Content by Location: Offer Unique User Experiences
I’ve always loved maps. They are filled with data, but sometimes that data is dull to read or sort through. However, maps are a way we can visualize data that is much more dynamic. The adage “location, location, location” still matters even in a digital world, and I have even discussed what it means to content marketing before, specifically in relation to a business website, your home “location” on the internet. However, the relation of the physical location of the user didn’t really hit home until my daughters visited me in the Nashville from the Pacific Northwest where they have lived for several years.
One thing became immediately clear: fashion was different here. Our shorts were the wrong length, even though it was equally as hot, and our love of sandals and Keens was seen as, well, a fashion travesty. Both of my daughters and my husband (though in denial) are shoe people, but they look at shoes quite differently.
So, what would the content on a blog for a shoe company look like if it was going to appeal to both Texans and those from the Northwest along with a fashionista from New York City? The site might sell shoes that appeal to all three of these customers, but it might be difficult for content to appeal to all of them at the same time unless that content were somehow personalized.
Website personalization is not a new concept. Pay per click (PPC) ads and landing pages have long been set up to respond to a user’s previous search history, where they might be in the sales funnel, and their previous purchase history. Some content, including banners and other page elements can also be personalized, although this certainly takes more effort on the part of the web designer and the marketer.
There is one more step though. Using Google location, the location data a user provides your website, and other channel data, it is possible to customize the content that user sees as well, whether it is their first interaction with your website or the tenth. Let’s look at a hypothetical example, using the example of shoes.
If you travel often, think of what you have seen for footwear in various locations. A blog post titled “The 10 Best Shoe Styles for Summer” might look totally different to someone in New York than it would to someone in Seattle, Washington. How do you create content for both?
The answer is to create regional content: more than one “Ten Best Shoes” posts: at least 3 and maybe as many as ten depending on the size of your audience and the appeal you have in different areas of the country.
Think of this customization by region as an opportunity as well: maybe your posts are not reaching the masses in New York if your Top Ten is filled with Keens and Chocó’s and not the styles prevalent in New York this season. You can reach that demographic and sell more shoes by merely adding more content to your website provided you have the inventory to go with it.
This is, of course, your top of the funnel invitation to buyers that makes them aware of your existence, although it does play a role in the mid-funnel buyer as well by recommending shoes your site does carry. Now that you have created the content, now what? How do you make sure the user lands on the right post?
This is where Google and other search engines come in, along with data you use from your own site. Asking the user permission to use their location data is not only common when you get direct traffic, but is usually accepted by the user: they want a better shopping experience and if they trust you are trying to do just that, they will happily share that information with you.
From this data, you can route where the user will land. If your website is simply shoes.com, you can direct them to shoesnorthwest.com or shoesnewyork.com depending on their location (and provided you own those domains and can redirect them to your main site for purchases). Alternatively, you can direct them using subdomains like shoes.com/northwest. In the end, the effect is the same.
This way, the entire experience from start to finish can be personalized not only to user tastes as you learn those through data and future interactions, but for location as well. The homepage, the blog, and all of the other website content can be tailored to particular regional tastes without excluding product. The Northwest content can still have a “formal” section and the New York site can still have a “casual” section so as not to preclude any buyers.
Using the right redirects and keeping an eye on metrics, you can easily judge the return on your investment for creating these unique experiences. By tailoring your content to a certain region or location, you increase your conversions in that area.
A big part of the user experience is the feeling that your website “gets” them and what they need. Customers feel like you are listening and responding to what they need, what their tastes are.
The more prevalent the use of Big Data becomes, the more customers experience personalization when they are shopping. The fact that this is no longer a “wow” factor but what customers have come to expect will no doubt soon translate to content as well. With all of the analytics and data businesses have access to, including social listening and others, the less excuse we have for not personalizing content along with the rest of the customer journey.
Location is simply one piece of the road toward personalization of content marketing, but it is certainly one that businesses of every size already have the data to implement. So, whether you are marketing shoes or cutlery, software or sporting goods, you can use your customer’s location to provide them a better, more personal experience.
Customers will go where they will go. It is our job to meet them where they are, no matter where that might be.