On subscriber snapshot pages, in subscriber notification emails and on your Worldview reports you can often see a location associated with an individual subscriber.
The location feature works by checking the IP address of the user that opens or clicks a link in the campaign or signs up from a form, against an IP-to-location database. Once we know the IP address used by a subscriber, we can tell roughly where they are located.
How specific and accurate the location is can vary quite widely. For highly populated areas where records in the database are extensive it can be very accurate, but in other cases only quite broad areas are associated with a particular IP address.
If you see a location that you know is inaccurate, or just plain wrong, there are a few possible reasons:
- If the recipient is connected through a VPN, the IP address of the VPN server will be used rather than the IP address of the users physical location.
So, if the user was in London connected to their office via a VPN in New York, we will show New York as the location.
- Some ISPs use dynamic IP addresses, which means the same person can have two different IPs on different days. IPs are also re-allocated, so an IP that was today given to a person in London might tomorrow be allocated to a person in Edinburgh.
We update the locations of the IP addresses regularly but it may be out of date at times.
- Some anti-virus of spam filtering software pre-checks emails before they are delivered to the inbox by 'clicking' links and scanning images. In those cases, the IP address we record is the one for software's server instead of the final recipient.
- If a subscriber forwards their copy of the email to other people, we record the IP address of those who opened the email, which might be associated with a different location.
We don't have any way to know that it is a different person and so the location shown for that click or open in Worldview will be updated.
The accuracy of the IP-to-location database increases over time as more and more data is gathered. While you can't, for now, rely on the absolute accuracy of location records it is a great way to get an overview of where your subscribers are.