While making important business decisions, companies, governments, and organizations are increasingly relying on geographic data to tailor their choices to circumstances on the ground. From deciding where to start new stores to determining whether groups in particular regions will respond favorably to new products, big data features heavily in the process. It’s important, however, to understand what geographic information is, why it is used, how it is utilized, and what the common applications for it are.
What is Geographic Data?
Thinking about data as it exists spread out in space often helps people – especially those who aren’t highly numerate – take something abstract and place it in a specific context. From a marketing perspective, geographic data allows you to think about the “where” factor when it comes to customers. Where are your established customers? Where is the audience you still need to reach?
Bundle together enough where-factors and you’ll soon get to the “what” questions. A company can use data analytics to ask questions like, “What is the business case for expansion of marketing in this region?”
With advances in artificial intelligence, it’s even possible to move on to questions of “who”. By developing a profile of the customers who respond well to your products, services, and messages, you can begin to ponder, “Who else matches the profile of our current customers?” With the right marketing approach, this can help a business open up new opportunities, increase revenue, and improve customer retention.
Why Use Geographic Data?
The reason for using geographic information is increasingly to gain an advantage against competitors. Firms that value data science have the potential to significantly outpace their competition. They can collect data in real time, process it through artificial intelligence applications, and present insight to decision-makers in a more timely manner.
Companies who fail to recognize the value behind the geographic details in their customer data will soon find themselves falling behind their competitors. Even for small or medium size businesses, this data is crucial for success. True success comes from growth, and healthy growth cannot come without making safe and smart business decisions by analyzing every single detail within geographic customer data.
Geographic Data is Big Data
A commitment to data analytics begins with making a choice about organizational culture. When a company wants to become a data-centric operation, it needs to onboard stakeholders, and in some case, offload those who resist digital transformation. Bringing in people who have data science backgrounds is an investment in new hiring, and it also entails purchasing the computing power they require to do their jobs well.
In terms of geographic marketing data, this approach calls for seeing almost everything as a data point to be gathered. When customers check out at stores, it’s common for companies to gather information in a variety of ways. In the simplest form, this includes asking direct questions, such as request the ZIP codes for where each customer lives. More advanced approaches include developing rewards programs that create opt-ins for tracking data about purchases and habits based on customer demographics.
Marketing Applications of Data Analytics
One of the increasingly common use cases for geographic data in the marketing world is targeted advertising. By combining opt-in data from your own sources, such as email marketing, web pages and apps, with data from vendors like Google and Facebook, you can micro-target advertisements to almost anyone who profiles as the type of customer you want to attract. If a business is attempting to identify young couples in a region where it has stores, it can utilize GPS-based data from an app to micro-target with such a level of precision that offers are only sent to them when they’re in close driving range of a physical store.
The logic of this can be taken in interesting directions. For example, a company that sells anti-frizz shampoo could target ads based on the current weather in an area. When the humidity goes up, advertising appeals can be deployed to let people know about the product at the precise moment they’re realizing they need a solution to a problem.
By developing a culture that values data science, a firm can open up new marketing opportunities. Information can be gathered rapidly, ideas can be tested swiftly, and marketing content can be updated on a minute-to-minute basis. This ultimately can make your firm more flexible in speaking to customers at times when and in places where they’ll be most receptive.