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Be Where Your Customers Are With Geofencing and Beacons

With 95% of Americans owning a mobile phone of some sort, and nearly 80% owning smartphones, businesses are more poised than ever to capture their attention when they’re on the move. This is especially good for retail businesses. It gives them the ability to give consumers promotions, incentives or more information on their products or services when the person is near or in their store.

Two types of proximity marketing have emerged as good tools to connect with consumers through their mobile phones. The first is geofencing, which uses GPS tracking to serve up marketing messages to consumers within a specific geographical area. The second is beacons, which use Wifi or BlueTooth technology to connect when a person is near the beacon. In both cases, the customer must have opted-in for you to connect with them.

Reel Them in With Geofencing

The most common use for geofencing is to set up a perimeter radius around each of your locations. If a customer enters the area around the store, you can ping them with a message, offer or promotion designed to get them to come in and buy. A variation on this strategy is to set up a geofence around your competition. Then, when you see a customer in the vicinity of their store, you can send them an incentive to shop your store instead. 

Another good use of geofencing is to set up a radius around an event you know a lot of your customers will be attending. For instance, if a key target for your product or service was automotive engineers, you could set up a radius around the convention center when they’re all attending an SAE conference or exhibit. If you’re a restaurant or bar near a large location for theater or concerts, you could geofence the area during an event, offering specials to attendees to stop in after the show.

The Beacons are Beckoning

Like geofencing, beacons allow you to market based on proximity. The difference is that beacons work in a much more specific area. You put a beacon device in a location and when a person’s smartphone comes within range of the beacon, it triggers the messaging you have set up. It’ll be able to tell when the person is shopping for a specific product. Then, the brand can send the user a promotion via a push notification that’s related to what they’re looking at. Or, it can give the shopper more information on the product – so if they have questions, they can get answers about the product in front of them on their phone without looking for someone to help them.


Beacons can also help a customer find something in your store. Walmart has set up beacons in some stores that allow customers to ask where something is and will then direct them to that item. Retailers can also track their customers through the store – which allows them to know what paths are most taken, the most common areas visited and how long they were visited. This can be valuable information for reconfiguring your store or knowing where to set up demonstrations or in-store promotional pieces.

Beacons don’t have to be set up in a store. Ecommerce businesses can use this technology too. If you have an eCommerce platform, you can place beacons in public areas relevant to what your company offers. Then you can send targeted push notifications when app users are in the vicinity of those beacons.

Why You Need a Mobile App Now

Beacons are a great way to improve the profitability of your small business mobile app. Because, in order for beacons to work, your customers need to download your app and opt-in for push notifications. Once the app is installed on a user’s device, it will activate when the app user walks by a beacon in a store. Then the company knows exactly where the customer is within that store and can send them information, incentives, and promotions

The use of beacons is only going to increase in popularity in 2019 because mobile app popularity is growing as well. And 42% of small businesses already have mobile apps. An additional 30% of companies plan to build an app in the future. Further, 55% of businesses owned by Millennials have mobile apps.

Younger generations have recognized the importance of this technology. That’s why they are adapting sooner. But the rest of the population is sure to follow, as it becomes more common and they see the benefits of it. Your company needs to jump on board now to stay ahead of the curve. You won’t be able to leverage beacon technology without a mobile app. 

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