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How to set up geofencing: Building your own vs using geofencing software

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Building your own geofences might seem like an easy task, but it’s important to understand the challenges involved. While it’s possible for developers and product owners to set up geofencing technology in their apps, many companies come to providers like PlotProjects to complete the process.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • Why geofencing and geolocations are useful
  • How to set up geofencing 
  • The challenges involved in building your own geofences
  • When and why to use an online software solution like PlotProjects
How to set up geofencing

Why geofencing & geolocations are useful

Geofencing technology is a very useful and valuable tool for businesses. It’s used to monitor a user’s geolocation through specific events like entering, exiting or staying within a specific radius. Most commonly, it’s used in mobile apps that can send promotional messages to customers who are in or near a geofenced location.

Using geolocation and geofencing, you can engage your customers in real time and use their geolocation data for relevant, contextual location-based marketing. Not only can you use this information to increase sales, but it can offer valuable insights into the consumer mindset. 

There are many examples of how it’s is used by businesses. You could send discounts to customers as they walk past your store, or do as Burger King did with their ‘Whopper Detour’ campaign, by building geofences around McDonald’s restaurants to lure customers away with a one-cent burger promotion on the Burger King app.

In marketing terms, with a geofencing campaign you can target the current position of the user. Whereas a geolocation campaign refers to the history of the user’s position, so you can target users who have been detected in a certain location, say over the past 30 days.

Whether you’re taking on the geofence building process in-house or using a geofencing software provider like PlotProjects, it is a proven way to help you add fast value to your business. 

How to set up geofencing

Wondering how to set up geofencing? Setting up the use of geofences in your mobile app requires specific content including latitude, longitude and radius, as well as an ID so that your geofence can be uniquely identified. The latitude and longitude are used to define the point of interest (point of interest refers to the geofenced area such as a shop, restaurant etc) and the radius is used to determine how wide the geofence will be.

On iOS and Android, circular geofences are the standard shape. If you require polygonal geofences, these require more specific programming and are monitored using a more complex algorithm.

Most geofences have the following:

  • Latitude & longitude
  • Radius
  • ID (a unique identifier such as ‘home’)
  • A list of event triggers for example ‘enter’, ‘exit’ and/or ‘dwell’

Things to consider when you set up geofencing

When setting up geofencing for your mobile app, you’ll discover there are trade-offs between asking the tech team to build it versus using an off-the-shelf solution. Aside from the costs, you’ll want to think about things like your time-to-market, if your solution will be scalable and if you have the relevant expertise to execute it accurately. 

Despite the challenges, many programmers and product owners successfully set up geofencing technology in-house. If you’re unsure about which path to take, you might find it helpful to think about the following:

Number of geofences needed

One of the biggest challenges when setting up geofences is that you only have a limited number to work with depending on the operating system you develop the app for. There are restrictions in place for both iOS and Android. Android can monitor up to 100 geofences per application, while iOS can only monitor 20. If you want to set up more than this, you will need to use a geofencing software provider like PlotProjects. Our SDK supports all mobile systems and allows for the creation of an unlimited number of geofences around the world. 

How to set up geofencing without battery drain

When thinking about how to set up geofencing, keep in mind that using GPS to constantly monitor a device’s location will drain the battery of the device that eventually will lead to uninstalls. You will need to develop a more efficient solution, or employ software like ours that is proven to be efficient.

how to build your own geofencing software

Network bandwidth usage

When people are on the move, they are not connected to WiFi. Loading and updating locations on the device then communicating the triggered geofences can use a lot of bandwidth which the end user will have to pay for. With the PlotProjects solution, we optimized the communications between our servers and devices in a way that consumes little bandwidth. Everything can work offline without compromising the quality or accuracy of the geofence triggers.

Accuracy and reliability

Do you know how to avoid spamming? Can you manage the timing of your notifications? This is another programming consideration, however it can be solved by using a software provider,  it is important to then look for providers who deliver an accurate and reliable solution. PlotProjects has more than 10 years of experience and developed its SDK to ensure that notifications are delivered when your app user is actually at the point of interest, and if users visited a point of interest.

Marketing expertise

Can your team segment your audience and personalize each notification? Do you have the means to create a dashboard to monitor your geofencing and beacon campaigns? How about dashboard analytics? A/B testing? And the relevant location marketing expertise to build high-converting campaigns? You will need to dedicate a huge amount of time and resources to this, or use our geofencing software which covers all bases.

Management

One aspect programmers and tech teams often forget about when asked to set up geofencing in an app, is that after it works it needs to be used, adapted and managed. For that you will need to build an interface so that the customer service team can change the messages the users receive when they are at a point of interest or to keep the points of interest up to date with their opening hours for example. Not all geofences should be triggered all the time and some campaigns may also need to run during a certain time window of the day.

Polygonal geofences

Not all geofences are circular. For example, airports – if you try to fit such a large area in a circular geofence, you might end up including a fair amount of the surrounding area – you may need a polygonal fence. In PlotProjects we employ AI to overcome this challenge.

User permissions

To protect user privacy, apps that use location services must request location permissions. Do you know about foreground and background location access? Do you know best practices when asking for permissions? Or how to motivate users to opt-in rather than opting out? Again, this is where expertise and experience is key.

How much does geofencing cost?

Building your own solution can be expensive – but with PlotProjects there are no hidden costs or extras. Our Developer Plan is free and includes up to 1,000 geofences and 10,000 monthly tracked users. Our Small Business Plan costs between €100-€500 per month, and our Enterprise Plan is based on custom pricing. You can find out more about our plans and pricing here.

Why use PlotProjects?

If you’ve decided against setting up your own geofencing, another solution is to use an SAAS or ‘software as a service’ provider like PlotProjects. We offer top-rated geofencing technology that you can integrate quickly and seamlessly. 

Our extensive geofencing SDK and API is quick to set up and easy to use. It allows you to bypass all of the problems, bugs and limitations you could face on your own. This along with ease of set up and dedicated support makes PlotProjects the perfect solution.

geofencing_dashboard
  • Choosing to work with PlotProjects will resolve all the issues mentioned above, with the added benefit of a very short time-to-market.
  • We have regular plugin updates, never resting quality increase and we always update our plugin before a new release of iOS or Android and adapt to the always changing requirements from those operating systems.
  • We support some of the largest couponing apps (VoucherCloud/Savings.com) and we work with big brands around the world including Groupon, Coca-Cola, Future Group and many more. 
  • Privacy and support for storing the events on your own server.

With many years of experience and expertise, our solution is hailed as the best in the industry for both big and small businesses alike. Ready to get started? Then contact us today. 

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