Build Buzz Around Your Association with Geofencing

Thanks to GPS and RFID technologies, association marketers can advertise to individuals within a specific geographical boundary, like a competing event.

By William Henry, content marketing manager at Feathr

With a projected 7.5 billion mobile phone users by 2025, it goes without saying that digital marketers should harness the advantages of mobile technology. One way to do so is through geofencing, a top-of-funnel marketing technique that helps boost awareness and leads for your association and its activities.

With geofencing, marketers use GPS and RFID technologies to ensure ads reach mobile users within virtual geographic boundaries. Geofenced ads are triggered for delivery once a mobile device enters the boundary, allowing marketers to capture the attention of potential members, conference registrants, and sponsors.

Ultimately, the location that association marketers target through geofencing varies based on where target audiences gather. A healthcare-focused association, for instance, may geofence the convention center where a competing association is holding an annual event.

Any location where your target audience aggregate can be geofenced; a little creative thinking can result in significant results. One of the most infamous and clever examples of geofencing is Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” campaign, where the fast-food joint placed geofences within 600 feet of approximately 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S.

Upon entering the boundary of a McDonald’s location, users received the option to purchase a Whopper for just a penny using the Burger King app. The campaign prompted smartphone users to download the Burger King app more than 1 million times and generated quite a buzz across news and social media sites.

Other companies, like Starbucks, have taken a milder approach, advertising exclusive deals to mobile users located close to the coffee shop. Whatever your strategy, getting started with geofencing now will prepare your marketing team for the future: By 2023, the global geofencing market is expected to skyrocket, reaching $2.4 billion as the technology gains prominence in digital marketing playbooks worldwide.

Tips for Success

If you’re ready to generate awareness about your association among prospects in a specific location, consider a few best practices.

For instance, the strategic placement of boundaries matters. Geofence too large an area, like 100 miles around a university, and you may end up allocating precious marketing dollars to irrelevant users. Make your boundaries too tight, and you may miss out on opportunities to reach important prospects. For example, suppose you’re targeting attendees of a competing tradeshow. In that case, you may want to include the event’s convention center and hotels within walking distance of the facility, where attendees are likely to return periodically.

Campaign length is another important consideration. In the convention center example, Feathr recommends marketers run campaigns long enough to capture the targeted event duration plus a small window of extra time. “The extra buffer can make sure impressions go to organizers and exhibitors setting up and breaking down,” Abhay Khurana writes in a June 21, 2022, Feathr blog.

Time is also of the essence. Most associations will want to run ads during daytime hours, when prospects are most active and likely to see an advertisement. Serving up ads in the middle of the night is rarely effective unless you’re targeting night owls, such as emergency dispatchers or hotel receptionists who work overnight shifts.

Making sure your message will resonate with recipients is equally as important. If you’re targeting members of a competing association, highlight member benefits and other characteristics that set your group ahead. Include a call to action, like “register for our annual conference,” or direct users to your website.

Remember that geofencing ads are top-of-funnel campaigns based on creating awareness, so it may take time to see concrete results. For the best results possible, associations should run a retargeting campaign for mobile users that interacted with ads displayed during the geofencing campaign.

Of course, the best digital marketing tools empower associations to continually refine campaigns based on conversion data. Adjust your campaign by experimenting with different parameters, and over time, you’ll zero in on how to achieve the best performance for your ad spend.

Feathr—a marketing platform that helps associations serve up highly-targeted ads based on interests and behaviors. For more information on how Feathr helps more than 1,200 associations increase awareness, grow membership, promote events, and create new revenue, visit

(Handout photo)