• Wirya Hassan

Geofencing: How to Use It for Marketing

Updated: Sep 4, 2019



How can you, as a marketer, use the location of a user for your marketing? What is geofencing, in what ways can you use this marketing tool, and what should you pay attention

to when it comes to privacy?


People are just cyborgs nowadays. Our mobile devices are inextricably 'connected' with our bodies and go wherever they go: work, holidays, yoga classes and the Friday

afternoon drinks.


On average, we use our telephone 76 times a day, in total almost 3 hours . These mobile sessions take place in many different locations throughout the day.


More and more marketers see location-based marketing tools, such as geofencing, as the chance to:


1. Reach users during these mobile moments

2. Get information about how users behave in the real world


In this article I explain what geofencing is, how you can use it for your marketing, what distinguishes it from other popular location-based marketing methods, how you determine whether it is suitable for your organization and how you ensure that it neatly handles privacy.


After reading this article you will have a good insight into the usefulness and possibilities of geofencing and you know whether your company can do something with it.


What is geofencing?


Geofencing, a location-based marketing technology, makes it possible to gather information about users and to approach these users with relevant messages when they enter, leave or stay in a particular area. These areas are called geofences.


A geofence is a kind of virtual fence. This is placed around a location in the 'real' world, such as a restaurant, shop or airport. A geofence can be small and can be placed around a single building, but it can also cover an entire city. Geofence can also have different forms: a basic geofence is round, but for more complex situations marketers can adjust the shape.


In geofencing, the location of a user is determined by telephone towers, Wi-Fi networks or GPS. The various geofences can be set via an online dashboard via a software plug-in, which is implemented in a mobile app.


With geofencing it is necessary that users give the app permission to use their location and to receive notifications (if the app wishes to send it).


How is geofencing used for marketing?


For marketers there are two ways to use geofencing: the active and the passive approach. With the first you approach users actively with notifications at certain locations. The second approach is about collecting consumer behaviour data around locations. Let us take a closer look at both approaches.


The active method: location-based notifications

Sending location-based notifications is the best known way to use geofencing. In this approach, a geofence is used to send notifications when a user enters, leaves, or stays in a particular area. These notifications can be used in countless ways. Some popular examples are:


• Send promotional messages with discount codes, offers or seasonal updates

• Request feedback when customers leave your business, take a flight, etc.

• Give regular customers loyalty points

• ' Geo-conquesting ': fetching customers from competitors by sending them offers


The passive method: collecting location data

One way to use geofencing that is gaining popularity is to study geofences and collect insights about customer behaviour. This means that, among other things, the number of

visits to the geofence, the visit duration and the type of locations visited are measured. Three examples are:


• Tracking the amount of visitors and visitor behaviour to measure the impact of online marketing campaigns

• Compiling profiles based on visited locations for better personalization

• Customer retargeting based on physical visits with ads, e-mail, etc.


What is the difference between geofencing, beacons and geotargeting?


In addition to geofencing, beacons and geotargeting are also used for location-based marketing. Marketers may choose to use one or more of these technologies, but it is good

to realize that they collect location data in different ways and have different scope.


Is geofencing suitable for you?

If all goes well, you now have a good idea of what geofencing entails, what the benefits are and how it can be used. But it is not suitable for everyone. Depending on your industry, target group and possibilities, this marketing tool is a big opportunity, or you can better ignore it.


If you meet one or more of the points below, geofencing is probably suitable for you:


• You have an app

• You are already mobile visible

• You have the IT resources to implement technologies like geofencing

• You have a physical store, or you have content that is location-relevant (for example a restaurant guide)

• Your company has customers who use mobile frequently

• You would like to measure the effects of your marketing efforts on physical sales

• You want to reach your customers in a more relevant, context-based way


If you meet the following points, it might be better to focus on other techniques:


• Your content is not location-relevant and you cannot offer your customers extra value with location-based services

• Almost all your customers are active on desktop

• You do not have an app and no plans to develop it

• Your IT department is too limited or too busy with other matters to implement and manage a geofencing plug-in


Geofencing and privacy


Location-based marketing technologies such as geofencing often evoke privacy concerns among users. Many people are wary of the fact that companies have access to their location and phone data.


From the perspective of consumers, geofencing can be both convenient and worrying. They want information and offers that match their personal interests and needs. On the other hand, it can be a scary idea that companies know where they are.


It is therefore good to be careful with privacy. Bear the following issues in mind:


• The consumer has the power himself. Geofencing depends on the permission of users to use their location data. This permission can be withdrawn at any time.

• Transparency is crucial. Explain to your users why you need their location information. Users give permission before they know how and why you use their data.

• Make sure there is a good reason to collect data from your customers. The customer only gives permission if it improves their user experience.

• Make sure your security is in order, so that customer data cannot leak

• Provide a privacy policy in which you communicate all your promises to the customer. This must be well documented and available online.

• Watch your language. If you talk to your customers about sharing their location, your choice of words is crucial. That can make the difference between trust and distrust.


Now that you have read this article, you should have a clear idea whether geofencing is right for you and how you can use it. It is a powerful tool for collecting valuable data, providing users with highly relevant information and obtaining feedback.


Are you inspired? Then think about how you can use geofencing for your company today!



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