How location-based marketing works

Sometimes called 'geo-targeted marketing' or 'place-based marketing', location-based marketing delivers messages to customers and potential customers when they are physically close to your business.

These marketing messages are delivered to customers' mobile devices via location-based services - websites that specialise in providing this kind of information.

Location-based marketing relies on:

  • smartphones that allow users to access rich internet features wherever they are
  • GPS (global positioning system) technology that enables services to pinpoint the locations of mobile devices and businesses.

Some of the best-known location-based services are discussed below.

Google My Business

Google operates the world's most popular search engine. When you search for a place or business using Google, your results include a 'Google map', which shows the location of the place or business.

Google My Business adds detail by providing a short business profile for businesses that appear on Google maps. Google My Business generates its information automatically, using publicly available data.

While Google My Business is the simplest location-based marketing service, it's also one of the most important. Increasingly, customers are searching for businesses while they're standing in a particular street or suburb. Many small businesses get most of their online referrals from Google, so it's important to make sure that your profile on Google My Business is complete.

Google My Business is available to anybody, and doesn't require users to sign up or download software.

Learn more about claiming your business page on Google My Business.

Facebook for business

Facebook is a social networking website that allows people to share information and media with other users.

Facebook allows users to check in at a business and post a video or comment. Facebook also allows users to review your business. By encouraging users to 'check in' on Facebook, the reach of your page is increased significantly.

To ensure your business is setup correctly, the page information must be complete in the 'about' section of your page settings.

Learn more about using Facebook to market your business.

Zomato

Zomato is a website where customers review restaurants and other food and drink outlets. The site ranks businesses according to the star ratings awarded by reviewers.

Zomato members use the site to choose where to eat, often when they are already out. They simply type in a category of restaurant (e.g. 'Italian') and the site generates a list of options nearby.

Zomato generates a page for any business that's reviewed, using publicly available information. You can claim your business page for free, and then edit it. Joining Zomato also allows you to respond directly and officially to reviews, send messages to reviewers, and see voting trends for your establishment. Zomato does not have a check-in function or check-in offers, but does offer paid advertising.

Customers must join Zomato before they can contribute reviews, but anybody can search the site. A mobile Zomato site can be accessed without apps, but apps are also available for mobile devices.

Learn more about claiming your business page on Zomato.

Yelp

Yelp is similar to Zomato, but covers a broader range of businesses. Users join the site and can then contribute reviews in more than 20 different categories. Yelp describes itself as a way to 'help people find great local businesses like dentists, hairstylists and mechanics'.

Mobile users can search Yelp for nearby businesses in a particular category and view a list that shows star rankings and how many user reviews each business has. Yelp also allows users to check in to businesses, and rewards users for frequent check-ins by awarding online 'badges' and 'royalty' status.

Like Zomato, Yelp will generate a page for your business if somebody reviews you. If you 'unlock' your page, you can add information (including a history of your business and a profile of the owner or manager), recommend other businesses, and post photos. Yelp also allows check-in offers (for immediate use), deals (which can be used at a later date), and paid advertising. A percentage of the value of every deal is retained by Yelp.

Only members can contribute reviews to Yelp, but anybody can search it. Apps are available for most mobile devices, but it can also be viewed on the Yelp Mobile site.

Learn more about claiming your business page on Yelp.