How to take advantage of widespread geo-location usage
September 26, 2011 Leave a Comment
The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently reported that 28% of all Americans use location-based services through their cell phones and social networking activities – either tapping the GPS functionality of their mobile devices or posting current location data with status updates to social media sites.
That number is impressive, suggesting merchants should ramp up mobile efforts to take advantage of the trend. Further, the data suggests how merchants can map the journey into geo-location.
According to the Pew report, most location-based usage is centered around looking up directions and getting local recommendations – fully 23 percent of U.S. adults use such tools. By contrast, just 4% of adults use so-called “geosocial” services requiring them to explicitly “check in” to locations, while 7% of adults tag their locations on social media.
These numbers suggest that merchants would do well to first ensure they’re covering the fundamentals when it comes to geo-location services – starting with:
- The basics: tagged locations on maps and social sites. It may seem basic, but merchants should start by ensuring their brick-and-mortar locations show up on searches in Google Maps and Mapquest to facilitate finding by shoppers on the go. Locations should have Google place pages, and merchants may additionally want to consider creating robust profiles on business directories like Yelp!. Similarly, be sure to give your existing Facebook business page a location and link it to a place so that consumers using the social network’s mobile services can use the built-in mapping capabilities and “check in” when visiting.
For merchants who need to catch up on these basics, which are free to set up (with optional advertising tie-ins) consult
- A robust mobile store locator. Shoppers who explicitly seek out locations through merchants’ mobile sites should be rewarded with a feature-rich store locator. In addition to offering turn by turn directions, merchants should at a minimum list store hours and upcoming in-store events – and consider tying in location- or region-specific sale offers.And store locators aren’t just for brick-and-mortar retailers. Brand manufacturers can get in on the act by pointing shoppers to partner retailers who stock the brand’s products and participate in local or regional promotions. Beauty manufacturer Clinique displays which stores are featuring a “Bonus Time” with free sample giveaways and other goodies along with promotion dates.
How far to travel the geo-location path beyond these essentials depends on your audience. The Pew report shows that there’s a wide gulf in usage patterns between smartphone users and other cell phone owners; for example, usage of social services such as Foursquare is 140% higher among smartphone users compared with the overall cell phone population.
So if your target customers are heavy smartphone users, consider an active presence on geosocial sites like Foursquare and GoWalla, which offer consumers an opportunity to “check in” at locations, share the information with friends and offer recommendations on places to visit. To successfully leverage these sites to drive online and in-store traffic and sales, plan on investing resources in maintaining an active profile replete with targeted offers – and promoting the service across platforms, as Dunkin’ Donuts is doing with its “President of Dunkin’ Nation” campaign on Facebook. Customers who “check in” frequently at Dunkin’ Donuts locations are eligible for daily and weekly prizes as well as a grand prize featuring a flat-screen TV.