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18 Inspiring Location-based Push Notifications

If you’ve built a mobile app, you’re likely worried about long-term mobile engagement.

According to Statista, app user retention rates hover around 38%. (😱!)

While there are many ways to tackle mobile retention, having a solid push notification strategy is one of the best methods for bringing users back into your apps.

Some mobile developers and marketers shy away from using push notifications because they fear annoying users with too many messages. However, research by Responsys shows that 70% of consumers find push notifications valuable.

The key to making push notifications engaging (instead of alienating) lies in making them extremely personalized, relevant, and timely. And these three things come together perfectly through location-based push campaigns.

In this blog, you’ll learn how geo-targeted push notifications (including geofencing) work, see inspiring examples from top brands, and get tips for launching your own location-triggered push campaigns based on my experience working with clients as part of Taplytics’ Enterprise Services Team.

How Location-based & Geofencing Push Notifications Work
Top Geo-targeted Push Notification Examples
Location-Based Push Campaigns
Geo-triggered Push Notification Promotions
Informational & Transactional Location-based Push
Geolocation-based Push Notifications Set-up Tips & Best Practices
Improving Location and Push Opt-in Rates
Using Push Kill Switches To Prevent Fatigue
Creating Engaging Push Notification Campaigns
Optimizing Push Notifications With Data

How Location-based Push Notifications & Geofencing Work

The main main methods brands can use are:

  1. Location-based push notifications: These push notifications go to users that live in that location through simple targeting based on attributes like IP address or city. These are not sent based on a users’ exact or current location within a city or region.
  2. Geo-located push notifications: These pushes are triggered when a user physically moves near a specified area in real-time (if they’ve opted into sharing their location through their mobile device). This is often done through either geofencing or beacons. Geofences are created by mapping out a “fence” around an area using GPS coordinates or RFID signals. Once users step within the geographical fence, a push notification send is triggered. Beacons are small devices that send Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals to mobile devices when they’re nearby. They’re often used in venues, stores, or other physical locations owned by the app maker.

Location-based & Geo-located Push Notification Examples

1. Location-based Push Notification Campaigns

Starbucks Happy Hour Location-Based Push Promo

This campaign uses the customer’s general location data and time-zone to create a prompt that feels personalized, drives users to a nearby store, and encourages them to use the app to make an order. The promo invites app users to come to their nearest Starbucks shop to participate in a buy one, get one free “Happy Hour.” First users receive the invite push notification. When they open the message, they’re brought to a screen in the app that explains the promotion, then directs them to find their nearest location.

Step 1: Starbucks app users are sent a push notification.
Step 2: Once users open the push, they’re prompted to find a nearby store and learn more about the promotion.


Ritual’s Geo-based Push Notification Re-engagement Promo

Ritual, a food ordering app, reminds users to make their first oder by suggesting local restaurants they may want to eat at, and offering them a $5 discount if they make a purchase.

Ritual suggests nearby spots to make a purchase.
The Ritual notification leads to an offer for $5 off the  user’s first order.

Suggesting a local store or location users love in your promo adds a layer of personalization.

Another important factor is the timing of this push notification. This one is sent before noon—the time users typically start thinking about making a lunch order on the app. Which brings us to our next example…

McDonald’s Timely, Local Sports Team Promo Push

McDonald leverages its users’ city to create timely push notifications related to local events. In this example, McDonalds sent Toronto residents a special offer when their team (the Raptors) had a good game.

McDonald’s app sends special promotions based on local events in the user’s city.

Consider using local events for location-based push notifications that delight users.

More location-based push notification ideas:

  • Class or event passes: If a customer uses an app to purchase a class or attends a nearby event, send them a push notification for other top-rated classes or similar events in the area.
  • Weather-based promos: Brands could send location-based messages to customers in certain regions about seasonal promotions based on local weather forecasts. Ex: “It’s going to be chilly in Cleveland this week. Stock up on winter gear with the coupon code CHILL20 at your local store.”

2. Geo Push Notification Promotions (Triggered by Real-time User Location)

These promotions are geo-triggered when a mobile user is within the boundaries of a pop-up shop, retail store, or other special event or location.

