Small businesses often ask whether it’s worth it for them to have an app. A lot of apps, especially those for small businesses, are basically just mini versions of a business’s website. If an app is just a mini-website, it may not be worth it to spend money creating an app and trying to get people to download it when it doesn’t offer anything more than what they can find on the mobile optimized version of the website.
The trick is to create an app that will give customers something different than what they could get from your business website. And that’s where geofencing comes in.
Geofencing around your business
Geofencing is when you use either a global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (FRID) to define a virtual geographic boundary (or fence) around a given physical point, like your small business, for example. Once you have this virtual boundary established, you can then set up your app to send customers notifications via text, email or push notifications through the app when they enter (or exit) the area you’ve designated.
Of course, a few things have to happen first before you can use geofencing:
- You need to have an app for your business
- You need to have a geofence set up around your business
- People need to download your business app and have their phone’s GPS turned on
- People need to opt in to receive the texts/emails/push notifications from your business app
Providing all of these criteria are met, let’s take a look at a simple example to fully illustrate what happens:
- You have your small business that does whatever it does.
- You have an app developed for your business.
- You set up a geofence for a half-mile radius around your establishment.
- Someone who has downloaded your app and opted in to receive notifications and has their phone’s GPS turned on enters the designated area around your business.
- Your app picks up the potential customer’s mobile device and sends a message to it saying something along the lines of: “We noticed you were in our neighborhood. Why not stop in and say hi? We’ll give you a 15% discount on anything in the store if you come in now and show this message.”
- The potential customer sees the message, sees they’re near your establishment at the moment and decides to come in and save 15%, turning them from potential customer to actual customer.
Geofencing around other areas
Here is where geofencing gets even better. Not only can you set up a geofence around your own location, you can set it up around other locations. So, let’s say in addition to your restaurant, you also have a food truck that goes to events, etc. You can set up a geofence around the spot where you are going to be parked on a given day. Or, maybe your business is going to have a booth at a trade show. Set up a geofence and let any customers with your app know you’re there and give them a reason to stop by your booth.
Another way you can use geofencing is slightly more devious. You can set up a geofence around your competitor’s location and when someone enters that area, you can send them a message trying to entice them to come to your business instead, perhaps by saying you’ll match your competitor’s price and give them an additional 5% off or something.
By giving your business app this additional capability and making sure people are aware of it, you give them extra incentive to download it. In turn, the messages they receive from the geofencing can give them extra incentive to come into your location when they’re in your area or potentially convince them to choose your establishment over a competitor’s establishment.
[Photo courtesy of Takeshi Kawai on Flickr]