Mister Beacon Episode #27

Geofencing 101

January 29, 2017

Patrick Leddy CEO of Pulsate draws on his firm’s pioneering experience with Geofencing, reprising the chapter he wrote for our book. He explains the major types of geofence, the pros and cons versus beacons, how geofencing works and what it can be used for. We wrap up with thought provoking examples of how Geofencing can be used to enable customer engagement.


  • Patrick Leddy 00:04

    Geofences are a way of engaging outside of the building and attracting attention. beacons are a great way of engaging inside of the building and inspiring action over your competitor location, you can exactly do that with beacons. Wi Fi is very important for doing what we call passive geofencing, which is still very accurate, because we rely on a lot of battery power, but it does mean the user has to have Wi Fi on. So by using geofencing, we could delay sending the communication the survey by a certain amount of time and ask them, you know, how do we do today? Maybe also provide an incentive for completing the survey. And well yeah, I mean, geo fences can go up to the entire countries and cities. So it would be very easy to use geofencing as a segmentation strategy.

    Narration 00:55

    You're listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem with Steve Statler.

    Steve Statler 01:02

    Welcome to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem, the podcast for solution designers and location aware entrepreneurs. My name is Steve Statler. And this week, we're off to Dublin and I am speaking to Patrick Leddy who is the CEO of Pulsate, Patrick, welcome to the podcast.

    Patrick Leddy 01:20

    Thank you very much for the introduction. And thank you, for everyone to for tuning in. The here's the thing that we're going to be talking about today around the area of geofencing.

    Steve Statler 01:30

    Yes, indeed. So this is a little bit of a mash up between your own incredibly well produced productions the Pulsate Academy and the mobile monk. So great to see that whiteboard behind you, it's appropriate because we're going to be doing I wouldn't say it's geofencing one on one, I'd say it's more to one, the kind of let's drill down. And let's look into this in some detail. And you were kind enough to contribute to our book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the ecosystem, which is this kind of Encyclopedia of everything that solution designers need to know in the proximity and Location, Location space. And you did an amazing job. And I was actually rereading your chapter. And so what I decided to do was just kind of prompt you to talk around some of the things that you raised in that because I think most people understood like they understand what geofencing is, but we're gonna go in and talk about some of the nuances. But let's start off and tell us what is the geofence?

    Patrick Leddy 02:29

    Yeah, that's a great question, Steve. And thanks for the introduction. Again, I did have a skim over the chapter again, this morning, just to refresh myself. And then I guess, look over some of the other content we've been producing around location based marketing and geofencing to make sure I have all the latest facts and figures and everything up to date. And to discuss that I saw a geofence essentially, is a virtual perimeter. And it doesn't require any hardware to be deployed. So you don't really need anything like a beacon. And you can put a geofence pretty much anywhere you want. Usually you plot them in some kind of a marketing tool on a Google map you have, you have a latitude and longitude of where you where you're placing the geofence and some kind of radius of accuracy. So a lot of geofencing is circular base regions, they tend to be you know, where beacons are targeting a very granular area. And sometimes indoors, geo fences tend to be a little bit larger in the catchment area in terms of what they would target. And of course, they have the benefit of not needing to deploy any hardware, or they're completely virtual concept, your mobile phone can then monitor in various ways that I guess we're going to be asking you that a little bit later, can monitor for your proximity to these fences, and then detect when you breach one. And then when you have I guess we can do some interesting things like we can record when you were there, that you are there now and we can make it a store that and we could do something with that later. Or perhaps we could do some kind of interesting marketing, some follow on interaction right after you step into that fence.

    Steve Statler 04:02

    Very good. We touched on a whole bunch of stuff. Let's peel some of those things back individually. And we'll we'll talk about the use cases, because there's lots and you had some great suggestions in the book. So but let's just look at the strengths and weaknesses. And you touched on one, which is no hardware required, which, you know, back in my gimbal days when when gimbal was part of Qualcomm, I was part of Qualcomm I remember we were kind of looking at, we needed to make money, we need to make money fast. And like how are we going to get we've got fantastic beacons, but it takes a while to get those beacons out there. So it seems like geofencing just allows you to fast forward in some use cases at least what what are your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses?

