What is geocoding; how can it help sell products

# What is geocoding; how can it help sell products

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Real success is when customers can be reached where and when they are most likely to buy. Geocoding in partnership with location is making this distant dream come to reality. With an exponential boom in smart devices, many businesses are using geocoding to perform specific market/region data analysis for the purpose of making sound business decisions which is then known as geomarketing. Marketers are also using this technology to further promote their products. Geocoding has become the buzzword but have you ever thought about what is geocoding? Let us understand.

### What is geocoding?

Location is just not a mere address. Geocoding is the process where it converts address into spatial data and associates the exact geographical coordinates for that address. It is used in geographical information systems to help find the coordinates of a place or address.

According to Wikipedia, “Geocoding is the computational process of transforming a postal address description to a location on the Earth’s surface (spatial representation in numerical coordinates). Reverse geocoding, on the other hand, converts geographic coordinates to a description of a location, usually the name of a place or an addressable location. Geocoding relies on a computer representation of address points, the street/road network, together with postal and administrative boundaries.”

### How to find out a geocode

The best way to find out an accurate geocode is to personally travel to a specific location and then mark it on a GPS device. But that sounds really impractical, especially when you have millions of locations to pinpoint.

However, there is an alternative to it. It is called “interpolation”. While this method adds enormous speed to the process of geocoding and is highly accurate but it is a bit less accurate than physically geocoding an address. The concept of this method is quite simple to understand.

Suppose at a close proximity there are two geocodes to addresses on the street. Also assume these two geocodes are at the ether end of the street. Now since we have this information, interpolation (a mathematical process) can be used to determine what’s in the middle. So, if the street starts with point A and ends with point D, we know in in between there are point B and C.

This process also helps to get real-time consumer location information. As soon as consumers check in from their smartphones you can grab their mobile GPS coordinates pinpoint where they are and translate those coordinates into highly accurate address that can easily be integrated with other data and applications.

Companies like Pitney Bowes uses reverse geocoding to gain the geographic insigt you need to connect with individual consumers in real time via highly specific, personalized, time and location-based mobile messaging.

### How can geocoding be used as a marketing tool

Geocoding when used to perform specific market/region data analysis for the purpose of making sound business decisions and marketing their products can be termed as geomarketing

Businesses through geomarketing can locate and analyze customers on digital maps. They can then acquire valuable market data and plan sales territories and delivery routes. This allows various organizations to better coordinate their sales at both domestic and international marketing operations, thereby improving efficiency.

As per Melissa Data’s blog on Geocoding as Marketing Tool, for marketers, geocoding is critical in targeting specific demographics and in customizing a push marketing message to a specific audience. A good geocoding solution will append exact Census Tract and Census Block number to each address. With this information a marketer can easily append detailed demographic data with thousands of variables, such as population counts, age, race, house values, annual earnings, income, etc., which can be taken from the Census  or present day estimates and projections.

Data like this helps to determine purchasing behavior and target the right demographics – those who would be most likely to respond to their offer or marketing message.

A very good example is of PepsiCo introducing Foodicons in India.

### How Pepsi has used geocoding to promote their product

Recently Pepsi has taken 100 food items which are popular in India and put them on their bottles. It is the company’s first geocoded encrypted promotion where if you buy a Pepsi bottle and you are in a particular place for example place X you can SMS the code to your number and you will find 20 deals around the place X. Now you can go to the nearby eatery and get may be 20% off or 15% off and it will be within 10 minutes distance.

Elaborating on this Raj Rishi Singh, Director Marketing, Pepsi, PepsiCo India says, “Packaging is our strongest asset and the Foodicon bottles are an innovative take our usual packaging. The new Pepsi Foodicon bottles feature different interpretations of age old street food favourites and have helped us stand out on the retail shelves. We have created 25 distinct Foodicons, representing popular food from across India such as Bombay’s preferred vada pavs, Delhi’s beloved samosas and Chennai’s favoured dosas.”

The Pepsi Foodicons take the most popular food items from across India and put them on the product packaging, along with a witty one liner which helps consumers relate to the concept.  The company has partnered over 40,000 retailers across the country. The PET bottles have the Foodicon packaging with contextual advertising e.g. ‘Scene Bun Gaya’ with a burger is one of these.

“We are using the Pepsi bottles as the medium for consumers to get access to great promotions at popular food outlets. The consumer has to SMS their location to +91 8750100200 and we send them a list of places near them that will offer exciting discounts on their order – this could range from a free Pepsi with their order to 50% off on the entire bill.,” Singh adds.

So, it is great for Pepsi’s partners as they get increased footfall. It is also great for consumers as they get something for buying a Pepsi. It is something which is a long-term platform.

This was one of the several examples where geocoding has been aptly leveraged to promote products. Companies all over the world are increasingly using this technology to futher parket their product. What is important to understand is that there are different types of locations that map providers take into account, how location data can be made more useful for businesses, and where location data is heading.