Geo-locational apps and social networks such as Foursquare are about to reach an inflection point – that is, a point where they become as mainstream as Facebook or Twitter, according to MarketingVox.
For marketers, this means they can no longer rely on creating buzz merely by rolling out a campaign strategy based strictly on geo-location functionality.
That point, in fact, may already be here, according to technology blog Social Thumbs. “It’s one thing to offer different technologies along the value chain of location, but sharing your location and aggregating messages by things like hashtag are two very crowded niches right now.”
Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader warns of location-based fatigue. As more and more businesses try to tap into location-based social networking consumers will tire of the trend, he says. “There’s a really good analogy here to e-mail marketing. Fifteen years ago, you got your first e-mail from a company saying, ‘Here are this week’s specials chosen just for you,’ and you said, ‘This is cool’ and ‘How do they know what I wanted?’ You read it, you maybe even bought something,” he notes. “Maybe the second or third time it was still kind of cool, but then you got totally burned out with it and annoyed.”
To keep location-based strategies fresh – or at least to distinguish them from the ever-growing number of similar apps – consider the following tips.
Build the Service Concept First
Develop the best service – and then add bells and whistles such as geo-location, according to Kevin Nakao, VP of Mobile & Business Search for WhitePages, at Mashable. “From finding the nearest ski slope on REI’s Ski and Snow Report to a nearby movie on Flixter, there are plenty of Top iPhone applications that have incorporated a ‘lead with the offer, not the capability’ philosophy into their mobile product offering to provide a better service.”
Make it Worthwhile for Advertisers, Too
Maybe marketers jumped into Twitter as it became so popular without an advertising option available to them, but don’t count on that happening with every new social media trend, according to Nakao. “With all the hoopla surrounding location, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that location’s real appeal to advertisers is the fact that with this functionality, you can reach the on-the-go user, who is ready to buy and consume,” he says. WhitePages monetizes its mobile services through a mix of premium, national display, and sponsored links for local businesses, according to Nakao.
Effective CPM for sponsored local links is $30-$50 – double the effective CPM (eCPM) rate for premium display ad campaigns from national brands, he says.
But Don’t Overload the Sites With Offers
Wharton marketing professor Eric Bradlow cautions that charging businesses to bring ads to users may overload location-based social networking sites to the point that many customers will stop paying attention. He suggests a model in which a company would earn a portion of revenue for purchases made in connection with promotional partnerships with other companies. “Firms need a valid return on investment for their marketing spending. They should test the impact of location-based marketing, see the click-through rates, and partner with a company to see if people actually purchased anything.”
Design Features with Battery Life in Mind
Battery life is the single biggest threat to location, White Pages’ Nakao says. “With GPS on, the phone is asking the network where it is, and this chatter can drain battery life.’ Check-ins’ help to address the issue as they offer efficient geo-triggers without having to keep battery-draining GPS features on at all times.”
Professor Fader says that businesses will find their marketing campaigns on geo-location sites like Foursquare will deliver higher returns if they are well integrated into other campaigns. Companies that Foursquare – or Twitter or Face book – as part of an integrated marketing strategy and in a way that makes sense for the brand, will gain the most bang for their buck.