Geofencing for Conferences: Why You Should Consider It

By Momentum |

geofencing for conferences

Conferences, tradeshows, and similar events present a great opportunity to connect with potential customers or clients. However, it is often not enough to have a presence at a conference; you also need to attract prospects to your booth or table.

Alternatively, you may not be able to attend every conference due to budget or time constraints. However, you may still recognize the potential value of getting your brand in front of event attendees even if you don’t have a physical presence. Whether you want to bring people to your booth or increase brand recognition, you can accomplish either of these objectives, or both, with geofencing for conferences.

What Is Geofencing?

A geofence uses location-based technology, like Wi-Fi, cellular, and sometimes GPS, to set up a virtual perimeter around a real-world location. When a person with an active smartphone crosses the perimeter, the geofencing technology sends data to it. This may take the form of advertising on mobile apps or in web browsers.

The area enclosed by a geofence can be almost as wide or as narrow as you want it to be. You can set it to target everyone in a five-mile radius, or you can be selective and set it around a particular building or part of a building. In the former case, your geofence is likely to be round, while in the latter case, you may create an irregularly shaped polygon.

What Are the Advantages of Geofencing?

There are several ways that geofencing can help you promote your brand to attendees of a conference in order to gain new clients and re-engage with old ones.

Virtual Presence

Conferences can be extremely valuable tools in reaching new clients. However, there are disadvantages as well:

  • Budget Concerns: Conferences involve spending money on travel expenses, accommodations, food, and entry into the event itself. Therefore, you need to balance the price of attending versus the profit that you stand to make from it and attend only those conferences that are the most cost-effective.
  • Logistical Concerns: Attending a conference often involves hauling merchandise and special equipment from your location to the conference venue. This can be particularly tricky if the event is so far away that you have to fly there.
  • Time Concerns: With 1.8 million trade shows and conferences occurring in the U.S. annually, it is inevitable that there is some scheduling overlap. Even when considering only trade shows related to your industry, it is simply not feasible to attend every one. Furthermore, the time you spend at conferences is time spent away from work. Sometimes running the company requires that you remain on the premises regardless of what a conference potentially has to offer.

However, even though you can’t attend every conference, you may still want to promote your brand there. That’s where geofencing can help. You can set up a geofence around any venue that you wish, regardless of its proximity to your business location. Therefore, attendees at a chosen conference will see your advertising even if you are not able to be there in person. Geofencing allows you to be there without being there.

Focused Targeting

When you do attend conferences, your time is best spent by drawing the most promising prospects to your table. A marketing technique that extends beyond the boundaries of the event venue is not a very efficient strategy. You may reach potential customers, but you are also likely to reach many more people who are not attending the conference and who have no need for your goods and/or services. Because geofencing can target a specific building, or even a specific area within, your advertising is more likely to be seen by the people you most want to target.


Not only can you target the most valuable prospects with geofencing, but you can also formulate the content so that you can demonstrate how relevant your services are to their needs. To accomplish this, you can sometimes program a geofence to target people who are using specific apps or websites related to your business. You can also sometimes target only specific demographics. However, this involves gathering information about cell phone users, who have the ability to opt out whenever they wish.

Efficient Advertising

Because of the ability of geofencing to target a specific location with relevant content, it is a highly efficient use of your advertising dollars compared with other marketing techniques. Not only that, but the cost is usually lower compared to other techniques as well.

Follow-up Contact

When you use geofencing for conferences, your contact with potential clients doesn’t have to end immediately after the event is over. Once a smartphone has interacted with the geofence, you have the ability to continue to contact it for days, or sometimes weeks, after the event is over. People don’t even need to be within the virtual perimeter for this contact to take place. You can use this capability to remind customers of conference-related offers or just send a simple message, such as “see you next year!”

What Other Considerations Should You Keep in Mind?

Almost any business in the industry can benefit in some way from geofencing. However, before you adopt geofencing for events as a marketing strategy, there are some additional aspects about it you should think about first.

Assess the Relevance of Your Advertising

Part of the goal of geofencing is increasing awareness of your brand, particularly with new customers. However, this will not be effective if you do not show them how your business is of benefit to their situation. A geofencing ad should seek to attract prospects by answering the question “what’s in it for me?” for them.

Be Mindful of Overlapping Capabilities

In addition to the ability to set up geofences far from your business location, there are no rules, regulations, or technical limitations preventing geofences from overlapping the same area. This is likely to happen at a trade show, where multiple exhibitors are likely to be present, all attempting to attract prospects to their individual booths.

This ability of multiple geofences to exist in the same area and overlap can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is nothing to prevent you from placing a geofence around a competitor’s location in an attempt to draw their customers away, which may be to your benefit. On the other hand, there is also nothing to prevent your competitor from placing a geofence around your location to attempt the same thing, which may be to your detriment.

Consider Multiple Geofences

In addition to the conference venue itself, there are almost certainly hotels in the vicinity where attendees are the most likely to be staying. Instead of setting up a wide geofence that encompasses the venue, the hotels, and all the space in between, think about setting up multiple geofences around the venue and at least some of the nearby accommodations.

Remember the Importance of Timing

Part of producing ads that are relevant to your targeted audience is by considering their timing and timeliness. At the beginning of the event, you may send out ads welcoming attendees to the conference. At the end of the first day, or the morning of the next, you can give prospects a preview of what you have to offer as part of that day’s conference. At the end of the conference, you can encourage potential clients to keep in touch.

Choose an Efficient Location Service

Geofencing can use three different types of location services:

  • GPS
  • Cellular
  • Wi-Fi

Despite its accuracy, GPS is usually not recommended. The reason is that a GPS-based geofencing app consumes a lot of energy, which results in a drain on your prospects’ battery life. Crafting targeted, relevant ads won’t do you much good if your potential clients can’t see them due to an inability to turn on their phones. Wi-Fi and cellular services are praised for their reliability and do not put such a drain on battery life.

Avoid Repetition

Over the course of a conference that spans several days, your prospects may cross into and out of your geofence perimeter multiple times. When this happens, you need to ensure that they do not see the same messaging every time. Otherwise, they’re likely to get annoyed and start tuning it out.

Safeguard Consumer Data

If you collect data on your prospects, you have a responsibility to keep it secure. Failure to do so represents a breach of trust, and you could lose clients as a result.

Why Is Geofencing Effective?

Geofencing is a strategy for mobile marketing optimization. When people use the internet “on the go,” 58% of them prefer to use mobile phones, including smartphones, according to the Office for National Statistics. In other words, even when your potential clients travel across the country for a trade show or conference, they are almost certain to bring their cell phones with them.

Momentum has over 10 years’ experience of helping manufacturers to thrive in today’s digital world by changing the way they connect with buyers. Let us help you and your organization build a sustainable solution based on a strategic outlook. To start a new collaboration, contact us today.

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