    Patrick Leddy 04:45

    Okay, yeah, great question. So I think because geo fences are used can be used for very different types of deployments. I generally think if you're going to use them together and think of geo fences as kind of like a Inside the building as a tool to kind of attract people to your location increase your footfall if geo fences are a way of engaging outside of the building and attracting attention. beacons are a great way of engaging inside of the building and inspiring action. So attracting a lot of attention outdoors to create awareness, whether it's brand awareness or a direct response, we want to get people to do something, maybe it's to visit us. Then when they visit the location, we combine their their proximity or their presence, we could combine that with some CRM data. So we know something about them some contextualization. And then we might know that a proximity as well through beacons, so then we can offer up the most relevant product information in the store based on who and the products that they are near what we initially use the geofencing technologies at a macro level to attract attention, and then the beacons at a micro level or proximity level to inspire that action once they came into the store. So some of the pros of geofencing, as I've already mentioned, they're virtual, you can place them anywhere, very inexpensive, naturally, since they are a virtual concept, you're not going to get it going any hardware. And there's no costs to that there are property costs later, touch up on that later. And so they're very easy to set up, you can even put them over your competitor locations, you can't exactly do that with beacons, because that's kind of like you're sneaking into your competitors location, bullying them with beacons, that's not going to go down to you Well, what you can do that with geofencing, because they are totally virtual beacons. I guess it just goes to the cons of geo fences as well. Firstly, before I go into beacons, they are, you know, a wider location or more macro. And so you know, down to usually geo fences, you'd say like, kind of like 100 meters is the is the minimum size in terms of accuracy. Some of the work that we've done in Pulsate, over the last year has seen that shrink, right down to maybe 20 meters of accuracy, and the ability to draw polygons, but generally geofencing is is kind of like, for targeting larger areas, it also only works typically, if you have Wi Fi turned on on the device, there are some geofencing SDKs that run purely with GPS, meaning you don't have to have Wi Fi on but then you see like a battery trade off there. So I think Wi Fi is very important for doing what we call passive geofencing, which is still very accurate, but doesn't allow a lot of battery power. But it does mean to us our hostel had Wi Fi on. So that's one of the one of the negatives of geofencing. And the fact that you can be like super granular down to five meters of accuracy with geofencing, that just won't work. And that leads us on kind of honestly to be digits, and so beacons in terms of some of their messages, they can go down to, you know, a very granular level of proximity and understanding where customers are all the way down to maybe a meter and right down to a tap. And so you can do indoor positioning with them and understand the proximity of customers relative to products, floors, and sections of that of that store of that location. And also you can you know, with a high degree of certainty, you know, the customer is there sometimes geofencing control these, you know, GPS quirks or a cell tower weirdness, and you have to kind of compensate for that. So beacons can be a little bit more reliable at times. And some of the drawbacks, of course, are that you need this physical hardware, it is battery operated, you have to physically go in and put the beacon in. So it is a little bit of an art and a science, you have to understand that certain materials you're putting into the beacons near you have to be aware that, you know, batteries can add drain into devices, you have to go out and upgrade the beacons people can steal your beacons. So there are some physical drawbacks naturally to the to the hardware.

    Steve Statler 08:49

    But pretty, pretty complimentary and look, successful location apps, like Shopkick. And they clearly use both they have they put the geofence around the shopping mall and remind you that you could go in and then they verify you've actually entered the store that's paying for that reminder with the beacon. So it's kind of a one two punch. In your chapter, you had some really interesting use cases and some as is your way some tantalizing ways of describing them. The first one kind of fairly straightforward, but just tell us what you had in mind when you talked about the Promote, incentivize and reward use case?

    Patrick Leddy 09:28

    Sure. So promoting incentivize and reward. So I guess what I was talking about there is geofencing kind of used initially, to attract attention and then to reach out to customers and provide them with some kind of a benefit. And as I said before, they really are an excellent way of reminding customers a better promotion while they've shown up for you in the physical world why they're there. Previously, we may have just sent a push notification, you know, like when we would have we would have done this earlier in the week. And their context. Maybe we didn't understood I'm not context. So we didn't know about it. So they were like at home on the couch, or they're watching TV or they're in work, whatever they're doing. And suddenly they get this like notification for, you know, an offer or coupon or whatever it is. And they're like, oh, that's kind of vaguely interesting. And then they like, they instantly forget, they probably not going to remember the next time they go into your store. So suddenly, when we introduced geofencing, to the equation, we're able to do that marketing direction, we're able to promote what it is that we have to sell, we can incentivize them to take action at the right time and reward them when they've shown for us in physical locations.

    Steve Statler 10:38

    They they're gonna cut you off, because we've just got so much to get through. I want you to talk about the stamp out promiscuity did what you were talking about when you said use the use geo fences to stamp out promiscuity?

    Patrick Leddy 10:52

    Are you sure in a different book? Joking. So I did write that. So I guess what I meant by promiscuity is Yes, well, I said before the beacons, you can fold out your competitors with beacons, right? Because that will be illegal. But geo fences being virtual, it's just like the airspace above their business. You can play speakers in those locations. So that means that you can basically tag competitor locations and understand when customers visit those locations. So add into your CRM base of customers that are loyal or these that you think are loyal, you might be able to get some competitive intel on which company which customers are also frequenting these locations and armed dangerous with that information, you may not want to give them that virtual tap on the shoulder while they're there, that might get a little freaky. You might want to do this next time they're in your location. But having known they were at the competitors location, you might want to make them a more tantalizing offer, you might want to show them a little bit more little mini previously have to try and put them on a corrected path that leads them back to profitability and a better pattern within your own company.

