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Geofencing for Good: How We Targeted Hikers with a Public Service Announcement Campaign






In the world of digital marketing, precision is everything. For our recent public service announcement (PSA) campaign aimed at hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), we utilized geofencing to ensure our message reached the right audience. A hiker-focused nonprofit organization wanted to ensure that critical information was seen by those who would benefit most. Here’s how we did it and why it mattered.


What is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a location-based service that uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or cellular data to create a virtual boundary around a specific geographic area. When a user enters this area, they can receive targeted notifications or advertisements. For our campaign, this meant setting up digital perimeters around specific zip codes at resupply towns along the PCT.


Why Geofencing?

The PCT spans over 2,600 miles, cutting through a variety of terrains and regions from Mexico to Canada. This extensive trail means hikers are dispersed over a vast area, often in remote locations. Traditional advertising methods would be inefficient and wasteful.


Geofencing allowed us to:

  1. Target Specific Regions: By focusing on zip codes along the PCT, we ensured our PSA was relevant to the recipients.

  2. Optimize Resources: Instead of a broad, untargeted campaign, we concentrated our efforts where they were needed most.

  3. Maximize Impact: By reaching hikers in areas with cell service, we avoided wasting resources on segments of the trail where our digital ads would go unseen.


The Execution

Choosing the Zip Codes: We started by identifying zip codes along the PCT where hikers are likely to pass through or stop for resupply. This included towns known for their proximity to the trail and popular hiker stops.

Setting Up the Geofence: Using digital marketing tools, we set up geofences around these zip codes. This ensured that our PSA would only appear to individuals within these specified areas.

Tailoring the Message: The PSA was designed to be concise and relevant, providing essential information and resources for hikers. We made sure the content was engaging and easy to understand, knowing that hikers might only glance at their phones briefly.


Potential for More Precision

While our campaign focused on zip codes, geofencing technology allows for even more precise targeting. For example, we could have:

  • Targeted Specific Locations: Places like Grumpy Bear's Hiker Hostel, a popular stop for PCT hikers, could have been geofenced to deliver the PSA to hikers at a specific time.

  • Time-Based Targeting: We could have scheduled the PSA to show during peak hours when hikers are more likely to be checking their devices.

However, our goal was to cover a broader area to maximize visibility among hikers spread out along the trail. This approach allowed us to reach a wider audience without over-complicating the campaign setup.


Lessons Learned

Geofencing is Effective: Our campaign demonstrated the power of geofencing for targeted outreach. By focusing on specific geographic areas, we ensured that our message reached the most relevant audience.

Flexibility is Key: While we chose a broader approach, the potential for hyper-local targeting remains an exciting prospect for future campaigns. This flexibility allows for customization based on specific goals and audience behaviors.

Relevance is Crucial: Delivering relevant content to the right audience at the right time is the cornerstone of any successful campaign. Geofencing enabled us to do just that, ensuring our PSA was seen by those who needed it most.

In conclusion, geofencing provided us with a powerful tool to deliver our PSA campaign effectively. By targeting specific zip codes along the PCT, we reached the hikers who would benefit most from our message, optimizing our resources and maximizing our impact. As we look to future campaigns, the possibilities for even more precise targeting remain an exciting prospect, promising even greater engagement and effectiveness.

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