Aaron Strout Marketing

Aaron Strout joins us for another exciting episode of Inbound Now, HubSpot's social media and inbound marketing podcast! Aaron is the head of location based marketing at WCG in Austin. He is the author of an upcoming book, Location Based Marketing for Dummies, he runs his own podcast called The Quick-n-Dirty Social Media Podcast on BlogTalk Radio, and he blogs over at his own site.

In this episode, we chat about:

  • The evolution of location based marketing
  • Tips on adopting location based marketing in your business
  • Building a successful location based marketing campaign
  • Using location based services to build a loyalty program
  • Point-of-purchase and location based services
  • Offering incentives for sharing with your networks
  • What kinds of businesses should use location based services
  • Measuring the effectiveness of location based marketing
  • Resources for location based marketing information
  • Where to start your location based marketing efforts

Enter to win a copy of Aaron's Book!

The Evolution of Location Based Marketing

"At that point [in 2007], it was really just one of these cool things. It was fun. There were some legs to it, but you couldn't quite see the business use."

Using location based tools started out as just a cool thing to do. But in 2009, Foursquare launched with an eye toward utilizing location based tools for marketing and business. People started to realize that you can check into businesses. Businesses started setting their locations and offering incentives for check-ins.

Now more companies are getting into the location based marketing game. According to Aaron, there will be more development in this area, and then more consolidation and acquisitions, but we're really just at the beginning. Businesses are still trying to figure out how to use these tools in a beneficial way.

Adopting Location Based Marketing Services

"I think with the location based things, it's not to say that if you make a mistake it won't get some notice, but I think both customers and the press and social media in general are willing to cut you more slack if you're going in and playing around with them."

If you're a business, now is the perfect time to be trying out location based services because they're still relatively small communities. If you make an error, you won't get as much backlash as if you were just starting out with Twitter or Facebook.

Building a Successful Location Based Marketing Campaign

"We like to have what we call the Five Golden Rules." Here are Aaron's Five Golden Rules for creating a successful location based marketing campaign:

1. Go out and explore the services. Get yourself set up on Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, and Local Response. Claim your location in those places.

2. Start embracing the influencers that are checking in. Pick one or two services that are right for you (probably Foursquare, and maybe Yelp), and do that.

3. Create your offer. Make sure your offer syncs up with what your business goals are (loyalty, engagement, increase foot traffic, increase sales, etc).

4. Test, learn, optimize, and measure. Keep tabs on what's working and what's not working, and make changes.

5. Operationalize. Train everyone involved (from the top to the bottom) on what the offer is, how it works, and what the purpose is.

Using Location Based Services to Build a Loyalty Program

"I think that goes into perpetuity. Every fifth time you go, you're getting this extra benefit, and smart companies will start to think about how do I do that."

Here are a few examples of companies who are using location based services to build up loyalty programs:

  • Tasti D-Lite has a loyalty program where, through the swipe of a card, you can check into Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook. Checking in earns you additional points towards free menu items.
  • Starwood Hotels has a similar program where, when you attach your Starwood account with Foursquare, you get additional points for checking in.
  • Hideout Theatre has it so you don't just benefit the first time you check in or if you're the mayor, but also during your 5th and 10th visits as well.

Point-of-Purchase and Location Based Services

"So I think the more you can tightly tie in some of these elements to the point of sale, the bigger retail stores will embrace this. But I don't know if it's going to be the end-all, be-all. It will definitely add scale. It will add comfort, I think, to a lot of these customers."

A new element that is emerging is a way for businesses to track when people have actually purchased and been inside their business. This builds on loyalty programs, but it can also be used to further relationship building and engagement.

Offering Incentives for Sharing With Your Networks

"The more reasons you give for someone sharing their check-in with their Facebook account or other social networks, the better."

It's best to give the user the control on how/what they share with their networks, but the more reasons you give them to share, the better (e.g., "Get more points for sharing your check-in on Facebook.").

What Happens After Check-In

"We need to think about the benefit that geo-awareness adds to any kind of transaction business data, etc."

Businesses need to figure out how they can use this information going forward. Can you build check-in information in your loyalty program? Can you add that into your communication with your customers?

Digby (a mobile ecommerce company) is looking into this issue. If they can get you to check-in on an app that they've built, they can passively know whether you've been in a store or not. So then you have that data that you can work with.

What Kinds of Businesses Should Use Location Based Services?

"I think if you look at companies like Bravo TV, companies that are either publications or they're consumer package goods, there are things that you can do -- whether they're educational, they can be partnerships with the actual retail locations."

Location based services aren't just for brick-and-mortar businesses with lots of locations. Other types of businesses can partner with retail locations.

For example, you can check in at the Statue of Liberty. When you do, you can pull up a particular show episode on the History Channel and historical facts. The History Channel has partnered with historical locations so that when someone checks in, they're shown History Channel content.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Location Based Marketing

"This is a space that will continue to evolve. One of the things that we do have is we have a website. It's LocationBasedMarketingForDummies.com, and that's going to be the book site, and we're going to keep a regular blog there. You'll be able to find out about some of these services as they evolve, because Mike and I will keep wiki pages that will let users contribute as well -- talk about all these different services that can help measure and monitor."

A lot of the platforms offer their own dashboards for tracking who's checked in, demographics, etc.

But there are also a lot of other tools that can help you measure and monitor these campaigns. Some of them are:

  • MomentFeed: for tracking across multiple locations and multiple services
  • Geotoko: for managing multiple offers
  • Valuevine: for all kinds of tracking of location based campaigns
  • Local Response: for mining Twitter and finding specific check-ins and making offers to them

Resources for Location Based Marketing Information

"I have a list that I've actually built if someone checks out my Twitter handle, @AaronStrout. You can see my LBS Twitter stream that I've got."

Check out @Mr_LBS on Twitter, the Location Based Marketing Association, @JBruin on Twitter, and all of the individual services' Twitter handles and blogs.

Where to Start Your Location Based Marketing Efforts

"Try it out as a consumer and check in to some places and get some ideas, and then get your company set up. Claim your location. Think about maybe a light offer that you could do."

If you're just starting out, get set up on Foursquare. Try it as a consumer. Get some ideas. Then claim your location, and work on a light offer.

Connect With Aaron Online

You can follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronStrout and his personal blog. Don't forget to also check out his company blog, his book, and the Quick-n-Dirty podcast.

Enter to Win a Copy of Aaron's Book, Location Based Marketing for Dummies

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Originally published Sep 8, 2011 11:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016


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