How your business can avoid the pitfalls of location-based marketing

Not involving your staff

There's nothing worse than putting a great offer out through a location-based service, getting plenty of check-ins, and then not following through at the counter or table.

Imagine the disappointment if a regular customer receives a deal for your coffee shop and turns up to claim it, only to be greeted with a blank stare from the barista on duty. It's critical that every staff member knows the current offers and delivers them to customers who check-in. Make sure to train your staff so that they understand the location-based service/s that you've joined.

Receiving negative reviews

Some location-based services, such as Yelp and Zomato, rely heavily on user reviews. Chances are that if you have a page on these kinds of sites, you will get at least one negative review from a user. The best way to avoid this is to deliver a good product or service. If you do get a negative review, respond quickly and politely. (See the next potential pitfall for more info.)

Responding badly to negative reviews

The only thing worse than not responding to a negative review is responding badly. Being defensive, rude, aggressive or flippant is likely to make the damage to your brand even worse. Remember, customers are able to judge for themselves if a review is inconsistent with all the positive reviews that have been posted. But they also appreciate a business-owner who cares enough to respond - either by apologising and fixing a problem, or by politely putting his or her side of the case.

Learn more about managing online customer reviews.

Attracting the wrong customers

Location-based marketing selects potential customers based solely on their location, not on any other characteristic. Anybody who walks past your door and checks-in will receive your offers.

Depending on the nature of your business, you need to decide if this is right for your brand. Will your middle-aged bar clientele like it if a horde of 20-somethings starts turning up for happy hour? If you operate a high-end clothing outlet, will your usual fashionistas be happy if you invite casual passersby to step through your door? And if you trigger a 'swarm' (where you encourage a large number of check-ins simultaneously), will all your new customers get along with each other, and can you handle the crowd?

To avoid problems, make sure that any location-based marketing is consistent with your other marketing messages and your overall brand management.

Excluding people without smartphones

Smartphone use is increasing rapidly. The Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2015 (PDF, 2.5MB) reports that almost 80% of Australian mobile phone users own an internet-enabled smartphone - not counting other internet-enabled devices such as tablets and laptops.

However, if many of your target group - your current or potential customers - don't own smartphones, they may not be able to effectively use all the functions of location-based services.

One simple way around this is to survey your customers and ask them what kinds of mobile devices they use. Another is to come up with alternative offers that can be delivered in store or to standard mobiles (e.g. as SMS messages) so that this group of customers isn't left out.

Learn more about text (SMS) marketing.

Privacy, safety and security

Numerous commentators have expressed concern at the potential hazards of individuals publicly revealing their whereabouts (and sometimes even their home addresses) through location-based services.

While this is more of a problem for customers than businesses, no business wants to be associated with a potential security risk for its clientele. Responsible businesses make a point of encouraging customers to use location-based services sensibly.

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