Marketers have long been aiming to cater their marketing efforts towards people that are interested in their message and willing to act upon it. Location-based marketing provides an intriguing avenue for marketers to understand and capitalize on geographic-specific trends, such as regional preferences or shopping patterns. Location-based marketing, or geotargeting, is defined as “customizing an advertisement for a product or service to a specific market, based on the geographic location of potential buyers”. If utilized correctly, location-based marketing can be a lucrative tool for companies of all sizes.
Who’s Using It?
A study by the Pew Internet & American Life project revealed that about 75% of smartphone owners use their device to retrieve location-based information in real time. In addition, 20% of smartphone users are checking into local businesses with geo-social services such as Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram. Clearly, geolocation services are gaining traction with smartphone users who are searching for and sharing their location information.
How to market your brand with location-based networks
There have been some pretty amazing innovations in the space of location-based technology. One example is geofencing which is a virtual boundary set around a location. Starbucks has cleverly utilized geofencing such that if a person crosses a Starbucks geofence, they will receive a message indicating an offer, coupon, or a reminder to stop by (assuming they’ve downloaded the Starbucks app). Geofencing is a great idea for businesses with multiple locations, such as coffee shop giants or start-up franchises.
Another popular location-based marketing tactic is to provide loyalty programs for people that check-in through location-based networks. One classic example is “Pepsi Loot” which allows customers to earn loot points when they check-in through location-based social networks, such as Foursquare. Loot points can then be used to download songs or receive free drinks from Pepsi customer restaurants. Domino’s Pizza also created a loyalty program through Foursquare by giving free pizzas to their most loyal customers, determined by the number of “check-ins”.
Popular Geo-targeting Tools
Foursquare is the popular social location-sharing app that allows users to check-in and share their location experiences with friends. It also allows users to discover what’s nearby through personalized recommendations and deals based on where they’ve been, where their friends are going, and what people with similar tastes have discovered. Users can also search by category to find particular things they’re looking for – whether it’s a handmade fudge store or a local park. To successfully use Foursquare for your social media strategy, it’s important that you claim your venue and offer incentives for users to check-in to your location. Perhaps this can be linked to a loyalty program or you can offer deals for customers that check-in.
Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions, recently stated that Facebook is testing a location-based mobile advertising product that enables companies to target users with real-time data. Considering that there are over 900 million Facebook users, a real-time location-based ad feature could help companies target customers. Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co in San Fransicso, explains that “the holy grail of advertising is finding people when they are at their closest point to making a purchase”. Facebook’s integration of location-based marketing could be the future of corporate social media marketing strategies – but for now, it’s something to keep an eye out for!