26 Tips for Success With Location-Based Marketing

social media how toSocial, local, mobile are three words marketers are hearing more and more these days.

And sometimes we may even hear them uttered together in one breath as SoLoMo.

With an increase of users relying on mobile phones, tablets and their accompanying geo-location technology, businesses today are increasingly finding the need to think locally. So, how does SoLoMo work for businesses?

In this post, we’ll introduce 26 tips, an A-Z guide for location-based marketing.

#1: Analytics

If you’ve been wondering about location-based marketing, chances are that you’ve thought about how you’ll go about measuring performance.

Mohamed Kahlain suggests five tools to help get a handle on how well your efforts are doing: Geotoko, Titanium + Geo, Momentfeed, WebTrends Mobile and Fourscore.

webtrends mobile

An example of Webtrends Mobile Analytics Insights.

#2: Blog

Trying to appeal to a local market? Blog posts are good places to write about something specific to your local area—people, places, events and restaurants—you name it.

Be sure to optimize the post with tags that demonstrate the locality of your business so that they will benefit your local search strategy and get indexed properly by search engines.

tags

Optimize your post with tags related to your location.

#3: Coupons and Location-Based Mobile Apps

Coupon apps allow users to find a plethora of deals in their local areas.

Consumer Reports reviewed coupon apps back in December 2011. On the list were The Coupons App, Cellfire App, Foursquare, Grocery iQ, Pushpins and Where.

A quick search of iOS and android apps will offer many opportunities for businesses and shoppers alike.

Will a coupon location mobile app fit into your marketing strategy?

coupons app

The Coupons App is an example of one app that helps users find deals in their local areas.

#4: Directories

To do business locally, companies can submit profile data to a number of local directories (e.g., YellowPages, SuperPages, etc.)

One easy way to get started is through Get Listed, where you can quickly see which sites you may have already claimed your page on and by clicking on the link, you can add your business info to better optimize your social search.

get listed

Get Listed helps you see where you've already claimed your page and what's left on your to-do list.

#5: Engagement

Momentfeed suggests that location-based engagements offer a new way for consumers to engage with brands and products and for brands to connect with consumers—in the moment. They define location-based engagement as: Any action a consumer takes to connect or interact with a specific geographic place via their mobile device… each shares three qualities: time, place, and action.

Furthermore, with location-based engagement, one must voluntarily engage with the place; e.g., a place of business, building, venue, etc.

This action grants a measure of permission on the part of the consumer, not unlike making a search query or clicking on an ad but more specific and timely, which opens the door to a branded response.

#6: Fun, Friends and Check-Ins

Claudio Schapsis asks two questions you too may have wondered about: “Why are people sharing their location?” and “What motivates customers to ‘check in’ and share their whereabouts with the world?”

He answers with the “7 F’s of check-ins”:

  • Fun—people participate for the fun.
  • Fame—people compete to achieve virtual status, badges, stickers, pins and other items so they can show them to their friends.
  • Friends—making and meeting friends.
  • Flirt—to interact with people they don’t necessarily know.
  • Fancying—to recommend places they like.
  • Following—to keep track of places they visited.
  • Freebies—to receive new offers, discounts, coupons and free stuff.

How can you help motivate your customers to check in?

7 f's

The Seven Fs of Check-ins.

#7: Geofences

Geofences are defined as the virtual perimeters for a real-world geographic area. (Wikipedia)

David Sim references geofence tips from Placecast CEO Alistair Goodman’s recent presentation at O’Reilly’s Where Conference.

Goodman suggests that by linking data about the customer’s preferences with the location, it makes the data richer and the message more relevant.

For example, at what type of place is the user (mall, stadium, park) and what’s the weather like? What do the users want to be notified about, when and how often?

Another key point is the need to find relevant locations—not just the retailer’s store, but also other places where the customer is likely to be receptive to the offers.

For example, you might promote dog food or pet stores at a dog park, or a promo for a sports drink around a gym, or the sponsor of a concert around an arena.

What relevant locations can you use to tie in with marketing for your business? What other data will help make your offer more relevant for the user?

#8: Hyperlocal Content

Art Williams defines hyperlocal content as content that has a myopic focus on a specific locale, typically smaller than a metropolitan area. He suggests two important questions for any business online:

  • Should my business be using hyperlocal content to drive traffic?
  • How can hyperlocal content be used to maximum effectiveness?

