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App Development
5 minutes read

What Is Mobile Geofencing?

by Mario Tatis
App Development
5 minutes read

Mobile geofencing isn’t new, but only relatively recently has it begun to be adopted by your typical mobile app and brick and mortar stores. This technology allows your app to process a user’s location data in order to target them based on their context. 

In other words, geofencing is a location-based marketing strategy. Users can receive push notifications based on their location data, but the benefits of geofencing don’t just end there. There are many other ways in which your app can make use of this location-based service to help you engage with your users.

In this post, we discuss what mobile geofencing is, the fundamentals of how it works, and how your app can use it to engage your users. 

Mobile Geofencing Explained

Mobile geofencing is a location-based technology and marketing strategy that can be implemented via your app to help your business engage with users based on their location. In practical terms, geofencing is a virtual fence that helps apps share or request information based on data like location and time.

By using mobile geofencing, apps can access location data to interact with users in various ways. Typically, mobile geofencing works by using the cellular triangulation of a mobile device. This differs from other location-based services that use IP-address and beacon data. Geofencing is very energy efficient in terms of mobile resource consumption, thus helping it go unnoticed by users.

Consider the following example to understand how mobile geofencing can be used for marketing purposes. You go out with your friends on a Friday night, and after visiting a restaurant, one of your apps sends a push notification; a mobile app can be configured to avoid sending push notifications on certain hours, preventing it from becoming annoying. The push notification you receive might ask you to rate the experience, the place, or it might even share offers with you. This level of engagement and interaction is a marketer’s dream come true.

Whatever the case is, geofencing allows a mobile app to start interactions based on contextual information like the brick and mortar stores surrounding a user at a given moment. Using geofencing for marketing purposes is highly recommended for places that are high in foot traffic, but it is not limited to these specific spaces.

Considerations of Mobile Geofencing Technologies

It is a common mistake to think that mobile geofencing is a hardware-based marketing technology. Although having a mobile device matters, in reality, geofencing tends more towards the software side. It ultimately depends on each specific mobile app, which might or might not include a geofencing API. If your app has a geofencing API, it can easily implement these features. Both Android and iOS offer geofencing APIs.

One of the best things about using geofencing as part of a location-based marketing strategy is that it is very flexible in terms of the location data used. A virtual fence can be set up by developers using specific location parameters, helping you accommodate the size and shape of the fence to your business needs. This way, your marketing strategy can be concentrated on very specific areas.

There are other benefits of geofencing marketing when compared to other location-based technologies. Some of these are its accuracy, the possibility of updating parameters easily, and the possibility to let users configure their preferences.

Mobile Geofencing Use Cases 

No matter the industry you are in, mobile geofencing can help your company implement a winning marketing strategy based on contextual targeting. These are some of the most relevant mobile geofencing use cases:

  • Concentrate your sales efforts on specific targets using location-based marketing.
  • Send push notifications based on location and time.
  • Address foot traffic depending on specific contextual factors.
  • Use location data to recommend specific products and services. 
  • Inform about special offers.
  • Request feedback on behalf of brick and mortar stores.
  • Share information on social media based on a user’s location.

Privacy and Mobile Geofencing

If you decide to implement mobile geofencing, you should take privacy considerations very seriously. Not doing so might compromise important user data. Additionally, not doing so might damage the reputation of your app if users consider it to be too invasive.

Make sure to request your app development team to implement geofencing in a non-invasive way. Ask users to set up the permissions for geofencing. That way, they know they can always be in control. No location-related feature should be executed without asking users for permission. 

Also, make sure to encrypt data. This prevents malicious third parties from accessing your users’ data.

What Apps Use Geofencing?

Many different brands are using mobile geofencing to reach out to their users. These are some of them:

  • Starbucks and Dunkin’ engage with users inside the fence to offer them great deals in food and drinks.
  • Walmart uses a traditional coupon marketing strategy combined with geofencing to target users near their stores.
  • Driving services like Uber use geofencing to alert certain users that there are drivers available. This is particularly helpful in areas like airports or stadiums.
  • Waze adds certain brands to its maps so that users know they are near stores that might interest them.
  • Burger King created a brilliant geofencing marketing campaign that incentivized customers to go to the nearest McDonalds, only to end up recommending a Burger King with awesome discounts. The campaign was a success.

Final Thoughts on Mobile Geofencing

With mobile devices becoming more relevant in our daily lives, geofencing will only continue to gain popularity. Brands that accept this fact and embrace this marketing strategy will be able to engage better with their users. 

Having a creative marketing team is key to a successful mobile geofencing campaign, and so is having the right app development partner by your side. Make sure to work with someone who understands your business requirements and can meet the necessary technical demands of your campaign.

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