Have you ever wanted to display an ad specifically to people that have visited your store before?
Or have you ever wanted to target an ad directly to people who are visiting your competitors’ locations?
Well, you can. And it’s done by using a digital advertising tool called "geofencing".
So, what is geofencing?
Geofencing is a location-based mobile technology. In the context of marketing, it allows advertisers to target the mobile devices of people who have entered a virtual barrier around a defined region, otherwise known as a geofence.
The geofenced region could be anything from a specific department in a store, to an area where an event is being held, to a neighbourhood, to an entire city. Marketers build strategic geofences to capture the attention of their business’s target demographic. We’ll dive into some more specific examples of this later.
You’re probably wondering how it works. If someone enters the geofenced region and has location services turned on their mobile device, or opens an app that allows location services, that device is captured for present and future advertising opportunities.
Once the person’s data is captured, they can be served ads across a variety of popular websites and applications.
How can we tell if it’s working? We’re able to track how many impressions and clicks the ads receive to measure the effectiveness of the campaign. We are even able to track how many people enter the business after seeing the ads by setting up a conversion zone.
Using geofencing in your marketing strategy
If targeting customers based on a location they’ve visited makes sense for your business, then geofencing is definitely worth considering. It can be an effective and affordable way to reach your target audience, increase brand awareness, draw in new customers, and encourage customer loyalty.
The first step is to determine your target market, which is a very important part of any marketing strategy. Next, we have to determine your goals and the locations you want to geofence. But how do we choose those locations? Here are a few examples of different geofence strategies (all based off real campaigns that we have run in the past!).
Places that are associated with the products or services you offer
Is there somewhere that your potential customers are likely to visit for the same reason that they may need your product or service — but that aren’t necessarily competitors?
For example, a personal injury lawyer is interested in targeting people who have been in motor-vehicle accidents. So, geofences could be set up around auto body shops, chiropractic clinics, hospitals, and insurance providers — other places that people visit after being involved in an accident.
Now, anyone who enters those areas and is captured by the geofencing technology is likely to see an ad about that lawyer’s personal injury services.
Places where your products are sold
Are your products sold in a physical location where other similar products are also sold? Targeting customers who frequent those stores will raise brand awareness about your product and may convince them to purchase yours over others.
For example, a company that sells a grocery store product can create geofences around the stores where its products are sold, raising awareness in the eyes of people who already shop at those locations.
This could also include your own retail location, if you have a dedicated space. Targeting existing customers is an excellent way to encourage brand loyalty.
Events that your target market may attend
Events are a great way to capture a large audience in a short amount of time. By choosing events that are of particular interest to your target market, we increase your chances of seeing conversions.
A post-secondary school may use geofencing to target a career fair, putting their name in front of students who have expressed an interest in researching different career options.
Your direct competitors
Creating geofences around the locations of your competitors allows you to target customers who have already expressed an interest in your industry.
For example, a car dealership can geofence other dealerships in the same area who sell similar vehicles. We could use general ads about the dealership, or ads promoting a specific vehicle or upcoming sale.
Locations that your target market may frequent
This is a more general version of the above example. Basically, where else does your target market go, even if it has nothing to do with your business?
Take a family dentist for example. Because just about everyone uses a dentist, the target market can be quite broad. By using geofencing, we are able to target people who have visited nearby schools or grocery stores to capture the attention of families who live in the area.
Real-life examples of geofencing in action
We could spend all day talking about geofencing technologies and different ways that it can be implemented, but the real burning question is… does it work?
We’ve run plenty of successful geofencing campaigns for clients, so if you ask us, we would say yes. That is, as long as it’s being used in the right way.
We know that the proof is in the pudding, so here are a couple of in-depth examples of geofencing campaigns that we’ve run and the results.
Event targeting for a vacation-related business
For a vacation rental client, we targeted a large trade show that was being attended by one of the client’s main competitors. We geofenced the location of the event to serve ads to the attendees both at the trade show and over the following month. By targeting a large, industry-related event, we were able to capture a significant number of people in a short amount of time.
During the five day trade show, we were able to capture over 10,000 mobile devices the ads received 198,000 impressions.
In the following 30 days, the ads received an additional 81,000 impressions.
The ads received 345 clicks, exceeding our clickthrough rate goal.
We also created a specific landing page on the client’s website for people who clicked the ads. The page was customized for people who attended the trade show with a clear call-to-action to increase conversions.
Boosting admissions for a private school
To increase admissions for a kindergarten to grade 12 independent day-school, we created a three month geofencing campaign with several moving pieces.
The goal of the campaign was to attract parents who would be interested in registering their children at the school. To do so, we geofenced competing schools in the area, “feeder” schools where potential students come from, and local businesses where the parents may congregate (fitness centres, coffee shops, certain grocery stores, etc.). We monitored the geofenced zones throughout the campaign and tweaked them as needed. The ads appeared across several popular websites and apps.
The ads in the first part of the campaign encouraged people to register for an open house event for the school. The event ‘sold out’ in record time.
In three months, the ads received 700,996 impressions and 995 clicks, surpassing our clickthrough rate goal.
We defined the school’s Admissions Office as a ‘conversion zone’. We then found that over 1,500 who saw the ad also entered the Admissions Office. It’s important to note that this number is slightly skewed due to staff and students who may have seen the ad as well.
The ads in the second part of the campaign promoted the school’s scholarship programs for the upcoming fall semester.
The geofencing campaign was the only form of promotion being utilized for the scholarship program, about which the schools has been receiving a higher-than-usual amount of inquiries this year.
Is geofencing right for your business?
If you're looking for a marketing tactic that:
Helps you reach your target audience based on location they've visited;
Offers measurable results;
Is flexible, with the ability to monitor and make changes as needed;
Can be used to increase brand awareness, draw in new customers, encourage customer loyalty and more;
...then yes, geofencing very well may be a smart addition to your marketing strategy.
If you have questions about geofencing and how it could benefit your business, we would be happy to help. Contact us to learn more.