Geo-fencing. Have you ever heard the term? Take a guess as to what it means. If your answer is along the lines of “a kind of martial sport” or “some new Jio feature launched by Ambani?”, This article is for you. Irrespective of who you are – a college student, or a local businessman, or anyone, Geo-fencing is something that everyone should know. In this age of digital and social media, with e-content driving the performance trends of most industries, no person in the supply chain – be it the marketer or the consumer should be ignorant about the latest advent in a world that thrives on digital manifestation and recognition. Coming back to the big question –
What is Geo-fencing?
Geofencing is the practice of using global positioning (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define a digital geographic boundary which can be used for dissemination of data within that pre-defined territorial demarcation. Excuse us for the chatur-ish answer! Long story short – it means you can define a geographical territory and send a message or any data to people falling only within that area.
“So? How does it matter to me? What do I do with this information?” Have these questions popped up in your mind? Nice, because honestly, we’d be disappointed if you didn’t!
Why does it matter?
Geofencing, by its very elementary structure, opens up the avenue of target creation. As a layman, sample this – suppose you’re in a Whatsapp group, and someone comes up with a statement that you have a nasty comment to make on which you want to share with your best friend, but cannot make so in the group because of the fear of being judged by others. What would you do? Text your best friend on a personal chat, right? This way, data (your comment) reaches your target market (your best friend) without the risk of wastage (judgement by other people). In short, welcome to Geofencing.
By virtue of its ability to reach macro-levels of target penetration, geofencing has provided an exciting new means for marketers to reach out to their desired markets in the most efficient way. Marketers now have the ability to virtually reach out to their market in person, taking advantage of people’s growing digital affiliations by sending them messages using their favourite apps. Also, not just apps, but other methods such as billboards, set up only in particular areas to attract the target market, are also quite popular. Even though the above lines are just an introductory phase to the real world application of geofencing, you would have realized by now why it’s the next big thing in the marketing business. Now for the real thing –
Real-world applicability of geofencing
Imagine this – you enter a mall and are greeted with an SMS by McDonald’s about a new combo offer, or a new burger they might have introduced. You walk in and are immediately greeted with the ever-so-familiar yellow M sign. Your mind is already thinking about that offer listed in the SMS, and behold! Here it is in front you, your chance to try out that offer that McDonald’s has just tempted you for. You think about how hungry you’d get while shopping, and so, you tell yourself – “Ehh what’s the harm? Let’s try it out once”. And then you do.
For McDonald’s, it’s Mission: Accomplished.
Now here’s the part which makes geofencing interesting. Imagine if you were sitting at home, or at work, and had received that SMS. You would have thought to yourself – “Nice, but who will go all the way now? Maybe someday…” and shut goes the phone. The “someday” will almost never come unless someone is an absolute die-hard fan of McDonald’s. So that potential sale for McDonald’s will never realize. In this way, McDonald’s would have texted a thousand people but only got additional sales of say 100. The rest 900 is a wastage of resources for McDonald’s. Compare this with geofencing – where McDonald’s would only have to text the 300 people entering the mall and like you, a hundred, if not more, would be lured into sales. Thus, not only improving the sales but also reducing the wastage of 900 texts.
Once again – Welcome to Geofencing.
So by now, we’re sure you’re thinking – ‘’Ok, this was 1 example. But it can be an aberration How is it a potent weapon otherwise?” For number-sucking geeks like you, we have the data that will prove geofencing is the Batman of the marketing world –
It is clear that mobile data usage is at an all-time high, and that the figures are only burgeoning by the day. What’s more exciting, is that a tool as potent as this is being resorted to by barely 39% of all marketers. This gross under-utilization has thus created a take-as-you-come situation for new marketers. What’s more, is that it does not require much of investment. All you need is data gathering – phone numbers of people/social media preferences, etc as well as the services of a tech-guy who can help you install this geo-circumference.
Now that you’re in a position to say with confidence that you understand geofencing, let’s take this a notch up.
Ways of using Geofencing technology
Conceptually, there is no such thing as “different types” of geofencing. The variety lies in how each marketer perceives and utilizes the concept for his benefit. Which can be in one of the following ways –
This “type” works on the principle of tagging the potential buyer/consumer. It locates the person(s) on a real-time basis and provides them ads about the location they are in currently, depending on weather, local events, specialities of that location, etc. E.g. when you travel to a place where it might be raining, a local beverage store may send you ads and texts convincing you to consume their hot delights.
In this, a marketer tags a fixed, physical location, and all people in the set vicinity of the location will be targeted with the required ad/message. The McDonalds example above is a case of geo-fencing.
This is where it goes all down and dirty! Here, a marketer tags the location of his rival(s), and every person entering the vicinity of the rival is targeted. E.g when you walk into a Maruti showroom, Hyundai may send you a message about cars of Hyundai that may be competing with Maruti, tempting you to compare and decrease the possibility of buying a Maruti product.
So now, you’ve heard all arguments, seem pretty impressed by the idea, but something is still lacking? We know it. You do not want to be the fool who tried something new and failed at it, do you? Fret not, some biggies have already taken the plunge, and are reaping the harvest of lip-smacking profits.
Geofencing – The success story
Following are some of the cases that have driven geofencing to its next-biggie status in the industry:
DD wanted to boost sales of its unit located inside a rural gas station. Adopting geofencing, DD ran mobile display ads between 4 and 5 miles around the location. It also built a custom landing page with a coupon embedded and links for customers to be able to share the coupon with friends via social media. A navigation map was also linked, along with a reminder triggered upon reaching the location. The result? Over a 4 day period, DD registered 164 customers click to get the coupon in the target radius.
Uber uses geofences at Los Angeles International airport so that when users arrive at the airport they are notified about the number of cars available to meet their needs. It proves that thinking about ways to let your customers know you have what they need, as also when they need it most, is a great way to use the geofencing capabilities of your business’ mobile app. You need to stay competitive, and a lesson from Uber’s proactive geofences can certainly put you ahead of your competitors.
3) BMW has also employed geofencing into their mobile business plan—in a rather different manner than the rest. Where most companies are using geofencing as a tool for garnering consumer attention with flashy promotions, BMW’s use is a little more pragmatic. BMW incorporates geofencing in their BMW Trackstar and BMW Trackstar Advance services. After the activation of this service, your car’s position is pinpointed every 20 seconds. If the car is moved without the use of its keys, and the car moves out of a designated geofence, it will notify BMW who will then reach out to the car’s owner. This is a brilliant example of providing value-added services for customers (theft protection), thereby contributing to customer retention and free word-of-mouth publicity by satisfied consumers.
There you go. A wiser man than before, a more-equipped marketer than your counterparts. With geofencing on the rise, the ride is about to get a lot more exciting! As a consumer, get ready to be treated like the King you deserve to be, get pampered like the child inside you has always yearned to be. As a marketer, correction, AWARE marketer, with the weapon of geofencing in your artillery, get ready to have those cash registers ringing and bank accounts swelling!