The world is suddenly in a very different retail environment than anyone ever expected just a few months ago. The global COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the business model for most retailers, some of whom are fighting for their survival. When the dust settles from this crisis, the way we attract and serve customers may well change forever.

In this new environment, we will need to be smarter than ever about our marketing and customer contact efforts. In this article, we’ll take a look at one strategy that not only improves the ROI of your marketing but also give you your very best chance of finding and targeting new customers: geocoding your contact data.

Why geocoding has become more important

Recently I received a targeted ad online from a restaurant chain, advertising free delivery for their meals while their dining rooms are closed. The problem? I live outside the delivery zone for their nearest restaurant. They may know WHO I am, but by not knowing WHERE I am, they wasted precious advertising dollars. This is a simple example of where a little geographic information can boost response rates, increase customer yield and improve marketing ROI.

In its simplest form, geocoding is a matter of turning address data into physical coordinates. Using this latitude and longitude data, you can learn where these contacts are located geographically – and more important, use tools such as geographical information systems (GIS) to analyze and visualize patterns within this contact data.

Here are some of the advantages of geocoding and mapping your contacts:

Geotargeting your message. Many retailers have had to shift to online operations in this crisis. By knowing the geography of your clients, you can tailor your outreach to your most likely prospects – for example, those close enough for delivery services, or people who live in an area that normally purchases your goods and services. This article we published earlier shows how your target markets are often in much finer locations than ZIP codes, and geocoding can help you locate and reach them better.

Location planning. At some point, in-person retail will reopen in more sectors of the economy, and as brick-and-mortar shopping starts to ramp up again, proximity to your customers will become more important than ever. Geolocation gives you a visual perspective on your customer base that can help in site planning, relocation, and expansion.

Visual analysis of customer patterns. Sales trends in your products and services are likely to be more location-dependent than ever as the economy rebounds, and mapping these trends helps you focus your efforts where they will bring the greatest ROI. By adding in associated data such as demographics or socioeconomic data – which we can provide – you can extrapolate these trends to other areas as well.

Optimizing service delivery. The cost side of your business equation matters as much as the sales side nowadays, and geocoding customer data will allow you to optimize shipping, service fleet usage, and other logistics.

Perhaps the biggest reason for geocoding your contacts lies in having a competitive advantage as the economy recovers. Most businesses will need to make the best use possible of all of their resources and business processes from here, and the added insight of location-based data can give you an edge over those using purely address-based data.

Discover what geocoding can do for you

With automated cloud-based tools, adding geocoding and location-based intelligence to your contact data is straightforward and cost-effective. Our DOTS Address Geocode family of products provide latitude and longitude data for addresses worldwide, DOTS Address Insight adds specific regional-level demographics, and DOTS Demographics Plus delivers block-level geo-focused demographics from the US Census Bureau. All of these products can be implemented with API interfaces that integrate with most popular business automation platforms.

To make it easy to test-drive geocoding with your own contact data, we offer a free 500-transaction license key as well as industry-leading technical support. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation to learn more about what location-based data can do for you and your business.

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