Can Geofencing and Beacons Work Together for Your App?

Spoiler alert –  they can. Geofencing and beacons are both technologies that can be used for location based targeting and can complement each other. However, it is important to understand the similarities of and the differences between these technologies to be able to make the best use of them. Read on to find out what they are and what’s the right way to enhance your mobile marketing with geofencing and beacons.

What are they?


A geofence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. It can be a radius around a location or a pre-defined set of boundaries. The process of using a geofence is called geofencing. Geofencing allows you to send notifications to your app users when they are in the vicinity of, for example, your store. This allows you to provide users with information that is highly relevant to them, which helps you to activate your users, drive revenue and leverage customer insights.


A beacon is like a small digital lighthouse. It broadcasts a signal advertising “I am here and my ID is…”. It allows bluetooth based device, such as a smartphone to receive these time static pieces of data within short distances. For instance, inside a store or other kinds of buildings. Beacons can trigger different behaviour inside an app such as a push notification. There are also a number of other Beacon use cases such as home automation, children’s games and exhibit information at a museum.

What are the main differences between the two?

Geofencing and beacons do have their similarities as they are both ways to target locations & push notifications, but both technologies are different in quite a few ways.




Is dependant on the cellular and Wi-Fi network Uses Bluetooth which must be activated on the user’s smartphone


Operates on a fixed radius relative to a set location Operates according to the distance away from the beacon. The beacon does not have to be stationary

Static or Mobile

The location of the geofence is static. In the case of Plot Projects the location of a geofence is fixed based on the location set in the dashboard. Beacons do not have to be stationary. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage. In certain scenarios it may be helpful to have a “mobile” geofence as it opens up a different set of possibilities

Target Range

The range of a geofence is from 50 to 50,000 meters. This makes it good for covering larger areas such as a city block or even a city Operates at distances of about 1 to 30 meters. This makes Beacons better for micro locations e.g. points within a store


Is a software solution thus doesn’t need any maintenance by the user Beacons are physical objects, at some point they will require replacement of batteries


Costs vary by provider, but are usually based on the number of geofences Cost of the Beacons and on-going maintenance e.g. replacing batteries

Examples of how each can be used


  • To claim a discount in a nearby store
  • To fill out a feedback form for a restaurant that the user booked at through the app and just ate in
  • To receive an alert about an event taking place nearby


Bluetooth signals transmitted by Beacons, when intercepted by a nearby device, lead to an app to react in a certain way:

  • One way is to allow mobile apps to understand the device’s position.
  • This can also trigger different behaviour inside an app such as push notification.
  • There is also a number of other use cases such as providing product information in a store
  • Welcome information at an entrance or seating information at a stadium

How to enhance your geofencing campaigns with beacons?

Geofencing and Beacons are complementary technologies. They can be used together to enhance mobile marketing campaigns. Since geofencing works best on larger distances and beacons on smaller ones, marketing campaigns can be designed to first attract app users to a location and then interact with them once inside a location using Beacons.

You can even use geofencing to alert users to switch on their Bluetooth when they enter a building!

Want to know more about geofencing?

Download the Ultimate Guide to Geofencing for Mobile Marketing to find out more about geofencing and beacons and why to use them in your app.

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