Geotargeting is a powerful tool for marketers, allowing them to fine-tune marketing campaigns and deliver ads to only customers in certain parts of a country, city, or state. In this article, we’ll explore what marketers often get wrong when it comes to geotargeting.

While geotargeting may seem straightforward, it’s not uncommon for marketers to make significant mistakes in how they use the feature — making their campaigns less effective than they could have been.

What Marketers Often Get Wrong When It Comes to Geotargeting

Here’s what marketers get wrong about geotargeting — and what you can do to avoid these common mistakes.

What Is Geotargeting?

Geotargeting is a form of ad targeting that alters ads based on a user’s location. Ads are only shown to customers who live within certain geographic regions. Typically, these regions can be as large as entire countries or as small as a single town. 

Advertisers may also filter by county or multi-state area, or target customers within a radius of a certain major city. Ads can be shown to both individual regions and combinations of regions.

The tactic is an essential marketing tool for businesses that depend on customers in a specific geographic area — like restaurants, repair services and brick-and-mortar stores. They’re also useful for businesses with offerings that vary from place to place or only provide delivery to certain areas.

Most major ad providers — like Google ads and most social media ad platforms — offer some form of geotargeting. The level of detail and specificity you can achieve will vary from platform to platform.

Why Marketers do Geotargeting Wrong

While the feature is essential for marketers, not every business uses it correctly. Some common pitfalls can make geotargeting less effective than it could be — and, in some cases, geotargeting can even make ad campaigns much more expensive to run.

1. IP Address and User Location Mismatch

To tell where a user is from, most online ad platforms will use their IP address to determine location. This works most of the time, but it’s not 100% accurate. Users may sometimes have locations that are wildly different from the location implied by their IP address.

If a visitor uses a VPN, they may also have an IP address that doesn’t necessarily line up with their real-world location.

As a result, you may have both advertising false positives and false negatives. You may miss out on users who are incorrectly treated as not living in the area that you’re targeting. You may also accidentally send ads to people who don’t live in that same area.

During a campaign, if you see a large number of clicks from an area you’re not targeting, you may be struggling with IP address/user location mismatch. Excluding these undesired areas with geofencing can help you prevent your ads from being served to visitors outside the area you want to target. This can help you to make your geotargeted ad campaigns more cost-effective.

2. No Geofencing: Marketers Doing Wrong Geotargeting

Geofencing is similar to geotargeting, but with one key difference. Rather than altering ads, geofencing totally excludes users from outside a specific geographic area or areas. When users pass within the “fence” set up by marketers, they can begin seeing the ads.

Geofencing offers some functionality that geotargeting can’t provide. It can help prevent multiple stores from competing with each other, for example. 

Marketers can limit ads to only be to individuals on the store they are closest to. This will mean customers won’t be served ads for a store that’s further away. Then another store in their area or be served ads multiple times.

3. Not Analyzing Geolocation Data

Site analytics information produced by geotargeting campaigns can tell you a lot about your customer base. For example, you may find during a campaign that certain pages. Products appeal to more people in one area than another.

You can use this information to further fine-tune your geotargeting on future campaigns. Helping you to make your marketing even more cost-effective.

For example, many marketers use information from previous campaigns to build heat maps. These maps represent points of interest in a region. So, showing you where your customers live, or where an important demographic is. 

These maps can provide an easy-to-understand visualization that will help your team know where customers and important demographics live.

4. Not Being Specific Enough

Some advertisers use geotargeting, but don’t limit their area that much. They may target the entire country they’re in, or never target an area smaller than a state or province.

You want your ads to be in the view of as many people as possible. Not everyone is going to be looking for what you offer, however, especially if your business depends on local customers. 

Casting too broad of a net with geotargeting can lead to disappointing results. Finding the right level of specificity can help any marketer to more effectively target their ads without excluding potential customers.

5. Not Adjusting Bid by Location Marketers Doing Wrong Geotargeting

Some locations will perform differently. You may find that consumers from one area are much more likely to convert than consumers from another. At the same time, however, you may still want to target consumers in both areas.

Many ad platforms allow you to adjust your bid by location. Reducing the amount you spend on locations that perform less well than others. You can also increase your bid for high-performing areas, helping you attract the attention of potential customers living there.

6. Inconsistent Branding Across Locations

Splitting up your campaign based on geolocation information can sometimes lead to inconsistency. If a marketer isn’t careful, they may use messaging that’s too different for each of their campaigns. 

This can make branding much less consistent across your business’s marketing efforts. Resulting in campaigns that are less effective at brand-building and may even confuse customers.

7. Being Too Specific Marketers Doing Wrong Geotargeting

It is also possible to make geotargeting too specific. Shrinking the area and demographics that you’re after until just a small pool of potential customers remain. This strategy can result in inefficient and ineffective marketing campaigns. 

You may attract a few customers with too-specific marketing, but most campaigns will fizzle out without securing many conversions or expanding your audience.

Hunting for “unicorns” — users that perfectly match your ideal customer persona — can sometimes make marketing campaigns fail. If you find that your geotargeted campaigns aren’t generating much traffic. Or many conversions, broadening the area you target may help.

8. Not Matching Keywords With Geotargeting

When you want to target people in a specific area, it’s not just enough to use geotargeting. You also need to use the right geotargeting method or geotargeting options.

For example, users in certain areas often search for different keywords. They may use local keywords to help find what they’re looking for. So, adding in neighborhood, city or street names to their search to find specific businesses.

Combining geotargeting with geographic keywords can help you reach the consumers you business wants to target.

Getting the Most Out of Geotargeting

Geotargeting is one of the best ways for marketers to improve their ad targeting. When using the feature, it’s important to follow some best practices. 

Geofencing, location-specific bidding and finding the right level of specificity will all help you to use geotargeting to connect with new customers without the risk of excluding potential audiences.

It’s also important to carefully maintain consistency across geotargeted campaigns and review the unique statistics produced by geotargeting. This information will help you more effectively design geotargeted campaigns in the future.

Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on user experience. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.

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