    Steve Statler 12:03

    And it's an amazing opportunity you have you know a lot of like telcos that are obsessed by churn, but retailers now have a chance to measure how if you're a supermarket, how what what times is my customer going to my supermarket versus another supermarket, that's just and then you can play with ways of getting more of their shopping basket. I'm going to kind of we're going to do this as kind of like fairly quick ones, people that always buy the book if they want to get get the details, but you had some provocative use case titles, spiking feelings of accomplishment. I thought it was a good one. What's that?

    Patrick Leddy 12:40

    Yeah, I've got a I've got a separate video on this on the Pulsate Academy, which talks about the the new loyal, and how, you know, a lot of loyalty programs basically equate with customer bribery programs. And we're just creating functional and rational loyalty. And if we want to become brands that generate an emotional connection with customers and engage that side of the brain, what's it called the limbic side of the brain, we want to do things like spike feelings of accomplishment. So let me give you an example. And so if we have like a check in feature within our app, which is essentially enabling customers to tell their social media, social media following that, and they're an X, Y, Zed companies locations, well, then what we can do is basically remind them that this function is here upon arrival. And we would do this with a push notification that equate to that kind of like virtual tap on the shoulder. So that will be equate with some kind of a an easter egg that they would unlock on the inside of the app. And then we allow them to actually convey their social status as a virtual currency. So when I say spiking the feelings of accomplishment, we're helping them actually convey their states, which means that when they show up for us in the physical location, give them that knowledge that says, Hey, see, why don't you check in check in and he and then they perform their fifth check in, we make a big deal out and we say Herat, congratulations, you just prevalently Foursquare used to do it, you could become the mayor with so many. With so many check ins, you may want to unlock something in the app after they've done something a number of times, but don't play it down, you want to make a really big deal out of it and make them feel like they really accomplished something because it's happened in your own brand experience. That feeling of accomplishment that you've generated that is worth a hell of a lot more than the loyalty points towards the limbic side of the brain and forging that engagement and then you help them you want to you want to like double down on that. If you help them convey that feeling of accomplishment or that status that they that they've reached the app will help you to kind of convey that to others on social networks. That is another thing that will go towards building emotional.

    Steve Statler 14:52

    Love it. What was asked how they feel?

    Patrick Leddy 14:56

    Asked how they feel. Okay, so I guess I'm talking about sir urbane here as well. So a great place. So customers, you know, what did you think about our product or company is not some random interval who would have thought it actually is when they just experience your product or your, your service. So you know, give me an example, you're you're flying with a particular airline, you land at your destination, you disembark, you get your bag, and you're leaving the airport, now would be a great time to actually ask me, how was my flight that day? It arrived one time, what do they think were people friendly, but I get the service that I expected. So by using geofencing, we could delay sending the communication the survey by a certain amount of time, and ask them, you know, how do we do today, maybe also provide an incentive for completing the survey. And we want to keep this very short, because we're on mobile devices, you know, it could be affected on zones, there could be three emojis that I picked from, we've done some of that and Pulsate with the new stuff we have coming out. But don't make me that I have this, like tedious form that details like feels like torture. So I guess that's what I meant by some how they feel during the geofence. It's very good case.

    Steve Statler 16:06

    Straight on no time to pause regional campaigns, what were you talking about with regional campaigns, here's what I had in my mind. And maybe I need to go back and read our book as well. So I remember when we were doing the Super Bowl, a large, large event over here in the States, and we have beacons all around the Superbowl stadium, MetLife Stadium. And we wanted to drive people into into the stadium. But we didn't want to annoy people in California, because MetLife is on the east coast. So we basically kind of drew a region around, I think, with New York, New Jersey, and basically focused a whole bunch of campaigns around that we use geofencing to do it.

    Patrick Leddy 16:53

    It's very cool. So yeah, I mean, I think, you know, a lot of the geofencing use cases we've just talked about their defenses are quite small, like they're around a specific building or something. And but yeah, I mean, geo fences can go up to the entire countries or cities. So it can be very easy to use geofencing as a segmentation strategy for what campaigns go to boom. Yeah, I think it's very effective. We kind of look at them more as region targeting instead of geofencing, we kind of taken the last location that someone used your app in. And that's something that we allowed people to kind of filter on where they last use the app, as opposed to later you can kind of segment segment that down to area code, as opposed to an actual thriller that people have to fit.

    Steve Statler 17:43

    Last one that we had in the list was remind them to turn on Bluetooth.