He says too that with hyperlocal content it’s even more important that your content is not marketing-speak; instead your primary goal should be brand awareness.

How can you use hyperlocal content in your marketing?

#9: Incentives

Incentives are among the 7 steps for a location-based marketing campaign, as offered by Boundless Marketing. They recommend you come up withgreat offers to give to your users that are relevant to your brand. Incentives are what location-based marketing is all about, so you must create unique rewards for your specific target audiences.”

What relevant incentives can your business use?

#10: Jump-Start Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

In their new book, Go Mobile: Location-Based Marketing, Apps, Mobile Optimized Ad Campaigns, 2D Codes, and Other Mobile Strategies to Grow Your Business, authors Jeanne Hopkins and Jamie Turner suggest you jump-start your mobile marketing campaign by doing six things:

  • Become a mobile marketing power user.
  • Set up and launch your mobile website.
  • Analyze how the Fortune 500 use mobile marketing.
  • Register your business on location-based services.
  • Run a mobile paid search campaign.
  • Run a mobile display campaign.
go mobile cover

Go Mobile offers practical, step-by-step guidance for implementing a mobile marketing campaign.

#11: Key Performance Indicators

In their book, Location-Based Marketing for Dummies, authors Aaron Strout, Mike Schneider and B.J. Emerson suggest that thinking about which key performance indicators to track can be critical.

Some of their suggestions for metrics include daily check-ins, check-ins cross-posted to Twitter, comments and tips, photos and number of offers/deals redeemed.

dummies cover

Location-Based Marketing for Dummies teaches how to create a dialogue with location-based services and smartphones.

#12: Local Directories

We began our discussion of directories in #4, but if you’re looking for even more local directories, Eric Vreeland at HubSpot has compiled an extensive list of 50 business directories for local marketing, which will be well worth your time to check out!

#13: Mobile-Friendly Websites

Probably one of the most critical steps you can take is to make your website mobile-friendly—ensuring that it views well on mobile devices and has full functionality to engage users on the go.

Be sure also to include all relevant location information, business and hours, contact information and phone numbers—all in a mobile-friendly design.

sme mobile

Social Media Examiner viewed on an iPhone with mobile theme turned on.

#14: (I)ntent of Purchase

John Arnold reminds us that proximity isn’t necessarily an indication of purchase intent.  He says:

“The most important thing to keep in mind is that your location-based marketing will be much more effective if your tactics can also identify impulsive shoppers versus those who are just researching. That way, you can deliver a ‘buy-it-now’ message to impulsive shoppers or a ‘learn more, buy later’ message to researching shoppers.”

#15: Offers and Conversion Rates

Nathalie Lussier suggests that when you create location-specific offers, you’ll likely get a better conversion rate. As she says:

“Why stop there when you can test different ways of presenting these local offers? Track the number of calls to your number and see if changing the headline to include the city/state improves conversions.”

What can you do to improve your conversion rates?

#16: Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Yellowstone Capital writes that it’s widely accepted that the majority of businesses can effectively make pay-per-click advertising work for their objectives. The one aspect of PPC that is crucial for success is to select specific, targeted and relevant keywords that will drive leads and eventually deliver sales.

Local service providers, particularly if their services are somewhat expensive, can use PPC in a powerful way that allows them to bid on geographic-specific keywords. Providers such as dentists, lawyers, doctors, and particular types of home-repair businesses fit into this category. The kinds of keywords that are used for these businesses are usually of ‘high-intent.’

#17: Queries Produce Local Results

Recent Google updates have improved the ranking of local search results. These updates, part of the 40-algorithm changes known as Google Venice Updates, make it possible for users to find results from their city more reliably. As Google writes, “Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”

google change location

Location-based searches allow users to find more relevant results for their query.

#18: Reviews

With more and more people conducting local searches for businesses in their areas, unsolicited reviews of businesses are cropping up on all kinds of platforms.

Businesses need to monitor and manage their communities to see what’s being said about them so they can take necessary steps to engage with someone who may have had a bad experience at their establishment, and conversely to thank someone for taking the time to mention them on Twitter or Facebook.

#19: Search Optimized for Local

Neil Patel writes that “if you have a local business or one that targets audiences in a specific geolocation, then you will want to move beyond general guides for search and social optimization.”

