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Geofencing for Mobile Apps: An Introductory Guide

Katie Iannace November 21, 2022

Imagine a time when people had their smartphones in hand and the only way to search for a destination was by typing things like “Restaurants near Jackson Hole, Wyoming” or “Seamstress in Greenville, South Carolina” into their search engine.

That’s right. The year was 2007, and mobile apps were just in their infancy. At the time, search engines had no clue how to find a device’s location, so users had to manually enter their location into a browser in order for search results to populate with nearby answers. 

Eventually, new technologies like Location Tracking and Geofencing made the need to enter location information into search engines and web browsers obsolete and opened the door for businesses to reach new audiences in a way never possible before.

What is geofencing, and how can it help you? Sit back, unwind, and read on as we explain the importance of geofencing and how it can benefit marketers and businesses like never before.

What is Geofencing?

A geofence is a virtual fence created using GPS or RFID that alerts your phone to perform a specific action when it arrives at the geofenced location. So, whenever you walk into a store and receive app notifications, this means the store utilizes mobile app geofencing technology. 

Geofencing is different from geotargeting, which is a location-based specific form of user targeting that could utilize a person’s geofencing—though it doesn’t have to— plus additional known data factors such as gender or past buying history. 

Geofencing and geotargeting are typically used in conjunction with mobile apps, especially for advertising or marketing initiatives. Together, they create a powerful marketing tool that targets the most relevant audiences to a business.

How Does Mobile Geofencing Work?

A developer must first code a geofence into a mobile app for Android or iOS. The developer will determine a geofence’s virtual boundaries using market-based analytics and research to create the optimal shape and size for the geofence.

Most large businesses use hundreds to thousands of different geofences, so having an organized database while creating these boundaries is vitally important. From there, the developer will determine which set of actions a user will trigger when they cross the geofence boundary––this can be anything from mobile alerts to coupon offers and just about anything in between. However, a good developer should always provide an API dashboard for marketers to read their data and analytics, providing valuable insight into refining and optimizing your mobile geofences.

what is geofencing

How Can A Geofencing App Benefit My Business?

Smartphones have become an additional appendage for most of the population. People take their phones everywhere, so understanding how to develop a meaningful point of interaction is a great way to add value to your business.

Businesses and marketers can use geofencing in a variety of ways. A few examples are sending location-relevant or time-sensitive notifications to mobile users within a geofenced area or learning about their offline behavior from location data for retargeting, personalization, and more.

Geofencing apps offer personalization and specialized user interaction that encourages users to continue using your mobile app.

Below are just a few ways geofencing can actively improve your business.

1. Customizable Notifications

Mobile geofences allow notifications such as emails, ads, and alerts to pop up when users enter a specific boundary, all of which can be modified in the app’s settings. Customization options make content more relevant and targeted to the user without appearing pushy or annoying.

2. Accurate, Real-Time Targeting

Touchpoints can trigger notifications within 100 yards of accuracy, which means your ads are guaranteed to be of some relevance or importance to the targeted user. This also helps to avoid wasted ad space and improves traction to the audiences that matter most.

3. Improved Click-Through Rates

Click-through rates refer to the percentage of people who click on the link in an advertisement. It’s been demonstrated that geofences yield a much better click-through rate than non-geographically targeted ads, so the proof of the efficacy of geofencing is in the pudding… Or more literally, it’s in the conversion metrics. 

4. Better Metrics

Geofencing is a great way to provide meaningful data analytics for your business, offering a way to understand how different geographical areas perform compared to others. Geofencing is a great option to measure performance when combined with the bountiful options to integrate these analytics into your everyday marketing analytics platforms. 

5. User Convenience

Geofencing can be used to trigger an action within an app. When a user enters within the fenced area, it could prompt a push notification for the user to do a specific action within a downloaded app, such as “check the latest sale” or “view your profile.” These quick actions can create a positive user experience when it makes it easier for the user to do something they were likely to do anyway.

Learn more: The Most Important Mobile App KPIs to Measure

Common Types of Geofencing Apps

Geofencing isn’t just relegated to e-commerce apps and stores; it’s also used in various mobile applications like the ones listed below.

  • Social Networking – Social network apps like Instagram and Facebook allow location-based tagging and filtering for users, making it even more intuitive for users to post photos or find nearby businesses.
  • Shipping and Transportation – Geofencing is highly beneficial for mapping out delivery zones, trucking routes, and additional working areas. Additionally, it can be used for timecard functions such as clocking in and out.
  • Home Automation – One of the more common and popular forms of geofencing is home automation devices that control your home’s lighting, cleaning, security, and thermostat functions. Geofences enable you to set up boundaries around your devices so that they can alert you when there’s been a security breach, to lower the a/c when you’re on your way back to your home from errands, or a multitude of other things.
  • Travel – Airlines and hotels utilize mobile applications to send relevant alerts like arrival times, baggage check-in, and other messages to travelers when they’re within a certain location, making the travel experience seamless and stress-free. 
  • Venues and Festivals – Geofencing is a popular way to control crowds and help event attendees navigate various locations. It can trigger alerts such as virtual tickets, performances nearby, and feedback requests. 

How to Use Geofencing for Your Mobile App

Geofencing apps can be challenging to build on your own. There’s a large volume of complex data and coding involved, so hiring a company with experience in developing and implementing geofencing technology is vital. 

A lot goes into the design of geofences, including compiling a list of precise coordinates for the radius of the area you intend to track, developing complex algorithms and coding to create the geofence, and updating addresses and data in conjunction with real-time changes. Additionally, it’s essential to employ geofencing technology that won’t drastically reduce the mobile battery life. 

Final Thoughts 

While there are software integrations for geofencing that you can choose to implement without the help of a professional, it can be a complicated process that’s difficult to understand. If you’re interested in developing a mobile geofence for your app, Designli offers mobile app development services designed to optimize your business.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help maximize your business’s metrics through mobile geofencing.

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