Sephora’s Mini Makeover Push

Sephora app users receive a push notification when they come within a certain radius of a nearby store. This push offers them a free service, which incentivizes them to enter a store and increases the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase.

This geo-triggered Sephora push notification works well because it includes fun emojis, is short, action-driven, beneficial and timely.

Flipp’s Nearby Clippings

Flipp’s app sends users special coupons and code for nearby stores users have chosen to follow.

Flipp’s promotional push notifications are based on location and user preferences.

While Flipp aggregates coupons for a variety of stores, think about how your brand can send special notices for sales or offers at specific stores when users are nearby. Which brings us to our next example…

Nike SNKRS Stash Shock Drops

Nike drove purchases through a unique geo-based push campaign. It gave its SNKRS app users exclusive chances to purchase limited edition sneakers at surprise pop-up shops in their city. Nike leveraged geofencing to send a “Shock Drop SNKRS Pass” to users within a 25-mile radius of downtown Atlanta. The passes invited them to come purchase hard-to-find Nike items while they were in stock at the pop-up shop.

SNKRS app users received exclusive notifications with an offer to come buy limited edition apparel based on their location. (Photo by Engadget.)

While these one-off campaigns may not be delivered as consistently as the examples above, using information about special items that are in-stock locally can drive urgency among customers—and entice them to come to your store faster than generic location-based push notifications can.

Yelp’s Local Push Recommendations

The Yelp app sends users restaurant recommendations based on their location. Personalizing recommendations based on location is an effective way to show users value and make the app feel tailored to their preferences—both of which help with long-term mobile user retention.

Yelp’s database of restaurant reviews makes it possible to send users local recommendations based on their location.

Sephora Airport Geofence Push Notification

Sephora is so good at user engagement we had to include them in this post twice. They send this push notifications when users are in an airport that houses one of their stores:

Sephora makes it easy for users to find stores located in airports when they’re traveling with location-triggered push notifications.

The timing, relevancy and fun nature of this message deserves an award for mobile user engagement.

Other ways to use geo-triggered push notifications:

  • Travel-based promos: Telecommunications companies often send customers messages about buying top-ups when they travel. Think about how your brand can show users value when they leave their city or country by sending them special offers, helpful information and more. Ex: “Welcome to Orlando! Forget to pack something? Stock up at our downtown location at 321 Sunnyvale.
  • Engage users when they leave a location: Consider sending a push notification after users leave a geofence. Offer a discount the next time they’re in the area, or ask them for a review of their experience (if they made a purchase or entered your location) to stay top of mind and gain valuable feedback.
  • Live-event offers: Sponsors of a live event, like a concert or sporting event, could send push notifications to mobile users near or at the event to visit their booth for a special promotion.

3. Informational & Transactional Geo-Targeted Push Notifications

Retaining mobile users is a long game. If you only send promotional pushes, users may get bored, or feel like your messages are one-sided. Consider re-engaging mobile users by providing helpful information based on their location.

Apple Store Welcome Message

The Apple Store app sends users a ‘Welcome’ message that explains the benefits of using their app in-store when they’re near a store. This helps users understand the benefits of the app, and favors long-term user stickiness over short term sales. It also promotes the enhanced in-store shopping experience customers can have by using the app to make purchases and learn about products.

This geo-targeted push highlights the shopping experience users can have by using the Apple Store mobile app in brick-and-mortar stores.

Foursquare’s Contextual Push Notification Recommendations

To re-engage users when they’re near a location, Foursquare’s city guide app suggests nearby businesses users may like by including helpful information from other users.

Foursquare sends review information about nearby establishments users when they’re near a relevant location.

Brands can copy this idea by sharing relevant product information based on users’ preferences, past purchases, other user reviews, or friend activity whenever they’re near a location. Sending helpful push messages—like product pairings or ‘how to’ tips—can impact long-term mobile retention more than sales promotions alone.

Other Transactional Push Updates Based on Location and Purchases

While they aren’t the most innovative type of push, don’t forget how useful transactional push messages can be. Updating users on the status of their order makes their experience more convenient and personalized.

