An Entrepreneur’s Handbook To Using Geofencing In Mobile Apps

Have you heard about geofencing in mobile apps? How often do you reach your customers once they’re out of your shop?

Sending push notifications on holidays or when you have a running sale sometimes feels like a shot in the dark.

The Gap Between Relevant Marketing

What about a more consumer inclined and relevant marketing? There are several ways the world of mobile marketing is moving towards more contextual targeting. 

Geolocation in mobile apps is one such phenomenon that helps you improve your business sales with app development.

Mobile is something always on the move and therefore an inherently location-based channel. Eventually, geolocation gives the “location” and the “time” their desired significance in a world full of reckless technological disruption.

Today, geofencing in mobile apps is widely used as a marketing weapon to directly involve potential customers in the area by mailing promotions and information straight to the consumer’s cell phone. 

Because small businesses are typically less well known by consumers than big brand names, geofencing, besides owning your small app, is an exclusively valuable means to help grow your business. Here is a survey by Iflexion about how many people use location services that prove it:

The Number of People Using Location

This article sums up almost everything you need to know about geofencing, it’s working, and its implementation in your business app.

Imagine a university app that informs the professors and colleagues who are on the present in the college. Or an app for a food cafe that rewards regular customers with free meals while around the area. There are many other exciting possibilities that you can find with geofencing in the app, be it your restaurant business or your real estate business.

So let’s get started and explore!

What Is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a feature in a software program that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to mark geographical boundaries.

Now you might think, what relevance does this have for the businessmen?

Here’s the thing about Geofencing:

Geo-fencing enables an administrator to set up triggers when a device enters or exits the boundaries defined by the administrator; a push notification is received.

Here is how it might look when visualised:

How Does Geofencing Looks Like

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The fence created on this geographical boundary, red dotted lines in the above figure, is called “geofence”. This alert feature is used to send relevant offers to the customers that are passing by your defined area in the geofence.

Saying that, I might have got you all eager beaver to know about its working and the technologies behind it.

So here you go:

How Does Geofencing in Mobile App Works?

Let’s go through step by step functioning of a geofence to give you a clearer picture of its underlying operational principle:

A geofencing environment will have the following three intermediaries:

  • An Admin – the business owner
  • A geofence programmed app
  • User with a device – the customer

An admin must first get a virtual boundary established around a specified location in GPS- or RFID-enabled software. This virtual geofence will trigger a response when an authorised device enters or exits that area, as defined by the administrator.

A geofence is generally defined within the code of a mobile application, particularly as users require opt-in to location services for the geofence to work. 

Let’s take, for example, a retail business. We recently saw how retailers can upturn their sales in holidays with an app, and there is another innovative way to do that. Now consider this:

A retailer draws a geofence around its outlets to trigger mobile alerts for customers who have downloaded the retailer’s mobile app. In these cases, a geofence that the retailer manages is integrated with the app, and users also have an option to decline location access for the app.

How Apps Send Location Based Consent

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Once the users accept to share their location, retailers can directly send them their favourite offers and have them visit right at that moment! Isn’t that wonderful?

Here’s how things happen:

Locations services: To determine a user’s device within a geofence, geofencing in mobile app employs cellular triangulation, wi-fi tower triangulation or GPS. Cellular and wi-fi are recommended for their reliability as GPS-based solutions and are deemed the “battery-drainers”.

Hardware requirements: Geofencing doesn’t need hardware, and it is just a software form that can be incorporated into a mobile app and handled through an online dashboard or API.

Target range: Geofencing in mobile apps is much advantageous for large-range outdoor marketing. This usually covers an area of about 50 and 50,000 m radii, for instance, a shopping mall or a neighbourhood.

Entrepreneurs who want to use geofencing in the mobile app as a marketing medium through their app needs to confirm that:

1. Their app has proper permissions

Each app that uses geofencing technology needs to have location permission. Most developers choose to get users’ locations outside the app’s UI thread, and this starts a permission request prompt while the user launches the app initially. Developers get a notification about each permission update, which enables them to follow their audience closely.

2. They define each geofence they implement

Each geofence has a specific set of parameters that include:

  • Latitude, longitude and radius of the geofence boundary (only for circular shapes)
  • The ID of the Geofence
  • Kinds of events that the admin wants to be notified about. For example, the admin can be notified when a new user enters the geofence region, or when the user is looking for a particular service, or when the app is removed from the user’s smartphone etc.
  • Time value defines how much time app users have to stay in the geofence area before getting a push notification
  • Start Time, which shows when geofence monitoring should start
    Length of time, which indicates for how long geofence monitoring should last

3. Manage geofence notifications

There are two ways how an app on a user’s phone can get notifications from a predefined geofence:

  • Users may see notifications only when the app is operating in the foreground
  • Or notifications can be transferred when an event happens by scheduling a background task

This is where your developer’s role becomes inevitable:
Background notifications are of much more utility as your app isn’t a Pokemon go game that users would be hooked to all the time, but the background notifications will need users to take some prompt step, say, turning on permissions to show notifications.

