Mobile marketing is an increasingly effective way for small business owners to tap into a younger customer base. While it might not be a perfect fit for every business, BBB recommends owners check out the marketing potential in geo-location apps like Foursquare, Facebook Places and Yelp.
As technology improves, cell phones continue to perform any number of functions beyond making calls. Many programs on mobile phones rely on geo-location and can tell you where you are and what’s nearby—including businesses. This technology creates a new way to market your business to customers when they are literally right around the corner. According to a recent survey by JiWire, more than 50 percent of mobile users would like to receive location-specific advertising; another 39 percent would like to receive location-based coupons.
“Lacking the time, know-how and money to launch an effective online marketing strategy can make many small business owners neglect the whole endeavor,” said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. “The good news about mobile marketing is that you don’t necessarily need to dedicate a lot of time or money into a campaign to reap some rewards.”
Following are just a few mobile tools that small business owners can take advantage of to market their business to customers on the go. Even if you aren’t ready to launch a mobile marketing campaign, it’s still a good idea to take ownership of your business’s profiles on these sites to make sure the information is accurate and up to date:
With nearly 3 million users, Foursquare has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately for its explosive popularity among young adults. Foursquare is a mobile app that allows you to “check in” at locations—usually businesses—which tells other Foursquare users where you are. If you check in to a location a lot, you can become a “mayor” of that location—which can be a highly coveted achievement.
Some businesses have taken advantage of Foursquare by offering coupons to mayors or people who check in. Foursquare also provides a map to users so they can see what specials are being offered at nearby businesses. Foursquare prominently lists which businesses are the most popular, so an owner can benefit by encouraging patrons to check in. Foursquare also provides details and stats on the people who check in at your business which can help you learn more about customers.
Facebook—which now boasts over 500 million users worldwide—recently launched Facebook Places as a competitor to Foursquare. Facebook users can “check in” and their location is published on their Facebook page. They can then see which friends have also “checked in”.
Similar to Foursquare, a business owner can create a new place or claim a location that already has a profile in Facebook. You’ll be asked to verify that you can claim the location before you’ll be able to add photos and business details. After an initial launch in a few cities, Facebook Places will be made available to more locations over time and the features offered to users and business owners will be expanded as well.
Yelp is a website that allows users to post reviews of businesses, services, locations and events. According to Yelp, 33 million people visited the site in June 2010. In addition to the website, Yelp also provides a mobile version with an interactive map and allows users to “check in” at locations. After “unlocking” your location, you can offer coupons through Yelp, update your business information and promote events.