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A business owner’s guide to geofencing

Two of our favorite features of digital marketing are:

  1. How personalized and targeted ads can be; and
  2. The ability to tie conversions to specific ads and platforms.

As geolocation technology becomes more widely available and applicable, we’re excited to add geofencing initiatives into brands’ digital marketing mixes. That’s because the technology gives businesses the ability to even more accurately personalize and track their digital marketing.

What is geofencing?

A geofence is a virtual boundary, or “fence,” specified to meet a business’s marketing goals. For many businesses, this means creating a geofence around their physical location to draw passersby into their store or restaurant. It’s also possible to target other areas where a business’s potential customers already spend time.

Potential customers’ location is determined using a trio of methods: GPS location data, Wi-Fi network databases and cell tower triangulation. Once the technology determines a mobile device’s location (and therefore, its user’s location), a variety of platforms deliver marketing messages to the device.

How accurate is geofencing?

Even with multiple technologies collecting location information, it’s difficult to pinpoint someone’s exact coordinates. On average, mobile device location is accurate within about 93 feet. However, the accuracy of location data varies widely based on a number of factors. In an urban location, there are more cell towers and Wi-Fi routers, which helps determine where a mobile device is. There are also more buildings, and many of them are extremely large, which distorts and blocks GPS signals.

Using Geofencing Technology

There are dozens of ways to incorporate geofencing into a business’s marketing. You and your customers are probably already familiar with one common use: Snapchat Geofilters. This technology lets you add a filter to your photo if you’re in a specific location.

A potential customer entering into your geofenced area can trigger a push notification or ad displayed within an app. After a user leaves a geofenced location, you can retarget them with ads and notifications. Geofencing isn’t just for sending marketing messages to passersby. This technology gives you greater knowledge of a potential customer’s behavior offline, such as whether or not someone visited your store after seeing an ad online.

When you use a device’s location to draw customers into your business, you need to keep visitors’ feelings in mind. It can feel intrusive when a company seems to know your every move. Many consumers don’t realize they see an ad because they drove by your storefront while running errands. To avoid annoying potential customers, your ads should be relevant and helpful.

Protecting Your Customers’ Privacy

In 2019, businesses are expected to spend almost $30 billion on location-targeted mobile ads. Obviously, this powerful technology is here to stay. Before adding it to your marketing mix, you must consider the ethical and legal implications of location-based targeting. You’ll need a privacy policy to explain how and why you’re accessing, storing and using location data. In some industries, like healthcare, that may not be enough.