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How to use geotargeting to get your message to the right people

How to use geotargeting to get your message to the right people

Nationwide marketing campaigns are neither attainable nor necessary for most firms. The cost is high, and the ads will reach relatively few people who can actually take advantage of the firm's services. Instead, only people in specific areas and jurisdictions need to be exposed to marketing messages. With geotargeting, it is possible to reach very precise groups of people based on location.

Geotargeting is the practice of using information about an individual's location to deliver relevant content, usually ads or special offers. You can display content on either desktops or mobile devices with geotargeting. Mobile targeting is becoming increasingly popular due to strong growth in the percentage of mobile searches. For firms using pay-per-click ads, geotargeting is integral to reaching the right audience with the right message while keeping costs reasonable.

Geotargeting enhances the performance of all types of marketing, not just paid search. Emails, for example that are sent using location-based demographic information also do better than their non-targeted counterparts. This holds true across industries, according to the Local Search Association’s Local Mobile Trends Study (April, 2014). Geotargeted ads outperform the standard for businesses in industries from professional services to retail to healthcare. Here are five smart ways to incorporate location data into your marketing.

1. Know the micro demographics of your area. On the surface, geotargeting is all about location. But information about physical location, especially when coupled with online habits, can reveal a wealth of useful data about your potential audience.

Your firm serves a certain region, but not all residents of that region are a match to your firm's client personas. Know where to find the people you want to reach by studying age, income, gender and occupation data for all areas within your target locations. This give you insight into where your most valuable prospects live.

You can gain additional knowledge about the people living within your jurisdiction by using Google Trends to see what they are searching for. Google Trends shows keyword search data by state, city or metro region. Comparing physical demographic information with online search statistics provides a detailed map of the groups most likely to contact you after seeing an ad.

2. Opt out. At it's most basic, Google's AdWords program allows you to opt in to any number of locations. It also allows you to opt out, which can be just as helpful. For example, you can opt out of an area you know to contain people who are not in your target clients' age range or income bracket. You can opt out of areas in which ads have underperformed in the past. Opting out can give your ads a broad and at the same time more focused reach. And it can make campaigns more affordable by helping you avoid areas with higher rates that may not perform well for your firm.

3. Prioritize times and locations. Running ads in low performing areas or at low performing times is a waste of money. If you run ads all week, but most leads come in Thursday and Friday, you may benefit from increasing your bids on those days and suspending or lowering bids for the rest of the week.

Similarly, lower your bid price in areas that do not produce as many quality leads. This allows you to prioritize high performing areas while still reaching a broad audience. The result is increased exposure in high-value areas and a sustained presence across your entire region.

Make sure only to target people in your area, not those searching for information about your area. By default, Google displays ads to people in your targeted region and people searching for and viewing pages about the region. For most attorneys, the wider reach is not necessary. Increase click-through percentages and keep costs down by editing your settings to display ads only to those in your targeted location.

4. Introduce push notifications. Lawyers are breaking into the app development scene. Apps can offer both innovations in client service and marketing opportuinties. Apps help your firm keep in touch with clients but should also offer something of value. And push notifications should only be used to provide useful information. People will tolerate and even welcome push notifications if they are helpful, but will turn on you quickly if the notifications are overdone or uninteresting.

You can set up push notifications to update clients about case developments or important case related dates dates, or to notify them that an action needs to be taken, like signing documents or giving a deposition. Push notifications could also alert users about a new download, podcast or newsworthy item your firm is tracking.

Retail stores use push notifications to send special offers to people who are within a certain radius of the brick and mortar location. Lawyers have to be a little more creative about location-based push notifications — but it can be done. If your firm is participating in an event, like a charity drive or organized walk, you could send push notifications to people near the event asking them to join you. Even those who cannot attend the event will receive the positive message that your firm is serious about community service and involvement. This connection helps build trust.

5. Get social with Facebook Local Awareness Ads. Local Awareness Ads work like any geotargeted ad; your ad will only appear in the news feeds of people located within a certain radius of your firm (as specified by you). The ads are easy to create. You simply log in, select a radius, upload a picture, write a catchy headline and post. And Facebook allows you to add a directions button within the ad.

Facebook claims that Local Awareness Ads will reach more people per dollar spent. Testing will determine whether those dollars spent produce enough return for your firm.

Geotargeting allows you to precisely tweak your marketing to reach specific groups of people, increasing exposure where it counts. It is a powerful tool, especially when combined with organic search marketing. Geotargeted ads can reach the people organic search allowed to fall through the cracks.

Kristen Friend
Kristen Friend holds two bachelors degrees from Indiana University and an associates degreee from the International Academy of Design. As Art Director for Custom Legal Marketing, her work has been awarded Webby Honorees, WebAwards, Davey Awards, Muse Awards, W3 Awards, and many others. She is also a contributor to Entrpreneur Magazine through the Entrepreneur Leadership Network.