What is GeoMarketing?

Geomarketing, geofencing, and geotargeting oh, my!  If you’ve heard of one of these GEOs, you may be thinking, “If I heard one, I’ve heard them all. Aren’t they all the same?”.  And the answer is, no.  Although they’re similar in ways where each “geo” leverages customer location data to reach a hyper-targeted audience, geomarketing has different targeting goals, methods, and strategies.  This post will only scratch the surface of geomarketing, but don’t worry, this topic is near and dear to our hearts so we won’t leave you hanging on some additional geomarketing content.

And now to the good stuff….

The What

First, let’s set up clear definitions and an overview of the GEOs:


Geomarketing is a broad and general term that encompasses any marketing tactic that leverages user location data for building and serving custom, segmented messaging to particular audiences on a digital platform.  Geomarketing has been around for quite some time, and with the rise of mobile devices and smartphones over the years, its growing popularity is getting noticed as a strong tactic for hyper-targeted messaging.


Geofencing works as the name suggests — it’s a fence, but virtual.  The virtual fence or barrier can be placed around a location using specific GPS coordinates, and the size of the fence can range from a city block to state-wide.  The prospect or customer movements can be “seen” using their GPS (if the device’s location services are turned on) or mobile IP address. So, you’d be able to serve ads to any person that enters your geofence.  Your ads will show only if the person is browsing the web, and that person can be retargeted even after they leave your geofence.  Both real-time and past location data can give insight into user intent, allowing your company to make more strategic decisions in targeting the right audience at the right place and right time.


Geotargeting can be thought of as local pay-per-click ads.  Ads are served if an audience matches set criteria: A person’s geographic location plus demographics, behaviors, and/or interests.  Similar to geofencing, both real-time and past location data can also give insight into user intent.

Geomarketing strategies and campaigns can be set up as app-based, network-based, or by using beacon technology to get a message in front of a target audience based on their specific location.  Let’s explore the general rundown of each one, and to keep things simple for the remainder of this post, we’ll introduce examples for geofencing campaigns only.


In a nutshell, app-based geomarketing campaigns use smartphone GPS tracking/services to serve audiences’ mobile-app ads.  For example, if a potential customer enters a geofenced area while their mobile device’s location services are activated, specific ads will be shown through advertising space on various mobile apps (brand-specific or third party), social media, and mobile web browsers.  Ads can be served while your audience is at the location even if a mobile app is open or not and for up to 30 days after they leave the virtual fence.

App-based geofencing campaigns can open opportunities to capture your audience’s mobile device IDs once they enter and leave your geofence which can make a huge difference in getting your campaigns in front of micro-targeted audiences through accurate locations.  But, this can get expensive–ranging from a few to many thousands of dollars per month.


Unlike app-based geomarketing campaigns that use GPS locations to target an audience, network-based geomarketing can target anyone with a mobile device connected to a cellular network and are opted in as a subscriber for SMS alerts.  So, how does that work? A company must manually pull or look up the locations of their target audiences. For example, if an individual enters a geofenced area, they will receive a text message whether they have your specific app or not.  And as always with SMS alerts, your audience will have the ability to opt-out or stop the alerts at any time. Network-based geomarketing isn’t quite as accurate with customer locations as app-based geomarketing campaigns, but the cost is significantly less since its fee structure is based on location lookups.


A lot less accurate than its counterparts and with the added requirement of setting up physical mobile devices, beacons use Bluetooth technology to send audiences push notifications when they enter the vicinity of a beacon’s signal.  A beacon device runs between $10 – $30 each and the platforms that enable you to run the device runs anywhere from $50 – $300 per month. There isn’t any data that’s sent back to the beacon, so you won’t be able to retarget these audiences in any future campaigns.

How can I apply this to my B2B marketing strategy?

One easy use-case: A B2B company can improve its event marketing strategy by using geofencing campaigns to help capture a hyper-targeted audience.

Picture this: your company’s booth is getting ready for a big industry trade show. Social channel posts are outlined, sponsor lists confirmed, print marketing materials queued, and pre- and post- kits and nurture strategies are laid out.

You’re ready to capture leads with anyone interacting with your company booth.  But, it’s time to start thinking bigger. Adding a geofencing campaign will help capture a bigger audience than just those event-goers engaging with your company.  Thinking outside the booth, let’s catch your audience at the airport(s), entering the conference venue(s), and even at the neighboring hotel(s). By creating a virtual fence around specific GPS coordinates of brick-and-mortar locations, city blocks, or even partnering events, geofencing can help capture audiences with high-quality user-intent behaviors.

Keep in mind, this is only one of many B2B use cases for adding geomarketing tactics to your marketing strategy.  In this digital age, the possibilities and creative campaigns are endless for any company or industry.

The Why

Geomarketing is continuing to grow and it’s time to get to know the hype:

  • Enhance engagement and personalization
  • Improve reach and spend

Such accurate location targeting enables companies to pinpoint the actions and movement habits of their audiences.  If a customer or prospect has the ability to be at a physical location and we can infer what types of actions may follow from research and observation of past geomarketing data.  Sending a compelling and personalized message that’s relevant and timely may influence them to take action. The more relevant and timely the message, the higher chance of getting the right information to the right targeted audience.  These messages can be adapted to match the interests of your audience against current promotions and to develop strategies based on users’ location data. And every campaign can be adapted and improved leaving more room in the budget to spend on relevant customers.

The How

Use data and innovative tech to your advantage:

  • Real-time analytics
  • Real-time foot traffic

Whatever promotion you’re advertising, make the CTA clear and powerful enough to prompt immediate action.  Geomarketing can allow you to see what actions were taken after an audience saw the ad. If that customer is reacting to a promotion from a type of geomarketing campaign, you’ll be able to take a deeper look at what sales were made, the time spent inside the location (if applicable), and how often the customer returned.  You’re getting real-time data and visitors.

Key Takeaways

Now, we understand that geofencing or geotargeting isn’t always for everyone and everything but if they seem like tactics that your company can build and deploy, we strongly believe that geomarketing can be adapted for endless applications.

Let’s do a quick recap: Geomarketing is a broad term for all location-based marketing.  Geofencing and geotargeting are two different tactics in geomarketing but both can capture an audience’s real-time and past location data to serve ads to those audiences based on their location data.  Geofencing uses a virtual fence or barrier around a specific location to capture whoever enters and leaves the fenced location. Geotargeting focuses on set criteria of an audience depending on a person’s geographic location along with demographics, behaviors, and interests.

Geofencing = capturing a broad audience but can give quality insight to user intent.

Geotargeting = capturing a niche audience set by specific persona criteria.

Whether you’re new to geomarketing or a seasoned pro, we’d love to hear your experience with geomarketing campaigns or lack thereof. Want to learn more?  We’ll be publishing more geomarketing resources so stay connected and get the latest blogs, blurbs, and more. Interested in learning about how geomarketing might apply to your industry? Stay in touch with us and follow Unreal Digital Group on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.