Retail Marketing: Drive Foot Traffic To Your Store with Location-Based Apps

Location-based apps have revolutionized the way consumers shop and the way merchants are discovered. They connect shoppers with the nearby stores and deals they’re most interested in. Pulling up an app to scout out a store or virtually checking in at a new location has become all but second nature for the smartphone-armed shopper. For smaller shops and niche outlets, location-based apps have the ability to transform retail marketing efforts by affording shop owners the opportunity to connect with a large existing user base.

Why Location-Based Apps?

Location-based apps are a powerful way to drive local foot traffic to small retail shops. Location-based apps such as Foursquare and Yelp have loyal, and quite sizeable, followings that make it easy for retailers to tap into. Yelp’s mobile app, for example, had an average monthly user base of 10.6 million during the final quarter of 2013; Foursquare states that it has a total of 45 million users under its fold.

You may not have created or claimed your store listing on any location-based apps yet, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting noticed as a result of their large user bases: most likely, your shop is already listed on these apps and you are already seeing some foot traffic and even sales as a result. Claiming your store could drive a lot more traffic to your showroom. Let’s take a look.

How to Leverage Location-Based Apps to Drive Your Foot Traffic

There are two main angles of approach when it comes to leveraging location-based marketing to generate buzz for your business. The first key way is going through the steps and “claiming” and managing your listings. The second key way to leverage location-based apps is through advertising or offering deals.

Claiming Your Business

Claiming your store is free – and vital – to do. Think of this as the virtual equipment to rolling out an open sign or turning the lights on. When you claim your store on a location-based app, you can provide important information, supply key photos and respond to reviews. To get started claiming your store on location-based apps, Search Engine Journal has some very clear instructions that make the process easy to understand. Once you’ve claimed a few, claiming more will become easier as you get the hang of it.

Managing your listing

Creating or claiming your listing is just the start. Now it’s time to optimize your listing in order to attract customers to your store. Make sure you add high quality images that show customers what your store is about and what type of items they’ll find when they arrive. Stay on top of your reviews and comments for each location-based app. If customers leave a positive review, thank them. If they are disappointed, apologize and tell them how you’re addressing the issue.

One other key part of managing your listing is to add your store’s website url. This is crucial for shoppers to see what products you have in  your store. The url you share through location-based apps must be optimized for mobile product browsing and mobile payments.

Advertising

Location-based apps allow businesses the opportunity to advertise targeted messages that reach your desired audience with ease. For example, with Foursquare, your ad displays not only when a user is nearby your store, but it also only displays to people that are most likely to shop with you based on their past check-ins. With campaigns such as these, you can start small and set a target budget (an amount you are willing to pay). Your ad will then be displayed to the app of choice’s targeted audience until you have reached your target budget. You can then decide to add more money to your budget, based upon the results you receive.

Deals & Coupons

One way that location-based apps maintain such an active user-base is through providing their users with reasons to keep coming back – and a key way to do this is through offering deals and coupons. Some location-based apps allow businesses to offer a check-in deal which rewards users for “checking-in” through the app and sharing this check-in with their friends on social media. The check-in deal is a strong way to build up word of mouth and buzz while enticing more customers to stop by and see what you’re all about. Another way to reward customers for shopping with you is offering a deal or coupon that can be purchased in advance.

Which Location-Based Apps To Focus On

There are new location-based apps coming out seemingly every day, and others dying… seemingly every day. For developers, it’s a scramble to create the biggest and best app to appeal to the largest base of users and and be at the top of this SoLoMo (social-local-mobile) revolution. For this post, we will focus on a few of the big names so that you can really maximize your results.

Yelp

Yelp has over 53 million monthly unique mobile users and offers several different advertising solutions to make themselves attractive to businesses – and you may want to take advantage of their service. You can purchase ads, featured search result listings or offer a deal that Yelp sells for you in which they keep 30 percent of the deal’s purchase price.  Yelp will also sell gift certificates for you (for a 10% charge). To find out more about Yelp’s options, visit their advertising home online.

Foursquare

Using Foursquare is a great way to reach a very social userbase of 45 million. Advertising on Foursquare depends upon how much you want to spend, and how many people you want to reach. It’s possible to create an ad campaign with just a few dollars – or to spend thousands. To connect with Foursquare, contact their business outreach department.

PayPal

With over 7 million active mobile app users, Paypal is becoming a more and more popular way to not just pay online, but also inside brick & mortar retail stores. Although known to date as only a way to pay on mobile, PayPal continues experiment on ways to add value beyond the mobile payment functionality through order-ahead, customer loyalty programs, and many cool features to come with PayPal Beacon, including hands-free payments without shoppers even having to take the phone out of their pocket, and tailored offers to encourage repeat visits.

