5 Jan 2023

Beacons vs. Geofences: Which is the Best Approach for Mobile Marketers to Take?


Surbhi Bhatia

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Beacons vs Geofences

Location-based tracking technology has taken many exciting turns over the past few years. As a result, modern marketers can leverage the technology and the user’s location and time to increase sales and engage prospects more effectively.

Geofencing, Beacons, and other bellwether technologies are poised to revolutionize the business world and improve customer experience. These mobile technologies enable customers to receive personalized offers tailored to their interests and needs.

Imagine that your smartphone will notify you when you enter your favorite store about promotions or offers. Then, the manager greets you by name and shows you similar products to your previous purchases. That would be an amazing experience!

One crucial question you need to ask if you plan to use location-based tracking strategies to track your business is: What is the difference between Geofencing or Beacons? These technologies complement each other rather than clash because they seek to achieve similar goals. They identify the user’s location and trigger an action accordingly. These distinctions will help you better understand the technology and which is best for you.

Also ReadTechnology Can Build a Recession-Proof Business: Here’s How!

What is Geofencing? 

Geofencing uses GPS coordinates as a way to encapsulate an area. It also takes the location data of a mobile user (who has opted to receive push notifications) via GPS to determine their proximity to that region (whether inside or outside, or if they just came in and left that area in a matter of seconds). This allows marketers to send messages when a smartphone user enters a specific geographic area, such as a shopping mall, stadium, or retail store.

Geofencing is a popular way for marketers to send coupons or offers to customers. However, it doesn’t end there. Retailers could use Geofencing to offer a more personal experience.

There are generally three types of geofencing triggers.

1. Static

This calculates the mobile user’s position relative to a fixed area. This includes messages sent to opt-in customers when they enter a retail location.

2. Dynamic

This algorithm is based on the current position of a mobile user in relation to a changing data stream. For example, mobile app users are notified when there is an “open parking spot” and they happen to be nearby.

3. Peer-to-Peer

This measure is based on the relative position of a mobile user and other users. Check-in notifications of friends nearby on social, mobile apps like Foursquare, Facebook, and Yelp.

Importantly, geofencing with GPS can have a significant impact on your customer’s battery life. This is because it requires satellites and cell towers to pinpoint their location.

What are beacons? 

Beacon’s app doesn’t deliver offers or any other content. Instead, they broadcast Bluetooth Low Energy signals (identifiers) that can trigger actions in an app on a mobile phone.

Beacons cannot locate a mobile user’s location on a map, unlike geofencing. These proximity detection devices instead use Bluetooth Low Energy to determine if a mobile device is within its range and, if so, how close they are.

Marketers can set up their apps to trigger messages when specific rules hold. For example, you can create a rule to trigger a notification if a user is within 3 seconds of the beacon’s range or after 3 seconds. These rules and actions can also be created on a beacon management platform like Beaconstac.

Geofencing VS Beacons: 7 DIFFERENCES MUST KNOW


Geofencing versus beacons. An app must be downloaded on the user’s phone to make this possible. Geofencing requires an app to be installed on the user’s device. Generally speaking, beacon-based marketing also requires an app. While there are exceptions for Eddystone and Android and some things you can do with Chrome in the future, proximity marketing is still necessary. Geofencing is also possible using this app. This allows you to track users and send push notifications to encourage them to take action.


Are geofencing and beacons required to use hardware? Geofencing does not require any hardware. While Bluetooth beacons are physical devices, that is hardware.


We’ll look at the actual requirements for Bluetooth to be on. As you can see, geofencing relies on certain sensors being enabled on the devices. And, of course, in order for Bluetooth Beacons to work, Bluetooth must be on.

4. Do you require WIFI and/or GPS?

What is Wi-Fi and/or GPS? Is this necessary for beacons? Is it necessary for geofencing purposes? Geofencing relies heavily on Wi-Fi technologies, Wi-Fi networks, and cell towers. It does sometimes use GPS. These are the main sensors we use on our devices. The beacons are independent of Wi-Fi, cell towers, or GPS. 


In terms of static locations and moving locations, how about geofences versus beacons? Geofences are not placed on moving locations. They are usually placed at a latitude or longitude with a radius of precision or perhaps a form. Geofences can be static.

