Why Mobile Marketers Should Pay Attention to Geo Fencing
What is geo-fencing? And why should mobile marketers be following the progress of this exciting new technology? To find answers, we must go back a little...
During the first decade of this century, online marketing went from zero to hero. In 2000, the internet was still firmly 1.0. Google was in its infancy, neither YouTube or Facebook existed, and there were only 361 million internet users in the entire world. By the close of the noughties, that number had swelled to 2 billion; it’s now approaching three.
Back then, most people saw the marketing potential of the web, even if they couldn’t predict just how pervasive it would become. But few people would have predicted the inexorable rise of mobile marketing. After all, cell phones were already old news by the turn of the century, weren’t they? There was no way they could compete with the bells and whistles of the dotcom boom, was there?
In 2000, those questions were as rhetorical as they sound. It took the emergence of smartphones to change the way people thought about mobile advertising. By the time the first iPhone was launched in 2007, the stage was set for a full-blown mobile marketing revolution. PDA, GPS, Wi-Fi, multi-touch interface, mobile apps - the confluence of all these technologies enabled consumers and businesses to develop a highly sophisticated relationship. It might have been long distance, but it was far from casual. Fast forward to 2013, and we’re at the stage where instant access to customers is possible at any moment. And with mobile marketing statistics indicating a 95% open-and-read-rate for texts, it’s little wonder that mobile text marketing is the key channel for any plugged-in campaign strategy.
Against that backdrop, mobile marketing software is being developed at a thrilling rate, with tech firms constantly looking for ways to refine the reach of mobile communications. The newest kid on the block is geo-fencing, which uses GPS to define the geographical boundaries of a specific device. Some geo-fencing apps superimpose their boundaries on Google Earth, while others use map co-ordinations. Either way, the technology allows administrators to set up triggers that will send a text message or email to the device when it crosses the boundaries.
Clearly, geo-fencing has a wealth of practical applications, not least for mobile marketers. A retailer can geo-fence their store and send a special offer coupon to customers who have just crossed the boundary. Restaurants can send daily specials to regular diners who are in the vicinity. Real estate firms and letting agents can inform house-hunters of a new property close to where they are (there’s a great example of this particular application of geo-fencing at Mobile Marketing Magazine).
As one of the more recent mobile marketing trends, the benefits of geo-fencing are still being discovered by businesses. Companies are using it to provide:
- A more personalized communiqué with their clientele
- ‘In the moment’ marketing that targets consumers who are already shopping
- More effective, targeted marketing for tough industries
Geo-fencing begs a few ethical questions. From the consumer’s standpoint, geofencing is valuable and slightly unnerving, depending on whom you ask. Most people want to know about a special offer, but not everyone is comfortable with the idea of a company having access to their location. That’s why developing mutual trust is vital. Businesses should be clear with their customers about what the technology offers, and give them privacy assurances as a priority.
Ultimately, geo-fencing will open doors at both ends of a transaction. Used responsibly, geo-fencing can help mobile marketers become creative and less scattershot – which is what every mobile marketing manager dreams of.