In my previous article we analyzed how Foursquare fits into the 7 F’s of check-ins framework and proposed the first group of best practices. Here is the second part

Check-ins and Location Based Marketing, “The 5 I’s process”

Most check-in applications have a similar approach on how a business utilizes the platform. Before presenting additional foursquare best practices, we need to establish a systematic approach to work with these type of applications. We call this methodology “The 5 I’s process”, and in essence it is similar to other marketing methodologies but with slight adjustments.The 5 I's Processfor of Check-in

  1. Identify: Target Market, Objectives and Key Performance Indexes
  2. Implement: Claim your business in every network
  3. Incentive/Influence: Create Promotions, Rewards, Specials, Coupons
  4. Inform/invite: Utilize other marketing channels to promote your venue
  5. Investigate: Acquire and interpret check-ins data, Adjust your information techniques and incentives and go back to STEP3


Your marketing strategy includes clear objectives, and location based marketing tools are an additional channel to your marketing mix. Before implementing any LBM tool it’s important to IDENTIFY if your general business strategy target market fits under the general profile of the LBS adepts. According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Research, the Location Based Services user is mainly a young, well-educated, high earning male. You may decide to still explore these marketing strategies anyway as they will become more popular in the future, and that’s part of the objectives you would like to achieve. Additionally, you need to establish Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of your campaign and the return on investment.


The first step of implementation consists of claiming your venue in every network you would like to interact with. The implementation phase includes the unification of information across different apps. Bear in mind that the process of claiming a venue can take between a few minutes to some weeks depending on the type of authorization available for your business

Incentive and Influence

As in other channels, you need to answer a similar question: if a customer is presented with alternative venues to check-in around the same place, why would they choose your place in particular? At this point you should look at the 7 F’s model. Check-in networks offer diverse choices and while the principles are alike, they differ from one to the other.

Inform and Invite

As it was mentioned before, location based marketing strategies should complement and fit a general marketing plan. Therefore it is a good practice to use other channels to promote the use of location based offers i.e. Promote the location based offering in your Facebook page, website, printed material, etc. In the example bellow, you can see Zagat promoting foursquare in their website together with other social initiatives.

how zagat use foursquare - best practices

It is also a good practice to promote your offers in the front window of your business, informing potential customers why they should check-in in your business, inviting them to choose you over others around, even inside your store.


foursquare statistics and best practicesSome location based social networks allow you to get some level of statistical information regarding check-in data. This information can become a valuable tool to investigate parameters such as demographics of who is checking-in, the frequency of their visits, recurring customers, trends, and many more. This statistics should be the base to adjust and improve the previous two steps. The figure represents part of the available stats on foursquare, in this case of a fast-food place. As we can see in the graph as we mentioned before, the large proportion of check-in customers were male between 18-35 years old. Notice that applying the right set of best practices, the number of check-ins raised 155% in the last 90 days. Since the venue is in a business district, you can understand the time breakdown. The business owner understood the need to change their offers for breakfast, and create something to “take home” for the late afternoon. Furthermore, as the number of tweet sharing start decreasing, we recommended being more active on that channel acknowledging customers and offering other perks for tweets. Another useful and more advanced tools is provided by momentfeed. We use momentfeed for projects that involve multiple venues i.e. fast-food chains, retail stores, etc . The advantage that momentfeed provided us is the ability to analyze the whole chain in one graph, including check-ins from different apps, and even compare them with check-ins at the most prominent competitors. I’ll devote a full article on this topic.

Foursquare 7 best practices (Part 2)

Following our first set of check-in best practices here are 7 more, related with the 5 I’s process.

  • Identify your target market and the suitability of a check-in campaign: Identify if your customer demographics will use this channel and create deals that speak to them
  • Integrate the check-in campaign with other promotion channels: Inform your customers about your check-in deals and specials in your website, facebook page, twitter stream, printed coupons, and other advertising channels
    Georillas check-in windows decal

    Georillas Check-in windows decal (all rights reserved)

  • Let your customer know about check-ins: Inform your customers about deals on your windows and inside your store. The figure shows Georillas own design for a window decal where we invite customers to check-in and inform them which check-in apps the store supports. Remember that the idea is not only to attract the customer to enter your store, but to create the right experience to make them come back
  • Use statistics to learn and correct: The check-in campaign should start with clear objectives. Define what needs to be measured, track that information, measure your progress and adjust your tactics. As in the example above, they understood the need to create different menus and offerings during the day.
  • Share with your employees the success or the challenges of your campaign: People like to be associated with success, particularly if it comes with public recognition. If the campaign is good for the business they will push it further, if it doesn’t provide the desired results they are the ones that can tell you why.
  • Mix and match offers: Use different types of offers during the day. Some of the check-in apps allow you to have more than one special in parallel. Create specials that are appropriate for certain days and times i.e. midweek happy hours.
  • Be consistent within different stores: Consistency not necessarily means having the same deals in every store, but to have a consistent policy that customer can understand. But bear in mind that having different offers for each venue will add to your training, communications, and maintenance work.

To be continued…

In our next article we will focus in the last “I” – Investigate and measuring success.

As we mentioned before, analyze and work with every business on its own. There are no (successful) boilerplate check-in strategies. Every business has its own public, products, personality and definition of success. Bottom line, this best practices are just ingredients for success, not a recipe.

I’ll appreciate your feedback and any stories you can share. Thank you!

For the video version of this post check Video: The 5 i’s process for Location Based Marketing and Check-in Apps