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What is Geofencing And How To Use it ?

Mar 15, 2017

Event industry has been taking a closer look at the potential for geofencing and proximity marketing for trade shows, events, and festivals. The technology, which allows marketers to send push notifications to mobile users when they are within a designated area, offers some rich opportunities for interactive messages and ensuring that promotions are especially relevant. But marketers are also having to be cautious about how they are using this burgeoning technology, ensuring it pleases customers, and is not seen as a nuisance. Following a few rules of the road, event marketers can ensure they get the most out of this evolving technology.

Being able to send push notifications when users pass a booth or provide indoor navigation by means of sponsored messages at certain times opens up a range of new opportunities for event marketers, but event marketers must keep in mind how this type of promotion is distinct from other digital marketing. Because while email or social media often rely on drip marketing for future sales, beacon technology is very context- or place-based and should be utilized for on-the-spot decision making.

What to focus on?

Proximity notifications must be focused on encouraging a person to take a specific action at that moment and in that location — for example, a spontaneous giveaway at a company booth. But if it starts looking too much like traditional advertising, it's said that "those apps will be discarded in a flash."

Location-based messaging

Geofencing technology has more than one advantage for event marketing. To start with, it adds relevance to the messages sent. Indeed, instead of sending the same message to all potential visitors, geofencing allows to target specific groups of visitors based on their location. The use of your visitors' location can help you to target only the people who physically are at your event, while leaving out all those who didn't show up yet, or are never planning on doing so.

Filtering participants by location

Geofencing can give you the tools to filter people by location inside your event zone and to communicate with people in different locations differently. Because a geofence is a discreet area or barrier between sections of an event, exhibitors or session rooms, defined by GPS coordinates, wi-fi routers or a Bluetooth signal, that is designed to facilitate the collection of consumer data. That data can be as simple as a heat map of a tradeshow floor, or as detailed as demographic and behavioral data on each individual who enters the space. It can also work both ways, collecting and broadcasting information to consumers through mobile devices, social media and email. So you can easily filter people according to their locations and process this data according to your marketing plans.

How to use it?

  • Segmented messaging: By segmenting your user opt-in list to know those who are coming from out of town a communication specialist can welcome those as they arrive to an event and even partner with others to add to an already unique and exciting mobile message. By Geofencing the venue's perimeter a welcome message followed by a real time update of events and any special time and location related functions on going through out.
  • Driving booth foot traffic: By communicating with attendees before the event a company can offer location-relevant alerts to cut through the white noise and ad clutter of others who compete for attendees' time during the event. A booth promoter can inform attendees of special events such as giveaways or product demos during the day and use various links to track and further engage in the future. Imagine getting the jump on booth competition by giving an incentive to stop by your booth first with a message.Surveys: By using the attendee's location you can also see once they have left the area as well as entered. Send an attendee a survey asking about their experience. As the event promoter you can get feed back about the total experience or as a booth you are able to inquire about the booth experience as well as other booths they may have visited that day.
  • Other: Beyond a person's location, effective geofencing will take into account other aspects of their behavior. At a trade show, send a notification about a speaker's autograph signing to those who registered to attend his or her keynote address. If a person has already been alerted about an offer, ensure that the same message doesn't go out just because he or she reentered the area in which the geofencing has been activated.
  • What to avoid: Brands must avoid discarding contextual cues that help them accurately discern an attendee's purchasing preferences and intent. Integrating device analytics on loyalty apps, as a background service will give brands 10 or 20 times more audience coverage and a ton of insights to enhance their mobile strategy. Using GPS and routing algorithms can also allow marketers to help attendees find the fastest path to their destination.

What do you need?

There are hardware and software requirements to deploy this stuff, and it's not always cheap. Hardware-wise, you're looking at putting up a two-prong system. You'll need to put up a robust wi-fi network, since it'll be taking some heavy load, but we'd like to think you'd be doing that anyway. In addition to the wi-fi stuff, you'll need to put in a geo-positioning node about every 50 feet, depending on the layout and walls of the space. Each of those gets plotted with GPS coordinates and the invisible lines between them make up your geofence.

In terms of software, you need to build code into your event app that can read the GPS data in terms of very detailed latitude and longitudinal axes. Now, if consumers don't sign in to the wi-fi you're providing, you'll only get passive activity tracking data, so push for sign-in. That way you'll be able to interact actively with folks as they move around.


About the Author

Erkan OGULGANMIS

Posted by Erkan OGULGANMIS

Erkan OGULGANMIS Graduated from Army War College, completed MA degree in Ankara University on Global & Regional Studies, studies law in Istanbul University. Works in MEETINGHAND Online Solutions Co. as Business Development & Sales Manager.