Most Mobile Marketers Are Using Location, But How Do You Do It Right?
With so many marketers using location-based mobile targeting, it's time to either jump on board or step up your strategy. Columnist Craig Weinberg offers some tips to help you fine-tune your efforts.
The cat is definitely out of the bag regarding location-based mobile targeting. This post from Marketing Land’s Greg Sterling encapsulates the trend well: Most mobile marketers are using location-based targeting, and they’re using it as a proxy for audience segmentation.
Although I think this trend needs to go from “most mobile marketers” to “all mobile marketers” sooner rather than later, I won’t focus on that. Instead, I’d like to share some tips from the front line: caveats, insights and more gleaned from our client campaigns, ranging from midsize to Fortune 500 companies.
Whether you’re new to location-based mobile targeting or looking for a way to refine yours, you’ll want to pay attention. (And note that some of these tips may look familiar; they’re pretty tried-and-true digital tenets with surprising resonance in the mobile realm.)
Away we go…
1. Use Your Publishers!
One of the biggest side effects of widespread location targeting is that the publishers are relevant again. They have first-party data (the big ones do, at least) that can be leveraged, whether directly from the publisher or through a network with direct buys from publishers, to ensure data integrity and access to top-quality, highly trackable inventory.
Don’t become a victim of short-sighted location thinking — wrong time, right place, missed eyeballs.
Here’s a popular but misconceived idea. Serve a customer a mobile coupon when: a) they happen to be in the right app at the right time around your store; b) they’re in the right mindset to even acknowledge your ad and its potential relevance; and c) the ad manages to fire correctly.
Smart marketers understand that most smartphone usage still occurs at home or in the office via WiFi. They know that the right time and place to target their customers with offers and relevant messaging isn’t just at home or work, but any time or any place — as defined by how, when and where their audience uses their phones.
2. Don’t Over-Target
This is a lesson that search engine marketers (and others) learned a while ago: Resist the temptation to over-target.
Yes, location-based targeting is effective, and there’s a misconception in the mobile industry that if some targeting is good, more must be better. But we’ve generally found the opposite to be true.
You actually only want one or two layers (geo-targeting and demographic targeting). In some circumstances, you can consider another layer, but the geo layer alone cuts down the audience size considerably.
Over-segment, and you run the risk that your daily spend will be so low that your desired publications won’t even pick it up — and even if they do, it’ll be hard to get a significant enough layer of data to make optimizations.
3. Consider Your Platform
Now that I’ve said that, disregard it. Well, not really, but note that many of the exceptions to the above rule are reflective of the platform your campaigns are running on.
As an example, when we ran one campaign in Instagram (through Facebook), we had very good success splitting age and gender. Instagram is more sensitive to those distinctions than most advertising platforms, and Facebook’s excellent targeting data helped us home in on optimized bidding and creative.
If you have reason to believe one platform may behave differently from another, test another layer of targeting or different segmentation — but don’t shackle yourself to the idea if the data doesn’t bear it out.
4. Test Your Copy
This is something longtime digital marketers knew way before mobile’s emergence: Locations can respond unpredictably to messaging, and one geo might completely reject messaging that worked in another, similar geo. Establish some testing before going full-bore in any new geo.
Bonus tip: If you get good at testing and implementing the insights, consider testing by ad network, as well, not just geo.
5. Don’t Aim For Perfection
Letting the perfect get in the way of the good is a pretty common struggle in digital, but if you don’t learn that lesson now, you’ll be ramming your head into the wall for a long, long time.
Location-based targeting is not airtight; we’ve found that you’ll get 10 to 15 percent of impressions outside delivery/live zones, and you should accept that as the industry standard.
Perfect? No. But it’s not a fight you can win at this point.
6. Consider Removing Location Targeting For Volume-Based Campaigns
Sometimes you just want to open the floodgates, and in these instances, it’s better to let go of this layer of targeting.
We recently undertook an incentivized install campaign to boost app store ranking and positioning. Lifting location targeting triggered immediate cost decreases and volume increases and helped us hit campaign goals much more efficiently.
Like any feature being quickly adopted, the body of accepted best practices will shift as the technology improves. For now, though, I’d recommend you take these tips to heart — and get on the location-targeting bandwagon ASAP, if you’re not there already.