5 things you need to know about geo-targeting for your boat business

You may have heard the term geo-targeting or geo-fencing. Maybe you’ve even been pitched it by a marketing company or even tested the waters yourself.

With recent advances, it is an incredible opportunity, so, I figured I’d share with you five things you need to know about geo-targeting but didn’t know who to ask.

We’ll start with the basics and work up to more advanced concepts and opportunities.

#1 – As with almost all marketing terms, different people will use various words to describe the same concept and the same terms to describe different concepts. Let’s start with a definition.

Geo-targeting at its basic level is putting a virtual boundary around a geographic location for the purpose of advertising. Therefore, doing an ad on Facebook or Google that uses a radius around your dealership is a more basic version of geo-targeting.

At its more advanced level, it is gathering users that have entered into a pre-defined geographic area–as determined by their devices GPS signal and usage–with the plan of serving them ads now or in the future.

Everyone should be using the basic level of geo-targeting, however the more advanced definition gives boat dealers some interesting opportunities as you’ll see.

#2 – How could you use the ability to serve people ads when they are physically within a geographic boundary? Here’s an example: You could serve an ad to a device that is attending a boat show. These ads will appear as they visit various websites and apps while they are within the geo-targeted bounds or the geo-fence you’ve defined. For example, imagine them walking into the boat show and seeing an ad for your dealership inviting them to stop by your booth while at or near the boat show.

#3 – Geo-fencing, blue-printing and other terms relate to the more advanced options currently available with geo-targeting. This technology allows a dealer to build a list segment of prospects that have visited a defined geographic area, for instance, someone that has visited your local boat show. Then, instead of only serving ads while at the show they are served ads 90 days or more after they attended the boat show.

This more consistent messaging will increase the reach and be more likely to hit the prospects at the right time. This is an incredible opportunity for a dealer looking to be more effective with their ad spend when used properly.

#4 – As with any technology and marketing, it’s not just the ability to utilize technology. It is imperative to utilize ad messaging and landing pages that match the market you are targeting. For example, a dealer decides to geo-target the local boat show, then serves ads with an image of a pretty boat and/or your logo that drives prospects to their dealership’s home page.

How successful will that ad campaign be? It will likely work well, however, from experience, I’d give you 100 to 1 odds that a more specific message and strategically crafted landing page would beat those results on almost every measure.

#5 – It’s not a question of should we use geo-targeting. That answer is simple, use it. But, take some time to work with your marketing partner to develop a complete marketing message and landing page strategy that fits with the geo-targeting you’ve defined.

It’s not the ability to do geo-targeting that will make an ad campaign highly successful or not. The real magic comes when you are able to match the right message, to the right targeted audience, at the right time. And the advances in geo-targeting certainly can help in finding the right audience at the right time. Just don’t forget about crafting the right message in the ad and landing page.

That thought leads us to this month’s challenge:

If you are doing digital ads–with or without the more advanced geo-targeting–that direct traffic to your dealership home page, I challenge you to create a more targeted landing page message for that campaign. It is more work for sure however, the results could double or triple the ROI.   

Matt Sellhorst is the creator of the SPLASH System and committed to helping honest and ethical boat dealers, manufacturers and brokers sell more boats, make more money and have more fun. He is the author of two industry books; “Boat Dealer Profits: How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun” and “Marine Marketing Strategies.” Sellhorst is also host of the Boat Dealer Profits Podcast and Boat Dealer Profits TV channel. For more articles, videos, webinars packed with tips, tricks and tactics visit www.boatdealerprofits.com. 


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  1. Thanks for pointing out that geo-targeting with digital ads can help direct customers to certain booths or vendors as they cross the geo-fence. We’re hosting an expo at my workplace next month, so we’ve been brainstorming creative advertising strategies to help bring in customers. I love the idea of targeting digital ads at the event as well, so thanks for pointing out the benefits of geo-targeting!

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