Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We've asked a coterie of marketing experts to join Entrepreneur's Team Digital to provide answers to your common questions about building an online presence. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using #TeamDigital. Each week, we'll spotlight a different topic, and twice a month we'll host Google Hangouts (our next is June 26) where Team Digital will chat about best strategies for managing an online reputation, marketing through social media and using mobile techniques to attract customers.
Many small businesses are still trying to figure out location-based marketing. There's been plenty of changes since Foursquare and Yelp first came on the scene a few years back. What's one thing that entrepreneurs should know when it comes to location-based marketing?
Your listing is extremely important when it comes to local search. Ensure that all your business locations are listed on all the major location-based marketing services like Google+ Local, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, MapQuest and others with the correct images, address, phone number and additional information like menus, specials and more. According to a Yext study, businesses as a whole are losing $10.3 billion dollars annually from missing or incomplete listings.
Being responsive -- both on social media and to reviews -- is still very important. Customers are turning online to learn about their local businesses more than ever before. Business owners wear so many hats, but your local marketing efforts should be prioritized when possible.
Good incentives are a must. Consumers have gotten accustomed to being rewarded for participating in location-based marketing programs, so pony up a good incentive to get your loyalists to repeat and to share. The competition next door is stiff.
You should ask your regular customers and customers that express appreciation for your business to do reviews. It seems obvious that people would do this on their own, and you may feel a bit awkward about asking, but just a quick "thanks, would you mind doing a short review on Yelp," for example, can increase your comments and make you more desirable.
Location-based marketing works in two directions. One, you can PUSH ads out to people based on their location. Are they in the same vicinity as your retail stores? That can help you avoid wasting money. Two, you can PULL people in who are in discovery mode. The Blue Fog Market is a new deli around the corner from my office. When I looked for a place to eat nearby, Yelp showed me they had a deal for a free cup of Blue Bottle Coffee with purchase when I "check in." I'll go there tomorrow morning instead of the place across the street.
Location-based marketing is a great way to add value to people. You don't have to over-complicate it.Use a platform like Foursquare to create helpful tips that are relevant to your industry and your geographic region. For example, if you're a realtor in Toronto, you could offer insider tips about landmarks around the city that only locals might know about. This would help in positioning you as a go-to resource within your industry for both people within the city and those looking to visit. And, it doesn't have to cost you anything.
Responsive website design is critically important. As the pervasiveness of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones continues to rapidly increase, consumers are going to access your website from these devices more frequently. If your website doesn't display correctly, you're likely to lose out on a potential sale or lead.
The key to location-based marketing is to focus on convenience for the user. Example: Your customer is in the store/at the restaurant/checking into the hotel. What upsell can you offer them "at this moment" via mobile that doesn't feel like an upsell, but rather, something they need? Think a Facebook Places tie-in with AmEx Membership Rewards Points if they choose to upgrade their room, or similar. The hard part has been done for you -- bringing the customer in. Your job is to figure out how to amaze them now that they're there, so your marketing becomes that much more successful.
You need to ask, "Is it useful?" Do that before you jump into location-based tactics as simply another way to broadcast your message just because you know I am near. Use the fact that you know where I am to create a better experience -- like tell me about other stuff around me, show me the nearest X, send me some useful tips based on my location and then get back out of the way.