New trends and ideas emerge constantly in the digital world - how effective they are, is another story, entirely. But when we talk geofencing, we’re dealing with a promising measure that has already achieved widespread success.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing geofencing – what it is, how it works, and specifically the most suitable areas for its application.
Geofencing - what is it, actually?
The term geofencing is is a compound of the English words geographic and fence. Geofencing implies the triggering of an action as soon as a certain person enters a previously defined spatial (ring-fenced) area. The perimeter setting of such an angular or circular surface is carried out either via the mobile telecommunications system or a satellite navigation system. Its dimensions are flexible, be it a mere 50 metre edge length or even an entire city.
And the action? This can be, for example, the triggering of a message such as an SMS or e-mail for promotional purposes, which, by geographically targeting in this way, reaches the precise available target audience. Otherwise it may be the activation of an immobilizer or an alarm - the possibilities are wide open.
Of course, the most interesting thing about content management is how geofencing can help to distribute the right content for the person, the place and the time. The size of the defined perimeter area plays an important role: too small, and your range may be too low; too big, and you risk losing recipient message relevance through unfocussed targeting.
Nuts and bolts: geofencing in practice
Typically, companies place geofences around their own shops or restaurants. As soon as a customer enters the spacious area, he or she will ideally receive a triggered message informing about the nearby branch. In order to guarantee data protection, however, s/he is asked in advance for his consent to such notifications.
Other scenarios are also conceivable: If a person walks into a public swimming pool area, for example, it is conceivable that the person triggers the alert of a swimwear manufacturer and receives advertising for its products, or that there is a reference to a shoe store triggered by proximity to a popular running track.
The combination of two geofences can make advertising as content even more effective by triggering after a combination of tracked visits. Say the person was on the football field, and then in the city centre, the former sporting interest, followed by the latter proximity to the shopping precinct would trigger a message drawing the attention to a promotion of a sporting goods manufacturer nearby
Geo-conquesting goes one cheeky step further: If a person is close to a competitor, he or she will be alerted to the geo-conquesting operator’s own, perhaps cheaper, assortment and in the ideal case, will create a buying decision in spite of the competition. However, there’s a thin line between cheek and conflicting with competition law, which prohibits enticing away and influencing, so the use of such measures should be well thought through.
But there is also criticism
The major concern of critics is to do with the data protection and consumer privacy infringement. These concerns are justified, so in this form of location-based marketing, users must first explicitly give their consent to having their data retrieved and be able to revoke this consent at any time. If the customer feels monitored and sees their privacy at risk, the intended positive effect is reversed. The new technologies then do more PR harm than good.
As geofencing draws wider circles, the reality is that consumers will receive a flood of messages, depending on their location. There is the risk of unwanted deterrence as consumers ignore, or are dismayed by, this plethora of information. Other negative factors include the intensive maintenance and high costs for these systems.
Geofencing as an opportunity
With proper planning and implementation, geofencing is a great way to target customers even more effectively, to win them over. Because the methodology is still relatively unknown, those practicing it still have a lot of leeway, and can gain great early competitive advantages through the use of these innovative technologies.
You’ve got to be in it to win it. That's why it is so very worthwhile investing in new technologies and trying out new methodology. But all this is meaningless without the winning words: the underpinning, thoroughly sophisticated content strategy.
You want to learn more about smart content strategies and the use of the latest technologies in content marketing? Then download Contentpepper’s free E-Book " Leitfaden Marketing – Strategie und Umsetzung [German]"