With the help of social media and a very convenient gadget known as the "smart phone", location-based marketing has taken a very interesting turn, delighting entrepreneurs.

With the help of Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) and smart phone applications like Foursquare and Gowalla, local businesses can now communicate with their customers through the internet. This trend has made its way to social networks like Facebook, Google Maps and Yelp. However, the use of smart phones is still the easiest method since customers can check in at almost any establishment with just a few clicks.

So how does all of this work?

Business owners, first, need to acknowledge the fact that everything has gone digital. You no longer have to keep track of your contacts using a phonebook and you certainly do not turn to the Yellow Pages to find establishments. With the help of location-based applications like Foursquare, you can register a profile for your business. Once you have done that, your customers can now check in your store online whenever they drop by to tell their friends where they are and what they are doing.

Its very much similar to word-of-mouth marketing because its essentially your customers who are doing the talking. However, everything is being done online and, most of the time, through your customers and prospects smart phones. You can notice the check-in feature not just in Foursquare-like applications but also in social networks like Facebook.

Its imperative that small businesses get in on this trend as soon as possible. According to GetPrices recent research, around 47 percent of online shoppers make use of their mobile phones in order to make searches. For that reason, the quicker a profile of your shop shows up in those search results, the better it is for your business.

And there is more that you can do with location-based marketing than just count how many check ins youve got in one week. You can also promote deals and discounts which revolve around these check ins. For instance, you can give customers a 10% discount during their second check in. Or you can give customers points for every check in after which they can use the points theyve gathered to redeem freebies and other rewards