Locating interesting uses for geolocation
Geolocation services are designed to find the real-world location of a certain object or the individual using a specific object. This is done through the use of Wi-Fi positioning systems, MAC addresses, radio frequencies, a device’s IP address, GMS localization or a device’s built-in GPS (when enabled in the device). With the world becoming ever more aware that Big Brother is watching them, people have either become wary of the fact that something or someone can track their location simply through the device they are carrying, or they have embraced it as a normal part of their daily interaction with technology and are using it to their advantage.
There are many ways in which geotechnology has seeped into our lives and it has many uses for businesses. Geomarketing is one area that has had the most technology pumped into it as it can focus directly on an individual user and help you as a marketer or salesperson to customize the message about a product or service to that customer to make sure their needs are thoroughly met. Even in the financial industry it can be used to identify traffic hotspots in order to place ATMs at the right places so that the majority of customers can reach them with ease.
Sites like Foursquare have been among the first to tap into this hugely untapped market with their method of giving individuals the opportunity to check in to restaurants, theatres, nightclubs and so on, and giving recommendations, reviews and comments to others in the same area. Foursquare is available in most areas (even South Africa) and immediately picks up on your location – another piece of evidence that you are in geolocation territory. To reward you for becoming part of their service, they give you badges for every sign-in. Facebook Places’ check-in feature is also similar to this but has a more personal approach as it merely tells others that you have been to this place and you can add a personal message.
These check-in features are a great opportunity for businesses to create brand awareness. If you allow your business to be featured on sites like Foursquare, it can open the eyes of others who have not seen your place before seeing the post and subsequently they might make an effort to check it out in future. If your reviews and comments are positive enough, it is great for encouraging more customers to step into your place. The emphasis here is on “good” reviews because bad reviews will do the exact opposite. Word-of-mouth marketing of your business is a great advertising opportunity that is relatively free but only if it is positive.
Not only restaurants and entertainment businesses can benefit from these check-in sites. Even a company that focuses on software development can have clients check-in when visiting their offices and so getting the name of your company out there to people who may have been looking for the services that your business is offering but who had not been aware of your existence. People can comment on what you are doing for them and what their experience has been with your service so far.
Another positive of using geolocation apps for your business is the fact that it can help you build closer relationships with your customers. Many customers want to feel like they are receiving special treatment, separate from others. By offering individualized offers or promotions whenever a client checks in at your business or gets the word out about their visit, you give people incentive to do it more often in the future and increasing the chance of others catching on to your business location and getting to know the services or products you offer. One can use surveys to determine where people heard about you and if the geolocation app your other clients used were responsible for them coming to you, you can offer a reward to that particular client.
Even if rewards and special offers seem like a good idea, there are those people who will find a way of abusing the system. They can do this by checking in more frequently than is possible or even when they are not even near the location itself. There are some apps that prevent this from happening by only allowing check-in when your GPS says that you are in fact at the exact location. Facebook’s check-in feature does not do this and one can be located one place but check in somewhere else. Another disadvantage that some businesses in the technology-driven world that we live in might come to realize is that geolocation apps can only work where there is a physical location to visit. If a business exists mostly online, geolocation will be of little help to them.
Geofencing is a trend whereby a virtual “fence” is created that triggers a particular action to occur once one is within this “fenced” area. It is relatively new but with more people craving to interact rather than to be involved passively, it can soon become more popular for businesses to market their products or services. This trend involves sending specific information to a person based on their current location and motivates a person to locate a specific area in order to gain access to that information. One of the companies embracing geofencing is MobileXpeditions. This company creates apps that companies can use to create team-building scavenger hunts for their employees, multimedia tours of products and services inside shopping centres and so forth. Companies can send texts to clients to invite them to experience a new product in a particular location in a way that others may not be able to or showcase at exhibitions if the person makes the effort to install the app.
Local SEO optimization is another new path that has come from the development of geolocation. Many smaller businesses focus on their immediate geographical surrounds or at least focus on gaining national customers instead of international customers (something reserved mostly for multinational corporations). It thus stands to reason that one would want a way in which to reach them personally, considering that they are within reach. Local SEO optimization focuses on entering keywords that will attract local search engine users (for example, adding your location to your URLs, title tags and meta descriptions), soliciting reviews on sites that specifically focus on local businesses and making use of services such as Foursquare.
Maxxor has also created a successful transit assistance application for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in association with faberNovel. It uses the current location of users to help them find the best way to get to their next location via the transportation system of San Francisco. This is just another way in which the use of geolocation by governments and business can improve the lives of consumers without infringing on privacy or rights.
A future with geolocation in it is already a part of our realities as our smartphones come with built-in GPS and interactive maps as well as the many apps that we currently install that ask for access permission to our current locations. Despite all of the concerns from consumers about privacy, it is a great way of marketing your business and showcasing your products in a unique manner.