Make the Most Out of the Check-In Special

Geosocial services (a.k.a. geo-location services) like Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR and others have introduced a new way for users to share their shopping preferences with friends via the check-in (the action of sharing that you are at a particular location with your social connections through a mobile device and/or status update).

One of the most straightforward tactics marketers have to leverage a platform like Foursquare is delivering a check-in special, a coupon/ deal/ perk obtained by checking-in. Now, this can be a move that doesn’t make sense because, after all, why would you want to deliver a coupon to someone who is already in your store and about to make a purchase? You wouldn’t.

It’s benefit is about behavior.

Geosocial is an emerging technology, but it is taking hold. With 10 million users reaching 1 billion check-ins after only being at 100 million check-ins 14 months ago, Foursquare, the check-in leader, is growing. In addition, the U.S. has 80 million smartphone users, 20 percent of which have used check-in services. It’s not going away anytime soon.

Check-in deals shouldn’t be used to reinforce the same behavior. They should be used to influence consumer behavior to achieve business objectives. For example:

  • Encouraging a consumer from around the corner who’s never been in your store to come in, check-in for the first time and receive a special discount to meet the objective of customer acquisition.
  • Increasing the amount purchased by offering a deal that says if you spend over a certain threshold, you get a certain amount off or a free gift.
  • Encourage loyalty by offering a deal/ perk to someone who checks-in a certain number of times to encourage them to come back.
  • Reward sharing by offering a deal or perk when someone checks-in with a certain number of friends, so they can’t unlock the deal by themselves.

Identify objectives before the Special.

There’s no point in creating a check-in special to reward someone to do what they were going to do in the first place, but there are plenty of reasons for businesses to align on their business objectives, whether those objectives are customer acquisition, increase “cart-size” or reward returning customers, first. Then they can align on how those objectives can be achieved using check-in specials. Consumers like deals and perks. Use their desire to deliver an experience that resonates with them and deliver on your business objectives at the same time.