Location-Based Marketing: A Small-Business Primer
AT&T got into the location-based act earlier this year when it launched ShopAlerts. The service (free to AT&T customers) sends text alerts to a user's smartphone whenever the person is near a business that uses the ShopAlerts system. The messages contain product information, special promotions, event listings, or whatever the vendor wishes to say. Available in limited release in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, the company hopes to add more locations in the near future.
So should your business care about location-based marketing? Perhaps. At the very least, you'll probably want to check your company's listings on the most popular services (Facebook Places, Foursquare, and Gowalla) to a.) make sure there is a listing and b.) verify all the information is accurate. Typically, a service will require you to verify your claim of ownership before they allow you to edit any of the contact information. Foursquare recently changed its guidelines to make it easier to claim your business listing. Follow the links at the end of this post for more information.
You'll also want to keep an eye on what users are saying when they check in. Read reviews and follow up on feedback, just as you would if someone voiced a complaint in person. As location-based services become more popular, people are using them to decide where to go to spend their money. Lousy reviews will hurt your referral traffic.
If you decide to run a promotion or special through a location-based service, make sure it's tailored to your target audience. You can gauge the success of such efforts by tracking check-ins and people's use of the promotions involved, then adapt your efforts and tweak them on the fly.
For more information about the most common services, here are a few links to get you started:
Foursquare for Business
Gowalla - Business Services
SCVNGR for Business
Yelp for Business Owners