Nowadays, brands use all the tools at their disposal to collect relevant information about their customers and be able to provide a bespoke experience. One of the promising ways to do this is by using geo-tagging and geo-targeting in your digital marketing strategy.
However, although this is not a new practice, many companies still don’t take advantage of it and\or fail to fully understand how it works.
So how to use geo-tagging to boost your business visibility and performance online?
In this article, we explain the basics of geo-relevant marketing and provide 7 ways to benefit from localizing your content and digital assets.
Read on and take notes!
What Is Geo-Tagging?
Geo-tagging is a type of markup that labels an image with the location where it was taken. It consists of exact coordinates, including longitude and latitude.
The geo tag can be automatically applied to the file at the moment it is taken or added manually by using specialized software. Modern phones and some digital cameras use GPS to pinpoint and preserve the location of the photo.
The information is embedded in the EXIF data (Exchangeable Image File Format) of the image file, which is technical metadata regarding when and where the photo was taken, on what device, etc. There are tools that allow users to view the data, and it is also readable by search engines when they crawl and index online images.
Aside from photos, a geo-tag can be applied to other types of online content such as ads, website pages, emails, social media publications, etc.
What Is Geo-Targeting?
Geo-targeting is the process of identifying, monitoring, and/or using information about a person’s location, in order to expose them to location-relevant content.
The information about the person’s whereabouts is derived from GPS data, IP addresses, search engine queries for the location name, social media tags, mobile app settings, or manual input. In other words, it can be automatically provided by a device that a person is using, or they can mark it themselves.
Businesses use geo-targeting to provide more relevant information to their customers and to personalize their experiences.
Why Geo-Tagging and Geo-Targeting Matter in Marketing?
Geo-tagging and geo-targeting allow businesses to use online channels in order to position themselves and their customers in the same place on the map. This enables them to better market their localized products and services, promote their brick and mortar stores, and attract online users who are interested.
Furthermore, it helps the algorithms of different online platforms to connect the dots more easily, and serve your content to the right customers, at the right time, and in the right place.
The two technologies can be used in search engine marketing, local SEO optimization, social media marketing, email, lead segmentation, and practically in any online activity that is location-sensitive.
The companies that can benefit the most from them are:
- Local business.
- Organizations with stores/offices in multiple locations.
- Organizations that have different marketing strategies for different locations.
- Companies that organize events, etc.
How to Use Geo-Tagging and Geo-Targeting in Marketing
Now let’s have a look at how geo-tagging and geo-targeting can benefit your marketing strategy:
1. Enhance Your Local SEO
Adding geo-tags to your website and the photos you upload can help you appear in more relevant local searches, and enhance your local SEO efforts.
By adding geo-tagged images to the homepage, contact page, and other relevant content on your website, you can make your content easier to discover by nearby users who are interested in products and services similar to yours. You should also consider publishing relevant content and optimizing it with local keywords.
Furthermore, if you are running different localized versions of your website, you should use geo-tags to mark the locations. This way, Google will find it easier to deliver the proper version to users.
Of course, Google can extract this metadata automatically based on the information in your content, however, experience shows that every tiny bit of data that you provide helps, so why not do it.
Also, make sure that your Google My Business account is optimized with the proper geo-targeted keywords and includes high-quality and compelling photos that have all the necessary metadata, geo-tagging and relevant alt text included.
For example, in Google search, regardless of whether the user keys a local or a general query, if Google has access to their location (and we all know that, most of the time, it does) the algorithm provides search results that are relevant to their area.
Which means that if a customer in Seattle googles “record stores”, and you are a record store owner, you’d want them to be able to discover you.
To be able to do that, you need rock-solid local SEO, backed up with geo-tagging and geo-targeting.
2. Power-Up You Instagram Strategy
Similarly to Google, Instagram takes full advantage of both geo-tagging and geo-targeting.
You can tag the content you publish and add location-relevant hashtags which will automatically make it more visible for people in these places. This will boost the engagement of your posts and may result in building a stronger connection with followers in your area.
Also, you will be able to attract better followers, i.e. people who are more likely to visit your brick and mortar location, and use your services.
Furthermore, Instagram’s business profile tools allow you to better understand where the majority of your audience is located, how do people from different areas engage, and what time of the day they are most active.
Based on this information, you can improve your strategy, better target your posts, boost your presence, and improve the efficiency of your profile.
