Imagine you have a crystal ball, and inside, you can call up an image of any one of your customers and see where they are. Say you see them near one of your storefronts and, with the snap of your fingers, a coupon appears from thin air, right in front of their nose.
All of a sudden, you see them stop, turn to your storefront, and walk inside, seeking the products and services you just advertised. You’re reaching your customers at the right place and the right time, every time. Creepy? Maybe — we’ll get to that later. But that crystal ball — call it the magical sphere of geofencing — would revolutionize your marketing strategy.
If this kind of technology is exciting to you, we have some good news: Geofencing is already here and it doesn’t take a fortune teller to put it into practice.
An introduction to geofencing
Geofencing is what happens when your phone’s GPS and radio frequency identification (RFID) work together to figure out where you are in the world. It draws a sort of invisible, well … fence around you. And when you cross that fence, a business can send you a location-triggered alert, reminding you it’s a great time to shop!
If you have a business’s app on your phone, with location services enabled, you’re essentially saying to your favorite sandwich shop, “Hey, when I pass by, I’m okay with you letting me know I can get a sweet deal on my favorite tuna melt.” These sweet deals come in the form of push notifications, and they’re the main reason why geofencing is one of the year’s hottest marketing trends.
Why should business owners care about geofencing?
It’s easy to assume customers hate intrusive notifications from smartphone apps, so you’ll be surprised to learn that research published by TSheets in 2017 points firmly in the other direction.
Of the four hundred people surveyed in TSheets’ geofencing study, 60 percent said they’ve received a special offer or a discount from an app based on their proximity to a business. Not only that, but 84 percent of them said they “sometimes” or “always” use these special offers. When was the last time you launched a marketing strategy with conversion odds that good?
Only 16 percent said they always ignore push notifications, and more than 150 of the participants — equivalent to 40 percent of the total sample — said they’ve never received one. If your customers are among that 40 percent, you’re missing out. And arguably, so are they.
Still on the fence about geofencing? According to the survey, 77 percent of us are now happy to let apps track our locations. If we have your app on our phones, we could be receiving location-based notifications about your business as we speak!
But what will my customers think?
If you’re pausing before jumping on the geofencing bandwagon, it’s likely because you’re afraid of being creepy. Will alerting your customers to your nearby presence rub them the wrong way? The good news is, to 78% of the people who took part in the survey, the answer is no.
When asked how they feel about receiving alerts to their phone (like reminders or special offers), these folks said they liked receiving them. Just under a third (30 percent) indicated they are always happy to receive these notifications and the remaining 48 percent said they don’t mind them as long as they are useful.
And that, right there, is the key.
Your customers want to know when you’ve got a great deal going on. They signed up to receive your text alerts and mobile coupons for a reason. Receiving word of a great sale or discount going on conveniently in their neighborhood not only reminds them you exist, but it lets them know you care.
But be warned: Should you alert them too frequently with messages that don’t actually benefit them, you’ll start sounding like an attention-seeking suitor. And your customer is going to cut your connection like a bad breakup.
Make Your Geofencing Count
Like any good relationship, the one you have with your customer needs boundaries, particularly when it comes to personal information. Here are our top three tips for making your geofencing a success:
Be discreet. Whether you’re using a geofencing app or just asking your customers to opt-in via text or email, it’s important that you inspire trust by keeping your customers’ information safe. Security is a big concern these days, and your customers are taking a risk, letting you in on their contact information, location, and more. Guard these secrets with your life, and your customers are sure to spread the word.
Don’t be annoying. When asked why they disabled push notifications on a mobile app, over a fifth of the people surveyed said it was because they were too annoying. How can you be less obnoxious? Don’t send alerts too frequently. Keep the message short. Only send a notification for an event your customer will actually care about (like a sale). And give them something they can use, such as a coupon.
Be optimistic. It’s no secret that confidence is sexy, so don’t be shy about reaching out. As it happens, 15 percent of people don’t disable their push notifications for any type of app. And of those who do disable some of their push notifications, only 7 percent disable them for shopping apps. Consider the fact that if all your customers knew about push notifications, 93 percent of them would likely still be open to receiving them from you. In the dating world, that’s 93 people out of 100 who’d give you their number. Score!
Geofencing sounds like a tool from the future, but it’s ready to use in the here and now. Give your customers what they want — even when they don’t know they want it — and you’ll find everyone wins.
About the Author: Danielle Higley is a copywriter for TSheets time tracking and scheduling. She has a BA in English Literature and has spent her career writing and editing marketing materials for small businesses. This year, she started an editorial consulting company.