How to Use Geomarketing to Drive Traffic to Your Location

Geomarketing can be particularly useful to social media marketers if you are a business with a real location, as opposed to a business based solely online. For most businesses, geomarketing involves a teaser deal that attracts residents or out-of-town visitors who “check in” online or with a mobile device when they arrive at the establishment.

This concept is particularly attractive for events, tourist sites, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Almost all these services notify their subscribers by text message or on their mobile sites whenever an offer is available nearby.

Each service operates a little differently, with some offering virtual badges as a reward, while others offer special discounts to repeat customers (those who check in most often) or first-timers.

The rise of geomarketing

Estimates show that locally targeted geomarketing techniques may produce results twice as high as untargeted advertising. For instance, The Breakfast Club in London has seen more than 1,600 check-ins since it started offering discounts for foursquare users.

According to a Microsoft survey conducted by Cross-Tab Marketing Services in December 2011, about 60 percent of Internet users are aware of check-in services, and more than half have used them.

In addition to being popular:

  • Most geomarketing services work on multiple smartphone, tablet, and laptop platforms, so end-user device limitations aren’t a concern.

  • The rapid growth in mobile marketing will accelerate the use of geomarketing.

  • The audience for geomarketing skews heavily to young men, who also happen to be the early adopters of mobile technology. Only 22 percent of users are female; and of the men, 44 percent are 18–29 years old. If your product or service fits this demographic base well, B2C geomarketing might be up your alley.

  • Some businesses may see only limited benefits, but the cost is also minimal. Unlike group coupons, these offers are generally inexpensive, so merchants face no significant losses.

  • Inbound links from services like foursquare can improve ranking in search results.

  • Hospitality businesses, entertainment venues, and restaurants can create geomarketing offers for “slow” times of day or off-season occupancy. This approach can turn down-times into profitable opportunities.

Easy-to-use tools like PlacePunch, a free-standing location marketing platform, help you manage multiple location check-in services or create your own. Although recently acquired by Silverpop, PlacePunch plans to continue operating across foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook location applications.

Consider geomarketing factors

Geomarketing isn’t for every business. Whether you should use a geomarketing service depends on the nature of your business, whether your customer base already is using this option, and which location-based activities consume your prospective customers’ time. Mull over these factors before you take the leap:

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Many cellphone apps already offer a location-specific tool — for example, a weather report, road conditions, a list of gas prices at stations around town — and then add a sponsor. If all you’re trying to do is reach the on-the-go consumer who is ready to buy, do you need more than that? Maybe a pay-per-click (PPC) ad on a mobile search engine solves your needs.

  • Numbers matter. Enough people living near or visiting your location have to use a particular geomarketing application to make it worth the effort. This issue is nontrivial because most services don’t publicize this data. Try to research the number of users in your area with both the service provider and a third-party source, such as Alexa. The numbers can fluctuate widely and are difficult to find.

    After you estimate the size of the potential audience (the reach), remember that only a small percentage of the audience is likely to become customers. Your best bet: Ask existing customers which location-based services, if any, that they use.

    To get an idea of the number of members, try creating a user account. Then scan the list of places in your area for the inclusion of neighbors and competitors, and look at the maximum number of check-ins at those locations. Even if you don’t ordinarily serve geolocation fanatics, a high-tech conference that draws a huge number of users may be a one-time opportunity worth taking advantage of.

  • Prospective customers must be willing to participate. Some surveys have shown that 75 percent of women avoid location-based services partly out of fear of stalking and partly from lack of interest. You must take privacy issues into account.

  • Local is not always enough. No matter the size of the total user base for a specific location tool in your neighborhood, you may draw a large audience of foursquare users only if you happen to own the pizza place across the street from the computer science building at the local college, not if you offer a badge to seniors at a retirement community who show up for specials.

  • Demographics are fluid. Be cautious: The demographics and statistics on these sites change quickly as they become more popular and move out of the early adopter stage.

  • The temptation is great to “go geo.” Don’t jump into geomarketing just because it’s cool or trendy.

Promote your geosocial participation in as many ways as possible on your other social media accounts and websites.

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