You may view beacons as static. They are placed on the product. You place them above the door. But beacons can be placed anywhere. You can use beacons in static locations, but we are sorry. They could be fixed at moving locations.


Next, how can these technologies be applied to outdoor use? Geofences can be used outdoors. They are not going anywhere, but they can be used outdoors. They won’t go anywhere. They can be placed on a Google Map, and you can notify anyone who walks in. They can be tracked, making them ideal for outdoor use. They’re a kind of macrotechnology. They can cover large areas. They can be used to cover large areas, such as entire geofencing cities or hundreds of meters. Imagine recognizing a whole city. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to do this.

Can beacons be used outside? While some might say “no,” they can be used outdoors. They can be used outdoors. If you plan to use them outdoors, you will want the waterproof ones. Remember that water is the basis of all life. You can have problems if your beacon is on a busy street. If they are positioning beacons with water or getting a lot of rain, it could affect their ability to do proximity advertising outdoors. They work outdoors, however, generally speaking. It is just a matter of being careful about where they are placed.


The last question is about the range. Is it above or below 10m? Are they suitable for an accuracy of less than 10m? Above 15 meters, geofences work better. It’s amazing to be able to measure 15 meters with no hardware. But, if you go below that, it can get a bit difficult to use the sensors onboard and not deploy the hardware. If you need to achieve accuracy below 10 meters, geofencing won’t work. You are looking at proximity marketing. Bluetooth Beacons are what you’re interested in.

How can you determine when geofencing, beacons or both are appropriate?

To determine whether or not it is a good idea to use beacons, geofences, or both in your application, here’s a general rule of thumb: Geofences are used when users interact at a macro level within a defined area of 50 meters. However, when the use case’s goal is interaction with users at a finer level down to centimeters (“micro-location”), beacons can be leveraged.

Geofencing works better when you have larger marketing campaigns and target customers at a greater scale. In addition, beacons work better indoors if you consider offering location-based services.

Let’s take a look at some scenarios that make it logical to use geofencing with beacons together:

1. Customers can order online before they arrive at a store

The staff is notified via the in-store system by a geofence located one-quarter mile from the restaurant when a customer has ordered ahead. They can then ensure that food is not delivered to customers who are delayed or caught up in traffic. In addition, the beacons at the entrance and drive-through detect if the customer has entered or driven through the restaurant. These beacons prompt staff in-store to make sure the order is ready.

2. Remind your customers to turn their Bluetooth on before entering the store

Geofencing can be combined with beacons to create a unique experience. This is done by ensuring that your app users have turned on bluetooth before entering your store to receive personalized beacon-enabled notifications. You can do this easily with ‘Places,’ a Beaconstac platform function that allows retailers to create a geofence.

They simply need to choose “Places” from the navigation and click “Add a New Place.” Then, they can type in attributes such as name and address (latitude/longitude). After that, they can define the geofence’s range (in meters).

A geofence is a physical boundary a retailer sets for a specific place. The retailer will be notified when the fence has been breached, or a user enters or leaves the area. Retailers can use these callbacks to send a gentle reminder to users to turn on their Bluetooth.

3. Personalized offers can entice customers to come in and get their business.

A geofence can be set up outside a store to welcome customers interested in that particular store and send them a personalized offer. Beacons can be placed in the store to give product information and reviews when customers are approaching certain racks. Beacons can be placed at cash registers to automatically activate the phone and pull up loyalty points or coupons.

Examples of real-life brands that used a combination of geofencing and beacons

1. Elle Magazine

Elle Magazine used a mix of location-based technologies, beacons, and geofencing to launch campaigns in celebration of its September 30th anniversary issue. In addition, Elle Magazine made its editors’ product picks accessible to users via ShopAdvisor and RetailMeNot as part of ShopNow!

All customers who had signed up for ShopAdvisor push notifications were notified whenever they were near a store that sells Elle products using geofence technology. Then, if the customer chooses to visit the particular store, they receive another notification from RetailMeNot via beacons with a promotional offer. The program resulted in 500,000 visits to participating stores, including Barnes & Nobles and Levi’s, as well as a more than 12 percent engagement rate for retailers like Guess, Levi’s, and Vince Camuto across the country last September and October.

