Normally I don't talk about location-based services, but the recent news of Loopt adding deep integration with Facebook Places, and Foursquare recently registering its 4 millionth user and having its 200 millionth check-in got me thinking it was time to look into what's been going on with location-based marketing.
Location Marketing has quickly become a testing ground for many businesses' new loyalty programs. Starbucks offers a discount to "mayors" on foursquare, and luxury hotel Four Seasons is giving away a $100 dining or spa credit to users who have checked into 3 or more of their locations. The situation is win-win for both brand and customer: the customer gets rewarded, the brand gets promotion.
Not bad, but in my opinion this is a very basic approach that doesn't quite tap into the true power of location based marketing.
Take the New Jersey Nets for example. They've used Gowalla to give away 500 free tickets to different basketball games by leaving badges at bars, pubs, sporting goods stores and various other venues around New York and New Jersey. Adobe gave away a dozen copies of their CS5 software by placing badges in hidden locations across the country. And finally Nasa has partnered with Gowalla to "Search for the Moon Rocks" where users are able to check in to various the space agency's venues and collect virtual goods that can be traded in for a map. (I was kind of hoping for a "trip to space camp" to be honest)
Even though Facebook Places is only a couple of months old, Nike didn't hesitate to do something really cool with the social network behemoth's local platform.
These campaigns seem a lot smarter to me. There is a much better social equity for surprising users with rewards for what they are already doing rather than asking them to compete against other users for a $1 coupon.
Instead of promoting competition, why not ask them to work together? Groupon has done well playing in the local marketing space, in spite of not being a strictly mobile service. Branding itself as a "group buying" platform, Groupon asks users to buy into a discount together. Users are notified of a proposed deal, commit to purchasing on an if-then basis, and receive a discount deal once the offer has reached a minimum number of committed buyers. If that tipping point isn't reached, the deal isn't released but no one loses out.
Whether it's to increase brand awareness, get more asses in the seats, or to keep them coming back, Brand marketers are using location based platforms to deliver good deals to people. And let's be honest, some people are using these platforms just so they can get a good deal.
The new trend is for brands and customers cut the crap and get straight to the deals.
Simply put, geo-fencing is a virtual perimeter around a physical location. When a location-aware device like a cell phone enters a geo-fenced area, a notification is sent to the device via a location-based service. Geo-fencing technology has been used in a variety of ways, most notably for child location devices to notify parents when their children have left a designated "safe zone."
But for companies like Placecast geo-fencing is being used to bring location based mobile marketing to a whole new level.
From Placecast's website:
When opted-in consumers are inside geo-fences, they get messages on their phones with valuable promotions or events nearby, discount codes or coupons, or even information related to CRM (customer relation management) intelligence, providing unmatched scale to drive foot traffic into stores.
Offering deals to people who are already at the location? Brilliant!
All of this leaves me wondering what's next?
Location-based mobile marketing is still in it's infancy. And where the mobile device is quickly becoming the primary access point to the internet, which makes me wonder how far mobile marketing can go? What happens at the convergence point where the Internet and marketing permeate every aspect of our daily lives?