How to Use Location-Based Advertising With SMS

You have probably heard of location-based advertising. You have probably even been a part of location-based advertising. Maybe you were on social media, and you were in an area nearby a McDonald’s, when all of a sudden, a McDonald’s ad popped up. How strange? You just passed by a McDonald’s about five minutes ago. That is exactly how companies and advertisers do it, and now you can too.

So, what exactly is location-based advertising? How does it work? How successful is it? Read on as we dissect everything there is to know about location-based advertising and how you can use it to give your political campaign the boost it needs.

How it Works

Location-based advertising is a combination of mobile ads and location tracking. This is how companies like McDonald’s and so many others, reach consumers at exactly the right time. Location-based advertising, or LBA for short, is all around us, whether we have realized it or not. Most apps require our phone’s location to work. If you have ever logged onto a website on your computer, a pop-up window might have appeared requesting your computer's location. Many times, we press “allow” without thinking. This “allow” gives websites, apps, and companies our exact location to be able to use for advertising and marketing purposes. For some, LBA might come off as a little creepy, but when used properly, it is a beneficial thing both for you and consumers. Location-based ads are a way of giving individuals what they want before they even know they want it. Think of it as a little voice that just drops hints and suggestions.

LBA does not always have to use location tracking though. It can use other factors to determine who to advertise to. Ads can be directed towards various individuals depending upon their zip code or phone’s area code. An example of this would be if you are a local candidate running for a local election, you most likely are only going to want to advertise to voters who live in/around your zip code or have an area code that corresponds to your given city or county. The downfall to this method is that voter data such as zip code might not always be accurate, and oftentimes people move without changing the area code of their phone. So you might be advertising to a phone number with your area code, but for all, you know this person could have moved to another state.

This brings about another key point, keep your lists up to date. Every once in a while it would be beneficial to touch base with voters and ensure they are still living in the same area, and also that they still want to be receiving your text messages.

Also, when possible, it is important to stay on top of your SMS list and create SMS groups based on zip or area codes. This way if you are running for a state election, you can send out texts to specific regions of the state to be more timely and relevant.

Does it Work?

Smartphones opened up a world of possibilities for businesses and marketers. Considering that by 2025, 5.9 billion people in the world will have access to SMS, this means that the time to perfect SMS and location-based ads is now. When these two methods are combined, your campaign will have a higher success rate of reaching the right voters.

In the past, people were glued to their TVs or their radios, nowadays people are glued to their phones. This means advertisers now look towards SMS, social media, music apps like Spotify or SoundCloud, Google, and more to reach consumers. Location-based advertising can be used along with any one of these platforms.

Eight out of ten marketers are utilizing LBA in one way or another. There are various methods by that location can be obtained:

  • The most popular method is mobile data
  • Advanced televisions can provide data
  • Voice connected speakers like Google Assistant or Alexa
  • Technology in Automobiles

It is anticipated that LBA will only continue to grow, and companies will continue to invest more and more money into it. Why? Because it works. Think of it this way, if you are a burger joint that is only in one state, why would you want to be advertising to those across the country? You wouldn’t want to. Without location-based ads, advertising can be costly with no return on investment. By investing in location services, you are ensuring that the right voters are being exposed to your ads and that your campaign funds are going to good use.

Strategies and Methods

  • Use Robocent to send text messages
  • Request voter data through a signup form
  • Send texts based on voters area codes
  • SMS Keywords
  • Using Apps/website preferences to acquire location information

Our SMS services at Robocent can help in more ways than one. Our platform can send out surveys and links to forms so that you can acquire that additional voter data. Through our SMS platform, you can also send out messages requesting that voters respond with a keyword. Keywords are great for those political candidates who cover a larger area or region, perhaps an entire county or even state. This way you can have voters respond with a specific keyword to indicate what area they are from, this can be especially helpful when it comes to polling locations or events. This kind of LBA will ensure that the right individuals are receiving your messages and that your messages aren’t being wasted on those outside your desired area.

There are many kinds of paid LBA methods, the ones that will be most relevant to your campaign are:

  • Location or place-based targeting
  • Geo-fencing
  • Geo-targeted

These three methods are fairly similar. Essentially these methods are drawing an imaginary grid, and when individuals fall within this grid, then location-based ads are deployed. Typically ads such as these require media buying through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and also through Google and keyword searches. Other techniques of LBA are partnered with Apple phones, Apple Maps, and various Bluetooth devices.

Pros of LBA

Location-based ads do three things exceptionally: they provide a personalized experience, they are timely, and targeted. These are some of the three best things that any ad can be. This kind of advertising puts money where it is guaranteed to thrive. If geofencing and targeting techniques are too wide scale for you, then using factors such as one’s zip code or area code is great as well.

You could consider zip and area codes to be a more “natural” way of using location. This is information that is more readily available and doesn’t involve paying social media companies or big companies like Apple. It is more small scale and even a great stepping stone. In either case, you are increasing voter engagement and spreading awareness about your campaign to those that matter the most.

Using LBA through SMS is easy to start and ensures that you are staying relevant. The last thing you want is to be sending texts to someone who doesn’t even live in the area in which you are a candidate. For example, perhaps you once signed up to receive text updates from a local store, but then you moved, and that store was only in your old city. The texts you receive from that establishment are now irrelevant. Not only are they irrelevant to you but they are irrelevant to the company, and while the cost of one text message might not be significant, the cost of multiple text messages adds up.

Final Thoughts on LBA

Location-based advertising through SMS might seem like a big step, but you are probably already on the other side of LBA. If you have ever done an online Walmart or Target pickup, you are allowing these companies to track your location. This is how they know exactly when you arrive at their drive-up or pick-up location, and this is how they have your order ready to be placed in your car by the time you get there. This is how when you open up your Starbucks app, the app already knows which locations are closest to you, so that you can quickly and efficiently order your coffee ready for pick up. Food delivery services and more use this same technology. Now it is your term to explore with LBA.

Think of LBA as giving the people exactly what they want. You want to know where the closest coffee shop is, therefore you have allowed your mobile ordering app to know your location. The same goes for voters. If they replied to a text sent to them using a keyword, then they have given you permission to send them texts based on their location. Why? Because it makes life easy and it gives the convenience of staying up to date with your campaign via SMS.

You might find it helpful to review the 6 SMS Marketing Best Practices to head Start Your Campaign. With the information provided both here and there, you will have a strong SMS advertising campaign and all the tools you need to succeed.