More than ever, consumers are relying on their smartphones to point them toward the best deals in town on the fly. For small-business owners, that means an opportunity to get them in the door when they’re already nearby.
Nearly half of all U.S. adults now own a smartphone and, among them, one in five “checks in” — or publicly announces his or her current location — with a mobile app such as Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook, reports the Pew Internet & American Life Project. When people check in, they not only broadcast their whereabouts to their family and friends, but also often share reviews and photos of their experience there.
Because people can browse these apps to find goods, services, and even specials offered in their immediate vicinity, small-business owners can take advantage of the trend — and drive traffic to their storefronts. The first step to “claim” your business using the services offered by these websites. Next, try these three tactics to get your customers to “check in”:
1. Offer a special or two. Your goal is to reward your most loyal customers and to attract new ones. You can do so by offering two different specials: one for customers who check in frequently (or just for the “mayor,” the person who’s logged the most check-ins on Foursquare) at your place, and another for customers checking in for the first time. The latter could be a discount on their first purchase.
2. Encourage groups. Want to draw a bunch of people to your business at a certain time? Create a special offer on Foursquare that gets unlocked when a “swarm” of people check in within a certain amount of time. Don’t need that many people? Make an offer that requires the patron to arrive with a specific number of friends, colleagues, or family members. For instance, offer a free dessert to a party of four or more.
3. Don’t give it all away. You don’t necessarily need to offer freebies or discounts, though those certainly are attractive to customers. Get creative and think about other perks that people may enjoy, such as special treatment or access. For example, reserve parking spots for people who check in, let them skip the line for a special event, or provide a behind-the-scenes exclusive preview of an upcoming product or service.