Tag Archives: foursquare special

Top 5 Foursquare Mistakes Committed by Small Businesses

29 May

Here’s what not to do as you embark on your Foursquare marketing endeavors.

1. Creating a Complicated Special

There’s no fun in trying to unlock a special that is nearly impossible to unlock. Try to keep it simple. The purpose of Foursquare’s merchant platform is to bridge the gap between customers and merchants, and a high barrier to entry could easily turn users off. There are seven kinds of specials to choose from, depending on whether you’re targeting new customers, encouraging people to come back multiple times or wanting to reward the mayor (your most loyal Foursquare customer).

Foursquare enables businesses to activate a special only on certain days or during certain times, or they can reward people for every nth checkin, regardless of what time or day it happens. “Receive a free cupcake on your fifth checkin” or “10% off your bill on Tuesdays” are good examples of simple rewards.

Specials can provide discounts, a few bucks off or a free item. If you’re worried about margins, you can offer a special that doesn’t affect your bottom line — maybe users will get to shop during special hours at your shop. Alternatively, you can post videos of your most active Foursquare users on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Eric Friedman, Foursquare’s director of business development, says the best kind of specials are those that make people feel special and provide them with something they couldn’t get as a regular consumer.

Also, remember to set an end-date for your campaign if it’s a limited-time offer and use the fine print if there are exclusions to your special.

2. Not Training Staff



You never want someone to redeem a special and show it to your staff, only to be looked at with googly eyes. Be sure your team is prepared and can recognize a Foursquare special and offer the redemption. Once you create a special, Foursquare provides flyers for you to print — one for employees, and one for customers — to build awareness for the product and make sure everyone is on the same page.

If you add a new special or change your current one, be sure to alert the team so they can answer any Foursquare-related questions.

3. Not Using Foursquare’s Dashboard



The Foursquare dashboard is full of useful information. Merchants can see what times people are checking in, in addition to details on the gender and age breakdown of those users. Businesses can use this information to craft a special to lure people to their venues during slow periods.

Only about 25% of Foursquare users send checkins to Twitter or Facebook, so logging in to the dashboard allows you to see who your most frequent and most recent Foursquare checkins are. This is helpful for businesses and gives them an inside look at their customers, while also proving contact information — such as their Twitter handles — if a user provided it when signing up. The Twitter handle can be used for one-on-one outreach, which will make your customers feel special and appreciated (and hopefully not creeped out).

4. Giving Away Too Much Product Via Specials

Just like on Groupon, there is a point at which your margins could be affected in such a way that you could be losing money. If you’re a cupcake shop, you might not to be able to afford giving away a free cupcake with each checkin. That’s fine, just get more creative and offer a more exclusive special. Perhaps you can do a loyalty special so that people get a reward — a free cupcake — on every third or fourth visit. That way, they’re incentivized to come back, so you’re encouraging and rewarding loyalty with delayed gratification.

5. Not Advertising That You’re a Foursquare Merchant



People might not be inclined to check in if they don’t know there’s a reward, so be sure to put the window clings (which Foursquare sends you when you create a special) on display. Setting up a special also guarantees that your business is shown in the “specials nearby” tab when people open the Foursquare app in the vicinity of your business.

The bottom line is that there are nearly 10 million people on Foursquare. Some might be more inclined to try your business — and keep coming back — if they know there’s an incentive on Foursquare. Therefore, not publicizing your special can be a huge missed opportunity.


HOW TO: Set Up a Foursquare Special

9 May

The beauty of a Foursquare special — aside from rewarding your customers and getting them back in the door — is that when users often check out the “Specials Nearby” menu when they first open the app. If they’re within a few blocks of your store and you have a special, you’ll show up in that menu. It’s an excellent, free way to gain exposure, and the platform is flexible and intuitive. There are now seven types of specials available on Foursquare; below you’ll find an explanation of each special, along with some tips to help you get started.

1. Create a Special

Once you’ve claimed your venue on Foursquare, go to Foursquare.com

  • Click on “Manager Tools”
  • Click on “Campaigns”
  • Click on “Start a Campaign”
  • Click on “Add a Special”

The new specials are broken up into two types — five that reward new customers, and two that incentivize existing customers to return.

Swarm Special

You can specify the number of people who need to be checked in to unlock something. For example, an ice cream store can give away a free scoop of ice cream when 10 people are checked in at once. You can set a limit for how frequently this special can be unlocked so that you don’t give away too much product.

Friends Special

A reward for when friends check in together. You can specify how many friends need to be checked in and what they receive for being checked in.

Flash Special

You can set a special so that the first X people who come at X time get a reward. It’s great way to incentivize customers to stop by during your slow hours.

Newbie Special

People who check in to your business for the first time can be awarded a Newbie Special — maybe 10% off or a free side dish, if you own a restaurant. Offering a reward for a user’s first checkin — even if it’s a small one — is a great way to start a relationship with a new customer.

Check-In Special

The Check-In Special offers a reward for every single checkin. Restaurants can offer a free soda or a discount, while retailers might offer $1 off a purchase.

Loyalty Special

The Loyalty Special is an offering for every third, fifth, seventh checkin — you determine the interval — to incentivize customers to return regularly and cash in on their special.

Mayor Special

The mayor is the person who has checked into a venue more than anyone else. In theory, he is your best and most loyal customer. As such, he deserves a prize, whether it’s a discount, a free t-shirt or a meal on the house. Mayors tend to be proud and protective of their mayorship, and you might even see some turf wars when the mayorship changes hands. You can offer something whenever a new mayor earns the crown, or you can offer a daily reward for the mayor.

Now that you’ve seen the offerings, click the special you’d like to do and determine the stipulations that will require people to unlock the special. Then click “Next Step.”

2. Write Your Special

Now you can write the text of the offer. In the “Offer Description” field, you have 200 characters to outline your special. It will populate in real time on the iPhone to the right so you can see what it will look like on someone’s smartphone. Keep it short and simple.

After you enter the text, click “Next Step.” In the field labeled “Fine Print,” type any restrictions or disclaimers for the special. If you want to target your slow times, you can say that the special can be redeemed only from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on Monday and Tuesday. Be specific.

Click “Create Special.”

3. Determine the Venues for the Special

Select the venue where you’d like to have this special run. You can have different specials running at different locations, and you can group your locations. If you have three stores in New York and two in Boston, you can create a “group” of New York venues and a group for Boston, and then each group can have its own specials. Or, each location can offer something different — Foursquare gives you total control. Also note that you can have multiple specials running simultaneously. If it’s a limited-time offer, remember to put an end date for the campaign. Once you click “Start Campaign,” the special is live. (However, it will not show up in the “Specials Nearby” menu until someone on the Foursquare team verifies that the special is legitimate and abide by the terms of service. This usually happens within 24 hours.)

4. Educate the Staff

Once you create your special, Foursquare provides links for a flyer that you can download to explain to your employees how Foursquare and specials work. The most important thing for employees to know is that an unlocked special is color while a yet-to-be-unlocked special is black and white.

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