Offered Local Blog
There was a good post today on TechCrunch that noted CityMaps new funding and shed some light as to how they are blending maps, social media and local business information, all of which is going to have a significant impact on your location based marketing strategy.
“Maps have been around for millenia, but for a significant chunk of that time, they remained static, two-dimensional forms, rendered by hand on paper. It sounds crude now, even as services like Wave have us mapping our worlds with our smartphones like explorers of old. Today, with the ridiculous amount of data available on the Web and in the cloud, maps have become something else entirely, our surroundings coming alive in wizbang, interactive 3-D displays.”
The basic idea behind CityMaps is that they aggregate all the known information about a business and its location and then present that in a way that smartphone users can really use it effectively. The interface looks really good and while only providing data for a few cities at present they have more on the way, something which their new funding will be supporting.
OfferedLocal’s Take – How do mapping tools like CityMaps impact the promotion of your local deals, offers and specials?
The short answer is ease of access and with that increased competition.
As far as ease of access, today despite your deals and offers being able to be sent to your social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare the end user, your customer, still has to login to those services to see your offers. Now, though, with tools like CityMaps customers can login to one tool and see an aggregation of your information, what you are doing across many social channels and services. One of the cool features of their tool is the specific promotion of daily deals that are available at the businesses on their maps.
Now, of course, there is going to be increased competition because your business will be easily compared to other businesses in the area.
Imagine your customer is in the area and is looking at their CityMap and they see a range of similar businesses (restaurants in particular) and they see a number of businesses with very active social accounts and potential deals but you are sitting there with a small number of of social tools active (maybe just a Facebook account) and no deals, offers or promotions. It will probably mean that by comparison your potential customers will gravitate towards those more active businesses, especially those with active promotions or specials. It’s a natural reaction, just like having a well lighted business location and nice surroundings inside, people will look at the representation of this data on a map and they will begin to use it to get a sense of your business.
The bottom line is that these highly interactive maps and smartphone based mapping apps will be changing the nature of how your business is viewed and how it is compared. Customers will be able to easily see a range of businesses based on where they are located and they will be able to easily compare those businesses, their activities and their deals and promotions. So, better get to it, and begin to map out your location based marketing plan.
As seen in TechCrunch today via a JiWire study there was a good outline of what mobile users want in exchange for giving up their location. Wrapping your head around this is important as more and more companies engage in location based marketing and social media marketing plans that rely heavily on location data.
Mobile Users Eager to Offer Their Location in Exchange for Better Content & Deals
“According to a new report from location-based media company JiWire, 53% of the “on-the-go” U.S. audience is willing to exchange their location in exchange for more relevant content and better information, including mobile deals.”
OfferedLocal Take: It makes sense that in exchange for more relevant content and for deals that one would be willing to exchange their location, which in effect means using check-in services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places and Google Places. What was interesting was that many people still seem to prefer deals to arrive to them via email, which is not as readily accessible while someone is at a particular location.
So, why the big disconnect on how people want to receive information on deals?
I suspect it is partly because of the still early adopter status of the check-in services such that many people have still not used them and many businesses don’t even know how to create a deal or offer using the services. In regards to that last point, I regularly check-in to business locations using Foursquare and find rather robust communities of people checking in and share tips and pictures but the business itself seems oblivious i.e. they are not even running a simple offer or deal to reward the loyalty of those people checking in.
Over time this will change of course and I would expect at that time the preference for deals being received via a specific mobile application will change to be less email reliant and more mobile app related.
Mashable had a good article titled “Mobile by the Numbers” which lays out the groundwork for some interesting opportunities in location based marketing and mobile marketing strategies.
“Mobile is a rapidly developing sector. According to some projections, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop usage before 2015. In preparation, companies are developing new mobile commerce platforms, strategies, and marketing efforts.”
In the above article and infographic, well worth checking out, there were several things that really stood out:
- 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices
- 91% of mobile internet access is to socialize
- 33% of Facebook‘s users use Facebook Mobile
- 59% of ‘s users us Twitter Mobile
So, what does this mean to someone who is trying to develop a marketing strategy for their business, in particular a local, physical location based business like a restaurant, salon or hotel?
Firstly, marketing today is all about capturing the local customer that is using a mobile device. The evidence is pretty clear that if your business is in a physical location then you need foot traffic and if you want foot traffic then you need to make it easy for people to find you on a local basis. This means you need to claim your spots on tools like Facebook Places and Google Places and provide as much information about your business as possible so that people searching can find you and say “Hey that sounds like just the place I want to go to”.
Next, it is recognizing that the majority of your current and potential customers are social and social people like offers, so you need to think about ways to entice customers to your location. There of course has been lots of time devoted to discounts, in particular those of coupon giant Groupon, but remember it’s not always about huge discounts, there is nothing wrong with the good old Two-For-Tuesday promotion or the loyalty approach of rewarding return shoppers, these types of promotions have worked for decades and will continue to do so long after the bargain hunting crazy has slowed down.
Finally, the biggest points of distribution, aside from your email database, will be the two leaders in social media Facebook and Twitter and for our purposes we would throw in foursquare and Google places, two relatively new but rapidly growing options. So, you need to get active in those areas and think of these tools as points of distribution in your overall marketing as well as mobile marketing plans.
