting fixtures into their marketing plans. But there are also a myriad of geographically specific events that could increase ROI but just can’t be predicted.
A sudden heat wave can be a big boost for a number of industries, including sunscreen manufacturers, soft drinks companies and outdoor clothing stores. Marketing with content that addresses both a consumer’s location and their current climate can be a major boost, but can also save companies with less relevant offers from wasting revenue. For instance, a company selling winter coats might decide to drop their ad-focus in a region currently experiencing a heatwave, preferring instead to focus their efforts on areas going through a cold spell.
Use geographic reporting tools
Geographic reporting tools allow you to develop more sophisticated testing through comparing different offers or promotions in the same region. This is hugely important to informing your overall social strategy, particularly when going head-to-head with competitors for local ad-space.
Google Website Optimizer allows you to segment your traffic and define subsequent actions based on that segmentation, in part automating the process behind your geo-specific marketing. There are hundreds of resources out there to help you make the most of geo-targeting tools, but they’re not the only means of fine-tuning your geographic focus.
You can also use analytics packages to study the browsing behaviours of previous site visitors. This allows you to pinpoint consumers’ tendencies and provide relevant, location-specific content, even if they’re not currently in the area.
Don’t limit yourself to ad space alone
If you have a blog, write content with a specific focus on a particular area, taking into account all the previous points, including changing vernacular, posting times and the channels you use.
The more control over your campaigns, the more you can begin to understand why people respond to content in the way they do.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different means of communication following the initial hook. For example, try optimising a landing page with geo-targeted content from a geo-targeted banner. Compare the results with a generic, non-geo-specific landing page and see which yields the highest conversions. From this, you can begin to develop a stronger understanding of where geo-specific content is most needed.
Consider the little things
It’s not just the language and dialect of a region that you should consider. When creating content, either onsite or in your advertising, it’s important to consider the little details. Ensuring your content is in the relevant currency may seem like a no-brainer, but companies still persist in using just one. Less obvious but no less relevant are metrics like weights, volumes, distance and speed. You should always crawl your geo-specific marketing content with a fine-toothed comb to guarantee your content has the full impact. Remember, even the smallest error, when seen enough times, becomes obvious.
Visuals also play an important part in the geo-targeting process. Test different images in different geographical settings to see which types of image warrant the best response. Be sure to keep a record of these, as they could go on to influence future geo-specific marketing campaigns.
In marketing, as in so many other industries, it really is a case of right place, right time. Geo-specific marketing gives you an extra edge over competitors, be it in the local arena or on a national or even international level. It takes time and more than a bit of patience, but those willing to put the work in can really take advantage of a new digital society.