Mobile Marketing Helps New Customers Check Out Your Business by “Checking In”
Mobile marketing is an increasingly effective way for small business owners to tap into a younger customer base. While it might not be a perfect fit for every business, Better Business Bureau recommends owners check out the marketing potential in geo-location apps like Foursquare, Facebook Places and Yelp.
As technology improves, cell phones continue to perform any number of functions beyond making calls. Many programs on mobile phones rely on geo-location and can tell you where you are and what’s nearby—including businesses. This technology creates a new way to market your business to customers when they are literally right around the corner. According to a recent survey by JiWire, more than 50 percent of mobile users would like to receive location-specific advertising; another 39 percent would like to receive location-based coupons.
“Lacking the time, know-how and money to launch an effective online marketing strategy can make many small business owners neglect the whole endeavor,” said Kathy Barrett, BBB President. “The good news about mobile marketing is that you don’t necessarily need to dedicate a lot of time or money into a campaign to reap some rewards.”
Following are just a few mobile tools that small business owners can take advantage of to market their business to customers on the go. Even if you aren’t ready to launch a mobile marketing campaign, it’s still a good idea to take ownership of your business’s profiles on these sites to make sure the information is accurate and up to date:
With nearly 3 million users, Foursquare has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately for its explosive popularity among young adults. Foursquare is a mobile app that allows you to “check in” at locations—usually businesses—which tells other Foursquare users where you are. If you check in to a location a lot, you can become a “mayor” of that location—which can be a highly coveted achievement.
Some businesses have taken advantage of Foursquare by offering coupons to mayors or people who check in. Foursquare also provides a map to users so they can see what specials are being offered at nearby businesses. Foursquare prominently lists which businesses are the most popular, so an owner can benefit by encouraging patrons to check in. Foursquare also provides details and stats on the people who check in at your business which can help you learn more about customers.
Facebook—which now boasts over 500 million users worldwide—recently launched Facebook Places as a competitor to Foursquare. Facebook users can “check in” and their location is published on their Facebook page. They can then see which friends have also “checked in”.
Similar to Foursquare, a business owner can create a new place or claim a location that already has a profile in Facebook. You’ll be asked to verify that you can claim the location before you’ll be able to add photos and business details. After an initial launch in a few cities, Facebook Places will be made available to more locations over time and the features offered to users and business owners will be expanded as well.
Yelp is a website that allows users to post reviews of businesses, services, locations and events. According to Yelp, 33 million people visited the site in June 2010. In addition to the website, Yelp also provides a mobile version with an interactive map and allows users to “check in” at locations. After “unlocking” your location, you can offer coupons through Yelp, update your business information and promote events.
For more advice on marketing your business on a tight budget, visit http://www.bbb.org/us/Business-Tips-Index/.
Better Business Bureau
GREENVILLE, S.C. — If you happen to sit next to Trish Cone while she’s eating at her favorite Greenville restaurant, feel free to address her as “the mayor.”
“It’s about bragging rights,” Cone told WYFF News 4’s Tim Waller. “I’m like, ‘I’m the mayor of Fried Green Tomatoes. Don’t take that away from me.'”
Cone is the mayor according to a website called Foursquare, which allows users to share their location with friends. By “checking in” on her GPS-enabled smart phone, she scores points, unlocks badges and earns discounts from participating businesses.
Unfortunately, Cone says, most businesses in the Upstate still have no idea what Foursquare is.
“I would say 90 percent are totally clueless,” Cone said. “The owners don’t know that I’m the mayor of Fried Green Tomatoes,” Cone said. “And I’m giving (them) advertisement basically for free.”
How? When users check in on Foursquare, their location is shared across multiple platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Users also have the ability to leave “tips,” which on Foursquare is a review, that can be read by all their friends.
“Great meat and three,” Cone writes in her smart phone, broadcasting the message to more than 1,000 Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
But there is another reason people are checking in on Foursquare, and it has nothing to do with becoming mayor. Ariana Zariah, a local Realtor, is having lunch with the hope that her friends on Foursquare will join her.
“It’s all about connections, and ultimately friendships,” Zariah said. “We’ve gotten so involved in our computers and that virtual world that doesn’t exist. I’m hoping that Foursquare brings us back to a place where we’re sitting at a table like this and we’re having a conversation.”
Fifteen minutes after checking in on Foursquare, Zariah got her wish.
“It looks like I have friends here from Twitter!” she said.
Phil Webb, another Foursquare user who saw Zariah’s “check in” on Twitter, decided to stop at the restaurant where Zariah was having lunch to meet her face-to-face for the first time.
“We were going down Main Street and I saw the posting,” Webb said. “I was like, ‘Well, let’s go have lunch,’ and here we are.”
It was Zariah’s first encounter with someone on Foursquare.
“I would expect it in New York City I think. I hope as things go forward, it will be more of a commonality in Greenville,” Zariah said.
But in the city where the Foursquare idea was born, and where this red hot tech company is headquartered, Foursquare meet-ups are commonplace, and discounts for “mayors” abound.
Ben Conniff of Luke’s Lobster in Manhattan said Foursquare is an powerful marketing tool for his restaurant.
“There’s a clear incentive to keep checking in here, because once you get to that mayor status, you get 10-percent off on your lobster roll,” Conniff said.
News 4 was invited to “check in” at Foursquare headquarters in the Village Voice building in East Village. The website now boasts 4 million users, and is adding 20,000 new users each day.
Jonathan Crowley of Foursquare’s business development team said every business that has started offering discounts to Foursquare users has seen an increase in foot traffic.
“We actually saw that there was a café called Little Miss Café in Baltimore. They have a very popular brunch there with a big line around the corner. And they started to offer specials for the mayors. And ever since they started offering that special, they saw a 427 percent increase in check ins,” Crowley said.
Crowley said location-based services like Foursquare are “hot real estate” in the social networking world. He said Foursquare offers businesses valuable word of mouth advertising, because of how it works in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter.
“Let’s say I go to a local burger joint around the corner and I check in. I’m sharing that with 100 of my friends, and I’m pushing that check in to Facebook and to Twitter. I have 800 friends on Facebook, so they’re all seeing, ‘Hey, Jonathan’s over here at this great place, he’s checking in there all the time, I should go by and check that out,'” Crowley said.
Foursquare’s Harry Heymann, who is originally from Greenville, said young people especially are embracing location-based websites.
“Obviously, we’re focused on people in their 20s and 30s who go out a little more and socialize more because they don’t have kids yet,” Heymann said. “(But) successful things always expand to wider and wider age groups and demographics, and we certainly hope that Foursquare a couple of years from now, maybe not as big as Facebook, will be used by 10, 20 or 30 million people.”
While businesses in the Upstate have been slow to jump on the Foursquare bandwagon, a few offers discounts. Bin 112 on Trade Street in Greer gives a 5 percent discount to anyone who checks in.
“We’re all looking for free advertising,” said Allison Clark of Bin 112. “Every business, no matter how big or small, is looking for free advertising.”
Clark said while the response to her Foursquare discount hasn’t been overwhelming, she believes that will change as more people sign up, with dreams of becoming the mayor.