When Foursquare 3.0 launched in March, the app's entire merchant platform was revamped. The location-based service offered more options for specials—and made it quicker and easier to set them up. To date, more than 250,000 small and large businesses have signed up on Foursquare's free platform for businesses; many of these have offered specials.
The beauty of a Foursquare special—aside from rewarding your customers and getting them back in the door—is that 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.
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.
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.
You can set a special so that the first X people who come at X time get a reward. It's great way to give customers an incentive to stop by during your slow hours.
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People who check in to your business for the first time can be awarded a Newbie Special—maybe a 10-percent off or a free side dish if you own a restaurant. Offering a reward for a user's first check-in, even if it's a small one, is a great way to start a relationship with a new customer.
The Check-In Special offers a reward for every single check-in. Restaurants can offer a free soda or a discount, while retailers might offer $1 off a purchase.
The Loyalty Special is an offering for every third, fifth, seventh check-in—you determine the interval—to incentivize customers to return regularly and cash in on their special.
The mayor is the person who has checked into a venue more than anyone else. In theory, he or she is your best and most loyal customer. As such, mayors 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, so 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 abides 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 colored while a yet-to-be-unlocked special is black and white.