Drive foot traffic with smartphones

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Fun and free, these tools are growing rapidly in popularity among individuals and businesses. Overall awareness of location-based services has reached 56 per cent of U.S.-based cell phone users, and 39 per cent of them currently use at least one location-based application (eMarketer study February 2011).

Individuals use apps such as Foursquare to find friends, check out tips from other users and receive rewards from the different places they visit. Rewards range from vendor deals and discounts to unlocking badges, becoming the “Mayor” of a venue and earning points:

  • Badges: Users unlock badges for checking into specific locations or doing specific activities. Is this virtual “reward” corny? Yes. Is it effective? Very. Foursquare users cherish their accomplishments and flaunt them proudly;
  • Mayorships: The person who checks-in to a location the most over a 60-day period becomes its “Mayor.” This creates a major loyalty to the brand or location. Wouldn’t you like customers competing to become mayor of your dealership?
  • Points: Every check-in earns you more points — another game element which helps foster the competitive nature of the application.
  • Discovery: Foursquare users enjoy using the platform to find locations — it’s become another viable method for shoppers to find services, get directions and obtain specials.

Foursquare currently has 25 million+ registered users checking-in to venues at a rate of one per second, activity that presents several unique opportunities for dealerships to connect with, engage and retain customers. A few simple steps make this possible:

  1. Register. If not signed up already, do so here:
  2. Claim your venue. Once logged in to Foursquare, search for your dealership by name and select “claim your venue.” Add your dealer’s name, keywords, address, URL, categories and tags. Be sure to add a complete description. TIP: Individuals have profiles; businesses have venues. Don’t make an individual profile for your dealership.
  3. Create your specials. Make a special for your venue. These can be Mayor specials, for a visitor’s first check-in or after multiple check-ins, a free oil change on your first check-in for example.
  4. Monitor your venue. Foursquare provides a nice set of free analytics tools to track your visitors check-ins: day and time, demographics, frequency, etc.
  5. Inform your staff. Let everyone in your dealership know about the venue, the specials and encourage your staff to check-in, share tips and post photos of your dealership.

You can even measure Social Reach by the percentage of users sharing check-in activity on Facebook and Twitter. TIP: Hang window clings and print flyers of your specials to share with employees and your visitors to help spread the word with more tips and pictures. Foursquare provides these resources on their website — for free!

When Foursquare users check-in to venues, notifications of nearby specials are displayed within the app. Individuals can also add tips and to-dos left by other users to their profiles, which means activity involving your dealership can extend to an online audience far beyond your core users. These benefits will only continue to expand as smartphone adoption continues to grow and more consumers will experiment with geo-location applications.

So, where are your customers checking-in?

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