Is 2011 the “Year of Mobile“? Not likely. That being said, we are seeing adoption rates of smart phone users reach new unprecedented levels, not just in the U.S. but globally. Many countries are way ahead of the US when it comes to adopting smart phone technologies into their everyday lives. In Japan more than 75% of mobile phone users are connected media users,according to ComScore’s “The 2010 Mobile Year in Review” . While the US doesn’t have that kind of adoption rate just yet, it still offers another avenue of consumer engagement that businesses both large and small should be investigating for future endeavors.
Mobile Location Based Apps Make Richer Marketing Experiences
Mobile devices, from smart phones to tablet devices like the iPad2, are making it increasingly easy to access the Internet and social communities on platforms that are application based, rather then web browser based. By using applications, users can have a much richer experience utilizing the mobile devices’ full range of capabilities including features like geo-location. This is where location based marketing begins to offer a new avenue of engagement with both new and loyal customers alike. These types of applications can also put the small businesses on the same level playing field of marketing to customers as giant retailers.
Plan for Location Based Marketing Efforts
When considering utilizing location based marketing efforts, such as incorporating such tactics as Foursquare, Facebook Places or even Yelp into your overall social media and mobile marketing strategy, there’s a few things marketers need to keep in mind. Beyond the adoption rate being lower in the US, there’s a feeling of “There’s nothing in it for me“ when users start to utilize these applications. Just because the application might make it easy to check in, as does Facebook with it’s built in “Facebook Places” feature in it’s mobile apps, doesn’t mean that people are going to continue to use it or even talk about it.
That fact is demonstrated in the Location Based Marketing Association & Social-Loco Conferences’ “Check-in Data: The Reality Behind The Hype” report where a majority of the early adopters are using Facebook Places, but there’s very little conversation going on about it. However, taking a look at Foursquare, even though its adoption rate is considerably less, there’s a significant amount more of conversation going on about the location based marketing application. That’s because Foursquare answers the “what’s in it for me” question with Badges, Mayorships and special deals. Coupons alone can’t get this kind of conversation and engagement going; you need to say “thank you” in many different and unique ways and that’s what Foursquare does tremendously well.
Ensure Your Entire Staff Knows About Your Location Based Marketing Efforts & How to Handle Them
When companies back up and merge location based marketing efforts with their efforts in social media, it creates a much stronger tie in to loyal customers. Take for example my recent encounter with Best Buy. I’m a loyal Best Buy customer. I’ve got a premium silver account, and I can’t say when the last month was that I wasn’t in a Best Buy. I’m also a religious Foursquare user, as any one of my Facebook friends could verify.
The week before Mother’s Day here in the US, I went into Best Buy to purchase a camera for my mother and pick up a few accessories for my iPad 2. I checked into Best Buy and unlocked the special Foursquare displayed for the store (as demonstrated in the image to the right). I get to the counter to check out and the register attendant had no clue how to redeem my coupon (because there was no bar code). Worse, the shift manager didn’t know how either and ended up just giving me 5% off of each accessory rather than 15% off of each. That shift manager didn’t really know me from Adam, however she started to insinuate that I might have spoofed the coupon. I cautioned her to stop that line of thinking and to understand she’s dealing with a social media advocate and that I would be “tweeting” to Best Buy’s corporate communications to find out why they didn’t know how to honor the coupon.
Typical Users Will Become Frustrated if You Get It Wrong
When I made it home, I did just as I said to the shift manager I would do and “tweeted” to BestBuy and BestBuy CMO from my Twitter account. Coral, from Best Buy, responded and was just awesome about the situation. She pulled up the same special I did on Foursquare and asked me to email her my PIN Code of my transaction. I additionally sent over screen shots of my Foursquare account and from my phone (just so she could see I wasn’t spoofing anyone or anything) and within a few hours not only did that store’s manager apply a credit to my purchase for the missing percentage off, Coral let me know the store was now trained on how to apply the Foursquare special.
I’m not your typical social media and mobile user in that I do take the extra steps when I encounter issues like I did at Best Buy, while most users won’t. However, this situation demonstrates why as marketers, we must remember to make sure all of our channels understand how to engage and interact with our customers and know exactly where you are engaging with your consumers, especially in new channels like location based marketing. Most people in my situation would have just walked away and shared their “bad story” about their Best Buy experience. That’s why you have to build a strategy for engaging in new channels like these; one that includes research, engagement and measurement.
Location Base Marketing is a new and upcoming channel that can turn into a powerful marketing tactic – start planning for it now!