At one time, location-based technology was arguably the hottest trend in the digital world next to mobile and social media. A couple of years later, and the entire landscape has undergone a dramatic shift. Once promising destinations such as Gowalla, Loopt, and Whrrl have dissolved into acquisition, leaving Foursquare as the lone pioneer standing. Of course some competitors have managed to stick around, but the struggles endured by web giants the likes of Facebook suggest that this channel isn’t necessarily a synch to successfully break into.
Regardless of who winds up on the top of the pile, the future of location-based marketing looks very bright. How can I be so sure? Well nothing’s for certain, but the ongoing proliferation of smartphones will continue to drive several trends, and this one is as primed as any.
Mobile Fueling Local Data
Data from comScore revealed that the number of smartphone users topped 100 million last January. A survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates reveals that 74% of smartphone owners use their devices to acquire real-time location-based data, while 18% use a service like Foursquare to check-in.
The aforementioned statistics are an indication that the potential in the location-based game hasn’t waned, by actually increased. Savvy marketers would be wise to devise strategies that enable the mobile population to use these services to locate information regarding their products, services, and brands. Here are a few best practices to adopt.
Use a Good Geo Platform
There are several location-based platforms, but Foursquare is the top dog for a reason. In addition to the impressive user activity, this site is particularly beneficial to marketers because it costs nothing to use. You can create a listing for your business, connect with your local audience, and even access a ton of resources that explain how to get the most from the platform. As you usual, you want to follow your audience, and your chances of being able to connect with a good portion of it are very high here.
Mobilize Your Website
The one huge factor that often gets overlooked for location-based marketing is the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. Being able to tap into a rich source of data gives you the ability to reach customers and prospects while they’re out and about anywhere. It would be a shame if they come to your website ready to engage and you greet them with a horrible mobile experience. There it is again — yet another reason to stop procrastinating with your mobile presence.
Localize Your SEO Efforts
There are plenty of things you can do to add a local component to SEO strategy. Following is a whole list of them:
- Add your business location to blog tags, title tags, and meta data
- Create a geographical sitemap using services like Google Maps
- Publish content with a local focus
- Build links with other local businesses
- Encourage feedback from customers on local review sites
Encourage and Reward Check-ins
Check-ins have a lot of potential for the simple fact that they create more awareness for your business. If Beth’s friends see she’s hanging out at your sports bar, they may decide to come join her or stop by another time. A simple, but effective way to boost check-in activity is to give visitors an incentive to do so. You don’t have to get too extravagant with it, but remember that freebies are always in season. Since no one knows your crowd like you, it is on you to come up with something that drives them to check-in on a regular basis.
Study Your Data
The true strength of location-based marketing does lie in check-in services. It’s about the data. Speaking of data, you should be looking at you own to make sure you’re hitting the mark. Fourscore, Geotoko, and WebTrendsMoible are some of the analytics solutions being decision strictly for measuring location-based marketing initiatives. These tools will help you uncover key trends that empower you to optimize your strategy accordingly.
The location game isn’t going anywhere but up. Where will your business be when it’s at its highest level? Hopefully you’re right in the thick of things and not still on the outside looking in. It’s possible, but playing catch can be tough once you get so far behind.
Above image source: Flickr/lululemon athletica