For about three months last year, McKie Ford-Lincoln in Rapid City, S.D., drew a digital fence around a competitor's Jeep store after registration data showed the rival store was outselling McKie in certain vehicle segments.
So McKie turned to geofencing technology to pinpoint shoppers through their mobile device using GPS, Wi-Fi or cellular data or radio-frequency identification as they crossed a virtual threshold onto the Jeep store's property, said Karris McKie-Kaiser, the dealership's digital operations manager. Those shoppers received a digital display ad offering $500 off their next new-vehicle purchase at McKie Ford-Lincoln, and that offer followed them for a time as they surfed the Internet on their smartphones.
The relatively low-expense geofencing campaign helped the dealership sell a few vehicles and reach more in-market customers, McKie-Kaiser said. She didn't share cost numbers, saying dealership spending on geofencing varies by campaign, but the dealership makes "our money back, plus some." Over about two years, geofencing has helped the dealership sell 12 vehicles.
"You're really getting a quality customer versus someone who is accidentally clicking on your display ad," McKie-Kaiser told Automotive News.
An increasing number of dealerships are putting more advertising and marketing dollars into geofencing, serving up ads, offers and even simple welcome messages via smartphone to customers when they arrive on their premises. In other cases, dealerships are using the technology to pitch ads to shoppers who may be walking the competitor's lot across the street.
Some dealers who have used the technology say it offers a higher customer conversion rate than other forms of advertising and is good for saturating their markets. But others say dealers should be careful and make sure they understand how the vendor defines geofencing and where they set boundaries to target customers. And some argue that advertising to consumers already shopping rivals does them no good.