Geofencing Best Practices for Higher Education

Geofencing Best Practices for Higher Education: 3 Strategies to Test


Geofencing is a hot topic in higher education marketing. It is a very targeted way to place paid mobile advertisements in front of people within a specific location—think recruitment fairs, community college transfer days, local businesses, on-campus events and more.

Users within 30-feet of your set location will see mobile ads when they’re on their phone or within a supported app. A successful strategy encompasses several designated market areas (DMAs) or state-wide geographic targeting to ensure a strong volume of traffic. Here are three geofencing strategies we recommend testing:

[Tweet “Users within 30-feet of your set location will see mobile ads when they’re on their phone.”]

Targeting The Traditional Undergrad

One of the more widely-used strategies for geofencing is to target high schools and community colleges in your state or states of interest. Each time they’re on their mobile browser or an app that supports banner ads, your target audience is eligible to receive an ad about your school.

Friends University in Wichita, KS, targeted 16 community colleges and high schools in the state of Kansas. Within three months, geofencing efforts drove a 50 percent higher engagement rate when compared to overall prospecting efforts.



McMurry University in Abilene, TX, setup geofencing for high schools in ‘Big Country’ Texas. McMurry University’s primary geo-target has led to an exceptionally high click-through rate—over 1.35 percent. This significantly exceeds contextual targeting, and even retargeting initiatives.

Reaching The Local Community Audience

Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, ID combined their targeting of high schools and community colleges with targeting Nazarene churches and local malls with specific scholarship ads.

As optimizations were done based on engagement and the audience grew more specific, NNU saw an increase in click-through-rate (CTR) of 51 percent from geofencing efforts. Geofencing efforts also saw a 1,033 percent higher CTR than traditional prospecting efforts.



Engaging The Event Attendee

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago utilized geofencing for their undergraduate and graduate portfolio events. These events give prospective students the opportunity to have their work reviewed and gain a better sense of what a portfolio should look like when applying for programs.



This targeting was used as a standalone strategy and results varied by the location of the event. Most events were held at event centers and art schools around the country and results improved when the geofenced area encompassed local shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

Geofencing efforts drove higher site engagement, when looking at the undergraduate and graduate admissions pages, geofencing traffic spent an average of 2 minutes, 7 seconds on page while the average user spent 1 minute, 20 seconds.

[Tweet “Geofencing traffic spent an avg. of 2 min., 7 sec. on page while the avg. user spent 1 min., 20 sec.”]

Want more digital advertising best practices?

Display advertising is a great tactic to support your branding efforts. It’s not typically a lead driver, but it does contribute to the overall impact of your digital marketing. It can lead to engagement on site, which in turn produces people who are more cognizant of your brand and will think of you when they’re closer to making a decision.

Still have questions on how to utilize geofencing? Reach out and let us know.

Get your daily dose of strategy, one post at a time. Join the Converge mailing list to stay up to date on what’s new and next in higher education marketing.


Michelle Rhatigan
Michelle Rhatigan
January 26, 2017