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Location, Location, Location: Use Geotargeting to Gauge Your Best Areas of Business

Tim Dolan

Wet or dry, hot or frigid, 19107 or 90210—nearly every retail marketer takes geography into consideration when measuring the effectiveness of their digital ad campaigns. But how they use this knowledge can be the difference between successfully engaging customers and wasting precious ad spend.

How can retailers gauge customers by location in Google’s search network? By looking at geographic targeting in AdWords, of course! Called geotargeting for short, this location-based bidding tool determines where to best place keyword bids across various ad campaigns by performance in country, state, city, zip code, and more (that includes targeting by income bracket—more on that later). Geotargeting helps capitalize on increased search volume in specific regions while reducing spend in areas where customer performance wanes.

Geotargeting helps capitalize on increased search volume in specific regions while reducing spend in areas where customer performance wanes.

Perhaps best for marketers and retailers, a number of different ad campaigns in Google’s search network can benefit from geotargeting features. A few simple clicks in AdWords can set up geotargeting in text, display, Shopping, or video ads. 

Getting Started with Geotargeting

If you’re ready to use geotargeting features in your campaigns, good news—getting set up is easy. After opening your AdWords account, head over to campaigns and select the campaign you’re geotargeting. Click settings and then the locations tab. For North American AdWords users, the default setting will include both the United States and Canada as set locations your campaign is targeting, so keep that in mind and edit accordingly when first reviewing your locations.

To add or remove a location, click the red locations button above your currently-targeted locations. From here you can enter broad locations like countries or states or get granular using the advanced search option to target more specific locations. The advanced search option is designed to help retailers recognize precise physical areas where business is most popular and continue targeting those areas to maximize ROI.

It’s important to note that all location targeting is set at the campaign level. Specific targeting by ad group or account isn’t possible, so you’ll have to set location settings at a campaign-by-campaign basis in AdWords.

Implementing geotargeting is the same across Google’s search network. Simply select which type of network you want to your campaign to run on—Search Network with Display Select encompasses Google search and search partner sites, Shopping sets up Product Listing Ads, and Video places ads on YouTube and across the Google Display Network—and voilà, you’re in the business of geotargeting.

Got the gist of it? Good! Now let’s talk location settings and additional geotargeting features in AdWords.

Segmenting by Location

Sure, targeting by country or state is great, but just how specific can you get? When choosing locations, you can boil down to select cities, counties, or zip codes to target in AdWords. These functions help target audiences in a smaller vicinity and place your ads in the most opportune areas of business.

You can dive even deeper and use radius targeting to create a mile range that covers a specific distance from your central location. Using this feature allows you to get as granular as possible when measuring by distance. Radius targeting is useful for businesses looking to increase foot traffic to a physical store as it gauges nearby, high-intent customers ready to purchase.

Using the location groups setting, you can target locations by demographics. This is where targeting by income comes into play. Six income brackets make up the demographic—Top 10%, 11-20%, 21-30%, 31-40%, 41-50%, and Lower 50%. These tiers are based on public data provided by the IRS and are implemented broadly by region. Consider using multiple tiers initially to gather income-level data before breaking your campaigns down further.

Seasonal shifts may also decide when and where to promote certain goods or services.  A change in weather in particular regions throughout the year may prioritize certain products over others.

Consider a baseball apparel and accessories retailer. In November, consumers in New York are less likely to buy equipment than consumers in California, who may be involved in winter or year-round leagues. Come June, New York is in full swing with baseball activity. That retailer can use geotargeting to increase bids in California in November, followed by New York in June.

Recognize Your Best (And Worst) Performing Locations

One of the main reasons to implement geotargeting is to gain a better understanding of where your ads are performing best. Having this knowledge helps pinpoint areas where customers are ready and willing to buy your goods and services.

For example, a camping accessories retailer likely strikes up more business in rural and mountainous areas than in metro regions. This would lead it to survey the country, state, or region where customers are converting best and increase keyword bids in those spots. That retailer may take it a step further and target areas directly outside their best-performing regions to maximize ad impression.

Conversely, geotargeting enables marketers to spot areas where ad spend is being placed but generating little-to-no ROAS, making them pull back on bids in those areas accordingly. This is especially important for retailers with limited ad budget as it reduces the number of wasted clicks from customers less likely to convert outside target areas.

Find out more about geotargeting and other essential AdWords tools in this Google Shopping Boot Camp episode.

Find out more about geotargeting and other essential AdWords tools in this Google Shopping Boot Camp episode.

Stick the Perfect Landing with Location-Tailored Pages

Content is king in digital marketing. You want to provide your customers with the right message at the right time each time, so why not take advantage of modifying your message by location? With location-specific landing pages, you have the opportunity to tailor the perfect content in the area(s) where you’re promoting ads.

Creating a geopage for each location can boost relevance and conversion rates with the right framework in place. Including content like area-driven text, contact information, photos, hours of operation, and directions will save customers time otherwise spent searching for that information.

While Google Shopping ads send users to an individual product landing page, retail marketers working in paid search will find location-specific landing pages particularly useful. Text ad copy can be modified to include specific information about your business or products, including callouts to the area where you’re targeting ads. The ad then sends consumers to a landing page that may include additional references to (and products popular in) that area.

Seasonality is a perfect use case for landing page tailorization. For instance, Rudy’s, a fictional online footwear retailer, may develop landing pages for sales on shoes in specific U.S. cities throughout the year. In mid June, the company runs a 20% discount sale on sandals and increases bids for related queries in San Diego. It includes “San Diego” and “sandals” in the ad copy description for those queries and directs consumers to a landing page customized for San Diego residents.

At the onset of the holiday season in mid November, Rudy’s offers a 20% discount on winter boots in Denver, using relatable ad copy and a tailored landing page to engage consumers looking to keep their feet warm during the fierce Mile High City winter.

How’s that for content provision?

Remember to Review

To evaluate efficiency, we recommend reviewing your AdWords campaigns at least semi-annually to make sure your location targeting is performing at its highest capability. Business goals are subject to change throughout the year, so it’s important to keep a keen eye on the data that accrues over time. Knowing when and where to adjust campaigns can do a world of good for your marketing mix.

In the meantime, immerse yourself in the world of geotargeting and learn where your ads are shining brightest.

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