How do I segment a list based on subscriber location?

We automatically record the location of subscribers based on their IP address. This geolocation data tells us roughly where someone is located for use in campaign reports and subscriber profiles. You can also use the information to create location segments.

For example, you could dedicate an email newsletter to promoting a new store opening and send it only to subscribers whose location is within a reasonable distance of it.

Note: The functionality discussed on this page is only for IP-based geolocation segmenting, which offers a way to target campaigns based on location without having to ask subscribers where they live. If you've already collected information on where your subscribers live, such as city or state, you can use custom fields to segment with that data.

Creating a location segment

In this section we'll show you how to set up an "is near" location segment, meaning it will group subscribers whose last known location was within a certain distance of a specific place. For this example, let's say we want to send a geo-targeted campaign to people within a 15 mile radius of Dublin, Ireland.

To get started open the subscriber list you're sending to and click Segments in the right sidebar. On the "Segments" page, click Create a new segment then, from the Define a rule based on menu, select Location as shown here:

This will generate your location rule, as shown below. Click the menu labeled "is known" to see all of the conditions available for location segments. For this example, select is near from the list:

To specify a location type the city, state, postal code, country, suburb or region into the location search field. It's powered by Google maps and you'll see autocomplete suggestions appear when you start typing.

After a location is chosen you can set the "within" distance. Select from miles or km and either type the distance into the within field, or adjust the radius using the drag handle on the map, as shown here:

Click anywhere outside the map to close it, then enter a name for the segment in the text field next to Save and preview.

The total number of active subscribers whose last known location was, in this case within a 15 mile radius of the center of Dublin (based on Google map coordinates), will be displayed on the page. This segment can now be used when sending a campaign.

Location segment conditions

You can segment subscribers based on their location being known or unknown, or their location being near, in, or not in the location you have specified. The full set of conditions available for "location" are:

  • is known
  • is not known
  • is near
  • is in
  • is not in

We showed you how to use "is near" in the previous section. Below is some information to explain what the other conditions are for.

"is known" and "is not known"

Using "is known" to create a rule will select everyone on the list who we have an IP-based location for. When you manually add subscribers to a list there is no geolocation associated with them until they open or click a link in a campaign you've sent them.

The "is not known" condition is exactly the opposite. Using it to create a rule will select everyone on the list who we do not currently have an IP-based location for. Here's how you could use it: Say you create a geo-targeted campaign for your monthly newsletter but about 30% of subscribers are in your "location is not known" segment. Instead of skipping a newsletter for them you could send a generic campaign to that segment at the same time.

"is in" and "is not in"

These conditions are designed to make it easier for you to define a larger area on the map, for example a state or country.

There's no reason you can't use them to define smaller areas such as a village or district, but you may find it preferable to use "is near" for that purpose. Then you can see on the map which areas are included within the radius:

   

How subscriber locations are determined

We calculate a subscriber's location by storing their IP address when they sign up through a form, and when they open or click a link in a campaign. Then we check that against an IP-to-location database to see roughly where they are located.

Note: We can only detect a subscriber's IP address when they open HTML campaigns because opens and clicks cannot be tracked for plain text emails.

Location accuracy

The accuracy of IP-based location data can vary quite widely for reasons related to IP-to-location database records, people on VPN connections, dynamic IP addresses and more.

Last known location

When you create a location segment, you are grouping subscribers based on the last known location we have recorded for them. If you click through to a subscriber's profile you may see different locations noted alongside campaign activity because, for example, the recipient has opened some emails in their home town and others while visiting another city.  

There may even be different locations recorded for a single campaign, as shown in the subscriber snapshot below. Dudley Barrett opened the "July news" campaign once in London and again in Derby, making his last known location Derby.

Let's say Dudley is a subscriber on your mailing list and you've set up a London-specific location segment, which is done using "is in" for the condition:

 

Dudley lives in London and that's usually where he opens your emails so he's been in your "Subcribers in London" segment for months. But then Dudley visits Derby and opens one of your emails there. This interaction will update our records and remove Dudley from your London segment. He will be added to the segment again as soon as he's back in London and interacts with one of your emails there.

FAQs

Can I stop subscriber locations from changing when people travel?

No, that capability is not currently available but their geolocation data will change back to their place of home or business as soon as they're back there and interact with an email from you.

If I already have subscribers' physical addresses, can I use that with geolocation?

No. Even if you have their complete home or work address, we cannot use that information to generate an IP-based location for them. 

Is geolocation detected for subscribers added through the API?

No, but we'll record the geolocation for each subscriber the first time they open or click a link in an HTML campaign that you've sent them.

Can I import subscriber IP addresses that I have collected?

No, our geolocation feature only works with IP addresses that are detected when someone joins your list through a subscribe form or interacts with an HTML campaign you have sent them. 

Can I export my subscriber's geolocations?

No. You can export subscriber details to a file but geolocation data cannot be exported.

Why do so many of my subscriber profiles say they're in Mountain View, CA?

Since Gmail started displaying images by default, subscribers using Gmail as their email client (via webmail, iOS or Android) may have their location recorded as Mountain View, California (Google headquarters) instead of their physical location.

This is because Gmail is now caching and serving email images via Google's proxy servers, instead of serving images directly from the original host servers.