The Art Institute of Chicago wanted to add a splash of
color by injecting youthful new blood into its membership. What it
got by advertising through a Web site that geo-targeted consumers
was 5,000 new members in the demographic it was trying to reach—18-
to 35-year-olds—upping its rolls by 5 percent or 6 percent in one
Andrew Mason , founder of Chicago-based publisher Groupon. The
bonus was that 97 percent of those signing up for the 50
percent-off membership never had been institute members
Mason joins many who believe that direct marketers, especially
brick-and-mortar businesses, can gain a lot by geo-targeting
consumers through affiliates.
Raychel Espiritu , traffic support representative for Encino,
Calif.-based geo-targeted search engine marketing company
LocalPages.com, and Mason Wiley, senior vice president of marketing
for Beverly Hills, Calif.-based affiliate advertising network
Hydra, also offer pointers.
Find local affiliates or affiliates that already geo-target their
services for consumers. Mason's Groupon, for example,
seeks discounts from businesses and offers them to consumers who
must amass into a certain size group before the discount becomes a
reality. To get the daily coupons, consumers provide their e-mail
addresses and pick cities. If they want to hurry the deal along,
they use tools on the site to share the offer with their friends
and encourage them to buy. "We send out a daily deal on one of
those businesses," he says. "So business owners sign up with us, we
write a description about the business and we offer some kind of a
deal, and basically drive hundreds of thousands of customers to a
different business every day in cities across the country."
In addition to the institute, Mason cites a skydiving business in
the Chicago suburbs that saw 1,500 conversions in one day after
offering a half-off coupon. That one placement increased the
company's annual business by 25 percent, he says.
2. Convince affiliates to offer geo-targeting
options. Espiritu says: "Meet with your affiliates and
discuss your geo-targeting options. ... If you own a small
business, your best bet is to target local residents." Being local
is one of the best ways to be relevant, as 85 percent of consumers
buy locally, she says.
3. Clearly explain specific needs. "One should
never assume that an affiliate can read your mind or that an
affiliate will always know what type of traffic is required for
your business," Espiritu says. "Affiliates supply traffic ... [so]
once you have determined what type of traffic you require, you can
meet with your affiliates and discuss how best to target this
Two years ago, one of LocalPages' clients needed local foodies
who appreciated Italian cuisine. Kale Rey, the owner of a small
Italian restaurant in Glendale, Calif., was on the verge of
shutting his doors. LocalPages affiliate managers worked with Rey
to come up with geographical boundaries and began geo-targeting
consumers in his area. In a few months, Rey's restaurant began
seeing more customers and, that year, began showing a profit. The
business is still open, thanks to geo-targeting consumers through
affiliates, Espiritu says.
4. Know the desired geographical boundaries.
Decide what local means, Espiritu says. "Take the time to meet with
your affiliate and set up geographical boundaries." Is it a city?
Or is it a region?
5. Provide affiliates with advertisements, or provide for
advertisements, that already have localized keywords included in
them. Wiley says: "Note that with Google geo-targeting,
Google will show your ad only to people within the regions you
specify. So if you specify 'BBQ ribs' as a keyword, and you
indicate Chicago as your geo-target region, Google will only
display your ad to people in Chicago who search for 'BBQ ribs.'
Alternatively or in addition, you can add local terms in your
keywords. For example, 'Chicago BBQ ribs.'"
6. If affiliates have localized e-mail lists, ask them to
help with a local campaign. Wiley says that affiliates
sometimes have their own geo-targeted e-mail databases. Check into
using them or running an ad through the affiliates' e-mail
7. Remember that affiliates often self-select
advertisements. If a business provides an affiliate with a
geo-targeted advertisement, Wiley says, "They're not going to run
it unless they can deliver it to that geo-target."
8. Sign up for the affiliate's e-mail list or visit the
site to ensure that the geo-targeting is being done
properly. Wiley says that it's important to ensure, for
instance, that those who've opted out of e-mail notifications are
not solicited. "You really have to have systems in place to monitor
all activity all of the time," he says.