One of the hottest trends in social media marketing right now is the local deal. Deal programs create a win-win situation for both the customer and the business. The customer benefits from receiving your product or service at a discount. In exchange you receive free publicity when that customer tells all of her friends that she is currently getting a great deal at your business. It’s a great way for businesses to reward their customers for advertising their patronage to your company.
The only problem is, now there are so many local deal applications available, making it hard to figure out which one is right for your business. To help you sift through all of your options, here is a list of the top local deal applications and the unique features of each one.
Foursquare is a very popular local deal application, boasting over 10 million users and several unique features at your disposal to reward your customers. One of the best features is that it’s free for vendors! The concept is pretty simple: You claim your business on Foursquare and set up deals for your customers to redeem when they Check In at your business.
Nearby Special Alerts
Foursquare alerts users of nearby specials when they check in somewhere. That way, even if the user isn’t checking in at your business but rather a store in close proximity, they will get a notification about your special which may entice them to stop over while they’re in the neighborhood.
Foursquare’s Venue Stats gives you valuable information about the activity happening at your business. Keep track of visitor frequency, customer traffic, and customer demographics through Venue Stats.
There are seven different types of specials you can offer through Foursquare, including Swarm, Friend, Flash, Mayor, Newbie, Loyalty, and Check-in. Each special rewards a different type of customer or helps you fulfill different sales agendas. For example, the Swarm Special requires a certain number of users Check In to your business at the same time to unlock your special.
Your most frequent customer is rewarded the title of Mayor of your business. Since Mayor is a very coveted title amongst Foursquare users, it’s a great way to give others incentive to come to your business more often in hopes of overthrowing the current Mayor.
Turn new customers into regulars with the Newbie Special. The first time a user checks into your business, offer them a special that will keep them coming back.
Training and Marketing Materials
One very important caveat with running specials through any deal application is to make sure that your staff is properly trained and your customers know about the special. Foursquare provides you with a flyer to help you explain your specials to all of your employees and marketing materials to post at your business to remind customers to Check In.
Although Yelp started out as a local business review application, the addition of local deals to their platform was a natural upgrade. The great part about Yelp is that people are already using it to decide where to go for breakfast or where to shop for shoes, so why not offer a deal on your Yelp page to help you stand out from the masses?
Claim Your Business
Once you claim your business on Yelp you can create a profile, complete with your business information, customer reviews, specials, and daily deals. As I mentioned above, Yelp originated as a customer review application, so be ready for reviews to play a rather substantial role in your Yelp profile. Yelp helps prepare you to respond appropriately to feedback with their Responding to Reviews section of the Support Center.
There are two different types of Deals you can offer through Yelp. You can either offer a regular special that users can purchase when they view your Yelp page, or you can now take advantage of check-in specials that users earn when they check in at your business using Yelp.
Be Ready for the Trade-Off
Yelp deals are not completely free. Although there is no upfront cost to you as the business owner, you pay them a 30% cut of each deal you sell. When a customer purchases your deal, Yelp processes the payment through your business owners account and keeps 30% of the payment for themselves.
Google Places is similar to Yelp in that it allows you to make a profile complete with pictures and reviews, with the added bonus of the coupon feature. Google places has a couple of different options for rewarding your customers with coupons, all of which are free!
Create an Offer
The most basic way to set up a deal on Google Places is to create an offer that shows up when users visit your Listing. Your offer takes the form of a coupon for users to print off and redeem the next time they come to your business.
You can also create mobile coupons through your Google Places Listing. With mobile coupons you can either send your latest deal offer to users’ mobile phones via text message, or you can set up a mobile check-in offer that users receive when they check in at your place of business.
By now we all have our Facebook Fanpages set up, but did you know that you can also claim your Facebook Place? Similar to Google Places, Facebook Places is meant for businesses that have a physical location. Your Facebook Place page shows users where your business is located on a map and allows users to check in at your business and see who else is checked in at your business at any given time. Once you have claimed your Facebook Place you can create deals to reward your followers with for checking in at your place of business.
Deals Gone Viral
What really makes Facebook Deals stand out from the rest is the vast network you have to work with (750 Million users to FourSquare’s 10 million) and the speed at which news of your deal will travel to potential customers. The inherent share-ability of Facebook activities makes your Facebook Deal more viral than a deal on many other applications. When a user buys or even likes a deal, that information gets shared with all of her friends. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, while Foursquare users are estimated to have 50 friends on average, according to our friends at Social Media Examiner.
With the increasing popularity of the local deal application, deciding on the best one for your company can be overwhelming and confusing. But honestly, who says you have to choose? You can run deals on several different social networks, track your results on each one, and phase out any that aren’t generating the results you were hoping for. At least this gives you a basic understanding of how some of the more popular local deal applications work and what each one has to offer. Do you already offer deals through any of these applications? If so which do you find most effective?