How Does SMS Geofencing Work?

SMS Geotargeting

Recently we’ve received a ton of questions here at Tatango about SMS geofencing, which is sometimes referred to as SMS geo targeting. While we’ve written about this technology in great detail before on this blog, maybe we need to be more clear as to how exactly a brand would use SMS geofencing in an actual SMS marketing campaign.

Instead of leaving you high and dry, and without answers, we wanted to help set the record straight on how SMS geo fencing works, and how brands are able to use it to not only make their SMS marketing campaigns more interactive, but generate higher conversion rates from their SMS promotions.

It’s extremely important first to realize that SMS Geofencing does not allow a business to send out text messages to mobile phones that are in the area, without that business first receiving permission from those phone numbers to receive text messages. For example, lets say Pizza Hut wants to text message people within a 10 mile radius of their restaurant at 11:30AM to tell them about their awesome lunch special. If those phone numbers have not given Pizza Hut permission to text message them first, Pizza Hut would be unable to text message them about their lunch special if they’re within a 10 mile radius of a restaurant location at 11:30AM.

So how is it possible to use geofencing in SMS marketing? A business first has to receive permission from a mobile phone number to text message them. This is usually done through a customer texting an SMS keyword to an SMS short code. Once this has been done, the customer then must give their permission to share their location, so that next time they enter the SMS geofence, the business will know. An SMS geofence can circle anything, or any area, such as a retail store, a stadium, or even a neighborhood. You can see an example of a customer giving permission to a brand to use their location for SMS geofencing below.

SMS Marketing Geofence

Now that the brand has received permission to not only text message the customer in the example above, they’ve also received permission to track that customer’s location, and to send them messages based on their location. Sounds pretty creepy, but in most scenarios with SMS geofencing, a brand will only need look up the location of their SMS subscribers once a day, around a specific time, for a specific promotion. For example, Pizza Hut may only look up their subscribers locations twice a day, before lunch and dinner, if they’re only interested in sending lunch or dinner promotions to subscribers in the area during those times. Below is an example of an SMS marketing promotion sent by Pizza Hut that is using geofencing to target only SMS subscribers within the area during lunch.

SMS Marketing Geofence Promotion

SMS geofencing is very rarely used to send SMS promotions to subscribers when they enter an SMS geofence anytime during the day. Why? Each time a business looks up the location of an SMS subscriber, it costs money. It’s just too expensive to lookup the location of each of your subscribers every few minutes, 24 hours a day.

Hopefully this post helps clear up some of the confusion around using geofencing in SMS marketing. If you still have questions about SMS marketing and geofencing, download our free guide here, or by clicking the guide image below, or contact us at (888) 517-6345.

Free SMS Marketing Guide to Geotargeting


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