[Article] Geo Fencing

Say What?

Geo-fencing Your Customers……Say What?

By definition, geo-fencing (geofencing) is a feature in a software program that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or other means to define geographical boundaries.  A geofence is a virtual barrier.

In simple terms, geofenced push notifications are a way for businesses to send extremely targeted messages (text, web link, even one-page flyers) to their customers’ mobile phones.  When one of your customers enters or exits a specific area (by radius or fenced off area) you can set your app to push a message to that user. Thus, geofences allows you to send location-specific messages to your customers when they’re in an area.

Geofencing is usually applied to mobile phones using push notifications to your business’s mobile app, but can also be used by website applications to determine a visitor’s city based on Internet IP address.

How will it help my business?

As a businesses, you can use geofencing to send special offers to customers when they pass near your business location.  But there are many additional creative ways to use geofenced push notifications. 

For example, a manufacturer might send a mobile phone push notification to customers offering the demonstration of a new product when they are at an event such as a trade show, convention or sporting event.   A magazine can push special offers on behalf of their advertisers to readers who pass nearby an advertiser’s business.  A retail shop could trigger a notification offering a “today only promotion”, when their customer walked into competitor’s shop.  Real estate agencies might send push notifications to interested buyers when they are near an open house.    Music bands can send messages to fans who live near the concert venue where the band will be performing soon.  There are many possibilities. 

These notifications are sent automatically to nearby customers based on the rules you have defined. 

Some Examples

Special Events

These are valuable gatherings of your target customers.   At events such as conventions, sporting events and trade shows, use signage, flyers and other marketing to encourage people to install your app on their phone.   Offer product giveaways, free T-shirts or discounts for those that download your app by scanning a QR code on your flyer.   Every so often during the event you push a notification the attendees of a give-away “starting in 10 minutes” and asking them to visit your table or booth for the promotion.  Other customers not attending the event will not receive the notifications.  

Retail Stores

A retail store establishes a twenty block radius geofence around its location. When a customer enters the geofenced area, they receive a push notification about special deals for today only, reminding them they have an order ready to pickup (dry cleaning, product repair, free gift), etc.

Speciality Retail Shop (An aggressive approach)

You can set up multiple geofences around your competitor’s stores.   When your customer enters competitors’ stores, they receive an automatic push notification saying, “Free T-shirt if you come into our shop in the next hour.  We’ll beat any competitor’s price.”  It’s likely the customer has money to spend and is shopping at a competing shop.  They are going to buy something in the next hour.  This is an aggressive approach to retaining your repeat customers and countering promotions by competitors in real time. 

A geofenced target area of San Francisco


A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agency has an app used by actively searching buyers. The agency can establish a geofence around it’s listings.  When a realtor holds an open house, they can send a notification to clients in target areas.  When a potential buyer enters the geofenced zone, they receive a notification of the open house or property listings in that area.  

Bands and Traveling Shows

Bands can send messages to fans living in the city where the band will be performing.  Or they can notify fans when they pass by the concert venue where the band will be playing.

The possibilities are exciting for businesses, organizations, customers and members. Many businesses are still experimenting with geofenced notification promotions. Every business will have a unique and creative strategy.   If done correctly, this is a win-win for businesses and their customers.

Smaller is Better

When it comes to the area of your geofences, smaller is better.  Narrowly focus on customers that are nearby an event, venue, store, etc.   Don’t annoy your customers who aren’t close enough to take advantage of your promotion.  This is a surgical mobile marketing strategy.  Offer useful information and deals to customers that are nearby.  You might even narrow your geofenced notification further using information from your customer database; such as which customers tend to buy the promoted item.

Your goal should be to use your geofence messages to improve your customers’ experience, and provide them with benefit and value. If you can do that, while also driving traffic to your location and activity on your promotions, so much the better. But remember that if you want your geofencing program to be a success, place the customer ahead of yourself.

If your business has many competitors, it’s best to focus on your own backyard.  If you’re the only game in town, a larger geofence radius is fine.  You can always send occasional push notifications for big promotions to all customers using a wide geofence or no fence at all.


A radius geofence around San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium during an NFL football game



Start Slowly

Geofenced push notifications are a great way to build customer loyalty, but they can also be way to loose customers.  Geofenced notifications aren’t about bombarding your customers with messages as they drive around town.  If you do that, customers will opt out from your messaging, delete your app, even stop patronizing your business.

Respecting your customers’ time and not being a nuisance is job one.  Walk in your customer’s shoes.  Would you want to receive your own message?   The goal of every notification is to provide value to your customer.  

To accomplish this, limit your broad notifications to occasional “big news” like tent sales, an anticipated new product now in stock, annual customer loyalty event with huge discounts.  Don’t think of geofencing as another way to sell to your customers. Instead, use it as a genuine way to engage, add value and build loyalty with your customers.  You wouldn’t want your favorite companies exploiting every channel to boost sales, but if they pop up every now and then with something timely, relevant and valuable, it can be useful. 

Society is still establishing cultural norms and rules around the appropriate use of push notification marketing.  Be creative, experiment and take it slow.

We truly hope this article helped you understand the importance of Geo Fencing for your business and how mobile apps are becoming the most important marketing tool you can have in your arsenal. For more information on Recify’s mobile app solution contact us at info@recify.com or 1-844 RECIFY1 (732-4391)


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