What is geo-fencing?

What is geo-fencing?


I have heard the term mobile geo-fencing, what is it? And how can it be integrated into my existing marketing?

Geo-fencing is a virtual perimeter for real-world geographic areas. It can circle anything/any area you like: a retail store, a stadium, a neighbourhood.

Using these zones that trigger an SMS message or other action when a customer enters or leaves your locality makes your company/brand hyper-local, and allows you to send targeted, relevant content to your customers.

So – how to use it.

Build geo-fences where your customers are – not where you want them to be

Your potential customers might not be in your vicinity, but dependent on your product/service, target high footfall locations near to you: airports if you’re targeting tourists, schools for moms on the go.

These are better geo-fences than your location, when you know where your customers are, you can send highly targeted content to engage with your target market.

Big ‘fences’ don’t work

A geo-fence can be any shape or size – but construct areas that are small so your local message isn’t weakened. A good guide is the travelling time from their location to you should be no more than four minutes.

Be specific about your message

You need to drive an action. Be brief, be relevant, be local and encourage a prompt action.  And it doesn’t have to be a discount, it can be an exclusive experience, a sample – don’t cheapen your brand.

Time it perfectly

An important question is this: Do you know what time of day marks the highest tendency for spending among your target market?

Another factor to consider is when you notify a customer to do something when they enter your geo-fence, is it the right time. The time needs to be relevant also – consider the call to action and what you expect.


Even if you are unsure of how various metrics impact your campaign ROI, record them anyway.  You will gain insight from the most unlikely places. You can work out what works, what didn’t work, how you can improve and how to be progressive.

Geo-fencing is a great way to mark your territory, and engage customers, the above five pointers will help you discover what works for you and get the best ROI from the mobile marketing channel.

Charles Stretch
Charles Stretch is the managing director of SMSPortal. Established in 2002, it has grown to be SA’s largest bulk SMS provider sending 100 million SMS a month (the total market is 230 million SMS). Contact charles@smsportal.co.za for more information.