The More You Know: Geofencing Edition

Geofencing. Everyone’s talking about it. It’s one of the shiny new toys for digital enrollment marketers. But why? Does it really work? Where and how is it best used for higher education?

Let’s start with a simple clarification. What is geofencing? Many think geofencing is just the delivery of ads to audiences while they’re in a specific location during a specific time. But that’s only part of it. Geofencing is the act of drawing a fence around a particular location, which allows you to construct mobile audiences and not only serve ads to devices within the geofence while they’re there but also after they’ve left.

Geofencing is also often confused with the standard digital marketing approach of geotargeting. What’s the difference? Geotargeting is mapping out a location, which could be as finite as a small radius around latitude and longitude coordinates or as broad as the entire United States, and delivering ads to audiences while they’re there and across all devices. This makes geotargeting generally more effective and more affordable when using larger regions.

This is still kind of confusing, right? That’s kind of the point. It’s important to start with what you’re trying to accomplish first. Not with jumping on board with a new technology that sounds cool. In full disclosure, here at Carnegie, we do all of this. And we also put a lot of work into vetting all of these to find and perfect the strategies that will work best for the higher education space. Recently, geofencing has been touted as a great option to reach audiences while they’re at a fair, in church, or even the questionable practice of at the open house of a competitor institution. No! Remember, it’s about drawing a fence and capturing the mobile devices while they’re there. And the stars that need to align to capture a significant portion of that audience mean that doing this in a short amount of time is ineffective. 

With all this in mind, here are some of the strategies we’ve seen work well for location-based efforts:

  • Feeder high schools. At Carnegie, we went ahead and “drew fences” around every high school in the country as of last fall. The result? We’ve constructed robust mobile audiences for every one of your feeder high schools and can initiate a mobile campaign to them at the flip of a switch.
  • Community colleges. We’ve seen a blend of geofencing/mobile and rooftop IP Targeting work well for accomplishing some digital marketing to help with transfer goals.
  • Businesses, hospitals, etc. For graduate efforts when there are some known locations like these that you draw from, location-based digital strategies can be a good option.
  • Developing look-alike audiences. The mobile audiences constructed via geofencing technologies can be modeled and profiled so additional new audiences can be developed that “look like” those you’ve geofenced.

So the next time the phone rings with a company touting geofencing as the next big thing, or you’re having conversations around the conference room table about this new technology everyone’s talking about, take a step back and reconsider what it is you want to accomplish. Maybe geofencing is the answer. Maybe it’s rooftop IP Targeting, or geotargeting via custom outreach. Or maybe, it’s simply sending a recruiter to that location during that specific event. 

Follow Mark on Twitter @Cunningham527

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