locationbasedservicesLocation-based services (LBS) offer users the ability to share information or special offers in their immediate environment. In order to be able to do this, the location of the user is detected via the smartphone using GPS and based on the location data, the user then receives information on offers in his immediate environment. In addition, friends can see where their friends currently are currently at.

Thus, the benefits of LBS services for businesses are obvious: you can lure potential clients in your area directly and virtually for free with targeted offers and also retain regular customers through special offers.

As the name suggests, LBS services are suitable for all companies that offer a physical point of sale, which means sell at least at one location offline. Therefore, pure online retailers do not benefit from LBS services.

Overall, the current use of LBS is based on three different motivations: service, entertainment and information. The convenient shopping and local savings has so far played only a subordinate role. But obviously, from a marketing perspective, that’s the most interesting aspect.

Foursquare is one of the few LBSs that is combining information and recommendations with sales targets – and that’s why I would like to take a closer look on this specific location-based service as an example:

The "Check-In" is the most important function of Foursquare. Every check-in to a location increases the status of the user and the attractiveness of the incentives and offers.  Depending on the number of user check-ins, companies can award "Badges" which provided special privileges at their discretion. A standard badge of Foursquare is the "Mayor" which is automatically assigned to the user with the most check-ins who then generally gets rewarded by companies that use Foursquare in particular.


  • Always appear as a person on Foursquare, even if you are a company, and add only users to your circle of friends who you really know. Also make sure to use your user account like a "normal" human being, meaning do not check-in only into your own business. And please ask your colleagues or employees not to check-in with their own private users account at your own company. Your customers otherwise never have a chance of becoming "Mayor".
  • Before you create your company as a location on Foursquare, check first if it perhaps already exists. If your location indeed already happens to be there, you can claim it as "owner” and create marketing campaigns for the site.
  • Create a brand page and then fill it with life, for instance by adding tips and pictures. However, make sure not to include too much content and do not update it too often. It should not sound too commercial. Much more important is that promotions, offers and badges can be created. The brand page also provides access to the statistics of Foursquare.
  • Do not use the automatic linking of Foursquare in conjunction with your Facebook or Twitter account. Information that you are presenting on Foursquare is enough - rather than having constantly double or triple the content on different networks, which is annoying.
  • A particularly important point is that you inform your employees of your marketing campaigns on Foursquare, such as a discounst, because first of all they need to be aware who they are facing when it comes to the point of sale. If a user has difficulty in actually redeeming a coupon or discount code on the spot, he will most likely not come back.
  • By the way, check out from time and time what is written on Foursquare about your business and how the statistics develop. Particularly interesting is who’s visiting your business as you'll learn a lot about your target audience. Whoever is checking-in automatically is recommending you to all his friends and therefore deserves your attention, especially if they are recurring visitors and obviously become regular customers.

By Daniela La Marca