    Patrick Leddy 17:51

    So if you track the Bluetooth state, which you can do even request access for iOS and Android know whether you can do that off. And what you want to do is when someone has breached at your events usually get 20 seconds in the background to wake up and do your thing. What are those things that you do could be extractability state. So if you have to determine the duty state to be awful, and you could pull that back into your segmentation, and your marketing automation, and then you could say, you know, don't forget, turn on your Bluetooth, wi credit, a little bit of fear of loss here to be in when we didn't have the chance of getting top offers, based on your location, and treats and virtually threats and make them feel like they're something of value, because we all are usually operating from a selfish standpoint and what they can get out of the interaction. So yes, by understanding the duty state, when they hit defense into department stores, Bluetooth beacons, and their duties off, they're really going to miss that and want to be incredibly in store experience. So it's just giving them that little nudge your tap on the shoulder and say, Hey, why don't you bet you could be missing out?

    Steve Statler 18:59

    I love the way you you think of these things in very psychological terms. Do you? Is this just kind of fit for football site? Do you spend a lot of time talking to users? Or are you kind of doing the the apple thing where repeatedly Steve Jobs never had focus groups. He just kind of demanded that people think about the user, which what's your approach?

    Patrick Leddy 19:24

    Absolutely. So we use a technique called jobs to be done. The jobs on this one, if you bring people into a room and ask them what they want, they'll give you the wrong answers. A great example what jobs we don't understand a milkshake fast food chain brought all of the people that fit it into the protocol of the milkshake drinkers into an envelope panel. And they said, you know, do you want your milkshakes chewy or sweeter? More viscosity to the milkshake, whatever it might be. They improved the product line. The list of attributes that were given them had absolutely zero impact on sales, because customers want to ask directly what they want. They can't really tell you what they want. But what When you ate you review them and you try to figure out what you know, where they were coming from when they researched a particular solution, or why did they download that app? Or why did they do business with that company. And when you figure out the switching behavior, like what made them switch from Daz to personal washing powder, when you figure out the switching, that's the key in understanding why they switched. And you can trigger these interviews, interview process of jobs to be doing, you can kind of reverse engineer the outcome the customer has in mind or the job they're looking to get done. So you can do it in this special and unique format. And we do that with a number of consumers to try to understand the ways that you won't be engaged with when you flooded, ask them to give you all this junk, they just don't know, they kind of give you what you think they what you want to hear. They're going to give you all these attributes. And it's usually nonsense, you have to be very careful how you take in this information, how you conduct your research, so jobs to be done, check out our YouTube for the milkshake clothes jobs to learn. It's interesting.

    Steve Statler 20:58

    That's very good. Well, I am going to do in the spirit of making this interesting. I'm going to be spontaneous. And I'm going to stop the interview now. Because I think you have done an amazing job. We talked about what is the geofence strengths and weaknesses, how beacons fit in, and then a bunch of great use cases. And I'm guessing that people watching you're just exhausted and they need to have a milkshake or have some coffee or something. So let's pause now. And then, you know, come back next episode and talk about all the other stuff that we were going to talk about which and there's a lot there's there's, you know, passive and active geofencing what's the difference between Android and iOS and what people should look for when they're selecting the geofencing technology. So we talked about what you know why you should use it, what you can use it for. And now the next session, I suggest we talk about how you do it. Sound?

    Patrick Leddy 21:51

    Sounds good to see you. I'll see you in the next episode.

    Steve Statler 22:05

    All right. So Patrick, and then you know, you come from the land of YouTube. I gotta I gotta hear what is what are the three songs that you would take with you to Mars?

    Patrick Leddy 22:17

    That's a great, that's a great question. Okay, so I am a massive, Daft Punk fan. Since we're talking about geofencing I gotta go with around the world. It also reminds me of exploring the world I guess I'm experiencing new cultures and journeys and meeting new people. And that's something that I really, really enjoyed it really lights me up. And also you can put geo fences anywhere around the world virtual perimeter as we've already discussed. City brought up you too. They probably wouldn't be my favorite bands, but I had to add them all there. Still, I'd say their song. It goes like salami bound I'm looking for I'm not sure that's the actual bible it can be.

    Steve Statler 23:04

    So well, you don't have to choose them. I just liked them. And I always think of them when I go to Dublin.

    Patrick Leddy 23:10

    Paris a jet suggestion. I like that song mainly because you can find happiness and other people and what you'll never be completed you don't actually love what you do. Innately. And I think that's probably the message that they have in that song. Thirdly, Space Oddity I think, by David Bowie make your mark in the world and stand out from the normal crowd and be something be something you'd be something.

    Steve Statler 23:42

    Well and amazing ability to be incredibly distinctive, whilst at the same time really listening to The Zeitgeist and you know, you follow his career and and it's incredibly varied. It's not just kind of Metallica 1234 I'm sure they have develop from my outside.

    Patrick Leddy 24:02


    Steve Statler 24:04

    Love it. Thanks very much.