Facebook

Not quite the “location-based app” but Facebook’s pretty powerful for helping businesses maximize their retail marketing efforts, mainly because they have a gazillion mobile users, or at least 1 billion mobile active monthly users at last count. Facebook’s Nearby Places tools is essentially their version of Yelp and allows users to search for nearby places, check in to local merchants, and write reviews. They no longer offer check-in deals, however you can create an online offer for free, and then you have the choice of paying Facebook to help you promote the offer. Beyond that, you can choose targeted ads and set your budget for as low as $5. Be sure to stop by their page all about advertising solutions for local business.

Let’s Sum It Up

Location-based apps for retail stores are really what you make of it. You can start small and get your feet wet by getting familiar with the many location-based apps and claiming your store (remember – it’s the digital equivalent of turning your lights on) and keeping your listing up-to-date with photos and responding to comments and reviews. Once you’re comfortable, move on and create a free offer over at Facebook and see what results that nets for you. If you’re interested in going beyond that point, you can start looking into setting a conservative budget to see how this targeted kind of location-based marketing works for your store.

Daily deals for you store: The good, the bad, and how to do it the right way

With limited time offers of huge discounts, daily deal sites have catapulted to the forefront of consumer preferences and are used by many types of retailers in diverse industries. The idea is that the deal creates an incentive for further purchases and repeat business, creating a win-win of sorts for retailers and customers alike. There are undoubtedly many a horror story on these deal sites. Of course, when offering these types of discounts, retailers take on a legitimate risk in order to better the bigger picture the business. If the risks are assessed properly and adequate care is taken into this decision, placing your business services and/or products on a deal site can bring a much-needed boom in customer awareness and revenue. Below we’ll highlight the good, the bad, and how to do it right.

The Good

Creating a deal for your product or service can grow a customer awareness of your brand. It’s essentially an additional marketing method that can bring in new customers and with it, new revenue. If you provide a great service/product and a great customer experience, it can have long-term payoffs in that people will want to come back. Keep in mind that with the household name deal sites there’s essentially no cost unless actual coupons are sold. That means, if you only sell 50 deals, you are only responsible for those 50 deals (not the total amount made available for sale).

The Bad

There will always be people that come to you for the deal and have no intention of giving you repeat business. These people won’t come back unless they keep getting that same deal. This is inevitable and needs to be taken into consideration when you decide on how much of a discount you are going to offer.

There will also always be the inevitable customers who won’t follow “rules” (i.e. they use more than one voucher, they try to combine vouchers, they expect more than what it offers, etc.) In addition, you cannot sustain your business off of these discount deals in the long-term—they should only be considered for a short-term potential boost in business exposure.

Many merchants make very little or even lose money with these deals due to offering a deal with too steep of a discount, the inability to sustain the number of deals offered, and lack of preparation for the response to their business. This typically happens when a business is unprepared to fulfill the offer in some way (i.e. lacking in staff, resources, and other essential ingredients that must be maintained in order to provide that fantastic first impression that will gain repeat customers.)

How to do it right

First, think about where you are now. Be very mindful of your company’s current goals and profit margins. Be careful not to be too ambitious in the discount you will offer. As previously mentioned, many people won’t come back unless they get that same deal. Offer a discount that errs on the more conservative side and aims more for exposure. It’s also imperative that you limit the total number to be sold. Don’t try to be too ambitious and start smaller so as not to overwhelm your business.

Employ strategy when timing your offer, as timing is often everything. Think of seasons, holidays, events and additional occasions that may increase your exposure and the need for your product or service. Or perhaps you have a few slow months during the year, and you can use a deal to help consumers think of you during these months and also help your store see a bump in sales. It helps to maintain a larger window of available time for customers to use the deal, as people will be more inclined to buy if they are not rushed to use it.

From an operations standpoint, if your business is unable to handle the surge in business, you will not attract positive brand awareness and could end up hurting your business. So making sure you maintain adequate staff and that the staff knows the redemption process is essential for your success with a daily deal. And during that training process, teach staff to upsell on the discounted product or service, and to sign new customers up for your loyalty program, keeping them engaged and happy.

For products, consider deals that emphasize in-store pickup. Groupon is in the test phases of launching this style of deal program and many individual local deal sites are able to offer this to businesses. This way, shipping won’t eat into your already small (or nonexistent) margins and you will be able to unload inventory that you haven’t been able to otherwise sell at full price.

Most popular sites:

  • Groupon is extremely popular and offers an extraordinary amount of exposure.
  • Living Social is another great option that is highly current, very similar to Groupon, and provides great exposure.
  • Amazon Local has also been staking its place in the online world of daily deals, combining the power of Amazon with geographic specificity that will surely and efficiently get you noticed.

Whatever outlet you end up choosing to feature a daily deal for your business, it’s best to really invest the time into ample research and planning that tailors the deal specifically to your retail business. This will allow you to establish a means of exactly how your business can best benefit from the deal and limit your overall risks as much a possible. In doing so, you will utilize deal sites in the way they were originally intended in order to increase your exposure and gain loyal customers.