2. GameStop

GameStop, a video game retailer, used geofencing and beacons to send offers and content relevant to their location to PowerUp members. In addition, consumers who had the PowerUp loyalty program app on their phones and had chosen to receive push notifications could receive personalized messages as they walked by the store.

Beacons were used to display messages and greetings once inside the store. The video game retailer also used beacons to set up “hotspots” throughout the store. If consumers wanted more information about certain games, they could bring their smartphones near the beacon to get them.

3. Woolworths Supermarket

Woolworths, a supermarket chain, used beacons and geofencing to provide better click-and-collect services at their Norwest Circa Woolworths store. The supermarket chain requested that customers download a mobile app to access the click-and-collect service. The app was connected directly to the in-store systems so that staff could be notified of a customer’s order and their proximity to the store.

This campaign includes a notification to Woolworths’ picking system sent to consumers who have placed click-and-collect orders. The notification prompts staff in-store to begin fulfilling the order. In addition, a push notification via the app is sent to the customer by a beacon-enabled device when the order is complete. Woolworths successfully tested beacons and rolled them out to all 254 click-and-collect stores.

Understanding the blend is important!

– Allows customers to place orders before they go to the restaurant

The in-store system notifies restaurant staff that a customer who ordered food or booked a table is within a quarter of a mile. Geofencing technology allows food to be delivered on time by ensuring it is within the designated area. Beacons can alert staff to ensure the order is ready for the customer when they enter the restaurant or parking lot.

– Office premise restrictions

Managers can quickly turn off the recording of the mobile camera during confidential meetings or presentations at the office campuses. Employees can also get Wi-Fi connectivity immediately by placing the beacon in specific locations according to the company’s security policy.

– Attracting customers with personalized offers

Geofencing can be set up outside stores to welcome customers who have visited the store before sending them personalized offers. Once customers are inside, in-store beacons can provide product reviews and information to help them find the right rack or display. A beacon at the cash counter can also wake up your smartphone, allowing you to redeem loyalty points or coupons. This will prevent customers from having to scroll through their messages while others wait in line.

These are only a few examples. Combining beacons with geofencing has incredible power to transform businesses.

Geofencing and beacons are being used to provide location-based tracking technology that is constantly evolving. This opens up a world of possibilities for many applications. EMM with Beacon is an excellent option for enterprise mobility. EMM with Beacon is also available in real-time, thanks to the constant development of iOS and Android platforms. As a result, businesses can choose the best method to meet their needs and engage customers.

Limitations on Geofencing and Beacons

First, the user must agree to the terms and conditions before downloading the app. Then, the beacons and geofencing technology can track the user’s location and send push notifications. During geofencing, the GPS must remain on. Permanent activation is necessary for beacons to be used. GPS is the more difficult issue in this instance, as not everyone wants his GPS to be permanently on. Bluetooth is the same; however, Bluetooth is more efficient than GPS in terms of battery life, so users prefer to keep their Bluetooth on rather than their mobile GPS.

The privacy and data protection of individuals must be considered second. Companies can legally use beacons and geofencing as marketing tools, provided the user has agreed to the regulations. Users have the right to refuse to receive push messages at any point. Usability and security are two of the most important aspects. This technology can have fatal consequences for customer loyalty if it is not used correctly.

Third, the consumer downloaded the app and accepted the terms. Then, he activates GPS / Bluetooth on the mobile. Finally, a push notification is sent to the user about a great deal on a pair of new sports shoes. The consumer becomes interested and goes to the store, only to find that the shoes have been out of stock for 10 minutes. Creating a network that allows data to be updated in real-time is necessary to avoid this situation.


Geofencing and beacons are primarily used for location-based advertising. Therefore, these technologies offer tremendous opportunities for mobile marketers. However, it is important to consider the legal aspects of privacy and security.

Geofencing and beacons can be used to empower B2C marketing. They also serve as a tool for strategic decision-making. Every day, the digital world evolves and improves. Imagine how ingenious our shopping experience will be and what marketing strategies we’ll have in 10 years.

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