According to TechTarget Geo-fencing is a system which utilises GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi and Mobile Data to determine the location of a mobile user. This is a specific type of marketing that concentrates on where the user is, and marketers are coming up with more and more interesting ways to utilise this.
Some of these examples of geofencing based marketing may be familiar to you, but others may not be so obvious and have not yet entered the mainstream.
Geofencing works by defining a perimeter on a map, and simply matching the user’s location to whether they fall within or outside this area. These areas can be as big or small as the application or advertiser would like. It could be a country, city, university campus or a shop.
Geofencing based marketing example #1 Snapchat Geotags
The most obvious geofencing example is Snapchat Filters. You may be familiar with the name of the city that you are snapchatting from to appear when you are swiping through the available filters. Although this is not strictly marketing of a certain product, it does increase engagement with the Snapchat application, simply because it encourages users to snap their location when travelling the world. This feature was introduced into the application a few years ago, and this has developed in some interesting ways from the point of view of marketers and advertisers.
Snapchat allows event organisers to create their own filters specifically for the use at their event for a given time frame and within a specified geofence. Such as music festivals, football matches or cultural events. This, in turn, brings many opportunities to retailers, who could inform potential customers about offers in certain parts of the festival, and even offer discounts for anyone who has received the voucher code.
Geofencing based marketing example #2 Event and In-Store Geotags
Although Facebook and Instagram have allowed users to post their location both publicly and within messages for some time now, these locations are manually entered, and a person could allow themselves to appear on the other side of the world to where they are. Snapchat, however, does not allow someone to ‘spoof’ their location, and advertisers have capitalised on this to increase engagements within their own stores and events.
It also has the desired effect of event visitors sharing with friends where they are, therefore promoting the event to future potential visitors, especially if the people in the posts are seen to be enjoying themselves.
Geofencing based marketing example #3 Weather based marketing
A perhaps lesser known technique is Weather based marketing. This is, unsurprisingly, marketing based on the weather outside, or indeed a forecast of the weather. This is a technology which uses both geofencing and influence from another secondary data source, namely the weather forecast.
Let’s say that you are on your way to work, blissfully unaware that you are going to be caught in a downpour in fifteen minutes time. You happen to be walking past a branch of Home Bargains in your town centre and you receive a notification informing you that not only will the rain start in 15 minutes, but also, they are selling an umbrella for £3, reduced from £5. This offer is not indicated on the price ticket, nor the website, it is simply intended for people walking past the shop in the immediately before the start of a downpour. The advert could also contain a link to the BBC Weather page, so they can verify the forecast.
Geofencing based marketing example #4 Competitor Locations
An ethically challenging geofencing technique is knowing when a customer is in the stores of your competitors. Some geofencing companies, such as Simplifi allow your company to send them real time adverts, whilst they are located in the premises of your competitors’ store.
Let’s say that you are a retailer of refrigerators, washing machines and other domestic goods. Your main high street competition is Curry’s PC World. A past customer of yours has allowed their location data to be tracked by a data management company of whom you are a client. They may be looking to buy a new fridge-freezer in Curry’s PC World, and they receive a notification from your company telling them you will beat Curry’s PC World on price and warrantee for a limited time only when you show this m-voucher. This type of marketing may be somewhat invasive, but could be effective, for both impulsive and frugal shoppers.
Geofencing based marketing example #5 Navigation and Product Search
The last, and potentially the most useful is instore navigation and product search. Essentially, geofencing can be used to help guide a shopper around a physical store. This could be extremely effective in large supermarkets, shopping centres and department stores. As smartphone location becomes more and more accurate, as time develops retailers may be able to determine the exact product that the customer is looking at, and could send them real time offers, advice and other engagement boosting techniques.