An Intro to Location-Based Marketing Services

LBS

It’s going to be another action-packed year for the social scene

As we settle into 2011, social media scenesters across the web are casting predictions for the coming months ahead. Sites populated with user-generated content like up-and-comer Quora, consumer-pleasing daily deal sites such as Groupon, and smartphone friendly QR codes are expected to gain momentum in 2011, along with the continued evolution of location-based services.

Coming to your city

Having a sweet spot for all things retail, I am especially intrigued by location-based marketing, and what it means for the future of consumer advertising. It’s no secret that mobile media has been on the rise among Canadians in recent years. And with that mobility, location-based web services and apps have their chance to steal the spotlight.

Location-based services deliver content based on the user’s location. Some services allow check-ins to unlock badges or special promotions. Users can learn more about, and often review, the business in question. It’s a win-win situation. Consumers receive relevant information, translating into traffic and sales for social-savvy retailers.

Introducing the some of the stars

There are numerous apps and websites that cater to niche markets. From Urbanspoon and Yelp (primarily focused on user ratings and reviews), to BrightKite and Loopt (centered on social sharing with a sprinkling of business promotion). In today’s social landscape, it’s important to keep up on the ever-changing trends, and who’s out there with what.

Here are a few of the key players, and concepts, to watch:

foursquare

Launched In: March 2009

Number of Users: 5 million

The Low-Down: Users check-in to locations to unlock badges, view business information and compete for mayor-ships.

Business Bonus: Businesses can reward customer check-ins a variety of ways (e.g. frequency promotions, mayor promotions, etc.) and view stats relevant to their venue. Has an API for app creation, and can be accessed via Facebook or Twitter logins.

Google Places

Launched In: September 2009

Number of Users: It’s Google, so let’s say a lot

The Low-Down: Using Google Hotpot, allows users to search, review and rate businesses within their area.

Business Bonus: Businesses can upload images, promotions and information in real-time. Google also offers tags to make business listings stand out in search results, and is constantly expanding their services and technology. For example, they are currently experimenting with QR codes in the USA, and recently launched an iPhone app.

Facebook Places

Launched In: August 2010

Number of Users: Up to 500 million

The Low-Down: Users check-in to locations, receive promotions and information, connect with and tag friends – all on Facebook’s notoriously popular platform.

Business Bonus: In addition to complementing current Facebook fan pages and marketing efforts, businesses can reward customers based on four types of deals: individual, friend, loyalty and charity.

Shopkick

Launched In: August 2010

Number of Users: Unknown

The Low-Down: Neat concept that works akin to a point system – users receive “kickbucks” by visiting participating locations that can be redeemed for various items, like gift cards or charitable donations.

Business Bonus: Not only are customers encouraged to visit participating retailers to collect kickbucks, but businesses can then communicate information, promotions and coupons to this captive audience, translating traffic into sales.

Gowalla

Launched In: March 2009

Number of Users: 600,000

The Low-Down: Users collect location stamps and pins for their online passport, while connecting with friends in a game-like environment.

Business Bonus: While not nearly successful as their foursquare counterpart, businesses can purchase a custom stamp for their spot, communicate information, promote events and offer deals to people who check-in.

Because everyone needs to follow a smart script

Many organizations make the mistake of throwing social media into their mix simply because their competitors are. With a growing number of social outlets, now more than ever, it’s important to arm yourself with a sensible, strategic plan. Remember to define your objectives, set clear and measurable goals, and ensure you are using solid tactics to promote your business online.

For additional reading, and some great location-based marketing tips from leading social media blog, Mashable, click here.

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