Location-based marketing is marketing that contains messaging specific to where a person is currently at in the world. These messages are often viewed on mobile in the form of push notifications.

To identify someone’s location and deliver messages relevant to where they’re currently at, brands create mobile apps that leverage location tracking developed by device manufacturers. (Core Location is the technology used for Apple devices; Google location services is the technology used for Android devices.)Not everyone wants companies tracking their location though. And some people want information relevant to a place they’re not currently near (ex: someone on vacation in Bali who wants news updates about their hometown in the US.) Because of this, many apps have a preferences section that lets users select locations of interest.

Why use location-based marketing?

Location-based marketing is all about pulling mobile users in. According to a push notification survey Localytics conducted with 1,000 smartphone users, 9% of people said they’d use an more if it sent them push notifications triggered by their selected hometown. Forty-two percent said the same for push notifications triggered by their present location.

This indicates that using location tracking for mobile messaging is not a major privacy concern for users. Instead of turning away app users, location-based messaging is pulling them in. It’s even bridging the gap between the digital and physical landscape for retailers.

In another survey we conducted, 36% of people who shop using apps said a mobile location-based push notification influenced an in-store purchase they made. This represents an interesting opportunity for brands that have a presence in the digital and physical world.

Choose a location.

You can target a single location or multiple locations within a single marketing campaign. Locations can be as vast as a city or as small as a store location.

There are three main ways you can trigger location-based messaging:

  • Use geofences. A geofence is a radial area around a location defined by longitude and latitude. When a user enters or exits a geofence, a brand can trigger a marketing message. A brand can leverage a mobile device manufacturer’s “location services” to know when a user enters or exits a geofence.
  • Use beacons. Beacons don’t rely on longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. Instead they leverage hardware that emits a signal. When a user’s phone detects this signal, a location-based message can trigger. (This post describes differences between beacons and geofences and when to use one over the other.)
  • Use stated preferences. An app can send users information specific to their home or other area of interest by adding a Location section in the app’s settings. Unlike geofences and beacons, the user doesn’t have to be in a specific location to receive messaging about the locations they care about.


Select a goal and message.

What do you want to achieve with your location-based marketing campaign? Do you want to notify users about something (local weather change, location of a nearby friend) or do you want to inspire action (purchase an item at a nearby store)? After determining this, craft an enticing message. (Shorter messages tend to work best.)

Choose a message type.

People have their phones on them when traveling to different locations, making mobile messages particularly useful for location-based marketing. Push notifications are the most effective mobile message type for getting in front of a user on the move. However, you can also supplement a push notification with an inbox message.

Further define your audience.

You can pair location with user profile and behaviors to further improve the relevancy of a message. For instance, a retailer with physical locations can target app users who did not make a purchase or enter the store’s geofence in the last 30 days. This additional level of targeting helps a retailer sending excessive messages to app users, which is important when 2-5 push notifications.

Examples of location-based marketing

Location-based marketing works across industries.Some retailers use their apps to notify users of unspent store credit. When someone with store credit on their account walks near a store location, retailers can send them a location-based push notification reminding them of their balance. This incentivizes the user to visit the store, use their store credit, and become an engaged customer.

Another example: Companies in the travel leverage apps to send customers booking information after they enter an area near their destination. This way the customer doesn’t have to dig through emails to find the information they need to check in. A location-based push notification can link them directly to it.

If you’re interested in setting up location-based marketing campaigns, check out Places (documentation here for developers). This is our geofencing solution that lets you send geographically significant messages with one or more of our mobile engagement solutions (push notifications, in-app messages, inbox messages).



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