Monday, 1 February 2010

Think, your Loyalty Program growing Location Aware

Last week I downloaded Foursquare to my iPhone and unlocked the Newbie badge.

Haven't heard of Foursquare before? The following text is from their web site:
”Foursquare is a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things.”
Basically you launch the application on your iPhone, wait a little while... and then Foursquare finds your location and displays available places near your location. This could be restaurants, a coffeeshop, someone's office etc. In short places other users have created and visited.

If the location you are at is listed you can check in, earn points, view tips and see who else is checked in to the same place – or create a new place. By checking in you tell your friends where they can find you. As you start checking in to more and more places you will earn points and unlock badges, and here's the twist:
”We all have our local hangouts and foursquare keeps tabs on who's the most loyal of all the regulars. If you've been to a place more than anyone else, you'll become 'the mayor'... until someone else comes along and steals your title.”
You might ask why this is relevant. How is this related to me?

Well, I'd say it doesn't really matter whether you're the owner of a small coffeeshop or whether you are in charge of the Customer Loyalty Program for your business. I bet you would like to know when the Mayor of Foursquare checks in to your place, right?

The question is what you are going to do about it. After all the Mayor is the most loyal of all the regulars. Wouldn't you like to honor that somehow? When I become the mayor of my regular coffeeshop, I would really appreciate to be offered something. Perhaps a double espresso for the price of a regular?

One of many
Foursquare is just the tip of the iceberg. I mention it only to illustrate a new trend. Mobility will be huge thanks to smart phones, but smart phones also include GPS chips which means that a smart phone knows where you are. This in turn means that applications like Foursquare knows where you are and can act accordingly. In short they are Location Aware.

This is called Locations Based Services.

If you, like I am, are interested in new technology and how it relates to marketing you should be thrilled about this. This is a technology that allows you to communicate with your customers when they're at, or near, your location. Think - Direct a personalized message to your customer. Just in time, just in place.

As I said Foursquare is just one of many. There are many more. You should definitely keep an eye on the big ones – Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. Twitter recently introduced location aware tweets. Google knows where you are - at least in the US.

Available options
How do you take advantage of this?
Using the Foursquare and the coffeeshop example above, I'd say it's as easy as just posting a sign at the cashier. ”If you're the mayor, show your phone and you'll get a free...” something.

You can also take it one step further. Here's an article describing what a Canadian Newspaper did together with Foursquare. Very interesting indeed.

Of course, you could also go all the way and develop your very own app. I'd love to see location aware apps put an end to all those plastic cards that keep fighting for my wallet space. All those cards that proves that I'm enrolled in the Loyalty Program. Imagine if apps could replace all those cards?

Of course the loyalty program cards serve another purpose. They're commonly used to track the amount of money you spend. How much money you spend is of course key, but imagine combining that information with information of how often, and when, a customer actually visits one of your locations? I bet you can think of many ways you could leverage that, right? Think, your Loyalty Program growing Location Aware.

And, don't forget. Customers who use these services also spreads the word to her/his friends. Think, your Loyalty Program going Viral.

What you think? Does this give you any exciting new ideas?

/Johan

PS. If you'd like to read more on this I include a few links to interesting articles:

Great ideas of how Marketers can use Foursquare

Describes the Canadian newspaper Metro News partnership with Foursquare to display location aware restaurant reviews, tips, to-dos and articles

Talks about the location-aware tweet

Twitter Local Trends:
Explanation of Twitter's new feature - Local Trends

4 Tech Trends You Must Understand to be an Effective Marketer
Talkes about Location-based services and the possibility to market right outside the customers front door.

Think Global, Tweet Local - Finding Local Customers
Good article that describes how small business owners can find local customers using Twitter tools

Near Me Now: Google's Mobile Homepage is Location Aware
Explanation of the Google's mobile homepage that's location aware (US-only)

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