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Check-ins and Gamification: Bringing the Magic Back to Marketing

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by: Adam Steinberg (@adams472)
10 February 2012

As a kid, McDonald’s Monopoly was an addiction. Every time we drove by McDonald’s, I would beg my parents to pull into the drive-through for a chance to win. I was a real-world Charlie Bucket. Even at 2 p.m., I had to stop in for a small Coke just in case that was my lucky day to win a million dollars.

Somewhere along the way, marketing campaigns lost their magic. Too often we run through the same events and campaigns every year instead of surprising and delighting our customers with fun promotions. With location-based check-ins, marketers can rekindle some of that magic.

As we’ve seen during the past two years, location-based marketing with Foursquare or Facebook is a great way to drive customer visits and increase brand awareness. In fact, more than 600,000 businesses are now using Foursquare’s Merchant Platform. (See our infographic on Black Friday check-ins.)

But what if you could do something different? Something that would surprise and thrill your customers? What if you could combine check-ins with addictive game play to get thousands of customers to visit your stores?

[caption id="attachment_3266" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Contests and instant-win programs can drive check-ins and create social-media buzz. "][/caption]

Check-in based contests and instant-win programs are quickly becoming a unique way for brands with brick-and-mortar locations to drive check-ins and create a frenzy of social-media buzz. The key to this? Providing an opportunity to win after every check-in so that each time a customer visits your location, that person has a chance to take home a prize. Customers constantly want to check in at your stores for another shot at winning.

For example, imagine a location-based marketing campaign that works like this:

  1. Participants opt in for your campaign on your Facebook page, increasing your fan count and even helping you acquire new email addresses.
  2. Customers check in at your locations using Foursquare or Facebook Places.
  3. Every time customers check in, they have a chance to be an instant winner.
  4. After checking in, winners are notified of their prize via email, while non-winners are encouraged to check in again.

Introducing an instant-win concept into this campaign creates an element of unpredictability and instant gratification that people don’t normally get from check-ins.

Using these concepts, marketers can create a truly unique campaign that will differentiate their brand in the minds of customers. Furthermore, incorporating location-based check-ins in this scenario ensures that your brand will be able to turn social-media buzz into tangible customer visits and real revenue. Who knows, you might find yourself with a few hundred grown-up Charlie Buckets stopping in at 2 p.m. to see if it’s their lucky day to win.

Now it’s your turn. How else can gamification be combined with location-based marketing?

Related Reading:
1) “8 Predictions for Location-Based Marketing in 2012
2) “4 Ways to Work Check-ins into Your Marketing Mix
3) “5 Tips for Launching a Location-Based Marketing Program

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