Be where your patients are


Precisely target ads to patients based on their location

In brief:

  • 87% of smartphone users always have their device with them and check it more than 100 times a day.1
  • Geofencing allows pharmacy owners to target online ads based on a person’s specific location.
  • Combining location with demographics allows you to personalize ads, making them more effective.

Target marketing in the mobile era

This year, Madison Apothecary in Madison, Indiana, updated its advertising approach to keep pace with changing times. Advertisements will be all around customers, with ads in the newspaper, on the radio — and on their mobile phones.

Owner Erik Grove knows that these days, when people need to find a pharmacy or any type of retail store, they usually look no further than the phone in the palm of their hand.

In fact, 44% of consumers use their mobile device when making purchasing decisions. Also, people searching for products or services while on the go are 45% more likely to make a purchase within one hour than those searching from their homes.2

You already may have used location-based marketing to send traditional print or online ads to people in a certain ZIP code. With geofencing, you target ads based on where people are with their mobile devices. When they enter a designated area, your ad appears.

“When people are waiting to see the doctor, they are on their phone,” Grove noted. And, people at a doctor’s office will often need to fill a prescription after leaving the doctor’s office, making these individuals excellent targets.

“With geofencing,” Grove said, “I can target ads down to the block around a hospital or a medical office.”

Geofencing in practice

Examples of using geofencing in the retail industry include American Eagle, which tripled sales at its outlet mall locations by sending ads through its app to people who drove into one of the mall parking lots.3 And, when North Face used geofencing to send weather alerts, customers who received the alerts were more likely to visit the store and more than half bought something.4

Grove is working with a broadcasting company to place ads for Madison Apothecary not only on one app (like Facebook), but across many. Whether people are looking at Facebook, shopping on Amazon, or reading the latest from ESPN, MSN or Fox News, Madison Apothecary ads will show up on their screen. “You pay for a certain number of views,” Grove explained. “It’s all completely localized.”

“For example, depending on the area selected, we pay $1,000 for 100,000 impressions within a certain time period, much the same as a Facebook or Google advertising campaign,” he said.

Working with an advertising agency, you can develop a plan, for instance, to place targeted ads only when your pharmacy is open or to promote flu shots only at times when you are less busy. You also can place other demographic parameters on ads, such as appearing only for people over a certain age.

Targeted marketing among chain pharmacies

Walgreens is using geofencing around its stores to encourage customers to use its app. Then, when customers enter the store, the app can show their loyalty points total and how to find items within that store.5 Rite Aid has gone even further, installing beacons in all its U.S. stores last year, allowing the store to personalize messages to shoppers as they walk through the pharmacy.6 (With geofencing, however, you don’t need to install beacons.)

Going after the competition

Madison Apothecary’s first attempt at this type of highly targeted mobile marketing was related to a wine tasting it holds regularly. Typically, the event draws about 20 people, but after placing ads on the phones of people shopping near liquor stores in the area, 60 people came to Madison Apothecary for this event. (Targeting shoppers near your competitor is called “geoconquesting.”)

Consumers may be wary of sharing their location through many apps, but are willing to share it when they see value in return. For example, they may allow their location to be tracked for a weather app, a web browser or a store app that offers them valuable discounts.7

Geofencing can take many forms, so your approach will depend on the route you want to take.

For the do-it-yourself type, Facebook includes step-by-step guidelines for creating what it calls “local awareness ads.” Some mobile advertising platforms also offer self-serve options for small businesses that deliver location-based ads over multiple apps. (Here’s one list from Street Fight.)

If you have an app for your pharmacy, talk with the company that created the app about available options. An app developer may be able to activate or add a program that will give you location notifications for people who use your app, without sending any ads at first. That way you can judge whether the volume is enough to make location-based ads worthwhile.

Pharmacy owners who already work with marketing agencies to purchase radio and television advertising can ask whether those agencies also offer online advertising services with geofencing capabilities.

For marketing to be effective, customers must be exposed to the marketing activity. With geofencing, you can place an ad in front of the people you want to reach when they are most likely to need the information. Devoting a portion of your marketing budget to geofenced online ads will allow you to test the effectiveness at drawing customers to your pharmacy.



1 “16 Mobile Market Statistics You Should Know in 2016,” Pawel Piejko, DeviceAtlas, April 12, 2016; LINK
2 “Location-Based Marketing Is Fast Becoming Essential to Remain Competitive, Says New Study,” Forbes Corporate Communications, Forbes, March 23, 2016; LINK
3 “Geo-Fencing and Geo-Targeting Help Retailers Reach Customers,” ChargeItSpot, March 28, 2016; LINK
4 “Geofencing as a Marketing Strategy — Learn from 8 Businesses Who Are Profiting from Geofencing,” Andrew Gazdecki, BiznessApps; LINK
5 “Beacons and Apps Power Walgreen’s Mobile Strategy,” April Berthene, MobileStrategies360, June 8, 2016; LINK
6 “Is Rite Aid the Beacon of Modern In-Store Retail?” John Waldron, eTail; LINK
7 “5 New Ways Marketers Are Leveraging Location Data in 2016,” Taylor Holland, Content Standard, April 5, 2016; LINK