Three Ways To Market Using Location Based Services (LBS)

June 29, 2010

LBS (location based services) is the next wave in customer engagement. When considering LBS platforms the more familiar ones might be Foursquare, Yelp and Gowalla. Less familiar and yet more promising are apps like Point Inside. Here are three ways brands can use LBS in their marketing mix.


Check-ins are another way brands can track customer loyalty. Although it lacks the sophistication of tracking purchases, it is better than a loyalty card at engagement and insights. They also provide an opportunity to reach influential customers. Check-ins tell you who has visited your business, who visits most frequently, and what they thought. Foursquare provides users with reward and recognition using gamification. A leader board ranks users and crowns users as the “mayor” of a venue . It provides tools to roll Foursquare into a loyalty program where businesses can  run offers to new or frequent check-ins. If you’re not bought into the value you might think twice. Starbuck’s recently rolled out a nationwide loyalty program on Foursquare. Yelp has high hopes of taking the game from Foursquare with a new check-in feature that rewards users with duke and duchess titles. While Yelp’s check in feature does not have the adoption that Foursquare does, it provides more depth information on opinion with ratings and reviews.

Word of Mouth

While not all LBS tools provide features for business, encouraging your audience to participate in them can result in reach. Each time someone checks into Gowalla, their Facebook and Twitter enabled sharing provides brand exposure into their personal social media networks. Posting a visit is an indirect referral. Posting a visit with a comment about how much they love it is a direct referral. You can leverage tools like Gowalla and Foursquare without a full blown loyalty program by:

1. Claiming or creating your venue listing.

2. Engaging with those who check in and post on Twitter and Facebook

3. Show off your mayor by promoting it on your website and in-store. One of the most effective ways to impact what happens online is offline promotion. Foursquare provides window clings to promote check-ins. Whole Foods is testing it in 30 of its stores.


Advertising is the next frontier.  Well thought out ads placed in GPS navigation platforms, and iPhone apps like Point Inside shopping mall maps can capture your customer at the best time and place possible in the buying cycle – shopping right next to your store.

As smart phone adoption grows and GPS platforms become more sophisticated in providing relevance and context, we can be sure LBS will become another marketing staple. It’s a good time to jump in if your brand is cutting edge.


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