Building on Affinity: Geofencing and Demographics | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Building on Affinity: Geofencing and Demographics

April 20, 2021

By Andre Chandra

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Affinity means different things to different brands, but, at heart, it’s about understanding your target audience. When you profile an audience well enough to understand the other brands they like to shop at and the places they like to go, then you can combine that knowledge with your demographic profile and geofencing to put mobile ads on exactly the right devices.


Targeting Behavior and Demographics

A high-end dog food company wanted to reach a target audience who had pets but were also willing to pay more for premium, high-end dog food. How can you target that customer?

You can use demographics to identify people who are the right age, right income bracket, and right address. You can identify lists of people who own a dog or cat and cross-reference that by other demographics. Both of these tactics together give you the kind of list marketers have always used for direct marketing, and that’s the problem.

The data and modeling may be good, but this kind of targeting has limits. You don’t know if their financial or location data predisposes them to premium food, only that their demographics match people who do. It’s a partial picture, and one that’s not based on real, recent behavior.

However, if you can add that information to places they visit and where they shop, then you have a strong behavioral picture of your target customer. That’s where geofencing affinity marketing comes in.

With geofencing, you can use all that valuable demographic data and apply it to real-time location targeting. This creates a type of high-propensity behavioral targeting: How do you know these pet owners are willing to pay a premium for their pet food? Layering on a high-income demographic may seem like a logical approach, but you have no idea where their disposable income is being spent. It could be going to vacations abroad (remember those days?) or it could be going to expensive outdoor recreation vehicles. The point is, you’re still in the dark on how they spend their money.

Modern geofencing technology can narrow your search to people who prefer to pay a little more for higher quality products, like people who are actively shopping at Whole Foods Market. By geofencing based on these affinities and demographic data, we zero in on exactly the persona this brand wants to target based on real-time behavioral and lifestyle data.


Making Mobile Marketing Smarter

Geo-affinity marketing overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in mobile marketing: Smartphones are with us all the time. They are intimate devices, and we use them to do everything from browsing media to working to talking with our loved ones.

Brands abuse that intimacy. We put too much untargeted, random advertising on devices where people don’t want to be bothered. Only by identifying who’s behind the phone and what they’re doing at any given time can we send marketing that people actually want to see. This takes targeting, and it’s a challenge.

One of the best ways to make sure your marketing is relevant is by targeting people based on behavior, and that’s what location data reveals. With geofencing, you can target the places your ideal customers like to shop and hang out.

Geo-affinity marketing is an especially useful tactic for brands with long, considered sales cycles. Companies like investment firms, listed properties, and mortgage and real estate offices can’t necessarily target shoppers in their competitor’s retail spaces because people don’t spend much time in those locations. Instead, brands with longer sales cycles need to connect on a deeper level, and that’s exactly what affinity targeting taps into.

Geo-affinity targeting isn’t just about marketing more efficiently, it’s about empathy. It’s understanding that the marketing you send has to serve a purpose to the people you’re trying to reach. Without this empathy, your mobile marketing strategy will never deliver the results you need.

Targeting by affinity is targeting with empathy. It shows you know your target customers, the other brands they buy and the places they shop.


Geo-Affinity Still Needs Demographics and Data

Location correlates with behavior and affinity, but it doesn’t define either factor. If you’re only targeting based on where someone spends their time, you could find the shopper that is willing to spend a premium on food at Whole Foods Market, however without layering on demographics you’re marketing spend would cover both pet, and non-pet owners.

This is why demographic data is still an essential part of effective geofencing. Age, address, preferences like pet owners in this instance, allow you to target only the people you want to by both real time shopping behavior and deep demographic criteria. Location behavior is no replacement for data-driven direct marketing best practices, you need both to drive the desired response.

A strong geo-marketing strategy goes hand-in-hand with persona targeting, direct mail, and digital marketing. Build it from your audience up by identifying the people you want to reach and what they have in common, then add behavior and location data to build an engaging customer journey for them.

If you connect with people around the things they have an affinity for, they’ll develop an affinity for your brand.

Andre Chandra is the Founder and CEO of Propelo Media.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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