7 Location Marketing Mistakes and Solutions

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There are now more 200 million people using their mobile devices to "check in", but marketers are still unclear on how to launch and optimise a location-based marketing program to reach these potential customers. To minimise the uncertainty that comes with implementing new tactics, download this paper and get expert advice for avoiding common location marketing mistakes and using this exciting medium to build engagement and loyalty.

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MISTAKE #1: Not using services like Foursquare and Facebook to check in yourself

Some marketers launch location-based marketing programs without having experimented with the technology themselves, a strategy akin to having someone who’s never Tweeted before run your company Twitter page. Simply put, if you haven’t downloaded the Foursquare app, walked into a store and checked in at a location, it’s tough to build a strong check-in program. Chances are greater that you’ll develop impractical, poorly-thought-out programs that provide a lackluster user experience.

How to avoid it: Get out there and see how location-based campaigns work for yourself. During the course of a few weeks, try checking in at as many places as you can – including competitor stores – and observing the experience from the customer’s point of view. Keep a running log of what promotions worked, what offers didn’t, and what tactics you want to try with your programs.

MISTAKE #2: Creating generic offers and relying too heavily on discounts

Visit any online coupon website, and you’re likely to find a 10 percent coupon for your favorite store. So why make this your reward to loyal customers that visit and check in? Customers participating in location-based marketing programs are savvy enough to recognize when brands don’t create special content for this channel. Likewise, offering “10 percent off” as a reward for checkins #2, 4, 6, 8, etc. can get as monotonous as the dozens of “free shipping” emails that show up in your inbox every holiday.

How to avoid it: Instead of recycling the same offers you distribute via other channels, go beyond price discounts and create unique offers and content for customers participating in your location-based marketing programs. What about letting customers that check in skip the wait line? Or providing a special guided tour with the owner or executive chef? Or even inviting guests that check in to an exclusive event?

MISTAKE #3: Making the promotions too confusing

Many offers from location-based programs include terms like this: “Check in five times within 30 days to receive 15% off a purchase when you spend at least $20.” These programs simply have too many terms and restrictions to make it easy for customers to understand. It’s like asking for too much information on your sign-up pages on your website. Therefore, your participation — and program success — will be diminished.

How to avoid it: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Focus on providing immediate value to customers that check in. For example, “Check in and receive a buy-one-get-one-free coupon” provides immediate value and makes it easy for customers to understand what’s in it for them.

MISTAKE #4: Forgetting fulfillment and training

In the rush to get a program up, marketers often neglect to communicate this new promotion to their local store staff members and forget to train them on how to fulfill these special offers. And no matter how awesome your promotion, few things can take the shine off a check-in program like having employees respond with blank stares when customers try to redeem rewards.

How to avoid it: Consult and train your local store staff prior to launching your location-based marketing program. You’ll want to educate employees about Foursquare and Facebook, what a check-in is, and in particular how to recognize and redeem an offer when presented.

As an alternative, choose to only train your store managers on these new promotions. They can communicate to staff to speak with them before redeeming any new promotions.

MISTAKE #5: Failing to respond to shared check-ins on Twitter

Many of your customers who check in on Foursquare will share their check-ins with their followers via Twitter. Talk about an awesome example of letting your patrons spread brand awareness! Not so awesome, though? Playing the corporate social wallflower and watching these interactions unfold as a passive observer.

Hot to avoid it: Make like the ultimate host and engage these customers by responding to their Tweets and thanking them for stopping by. This can be done manually or, if your marketing platform allows it, automatically.

If it’s the latter, you’ll simply need to connect your Twitter account to your marketing platform and set up some business rules. Then, when someone shares his or her Foursquare checkin on Twitter, your marketing platform will tell your account to send a personalized response at the intervals you’ve specified.

Keep your responses interesting and authentic to continue a positive customer experience and avoid coming across as Joe Corporate Cheeseball. Do it right, and you’ll add a customer touch point and a new way to build loyalty.

MISTAKE #6: Incorrectly assessing the ROI of a check-in

With any new marketing tool, there are frequent questions, errors and misperceptions regarding the best way to calculate the channel’s ROI, and as a result some marketers stumble when trying to gauge the channel’s value.

How to Avoid It: Take into account the four parts of a check-in’s value:

  • The customer visit Example: A customer visit is worth $6 in sales and $1 in profit. There are 20,000 check-ins during a 30-day period, and 10,000 of these people visited specifically because of a program you’re running. Value: $60,000 in new revenue and $10,000 in new profits
  • Lifetime value of a new customer Example: The value of new customer is $20, and you snagged 1,500 newbies as a result of the promotion. Value: $30,000
  • The social share Example: Your business experienced 20,000 check-ins; studies have pegged the value of a social share between 50 cents and $1.25. Value: $10,000 to $25,000
  • Email opt-ins Example: Three thousand email opt-ins result from the check-in program, with a $5 value per opt-in. Value: $15,000

Adding these four numbers together will give you the most accurate picture of how much value location-based marketing programs are bringing or will bring to your company. (Note: Numbers will vary from business to business.)

MISTAKE #7: Failing to integrate check-in behaviors and programs with other channels

For some companies, location marketing is an island unto itself, destined to never intersect with its marketing brethren. These lonely location-based initiatives aren’t promoted via email, social or in-store displays. Related emails or landing pages aren’t optimized for mobile. And there’s no bridge between virtual and physical locations. The result? Even if the programs are successful, they don’t touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential engagement and revenue.

How to Avoid It: Realize that a check-in is one of the most important behaviors you can capture, and start thinking about location-based marketing programs in tandem with your other channels. Email and social are naturally a part of the check-in experience, since the former will be used to receive promotions related to a check-in and the latter to share a check-in with friends, so they should be used to promote and enhance your location-based initiatives, as should in-store displays. Likewise, since customers will be checking in via their mobile devices, make sure any related communications or Web pages are mobile-friendly.

Got customers who have checked in to your physical store locations but never visited your e-commerce store? Based on this captured behavior, send those people an email inviting them to visit your online store. Or, send your frequent online shoppers an email promoting your check-in loyalty program. For ambitious marketers, the possibilities for cross-channel promotion are endless.

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