Never before have I seen so many geo-location apps pop up all over the internet by tech companies such as Foursquare, Google+ Local, Facebook Place and more.
These apps have come to replace the regular yellow pages and have helped small businesses merge their online and offline marketing efforts. Also, these apps have offered local small businesses the much-needed free publicity and leads via check-ins on their mobile-optimized websites and an increase in sales at their physical business location.
But a little has been said about suitable geo-location apps for the lean small Nigerian businesses. This issue is what I am going to de-mystify in this article.
In my own online marketing experience, I have being able to try a couple of them and found out that just a few of them are suitable for Nigerian small businesses.
This geo-location tool has been and will always be a blessing to lean small Nigerian business owners like myself, who can’t afford to compete with the large corporate businesses in terms of huge online and traditional advertisement budgets (television, radio jingles, newspapers) and hiring of expensive search engine optimization companies to help make their websites rank high in the major search engines (bing, google, yahoo etc).
This local search optimization tool has indeed come to replace the regular yellow pages, as Nigerian business owners can list or claim their physical business location on google places and maps. This can be done through owning a google account, registering their phone numbers, business location, website (optional), giving free coupons, business description etc.
If done properly, small business owners are sure of making the front page Google’s local and mobile search engine for sure! Read my last article “Can Your Customer Locate Your Business on Google Places?” to learn how to list your business on google places and mobile maps.
This local business listing site is proudly Nigerian. I am glad to confirm that ever since I listed my digital marketing services on this site, I have gotten a few clients from it. What’s more, they do call you from time to time to check if your listing is fully completed or to notify you of a potential customer’s enquiry. So my advice is that you try out this geo-location app and see for yourself.
Mocality: Here is another indigenous geo-location app every Nigerian business marketer should try. They also have a daily deals section like dealdey site for promoting special offers to their local email subscribers. Once you claim your venue their site, they sync it with your google maps location. You should try it out too. UPDATE: Unfortunately, Mocality shut down its service.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking site that connects the online world to the real (offline) world via mobile devices (smartphones like iPhone, blackberry, android, windows phones, etc.). This site is great for businesses (restaurants, banks, offices etc.) with physical locations.
These businesses can display photos of their products and services for all to see. More so, they can increase sales by asking foursquare users within their location to check-in to their foursquare venue and redeem a special coupon.
For example: “Check-in to TFC foursquare venue 5 times and get a free ice-cream with your purchase in Surulere.”
The magic about this technique is that, once a foursquare user checks into your foursquare venue via their smartphones, foursquare notifies the user’s friends on facebook, twitter and foursquare, thereby increasing the popularity of that business/brand’s presence.
Foursquare venue is great for getting reviews about your products or services from your old customers.
However, if you don’t have a physical venue, you can use the foursquare pages to share valuable tips about your company with your followers.
Start by Claiming Your Venue:
To claim your venue, search for your business venue using the search bar at www.foursquare.com/business/venues.
It’s likely that someone has already created your venue to check into it, and you can claim it by proving that you own it. If you can’t find it or you are opening a new venue, click “Add a new venue to Foursquare,” which is at the bottom of the page. Fill out the information in the wizard. Once all the information is plugged in, your venue page will come up.
Click “Claim here” on the venue page. Foursquare will ask you a few questions about the business (i.e. “Is this a chain?”) and whether you are authorized to claim the venue. Then it will ask how you’d like to verify your ownership — either by phone or by mail. If you verify by phone, Foursquare will call you and provide a 4-digit PIN that you can enter on the site. Then, you will choose 2 options of verification. Either, you verify instantly with $10 dollars using your credit card, or you opt to verify by mail, the PIN will be sent via postcard. Once you’re verified, you will also receive a foursquare window cling so customers know you are a Foursquare-friendly establishment. (Fear not, efficiency lovers: If you have numerous locations, you can verify in bulk.). Once you’re verified as the owner of a location, you can use Foursquare’s Merchant Platform to create specials to reward your customers. The method for creating specials is pretty self-explanatory, and the wizard walks you through each step as you create your special. You can have two specials running simultaneously at a given location.
Once you’ve claimed a venue, you can access a dashboard of analytics that show how many checkins you’re getting each day, the time of each checkin, as well as a breakdown of the genders and ages of your foursquare customers.
Plus, there are two lists: one of your top visitors in the past 60 days (your most loyal customers), and one of your most recent customers, along with their Twitter handles (so long as they provided that info when they logged into Foursquare).
In my experience, people push their foursquare checkins to Facebook and Twitter, so having access to the Twitter handles of loyal and new customers provides businesses with an opportunity to reach out, follow up and see how a customer’s experience was. That personal touch is likely to bring customers back, and it may also turn that person into an evangelist for your business.
Now Your Turn:
What other geo-location websites or apps did I miss? Include it in the comments box below.