Location-Based Marketing: What’s the Difference Between Geotargeting and Geofencing?

AJ Park Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Marketing terms can get confusing fast – particularly when there are a few dozen terms all under the same umbrella. 

Location-based marketing is one of those umbrellas. Though there are plenty of specific terms, tips, and tricks surrounding location-based marketing (which you can find more on here), but one of the biggest misunderstandings happens between the terms geofencing and geo targeting.

The difference between geotargeting and geofencing is a clear one, and understanding that difference can help you give a facelift to your location-based marketing. 

What Is Geofencing?

Geofencing in location-based marketing is fairly self-explanatory; you’re targeting users based on a specific area. When you are geofencing, you are drawing a virtual ‘fence’ around an area that you want to trigger notifications or messaging for.

For example: GasBuddy uses geofencing in their mobile marketing strategy. Every time a customer enters a geofenced retail location, they receive a limited-time GasBack offer sent to their phone. This helps to boost engagement and sales by targeting customers in locations where they’re likely to make a purchase.

What Is Geotargeting? 

Geotargeting is a more nuanced, specific way to target customers based on location and behavior. When you are geotargeting, you’re doing two things:

  1. Reaching a customer that’s inside a pre-defined geographic location (this is where geofencing can come into play).
  2. Refining the targeting of that customer based on other factors, such as behavior.

For example: The USTA uses geotargeting at the U.S. Open. By using proximity targeting, geofencing, and in-app behaviors in an all-in-one targeting package, the USTA was able to get 32% of recipients to click the ‘Buy Now’ button for tickets in the Message Center.

What’s the Difference Between Geofencing and Geotargeting?

Geofencing and geotargeting are both a part of location-based marketing, but they serve different purposes. While geofencing is simply drawing a virtual fence around a particular geographic location, geotargeting involves using various factors (often including geofencing) to reach specific users!

If you want to learn more about mobile engagement and app strategy, check out the Airship blog here. For more on Airship’s mobile app engagement solutions, head over here.