How to Use Maps for Local Marketing

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This post is the latest in our “Mapping the Future” series. It will be an editorial focus for the month of July, and you can see the rest of the series here

Digital marketers are always looking for ways to give their local campaigns an edge. Despite people traveling less frequently during the Covid-19 pandemic, digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising has experienced a resurgence, and brand marketers are now looking at creative ways to take better advantage of mapping technology in their local campaigns.

Techniques for measuring DOOH exposure and mapping to give cross-device measurement more meaning are being utilized by larger brand marketers, but smaller companies are also getting into the game and finding innovative ways to layer maps onto their local strategies.

Here are five ways that marketers can use mapping technology in their local campaigns.

1. Mapping Social Audiences
How do you evaluate the impact of a Facebook campaign? If you’re a brand marketer who is interested in location technology, you could start by adjusting your campaigns to target a certain radius — 10 miles or 25 miles are industry standards — around areas with the highest concentration of existing customers. Executing that strategy requires being able to map sales data, either automatically using the right point-of-sale (POS) tools or manually by asking customers for their zip codes. With the information in hand, retailers can launch higher-quality Facebook campaigns with ads targeted in a 10-mile radius of their most loyal customers.

2. Running Smarter Proximity Marketing Campaigns
Anyone can put a geofence around a store and target customers who are already coming inside. The smarter way to run proximity marketing campaigns involves using mapping data to define the areas where potential customers go most frequently before or after visiting the business. For example, using mapping and foot traffic data, brands can see where customers go most frequently before visiting their stores. Those are the actual locations where brands should be targeting their mobile campaigns. For example, a sporting goods retailer might notice that a high percentage of customers come in after visiting a nearby playground. The retailer could use that information, coupled with the latest mapping technology, to create hyperlocal catchment areas for future mobile campaigns.

3. Achieving Higher Placement in Local Search
We’ve all used Google Maps for driving directions. Savvy marketers are using the Maps platform to achieve higher placement in local search results, as well. Google Maps marketing is about making a business easier to find. In addition to ranking higher on Google Maps, brands also see higher placement in local business listings in traditional search. How do brands do that? They can start by claiming the business on Google My Business and verifying its accurate geolocation. The more highly optimized a Google My Business listing is, the greater the chances of the business ranking in the first or second position in Maps results. Other ways to achieve higher placement in Google Maps results include having a high number of positive customer reviews and including optimized photos of the business.

4. Enhancing Promotional Content
People love maps. With the right location technology platforms, brands can incorporate maps into their direct mail, social media, and email marketing campaigns. At the most basic level, that might mean adding a map showing all the nearest store locations to a direct mailer. It could also mean getting a little more creative and developing a map that customers can add to or edit on their own. Interactive maps are especially popular when used as part of a digital campaign. Emails and webpages that feature maps see high levels of engagement, and social media posts with maps are more likely to be shared than many other types of posts.

5. Proving ROI for Local Marketing
Accurately tracking the return on investment (ROI) from digital campaigns is notoriously difficult. Mapping technology can help, though, especially when it’s coupled with purchasing information. Cloud-based POS platforms that tie location information together with sales data can show brands how their digital campaigns influenced offline sales. Let’s say a brand runs a mobile campaign targeted at customers in a certain 10-mile radius. Cloud-based POS platforms can be set up to pull location data from individual transactions, so brand retailers can see whether there was an uptick in traffic from customers living in that targeted radius. With actual ROI data in hand, brands should feel even more comfortable upping the ante and spending more on their local marketing campaigns.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.