For example, if you find out that your most faithful audience is in LA you can focus on publishing more posts that make them happy, provide more localized offers, and find ways to engage them even better.
However, the tool also allows you to see the places where your strategy is not working out, and investigate why.
If you have multiple brick and mortar locations and/or localized services, you should consider running different accounts for each one of them. This will provide you with a more detailed look on your analytics, allow you to better target your efforts, and create an individual approach for each audience.
3. Better Target Your Facebook Ads and Posts
Facebook ads allow for precise geo-targeting and offer detailed segmentation based on the location of your audiences. You can target cities, regions, and whole countries. Furthermore, depending on your campaign, you can set up different advert sets that target all of these.
The point is that the audience on Facebook, your followers included, can be quite diverse and, as a result, it’s difficult to achieve results that involve real engagement and conversions. To that end, you need to target the right demographics.
For example, if you are promoting a local event, people from other parts of the country may like your page and posts but this doesn’t mean that they will pack the bags and come in person.
However, if you geo-tag your posts and focus your ads on a limited diameter on the map, there is a higher chance that the people who engage will be really interested in your event and may visit it.
This way, you will not waste your budget on meaningless likes and vanity metrics and will achieve better results.
4. Improve Your PPC Ads Effectiveness
Google’s PPC ads allow for precise geo-targeting. You can pin a location on the map and set up your desired target area, and the ads will be displayed in the search results for relevant queries. Google will either use the location of the users performing the searches, or, depending on additional factors, may show it to people who’ve recently visited the location or expressed interest in it.
For example, if you are in Chicago, and you google “pizza places in Vermont”, the algorithm may assume that you are planning a trip, and later that day you’re in for a bunch of ads by vendors in Vermont in the SERPs and all over Google’s display network.
In addition, when you have multiple locations, it pays off to create and optimize PPC ads for each one of them so that you can better target the audiences based on their geo-location. You can adjust the copy to match cultural differences, add location-specific information and offers, and, basically, create an ad that the user is more likely to click.
5. Upgrade Your Mobile App Experience
If you have a mobile app, you can use it to provide personalized experience to users, based on their geo-location. You can send them limited time offers valid only for the nearest of your brick and mortar stores, push notifications with relevant information, partnership deals available in their vicinity, etc.
Furthermore, based on their location history, you can obtain a better idea of the places they frequent, how much time they spend there, what they buy, and at what time of the day. This can provide you with a better understanding of their profile, personality, and consumer habits, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
However, make sure that you are subtle in your approach, there’s a thin line between observing and spying and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of it.
6. Personalize Your Email Marketing Campaigns
It’s well known that personalization is the key to successful email marketing. One way to approach this is to segment your audience based on demographics and location.
Depending on your operation, you can target specific countries, regions, cities, or even neighborhoods, and provide your users there with special offers, free shipping, relevant content, and whatever applies in your case.
For example, if you are running a bookstore chain and you are opening a new location, it makes sense to target only the people who live in this city and the nearby vicinity. You can invite them to a loyalty program, offer special discounts and/or gifts for the first number of people who visit the new store, or simply provide a map and instructions on how to find you.
Also, if you are planning a grand-opening event, you can keep them posted with updates and information.
Sending these messages to your whole email list may frustrate the people that the information is not relevant to, and drive them to unsubscribe from your newsletter altogether.
7. Bonus: How NOT to Use Geo-Tagging and Geo-Targeting
Simply put, don’t be a stalker. It’s one thing to use data with the client’s consent and for purposes that they feel comfortable with, and completely another to invade their privacy with unsolicited messages and alerts.
If you are using geo-fencing in your apps, or track in other ways where your customers spend their time, be sure to only reach out to them with messages that they want and may find useful.
To that end, you can distribute surveys asking people to opt in for different types of offers and notifications, invite them to personalize their choices when installing your app or signing in for your newsletters, or provide other consent options relevant to your digital channels.
The point is not to creep on people and lead them to believe that you know too much and have obtained their data in dishonest ways.
One of the greatest benefits of the internet is that it provides both consumers and brands with unlimited business opportunities. However, when it comes to localized needs, this can become more of an obstacle than a benefit.
Knowing where your customers are and letting them know where you are is a great way to make your brand easier to discover, attract new clients, and build a connection with your audience.
Geo-tagging and geo-tracking are two technologies that allow you to better position your brand not only online but on the map as well. This way, you can show up on the radar of nearby users who are searching for products and services like yours, and make an impression where it matters.