Reach makes geographical targeting relevant for e-mail

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We are constantly inundated with the concept that the Internet is creating a global community — a world marketplace where goods and services can be marketed and purchased anywhere. In the past, when direct mail was the primary means of direct marketing, a key component of strategy was the use of geographical targeting. But does geographical targeting still make sense in the world of online marketing? There are two reasons why the answer is, "Yes."

First is relevance. Perhaps your company is partnering with a retailer on distribution, and that retailer has 100 locations nationwide. Does it make sense to blast your whole customer e-mail list, announcing product availability at these 100 retailers? Chances are, a significant number of your customers live nowhere near these 100 locations. For them, the message rendered is completely irrelevant. Targeting the e-mail to customers who live within a 10- or even 20-mile radius of these 100 locations can cut out communications to customers for whom it would be irrelevant, thus maintaining brand image and saving on unnecessary e-mail costs.

Use and adoption of certain products and services vary widely not only by geographical region, but even within a ZIP code. Imagine promoting a riding mower: By understanding the prevalence or penetration of pre-existing customers in a given geographical area, the prime areas can be targeted, and the worst excluded. This way, Tom, whose two neighbors in Ohio each have the brand new ride-on mower to maintain their 10-acre yards, receives a relevant communication while Mark, who lives in a loft in Manhattan, is saved the irrelevant message.

The other reason is reach. Sometimes, quantity is the primary goal for an e-mail campaign. Many times marketers look to specific rental lists such as young families, specific magazine subscribers, environmental lists, and others to boost e-mail campaign quantities. However, many times even with the related subject matter, these lists are not highly successful. One means of improving the quality of these rental lists is to choose prospects based on your own company's penetration within a geographical area. You won't have to rent the whole list and you will be simultaneously improving the quality of the campaign.

Geographical targeting, when executed properly, can have a positive impact on the success of an e-mail campaign. Not only will it save marketing dollars, but it will help cater to your audience and make the message relevant, two important factors in maintaining relationships with your customers.

Elena Bond is senior database analyst, client services and analytics at Drake Direct. Reach her at elena@drakedirect.com.

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