Over the past few months we’ve covered a number of the world’s biggest names and how they are using marketing automation technology (or specific aspects of automation) to thrive in their industry. Past examples have included Amazon, Lady Gaga, Google, and Netflix — all leaders in their respective industries who are poised to become even more dominant with the help of automation.
But what about a company in transition? Or a company looking for a pivot that will help keep them relevant? Well, that’s the story with Foursquare.
A Time to Pivot
When Foursquare first launched in 2009, it was almost unthinkable that people would be convinced to share their location on a social network. But through a simplified check-in process and a gamification system that made them famous, Foursquare changed the way we think about what and where we share about ourselves.
Sharing your location has become much easier than it was in 2009, lowering the barriers to entry and allowing check-ins from Facebook, iOS, and Android — many of them done automatically. So it made sense for the company to start pursuing a new direction, one that they have clearly set out on with their recent update last month.
Foursquare 6.0 still maintains the check-in and gamification we’ve grown to expect, but these aspects take a backseat to the app’s new focus on helping to make life easier for you by finding places nearby, recommending activities, and tailoring search results to what they know about you. Let’s take a closer look.
It’s All About the Data
From the moment you log in to the app, Foursquare is collecting data. The first screen you see asks you to like or dislike 5 options, allowing them to better understand your preferences. From there, every check-in — the location, the time of day, and the type of establishment — is recorded and used to deliver increasingly personalized experience.
Marketing automation solutions allow marketers to provide personalized experiences in much the same way. Custom forms on one of your landing pages collect the same explicit information Foursquare asks for in their “like-dislike” exercise, allowing you to build a framework for your prospect. Automation solutions like Pardot allow you to flesh out that prospect record even further by tracking the activity of a prospect on your site, providing insight into consumer behavior and buying patterns.
In the case of both Foursquare and automation, this data provides the ability to deliver extremely tailored experiences, designed to drive maximum engagement.
Any app can suggest places nearby. If that’s all you’re looking for, you can try Urbanspoon. The true value of Foursquare’s suggestions lies in the highly-personalized nature of the information it is providing. If you are big into breakfast food, you probably won’t see too many recommendations for cocktail bars. Like to follow your breakfast with a nice coffee? Foursquare will already have one picked out the second you check in for breakfast.
As consumers fork over more and more personal data to marketers and services, they expect a more personalized experience in return. Just as you would find generic dining suggestions disappointing, consumers are not going to be excited to receive a generic marketing email from your company. Automation solutions allow you to segment your audience into highly specialized blocks that can be marketed to as individuals. Prospect tracking can provide your sales team valuable intel before a call on what a prospect has been searching for. The personalization possibilities are endless, and you ignore them at your own risk.
One of the coolest aspects of Foursquare’s recommendations is the timeliness with which they are delivered. Based on the time of your check-ins, Foursquare is able to determine out what types of activities you like to engage in throughout the day and tailor recommendations accordingly. This goes well beyond not suggesting a bar at 8AM (unless that’s something you do frequently) and provides a sense of comfort and familiarity to the suggestions.
Automation allows you to approach your lead nurturing in the same way. Having the right data allows you to take the annoying “salesy” stuff out of the process, and positions your sales and marketing teams as helpful resources, always there at the right time to help them through the buying cycle. Drip campaigns allow you to automate this process by providing information to prospects only after a certain period of time or after a certain action is taken.
Although it remains to be seen how Foursquare’s new focus on data-driven recommendations will help them stay relevant, it seems like a great first step for a company looking to provide a new kind of value.
Image Source: Google Play Store