Neil offers eight great strategies for local search:

  • Keyword research to focus on industry-specific terms and geo-specific terms.
  • Optimize your website for local search by adding locally optimized title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Create a geo sitemap.
  • Have the best Google Places listing possible.
  • Build profiles on other sites to build citations for local SEO.
  • Get local reviews when you add buttons to your website and encourage reviews.
  • Build links from related local businesses and local bloggers.
  • Optimize your social pages (Facebook page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn page, Google+, etc.) for local.
place

Create the best Google Places listing possible.

#20: Twitter and Local

Expanding further on Neil Patel’s recommendations for optimizing your social pages for local, let’s take a look now at his suggestions for connecting with a local audience on Twitter.

Neil suggests you find people on Twitter through Twitter Lists and directories (e.g., TwitterCounter, Tweet Grader), check out followers for local businesses in your industry (including competitors), follow local discussions and try the Twitter maps app on Bing to see tweets that were sent in your region.

#21: User Numbers and Location-Based Applications

It’s always interesting to hear usage numbers to shed light on how popular something (like location-based applications) has become. Consider these survey findings from ISACA:

  • 58% of consumers who have a smart device use location-based applications, despite concerns about safety and use of their personal information for marketing purposes
  • Nearly one-third (32%) of consumers in ISACA’s survey use location-based apps more than they did a year ago; and location-based activities are most frequently done on a smartphone
  • Tablet or laptops are getting directions (59%)
  • Tagging photos on social media (44%)

#22: Virtual Businesses and Foursquare

Hmm, virtual businesses and Foursquare may sound a bit like an oxymoron, but New England Multimedia wondered what a virtual business like theirs could do when Foursquare and location-based social media platforms are all the rage. They came up with a creative solution—partner with a brick-and-mortar business.

They identified three steps for getting started:

  • Define your market.
  • Brainstorm the local brick-and-mortar businesses that cater to and serve your market, without being a direct competitor.
  • Determine what services or products you can offer to the loyal customers of that business.

They give examples of some services that they might offer the mayor on a certain date; e.g., a free or deeply discounted web video, a free custom on-hold message, a free custom YouTube or Twitter background.

If you have a virtual business, what would you consider offering to loyal customers of a complementary local brick-and-mortar business in your vicinity?

#23: Word-of-Mouth Advertising

Ryan Goff says one of the reasons why marketers love location-based tools such as Foursquare and Facebook Places so much is because each check-in is broadcasted to a user’s friends and that there’s a natural word-of-mouth advertising that occurs through the site. Marketers’ theory is that if users see their friends check into a location, they may be more likely to visit.

From a word-of-mouth standpoint, it can therefore be argued that Facebook check-ins are more valuable than those spread strictly through Foursquare. It’s the difference between telling your best friend where you’re hanging out versus telling a complete stranger. Your best friends are going to be far more likely to trust your recommendations.

#24: (E)xpectations Coming of Age

Pyramid Research says that following many years of high expectations, location-based services marketing is finally coming of age. “Growing adoption of GPS devices is the key driver, helping a whole host of different applications and services to grow. For mobile operators, this is an opportunity to drive new revenue streams.”

#25: Yelp, Geeks and New Cities

Mike Schneider says it’s important to master the basics of location-based marketing. One basic he suggests is picking a service or two to patronize.

Pick Foursquare if you want to do something around check-ins. Pick Google Places if you think the fact that 40% of searches in Google having a location component is important. Pick Yelp if you want to be a part of the system every geek uses when they go to a new city.

yelp

Check the local listings and reviews on Yelp for restaurants, shopping, arts, entertainment and more when you go to a new city.

#26: Zero Cost for Using Foursquare

If price is a consideration for you, then you might be interested in knowing that there is no cost to businesses (or users) for using the Foursquare platform. Foursquare provides helpful suggestions for how brands and venue owners can stay engaged with their followers and they’ve posted some interesting case studies that demonstrate how brands and merchants have used Foursquare.

What do you think? How can you engage your customers and prospects with location-based marketing? And if you’ve already been using it, what’s been successful for you? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Debbie Hemley

Debbie Hemley is a freelance writer and social media coach. She helps businesses develop and maintain social media content strategies. Follow her on Twitter @dhemley & Facebook. Other posts by »




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