8 Ways to Use Geofencing in Higher Ed Marketing

Higher education marketing has sprung into the digital age, but not all institutions effectively use the available tools to target their prospective students. Geofencing, where marketers target advertising to mobile devices that enter a specific geographic area, is one innovation that can deliver specific messages to particular populations. There are many ways to use geofencing, and now is a great time to implement this great tactic as part of your digital marketing strategy.

How Does Geofencing Work in Higher Ed Marketing?

A geofence is a virtual perimeter around an actual geographic location that monitors mobile devices entering or leaving the boundary to trigger an action. A geofence can be as small as a single building or as large as an entire zip code or region. Specialized software defines the area using GPS, RFID (radio frequency identification), wi-fi, or cellular data. The software then triggers an ad or message to the devices.

Geofencing may already be used on your campus for security alerts and other important student communications. But you can also use geofencing in different contexts to further the recruitment goals of your institution. For example, getting messages about your programs to targeted demographics within a specific area can help you spend less while reaching those most likely to enroll more efficiently.


  1. Regions Near Your School

You have a large pool of potential students near your school. 57% of incoming first-year students at 4-year public institutions have their permanent home within 50 miles of the school, while the median distance from a student’s home to the 2-year institution they attend is 8 miles. For all institutions combined, the median span to a student’s house is just 13 miles. You might choose an area near campus, a region of your state with many prospects, or even target the whole state.

  1. Commercial Areas Where Potential Students Work

Many warehousing and manufacturing companies offer educational benefits, and the underemployed people working in these areas are good prospects for community colleges or trade schools. You could target a large office complex where many entry-level workers may consider their future careers while working to support their families. Perhaps a downtown district with many workers of all stripes may have prospects interested in getting an MBA, completing their undergraduate degree, or taking online classes.

  1. Target Areas with Other Educational Institutions

Nearby educational institutions may have potential students for your programs attending events on campus. Your messages could reach high school student groups on tour or current students who wish to transfer to your school. For instance, a graduate program could target a nearby large campus area with messages about their program for likely continuing students.

  1. In-Person Events Like College Fairs and Teacher Conferences

An obvious place to put out your messaging is at in-person events like college fairs, high school conferences and competitions, and even conferences for high school teachers who may recommend your school to their students. As more in-person events return, there are creative ways you can find to reach students, teachers, and parents at gatherings for diverse purposes.

  1. Retention Marketing

One of the most challenging problems in higher education is the rate of attrition: how do you keep students engaged, learning, and following through until they graduate? You can use geofencing to target students on or near your campus who may have thoughts of dropping out. Messaging can include helpful information that may help them persist, such as the availability of services such as counseling, tutoring, financial aid, or student events. Thoughtful but not intrusive messaging can help students feel they belong and alert them to resources to help them on their journey.

  1. On-Campus Venues and Events

Consider your audience at football games, during an on-campus conference, or even targeting a building with large lecture halls to reach people who may be receptive to summer programs, continuing education, or choosing your institution for their degree. You may think that a prospect would know about your school because they are on your campus, yet they may not know about relevant programs you offer. For instance, if your campus hosts a high school debate competition, messaging about your communications department, political science degrees, or undergraduate clubs may be relevant and exceedingly timely.

  1. Alumni Weekend

Do you offer graduate programs? If so, when alumni are gathering to remember the good old days on campus, they may be receptive considering graduate certificates, degree programs, or other continuing education. Alumni weekend is also an excellent opportunity to hit them up for donations to the college and keep them engaged with the school.

  1. Personalization

Geofencing can be combined with other targeting strategies to personalize your efforts in many creative ways. Personalization in marketing is all the rage, and in higher education marketing, the ability to devise very specific, relevant messages for individuals is crucial. Using geofencing to target people in a particular area, you can combine this information with particular interests or lifestyles to make the message even more appropriate and appealing to the target individuals.



Utilizing digital marketing capabilities is one of the best ways to stay within budget while reaching the best candidates to apply to your school. Using your intimate knowledge of your college, data analytics to decipher trends, and geofencing, you can develop highly effective marketing strategies to solidify or improve your application, enrollment, and retention rates.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you level up your enrollment marketing strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving education marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.


The Prospective Student Journey:

Reaching Traditional College Students

We have identified four specific points in the journey where schools can make small changes that can increase the number of incoming students. Learn how to implement these changes and optimize these opportunities.

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