Food delivery apps and travel apps do this especially well. Think about how your brand can follow suit with status updates that create anticipation and keep you top of mind with users.

In addition to informing users when their cab arrives, this local taxi app sends users a push notification when the trip begins, and a summary once their ride is over.

More location-based transactional push ideas:

  • Location-based rewards & sharing: Incentivize customers to use their app at a nearby location by offering special rewards or discounts if they write a review, share a photo, take a survey or more using their mobile phone. This way, you’ll have more user feedback and social proof to leverage for future mobile campaigns.

Geo Push Notifications Set-up Tips & Best Practices

1. Improve User Opt-in Rates

When customers download your app, they often choose to opt-out of letting you collect information about their location and send them notifications. Including a screen message before that pop-up to explain why users should opt-in is critical for getting them to allow you to send push notifications and track their location.

The Aldo app clearly illustrates what users are opting into and the benefits of enabling push notifications and location-based shopping.


The Foursquare apps shows users how push notifications work in it’s onbaording so users are more likely to opt-in. It also has a message appear under the prompt so users are more likely to hit “Allow.”

Additional opt-in and push best practices to consider:

  • Try using soft prompts to get users to opt-in by embedding your permission requests in different areas of the app instead of forcing users to opt-in as part of an onboarding flow. This way, users have a chance to understand how your app works and why sharing that information would be beneficial before they decide to opt-in or not.
  • Retarget users who opted out by sending them an email or in-app message that explains the benefits of push notifications. Ex: “Want to know when your order will arrive? Allow us to send you push notifications.”
  • Allow customers to choose how frequently they receive push notifications and the types of push notifications they would like to receive. This will make them more likely to opt-in because they have control over their experience.
Nike’s SNKRS app lets users get specific about which products they receive push notifications about.

2. Use Kill Switches

Including a Kill Switch in your push notifications enables you to prevent a push notification from being sent out under certain circumstances. Kill switches are a fail-safe that prevents users from receiving messages that won’t apply to them or receiving the same message too many times.

Here are a few examples of kill switches you should think about incorporating into your push notifications:

  • If a user is sent a promotional push notification and takes action by making a purchase, prevent them from receiving that promo twice.
  • If a push promotion is time sensitive, don’t let it be triggered if a user enters a location after it ends.
  • If a user moves too quickly through your geo-fenced area, don’t send the push since they won’t have time to take action before they leave the area.
  • If users walk past your store locations frequently because it’s on the way to work or home, set a max number of times they can receive the notification so they don’t receive it repeatedly.
  • If users have already received a certain number of pushes over the last few days, prevent their location from triggering a push so they aren’t sent too many notifications.

Ask your push notification provider or dev team (if you use an in-house solution) how these can be set up.

3. Write Engaging Geo-based Push Notifications

Make sure your push notification text isn’t too long. Taplytics has found that six to 15 words is a good range for messages, with twelve being the sweetspot. (That’s length is easy for customers to read at a glance.) Make your messages benefit-driven and actionable, and use deep links to guide users to the right place in your app when they open the push notification so taking action is easy.

Finally, use emojis or images to make your push notifications more eye-catching. You’re competing with other push notifications for your users’ attention, and visuals can help you standout.

This fun, short push from reselling app letgo entices users to see new items available near them.

4. Optimize Push Notifications With Data

Every audience is unique. To improve engagement with your messages, A/B test push notification timing and content to see what resonates with users. You can do this with push A/B testing software, which will send winning variants to all users, or send push experiments to smaller markets to gauge results before launching to your entire user base. (Remember to take time zones and local customs into consideration when extrapolating results from one market to another.)

How to Start Engaging Mobile Users With Location Based-Push

Location-based push can be a big opportunity to engage (or re-engage) mobile users. If you aren’t already using push notifications at all, start experimenting today with themed, timely messages.

If you’re currently sending notifications, try creating location-based push campaigns with the user data you have on hand. If all goes well, you should see a spike in mobile user engagement.