Geofencing In Mobile Apps
Geofencing In Mobile Apps

This, in turn, will also require developers to put background tasks to their app’s manifest, define background task types, set each task type to one location source and specify the entry point inside the app that will be initiated when specific events are triggered.

Developers will also write additional code snippets that will define all other essential criterion that are inevitable for running background tasks.

Why Geofencing?

Confused about why you should be doing Geofencing right now? I’ll give you 4 good reasons:

Baits Customers To Walk-in

Geofencing in mobile app sends out ads, sales, and promotions directly to the customers’ smartphones in the proximity of the area of your business. According to statistics from Plotprojects, geofencing enhances app usage by over 200%, driving high customer engagement and a probability of lead conversion.

Besides, the geofencing click-through rate is higher than that of everyday push notifications. This implicates that geofencing push notifications are proven to increase the number of people who click on the promotional notification your business sends them. Because big companies benefit from being well-known to consumers, geofencing can be a huge advantage to small businesses wishing to improve consumer awareness of their brand.

It’s a Cost Efficient Way to Market

Geofencing in mobile app offers businesses an accurate marketing timing, it saves you tons of money that you would have otherwise spent on paid advertising. If you don’t have a lot of money for advertising, geofencing is a great way to grow your business with less money.

Only 22% of businesses say they’re using hyperlocal targeting to its full potential. Yet the global geofencing market is valued at US$ 2 billion for the year 2017-2022:

Global Geofencing Market from 2017-2022

Imagine the power of geofencing mobile app in business if the rest of the 78% started using location-based targeting too.

Using geofencing in your small app lets you directly compete with big businesses for a fraction of the price. Whatever the budget is, any small business can do a gamut of things with geofencing.

Gets Your Marketing Strategically Smarter

Geofencing in mobile apps can be much more clever and shrewd than sending out plain notifications to consumers in the area of your business. The hack is that companies are not limited to using their locations when purchasing and setting a geofencing area.

You, as an entrepreneur, can target consumers in creative locations that relate to their business.

For example, as a restaurant business, you can notify your consumer when he enters a food eatery. Or, as a law firm, you send out a notification to your clients when they enter a bail or bonds office.

If your business feels particularly strategic, you could even set up your geofencing area around your competitor’s business.

Setting Up Geofencing Around Your Business

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When customers move near your competitor, they’ll receive a discount, special sale, or general information notification for your business instead; which could drive traffic away from your competitor and directly toward your own business. Because mobile app geofencing possibilities are endless, small businesses can get creative to open up new opportunities. Agree? You must!

An Incredibly Useful Marketing Channel

There are tons of reasons why people in business are going bonkers over the geofencing phenomenon. It is terrific marketing and advertising tool. This technique helps enterprises individually target consumers in strategic geographical areas of their concern with attractive offers such as sales, promotions, and data about their business. Understand how much your app will cost you, and you can directly ask your developers to incorporate geofencing in your app, which will be minimally charged.

Many geofencing applications incorporate Google Earth, letting administrators define boundaries on top of a satellite view of a specific geographical area. Other applications define boundaries by longitude and latitude or through user-created and Web-based maps.

Things To Remember While Implementing Geofencing

  1. It mustn’t be reliant on GPS – GPS will drain your app users’ battery quickly.
  2. Must be optimised for accuracy and battery usage – a system with a well-optimised balance between the both is advisable. Because generally, the ones that claim to be super-duper accurate; will be battery draining on the flip side.
  3. Data collection– When it comes to processing data, you can’t neglect offline behaviour. Use these insights to target users more personally and go beyond the average push notification.
  4. Manage your geofencing efforts – An excellent geofencing solution should be integrated with a control dashboard and API, allowing easy creation and optimisation of geofences.
  5. Don’t spam your users – Dense urban areas have a lot of geofences. To avoid giving too many notifications, you can research and employ anti-spam tools.

Getting Started With Geofencing in Your Business

If you’re curious to employ geofencing technology and want to hit the ground running; here are the practical steps to help you begin:

  1. Gather all the discussed requirements and ensure geofencing meets the requirements of your existing app strategy
  2. Choose an appropriate geofencing software to achieve the targets
  3. Test the software
  4. Implement it into the app
  5. Get creative with your geofencing push notification campaigns

Conclusion

Isn’t it amazing how we can pack the whole geofencing system into a few code snippets that use smartphones’ pre-installed location hardware?

But then everything relies on how you implement and execute the learnt strategies. The most important for you right now will be making your apps more intelligent and contextual with geofencing; leading to wider acceptance among users.

So get in touch with your developers and kickstart your marketing with geofencing right now!