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Why You Should be Experimenting with Geofencing


Advanced Strategies / May 09, 2019

If you’ve ever seen content on your mobile device that’s extremely relevant to where you are at that very moment, it’s possible you’ve been geofenced by a marketer. Done right, geofencing enables location-based marketing: engaging people by sending them offers, advertising, and content that’s relevant to where they are. It also allows companies to track and gather behavioral and demographic data on their users within a specific geographical area.

How does geofencing work?

A geofence is a virtual perimeter that surrounds a specific area — such as a town, a city block or even a building. The area inside this perimeter is somewhere you’ve identified as uniquely relevant to your business based on demographics or other criteria.

Geofencing apps and services use GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to identify a user’s location. Implementation generally involves integrating software into your app or other mobile technology. Then you configure and manage your geofencing software via an API or online dashboard.

What are the benefits of geofencing?

Used responsibly for location-based marketing, geofencing can bring your mobile business all kinds of sweet benefits:

  1. Access to location-specific data and insights about your users
  2. Better ROI thanks to more optimized and efficient marketing tactics
  3. More effective targeting and personalization of your marketing messages
  4. Better customer/user engagement with your app or technology

What is geofencing used for? How is it effective?

In digital marketing, geofencing is an extremely effective tactic for capturing users’ attention and drawing them emotionally and geographically closer to your product or service.

Once targets are inside your geofenced area — be it a mall, a neighbourhood, suburb or building — you can target them with search or display ads, text messages, social media marketing, content… the list is as long as your imagination.

How to implement geofencing in a marketing strategy?

You don’t want to pummel prospective customers inside your geofence with promotional text messages — particularly if they pass through every day. We recommend developing a location-based strategy that moves prospective customers through your consumer decision journey, from brand recognition, to consideration, evaluation, purchase and beyond. Think about how location-based content can contribute to your success at every phase of a customer’s relationship with your brand.

What are the typical use cases for geofencing?

Ideally, your geofencing use cases will be built around user behaviour — when, how often and how long a prospective customer is in your geofenced area. This makes it easy for you to segment and define the type of content you deliver to each person, and how you send it.

For example, you could identify and target people who:

  • Enter you geofence for the first time
  • Exit your geofence
  • Enter your geofence daily, or on a predictable schedule
  • Enter and dwell in your geofence
  • Dwell in your geofence for predictable periods of time
  • Pass through but do not dwell in your geofence

What is proximity marketing?

Geofencing is a core component of proximity marketing, also known as hyperlocal marketing, which is the practice of sending highly relevant advertising or marketing content to mobile users in defined locations. An inventive marketer could apply proximity marketing to any vertical or situation, but it is particularly useful in sectors such as hospitality and tourism.

Beyond simply sending messages and promotions to prospects who are in your vicinity, a savvy proximity marketer knows how to apply these tactics and technologies to enhance a user’s experience and relationship with their brand.

How do you apply geofencing to a Google Ads campaign?

Most popular advertising platforms now enable you to trigger ads when a prospect is within a geofenced area. While you’ve always been able to target Google Ads to specific geographies, today’s mobile technologies enable you to very precisely target your message to prospects who are within your geofence.

Using Google Ads’ advanced location targeting options, choose “Reach people in your targeted locations”. This will show your ads to searchers who are physically located in the area you’re targeting. (Incidentally you can also hide ads from searchers in specific locations.)

Take it a step further by implementing proximity targets in your campaign. These allow you to create a radius around your location, then adjust bids up or down based on a searcher’s proximity to your store, restaurant, hotel… You get it.

Then create dedicated AdGroups for each geofenced location. Attract these users using location-specific keywords and craft ad copy that speaks directly to users within this area. It’s a winning combination.

Two rules: be creative, and don’t spam

Geofencing is ideal for any type of franchise-based company. But it can also bring amazing benefits to small and single-location business that want to limit their ad spend to local markets and prospects.

Big or small, single or multiple businesses, the principle behind geofencing and location-based marketing remains the same: be strategic and don’t spam. Think about how you would like to be targeted by location-specific content and offers. Then get creative and devise ways to amuse, engage and convert prospective customers who engage with your little corner of the world.

Do you want to add geo-fencing tactics to your digital marketing strategy? We can certainly help you. Bloom and our partner won the honors at the ABBI (Audience Based Buying Innovation) Awards in the category “Best Local Execution” for their impressive results on Swimco’s account thanks to geo-fencing. Read the full case study here.

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Jeff Johnson

Director of Paid Media @ Bloom


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