4365033584_196d86a10a_z Theres been a bunch of hype on both. If youre a marketer which should you try? This post offers some advice for businesses and marketers curious about these new services based on my own experience as a user and research emerging from around the online world.


Foursquare " for those who havent tried it " makes a game out of how you move around in your daily life. The more places you check-in at and the more times you check-in to a particular place, the more points you earn. You even become a mayor of a place if youre the person who checks in the most there. Many marketers have experimented with rewarding the mayors and those who check-in.

But to me this is the worst kind of loyalty; the kind that subsidize the already loyal. If the customer really likes you they were going to come anyway. All you did was open your pocket and say here, grab some profit!.

Dont get me wrong. Im not against rewarding the loyal. Im a big fan of creating fans. But this isnt the surprise & delight your customer type of loyalty. Those rewards dont have to cost a lot and can have great returns. Stever Robbins " The Get It Done Guy " recently offered subscribers a secret chapter to his new book. Brilliant! That makes them feel special at very little cost.


But no, this is training them to only go to the place that offers them a deal. Hence, the reward you get as a marketer isnt going to last long because if theyre going to be swayed by this, theyre going to be swayed by the next guy who comes along with a slightly better Foursquare deal. Seth Godin talked about this recently suggesting that the word loyalty " as in loyalty programs " is getting misused by marketers these days as truly loyal customers are those that stick with you even if a better deal comes along.

Not surprisingly then, while McDonalds recent Foursquare trial promo boosted check-ins by Foursquare users within three days looks like traffic was back to normal and its unlikely to have any long-term effect. I took this chart from an excellent analysis Thomas Baekdal did of the promotion.


That may be because who doesnt know what eating at McDonalds is like? Its unlikely many of these people were eating there for the first time and, in fact, probably eat there fairly regularly. You probably just moved their visit from another day. What makes this even less worthwhile is that, while Foursquare has some rabid fans and impressive growth, it reaches just a fraction of a percent of people daily. Facebooks version of it " dubbed Places " may have the volume to give it more of a critical mass but that remains to be seen. Lastly, heres a link to five case studies dubbed Hits & Misses but none convinced me, so far, it was worth the effort.

Which brings me to

Groupon logo

Groupon, on the other hand, is all about trial. It can bring a ton of business into the top of your funnel by having your business featured as the deal of the day to its hundreds of thousands rabid subscribers. The only catch is you have to offer a very deeeeeeeeep discount. Is there a chance that these people are just coupon clippers; only loyal to the next deal? Yes but consumers are all shades along a spectrum. Just because they go after the latest deal doesnt mean they wont become loyal " truly loyal " to your product if its good enough.

Just make sure it is. Because if you have a product or service that sucks, Groupon can help you go out of business faster. See these examples:



In summation, think of Foursquare like a nip of alcohol. Initially a wee bit of a stimulant, then a depressant. Groupon meanwhile is like Red Bull: a good jolt to the system but one that could have leave you sleepless if you take too much.

Hope this helps.