In the end there is a simple formula for location based marketing that combines social media and mobile marketing options and the formula looks like this:
Mobile information availability + useful offers, distributed across social media channels = increased foot traffic and potential sales
If you focus your marketing on this formula and learn what offers your customers respond to, then you will be well on your way to making a success out of your mobile marketing plans and capturing the local lead as mobile activities continue to grow and ultimately dominate the market.
There was an interesting story today in the New York Times – Your the Boss – Is Groupon Ruining Retailing? one of the most interesting statements in the post to me was:
“a typical new customer is gained because a business is near the customer’s home or office, or because the customer heard something good about the business”
This is one of the reasons that for many businesses a location based marketing strategy that uses social media marketing components is going to be more successful than relying on coupons or heavy discounting to generate more business.
As an example there is probably more business to be had in getting existing customers to increase their visits to your store than there is in using coupons to get new customers, simply because existing customers who visit more often will be more likely to spread the word about your business and of course make more purchases.
Now, what you have to do is give your existing customers the ability to share their love of your business. This of course is one of the main drivers behind things like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare etc. They provide the venue for businesses to share their information and then rely on their best customers to spread the word. Some of that exists with Groupon, you can share the offer, but the premise is different and as such Groupon programs run the risk of generating “coupon seeker” new customers as several comments eluded to in the post.
Several of the comments noted that we are breeding a culture of expected discounts, which is very possible. Personally, I like discounts but in thinking about my own locally based shopping and dining habits, I still think I like a more combined value proposition: easy to get to, good service and fair value in the price. It’s great when a place that I like has a deal but it isn’t the thing that wins me over completely. This is one of the primary reasons that developing a social media strategy that connects you to your customers and gives them a way to easily share the value of going to your business is such a key component to any business marketing plan.
You can check out the rest of the comments from the original post in the New York Times below.
Back in February there was a good article in TechCrunch that provided some statistics on how far people would go to get a discount, something well worth knowing if you are actively engaged in location based marketing.
Discovering The Distance-to-Discount Ratio
“When it comes to deals, the bigger the discount, the further people will travel. While this may sound obvious, mobile advertising company JiWire has some numbers to back it up. JiWire is releasing a new study today that evaluates consumers; behavior when it comes to location-based deals and discounts”
There were a couple of interesting data elements but one that stuck with me was this one:
“Even if you give away a product worth $100 for free, only 31 percent of people would travel more than two hours to get it.”
As stated elsewhere in the article it is logical that people are only willing to do so much for a certain discount or convenience factor and there are even limits for free!
I think that this is really important for a business as it’s beginning to develop its social media marketing and location based marketing strategies to clearly understand the limits of your potential customers. It could be simple things like:
- How do people get to us? car, train, public transport – this could affect from how far away you can expect to draw new customers
- Does our product require delivery or can the customer take it with them? – this might affect the type of discounted items as it may be too much of a burden to arrange to pick large items up but simple to carry things out of the store, maybe you have smaller discounts on easily carried items and larger discounts on larger items to reflect the transportation factor
- The cost as related to the income of your client – this is an interesting one, a $50 discount means different things to different people, so students might travel further or accept a lesser convenience factor than working professionals for that same $50
Most of these things can be easily determined by looking at your customer demographic or even running your own quick poll on Facebook or Twitter. Take a chance and ask “how far would you go to get a discount from us”? Then take that information into account as you craft certain offers in the future. The fact is that people like offers all you need to do is determine what suits them.
One final thing, remember to look at your social media marketing channels individually, it could be that certain customers are on Facebook and others are using Twitter and they may have very different distance to discount thresholds, make sure the right offers go to the right channels.
You will probably have to experiment often to determine what works but in the end you will end up with far better offer and promotion targeting, which is key to driving purchases.
foursquare, Twitter and Boloco!
So when was that moment that it all clicked?
When did that seed fully germinate, the one that became the idea to create a business that would unite social media marketing and location based marketing into perfect harmony?
Well, funnily enough it was while walking down the streets of Brookline, MA where I came across a restaurant billboard outside of Boloco, a wonderful place for burritos if you haven’t had the chance to try one yet. I had been discussing a number of ideas with my co-founder and I just walked right up next to this billboard and said, “that’s what I am talking about!” and snapped this picture.
Over the previous weeks we had been talking through the idea of how social media had taken off for many businesses and how location based offers were starting to make their way onto the scene. We had talked about how people were following companies and checking into locations and how it was still a bit disjointed for the consumer as well as the business owner.
However, upon seeing this sign, I became thoroughly convinced that our opportunity lay in helping businesses become the best promotional marketers possible. I saw in this billboard a company that was using social media and location based marketing as well as the oldest traditional marketing source known, a sign out in front of their door and I said, “yep, there is an opportunity here to make this better”.
As we began to peel back the onion, we looked at all of the social activities that businesses were engaging in and all of the options for creating offers and promotions and honestly, at first, it gave us a real headache. There was no doubt that businesses were getting social and building out followers but how to manage all of the services and how to create offers and promotions that would be valuable to their followers, now that was still a bit of a mystery.
In the end we could see that creating a smoother process for creating, distributing and analyzing offers was really going to be important and well, that is what we are doing now. Our beta registration is open, so if you want to get first crack at it sign up and we will get you going as quickly as possible.