Often some of the hardest businesses to make great digital marketing process work for are the ones that have geographical audience limitations. How can we effectively advertise for a hyperlocal business who only want their effective marketing reach to extend to the edge of their village? The usually accepted answer to this is persistent but subtle strategy to as much of the populous as possible, creating as many touch-points as possible with everyone. All well and good, but in reality, the efficacy of typical ad campaign likely won’t achieve desired results, that’s where geofencing comes into its own.
Geofencing as a concept is not necessarily a new concept. If you’ve ever been to a supermarket and noticed the trolley has magnetic wheels you’ve definitely been through a type of geofence. They can be best compared to – a virtual ‘movie laser grid’. In more detail geofencing is service by where an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or mobile data to activate an action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual location boundary.
While the majority of this blog will concern itself with geofencing’s application in the marketing industry it does have a lot of other uses within a vast range of businesses. They can be used to both interact with digital devices and monitor movement inside or between different fences. Some push messages and notifications to phones; others allow for the automation of business timekeeping; the checking in and out of company property; and some of the most common are used at logistics handling companies to track packages and provide real time data to their customers.
So, how does it work and what can it do for your hyperlocal marketing strategies. Well in simple terms making use of a geofence requires a software/app developer to create a virtual boundary around a location in a GPS or RFID-enabled application. This may just be a ring pulled out around a location on Google Maps, integrated with APIs, when developing their app. This digital fence will then trigger the programmed response when a location-service enabled device enters, exits or stays in that area.
The marketing application of all this is the last piece of the puzzle. The programs that run this sort of software can enhance visibility to the audience in the targeted area exponentially. Social media has become a much bigger player in the marketing ecosystem and takes full advantage of geofences with its advertising arrangements: Snapchat has its geofilters, that can add visible branding to consumers images when they are near certain participating locations; Facebook and Instagram use geofences to allow their stories and posts to be location tagged, visible to billions; and most social media with the capability to display advertising use geofences to allow better targeting of its platform users content. Push notifications are a fairly consistent part of the current mobile application infrastructure. The worst thing to be in marketing is forgotten, even if your marketing message isn’t visible it’s better to be in the consciousness of those you want to appeal to; so some applications use push notifications when people travel near points of interest to re-engage them. The fences can be used to engage with audiences or crowds at events allowing messages to be distributed or coordinated mass social media interaction, a very cost-effective way of reaching those already in the vicinity of the business.
The key things to consider before undertaking a geofencing project are:
- Know your audience, it’s all well and good to put up a fence around your business to retarget the customers and sales you’re missing out on, but if your goal is improved foot-fall the likelihood is the customers are not passing your location in the first place. Geofences can be set up anywhere, learn your target market and their habits, those places are the key locations for you, not necessarily your front door.
- Test different things, if your geofences don’t seem to be having the desired effect the ability to move them does exist! Starting out small is always the best way, maybe just a medium sized ring around the location you selected in from above. But things change, audience habits can shift due to the smallest of factors, and it is very unlikely to find your ideal location first time so starting small, A/B testing and progressive upscaling are key to a successful strategy.
- Stick to the point, one of the key limitations of geofencing and push notifications is their impact. Notifications are often limited to around 100-150 characters so making an impact in each and every message, as well as using great marketing first principals regarding calls to actions etc, are absolutely essential. Be direct, but interesting and incite engagement before a confirmatory ending that draws the recipient further into your process.
Geofencing is a great, and currently under-utilised, tool for the marketing community, but its popularity is growing at a great rate, now is the time to consider how it could help you.
Now, you may think we’ve gone crazy, ‘a digital marketing company giving us free advertising ideas??’ but hear us out.
Below are ten very powerful concepts in the marketing world that may help BEGIN the process of getting your company some marketing traction. Nothing feature complete comes for free these days but if you know where to look you can find the beginnings of a strategy, the basics, all around you and completely gratis. So, sit back and absorb our top 10 free advertising ideas.
Long gone are the days of the yellow pages and phone directory, well almost, now we have all our directories on the web, make sure you’re listed everywhere, the more times you’re listed the more you’re going to appear in searches and the more people will find you
MAKE A COMMENT
Look for blogs, articles and forums you can post on that are related to your business and make your presence known. You don’t have to push your agenda either, just be relevant and salient in the conversation, quality is better than quantity, and if what you’re saying is engaging enough people will hunt you out.
While the internet may be the new king of advertising that doesn’t mean all of the classics are locked in the dungeon. Networking is bandied around a lot, because it works! Making #relatable content is just the same as meeting people in person, but online and in-spontaneous. Go to events, talk to your competitors and the customers you’re vying for, actually be a speaker if offered! Getting your voice out amongst people is always a good idea provided you can keep sensible, which brings us to . . .
It’s pretty obvious, but social media is a powerhouse in the modern world of free advertising. Speaking directly to or even indirectly to your audience base is essential and laying out your services, products and ethos on social media is a great way for those connections to start being made.
Fact: a picture is worth 1000 words. So, how much is a picture with words on it worth to your business?! Infographics, blogs and descriptive images are all good ways to publicise yourself in, on and around your existing platforms. Make them bold, beautiful and interesting, and you’ll be enticing people left, right and centre.
HAVE THE BASICS
There are loads of ways to make a website, and for a small functional descriptive one-page the amount of free tools is gargantuan. Make sure you have somewhere, real or virtual, to send people you meet, mail or call that can show them who you are and what you can do for them.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISED
So you have your site but no visitors, time to start changing that. SEO is a huge part of getting natural discovery of your business. It’s free and you can learn a lot from everything written about it in a 2 minute google search. Use a free analytics tool and take what you learn and apply it to almost everything digital you create, get that keyword list under-wraps.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
‘You never know till you ask’ is a great mumsy expression, but it applies as much now you’re in the business world as when you had to get your ball back from the neighbour. If you have done something for a client or customer and they seem genuinely pleased, you should ask for their help to do a little something for you. Having testimonials, external links, likes on Facebook, and referrals at your disposal from a satisfied customer is worth its weight in gold.
THE SIGN OFF
It’s likely with your own company you, and all your employees are sending a good amount of emails to everyone they come into contact with. Make the most of them, use your email signature to send a message and hold links to your website and social media. That way anyone who gets an email you’ve sent, or even a forward, has the prospect of becoming engaged with what you do.
This one is not for the beginner. Business partnerships are something to be entered into very seriously, with the utmost consideration and legal precision. Having said that they are in themselves essentially free. It could be a referral deal, a charitable partnership or a full cross services integration. Whichever form it takes it means extra value for you and the customer often with the only ‘downside’ being the fair sharing of profits or some commission-based scenario but hopefully with some great benefits for both companies.
And there we have it, 10 free advertising ideas to go and try. They probably won’t net you Jeff Bezos’ money or Mark Zuckerberg’s fame, (though it does depend how revolutionary your product is, they all started out this way!) but it’s a good first step on the road to marketing success.