The Future of Location-Based Marketing

Foursquare location-based marketingBeyond the Check-In 

The number of people who own smartphones in the United States continues to rise. According to comScore, for the three-month period ending in December of 2012, 97.9 million people in the United States owned smartphones, up 12% from the preceding three month period.

 

With this in mind, it is becoming essential that businesses develop strategies to help consumers find information about their products and services when consumers reach for their mobile devices. Although it is not the only tool in a business’s mobile marketing toolbox, location-based marketing is going to become more important for businesses of all sizes in the very near future.

 

Location-Based Social Networking Sites

When you mention location-based marketing, many people immediately think of location-based apps similar to Foursquare, SCVNGR or maybe even Shopkick. Businesses that have this narrow view of location-based marketing may be reluctant to embrace it because relatively few consumers have started using these services. However, this could be a mistake.

 

A recent article on AdWeek.com points out some interesting insights from a Forrester study that was published in December of 2011. According to the study, only 6% of U.S. online adults had used geolocation apps in the past, up two percentage points from 2010. Furthermore, when the study was conducted, just 2% of U.S. online adults used geolocation apps once a week or more. However, as the Adweek article goes on to mention, the early adopters of geolocation apps tend to be influential and young. These early adopters are also more likely to share product information, promotional coupons or discount codes than average online U.S. adults.

 

It should also be noted that offering discounts on food or merchandise just for checking in to a business on any location-based social networking site can also help get consumers away from their computers and into the business’ brick and mortar locations—which can lead to increased sales.

 

Furthermore, as I blogged about last summer, some companies have used location-based social networking sites to interact with consumers in very creative ways, including offering dog owners the opportunity to instantly receive a free sample of dog food when they check in on Foursquare at a specially-designed billboard, or by offering free merchandise from a digital vending experience where the only payment required is a Foursquare check-in.

 

The Future of Location-Based Marketing

Earlier this year, Aaron Strout, Head of Location-Based Marketing at WCG and co-author of “Location-Based Marketing for Dummies,” posted a blog post that lists the 2012 predictions from several thought leaders in this area of marketing. In the post, Strout predicts that check-ins will become more passive. He clarifies his statement by saying that active checking in like people do on Foursquare won’t go away, but they will become less of a focus.

 

Several people mentioned in an article posted just a few days ago on AdWeek.com support Strout’s opinion. The AdWeek article mentions that Forrester Research analyst Melissa Parrish thinks it’s a mistake for marketers to equate location-based mobile marketing with a mere check-in campaign—especially considering that, despite its high profile, Foursquare is not all that big. The article points out that some companies are experimenting with location-informed ad content. Forrester’s Parrish points out that when users click certain Victoria’s Secret rich-media display ads, they expand to reveal the message: “The closest Victoria’s Secret to get this set of pajamas is 0.4 miles away. Click here for directions.” The article also examines the pros and cons of geofencing, including privacy concerns. In the process, it points out that some businesses require that consumers opt-in before marketers can target them with a local ad. I’d suggest reading the AdWeek article in its entirety, as it has some interesting insights.

 

Key Takeaways

  • As more people purchase smartphones, location-based marketing is going to become more important for businesses of all sizes.

 

  • Many consumers will welcome the opportunity to receive targeted communications and discounts if they are relevant and hopefully opt-in.

 

  • Now might be the time start experimenting to find out what works with your target demographic before you competition does.

 

Written by Guest Blogger: Chad Thiele. Read more from Chad at 1911mainstreet.com or follow him @sunbeltbadger

 

 

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About Karin Khuhro

Karin Khuhro is a Digital Marketing Strategist, Speaker and Copywriter. As the owner of Strategy E-ssentials she works with other savvy marketers, digital specialists and business leaders to bring knowledge, know-how and solutions to small and medium sized businesses. Connect with Karin on Google+ or Linkedin.

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