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3 Common Location-Based Marketing Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

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by: Adam Steinberg (@adams472)
24 April 2012

With Facebook recently announcing that 200 million users now share their location through Facebook each month, more and more marketers are now launching location-based marketing programs.

In their haste to capitalize on the impressive growth of Foursquare, Facebook and other location-based services, though, marketers sometimes get wrapped up in the excitement of the new technology and overlook the basics of program planning and execution.

Below, we present three common mistakes when implementing location-based marketing programs, tips for avoiding them, and tactics for creating promotions that build engagement, loyalty and revenue.

Mistake #1: Forgetting Fulfillment and Training
For marketers running location-based marketing campaigns that involve local stores or franchisees, the most common mistake is forgetting to train in-store staff. In the rush to get a program up and running that provides an offer or discount to customers that check in, marketers often neglect to communicate this new promotion to their local store staff members and forget to train them on how to fulfill these special offers.

If you’ve ever checked in somewhere, received an offer and showed it to a store employee, only to have the staff member tell you they don’t know what this special is, then you’ve been a victim of poor planning and training.

The Solution: Consult and train your local store staff prior to launching your location-based marketing program. You’ll want to train employees on what a check-in is, about Foursquare and Facebook, and in particular how to recognize and redeem an offer when presented.

As an alternative, choose to only train your store managers on these new promotions. They can communicate to staff to speak with them before redeeming any new promotions.

Mistake #2: Not Creating Compelling Offers
Visit any online coupon website, and you’re likely to find a 10 percent coupon for your favorite store. So why make this your reward to loyal customers that visit and check in? Customers participating in location-based marketing programs are savvy enough to recognize when brands don’t create special content for this channel and are trying to “pull the wool over their eyes.”

The Solution: Create unique offers and content for customers participating in your location-based marketing programs. Don’t simply try to plug in the same offers you distribute via other channels. Better yet, get creative and try to do something that doesn’t involve a typical price discount. What about letting customers that check in skip the wait line? Or providing a special guided tour with the owner or executive chef? Or even inviting guests that check in to an exclusive event?

Mistake #3: Making It Too Confusing
Many offers from location-based programs include terms like this: “Check in five times within 30 days to receive 15% off a purchase of at least $20.” These programs simply have too many terms and restrictions to make it easy for customers to understand. Therefore, your participation—and program success—will be diminished.

The Solution: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Focus on providing immediate value to customers that check in. For example, “Check in and receive a buy-one-get-one-free coupon” provides immediate value and makes it easy for customers to understand what’s in it for them.

So there you have it—three common location-based marketing mistakes and how to avoid them. What challenges have you seen with location-based marketing, and how have you solved them?

More on Location-Based Marketing:
1) Tip Sheet: “7 Tips for Getting Started with Location-Based Marketing
2) Webinar: “How to Run Successful Campaigns with Foursquare and Facebook Places
3) Blog: “How to Claim Your Venue on Foursquare


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