Tips for successful location-based marketing

Have a clear goal and strategy

Know why you're using location-based marketing, and how you're going to achieve your goal. For example, let's say you're a tour company in a coastal town, surrounded by similar businesses. You might want to attract more backpackers, who typically walk up and down the street looking at various tour offers. You could create location-based offers that:

  • give a discount to anybody who checks-in and can show you an international passport
  • encourage a 'swarm' of backpackers to join a particular activity, with a free barbecue thrown in if the crowd hits the required number.

If your goal is clear, it's easy to test whether your location-based marketing is working.

Claim your profile page

Many location-based services automatically generate a page for your business using publicly available data (e.g. phone directory information). These pages usually contain the bare minimum of information, some of which may be incorrect. It's free to claim your page and enter the information that you want, so make it a priority.

If your business doesn't have a page yet on a particular site, you should create one. Even if you never send out an offer, claiming your pages on a number of location-based sites can increase your profile significantly.

Provide complete, up-to-date information

Provide as much information as you can on your profile page. Some services (e.g. Google My Business) ask only for basic information and one photo. Others (e.g. Yelp, Zomato) have lots of pre-defined categories that should be completed. Facebook allows you to craft a very detailed Facebook business page.

Remember, customers use profiles to decide if they want to visit your business. If your information is incomplete or out of date, they are likely to move on to a competitor who provides more information than you.

Use pictures and videos

Potential customers want to see your business, and what they'll get if they accept one of your offers. So show them what your business looks like — as well as the free cocktail that you'll give them if they walk in now, the jeans that will only be on sale for the next 3 hours, or the room upgrade they will receive if they check-in enough times.

Make your offers good, and change them regularly

Good offers motivate people to keep checking-in. For example, in 2010, a Silicon Valley shopping mall used Facebook to offer customers who checked-in a 15% discount at a high-profile clothing store, and a chance to win Jonas Brothers concert tickets.

Offers can also deliver emotional rewards to customers. One university allowed fans who checked-in to form the tunnel for the university football team to run through. And many businesses have used their offers to make donations to charity (e.g. $1 donated for every check-in).

Offers should also change regularly. Location-based marketing doesn't demand the very frequent updates required by Twitter or Facebook (which need new posts once or more per day). But customers do like variety, so make sure to change your offers regularly. For example, a sporting goods store could change its discounts based on high-profile sports matches, or what sports are currently in season.

Encourage customer reviews

Yelp and Zomato focus on customer reviews, Google My Business also invites reviews, and Facebook has a 'like' button that users can click to endorse a particular business page.

Encourage your customers to post reviews, especially if they are loyal to your business. Research shows that customers trust other customers' recommendations.

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