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.
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.
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.
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.
There are plenty of things you can do to add a local component to SEO strategy. Following is a whole list of them:
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.
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
These days it really does not matter if you have a small local business or a larger chain local SEO is something that is crucial if you ever want to see anybody come by your website and inquire a bit more as to what you offer. Keep in mind that the definition of search engine optimization is one that has evolved over the years and is always changing. It is not about jamming a bunch of clunky keywords all over your site but rather a comprehensive approach that combines onsite SEO efforts in conjunction with external quality link building and social media tactics.
The most important starting point with this whole local SEO effort is your website. Don’t assume that it is all link building because it isn’t. Your website is the foundation to everything you do moving forward. If it is not properly optimized for search or conversions you are just going to hold yourself back.
Once you have your website in tip top SEO shape you absolutely need to pay attention to your external SEO marketing efforts if you want to be visible in search. Remember that many of your competitors most likely already perform aggressive external marketing efforts for their websites you are going to either have to catch up or compete directly against them. The search engines do not care if you have a “better” company or lower prices it comes down to search ranking factors and how they view in comparison to those.
Here are some ways you can be building links:
Group buying has become all the rage. Not just for local businesses but really for any business looking to acquire a surge in clients and customers for a reduced cost. For some local businesses this has become a huge cash cow. I have seen spa’s increase business by almost 1000% just from one group buying offer.
If you need more convincing check out Mashable’s:
What is Foursquare? Sites like Foursquare have given many local businesses which depend on foot traffic that new breath they are looking for. Foursquare combines social media and customer loyalty all into one neat little package. As people visit a business they check-in to let others in their network know they are there. You might say that this is silly but so is letting everyone know on Twitter or Facebook you just bought a cup of coffee. The reality is that these novelty efforts many people find interest in.