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Have you ever been out with someone only for them to stop to 'check in' to the place that you have just entered? This behavior might seem odd at first but what they're actually doing is using Foursquare to share publicly the fact that they're in that place with you at that time.
As a business owner, this should pique your interest. Do your visitors have the option of 'checking in' when they visit you? For restaurants, hotels, shops & theaters this can have a lot of benefit.
Meanwhile, location “finder” apps can also be used in order to help provide directions or suggestions for places to eat and all this can be very handy for getting around. In fact, some of us are at the point now where we would be completely lost (quite literally) without our GPS-based apps to help us get around.
If someone is looking for your business, will it show up on these apps?
In short, location-based and finder apps are all the rage right now and more and more of our smartphone use is centered around GPS. Last year 74% of adult smartphone users used their devices regularly to find their way around according to Pew Research. This is big news for the small business owner who wants to leverage that.
Read on and we'll take a look at some of the big GPS apps that businesses should be taking notice of going forward into 2015.
Yelp is a very highly downloaded location-based app that is also trusted among users. During the first quarter of last year, 61 million unique visitors accessed the site via their mobiles. If you can get a good review on Yelp then this will help you to attract a ton of local business passing through and can do a great deal to help you build your reputation. Business owners can also add photos, track their views and reply to reviews. And make sure you are replying to reviews – it can go a long way to making you look like a real business that cares. You may already be on Yelp and getting reviews without realizing it.
Foursquare doesn't have quite the popularity that it once did but it is still very widely used. It's an unusual creature this one, essentially just letting people brag about all the places they've been and all the exciting things they're doing. But then isn't that pretty much what social media is all about? It also just so happens that this is one of the very most effective ways to get your customers to spread the word of your business and to get their friends and other connections interested in doing business with you. If someone has a good time visiting your restaurant or hotel they might want to 'check-in' and this can then expose your business to their entire social network.
Currently the site has more than 50 million members and 1.7 million companies are listed. Don't miss out on this opportunity!
Groupon is already a very powerful tool for marketing your business that can be used to reach a large audience through deals and promotions. But when you combine this already impressive capability with location-based functionality you have a real match made in heaven. This won't be suitable for every small business but if you can think of a way to work with Groupon then it can lead to a lot of exposure and increased turnover.
VoucherCloud offers voucher codes and discounts specifically within a user's area. It’s often the case that people between the ages of 18 and 30 won't eat out unless they can find some kind of coupon for a deal on their meal. And it's not just for retailers either – it can also be useful for a range of retailers and other local businesses.
5. Google Maps
Being on Google Maps should be the number one priority for any small business in the commercial sector when it comes to being found on users' smartphones. Being on Google Maps is crucial for your local SEO and will help people to find you when searching for businesses in their area. Likewise, by going to Google My Business you can get your property to show up on Google Places which is a tool many people use to quickly find places to eat and shop in their area when they're out and about. This greatly enhances the chances of people nearby discovering your business and can lead to a lot more business.
Google even have their own version of 'Foursquare' in the form of Google Latitude which is integrated with Google Maps and allows users to share where they are with their friends. Unlike Foursquare, Latitude lets you share your location even while your phone is off and is mostly used by families who want to keep track of each other.
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6. Facebook Places
Facebook is by far the biggest social network and if its user-base were a population, it would be one of the biggest countries in the world too. Never one to be left out, Facebook has its own version of Foursquare built-in in the form of 'Facebook Places'. This allows users to update their location status to tell their friends where they've been. Having a Facebook Places page will show your location on a map on Facebook, it will allow friends to share your business with others in the area. It doesn't take long to set up, so get on it!
LivingSocial is another app/website a little like Groupon that visitors can use to find ideas for things to do in their area. Log in and you'll be presented with spas, places to eat, places to stay, events and more. It's very popular, so if you own a small business then you need to be on here or you'll be missing out on a lot of potential business.
Other Cool Apps for Small Business Include…
Perka is a mobile app that makes managing a loyalty program easy. Whether its buy 10 get 1 free, earning points, loyalty tiers, whatever suits your fancy, Perka makes it easy to setup and even more importantly, easy for your customers to use. Customers check in at your business and the transaction can quickly be attributed to them. Super easy. It’s 8x more cost effective to bring an existing customer in then get a new customer.
It’s a fact – Wunderlist can boost your local business’ employee productivity. Simply have each one of your employees download this free app. Then create personalized “to-do” lists to keep everyone in sync and on track. You’ll never have to hear “what should I do” ever again!
The list goes on…
There are tons more sites that local businesses can use to reach customers in their area. We won't go over all of them as they're often rather similar but make sure to check out:
- Gilt City
- Fab (for products)
- Savored (for restaurants)
- Woot! (for technology ecommerce)