Late last week, foursquare launched an entirely revamped platform for businesses. It opens up lots of new options for creating specials and makes the process of creating specials easier to manage, especially for companies with multiple locations. It also brings new tools for analyzing the performance of different specials when compared to each other.
Adding all these new options has necessarily added a layer of complexity to the process that may make it less obvious to novices. We’ve created this guide that walks you through creating and launching your first special. For most small businesses, especially in the US, the process can be completed from start to finish in about 10 minutes â€” and it’s entirely free.
1. Create a business account
Start by creating an account for your business. You can use a personal account to claim venues, but this provides extra privacy, especially if you’ll be claiming multiple venues.
2. Claim your venue(s)
To claim your venue, search for it on foursquare. Once you’ve found the proper venue (if there are duplicates, use the one with the most “total checkins;” you can request that duplicates be merged later) click the “claim here” link at the top right of the page. You’ll be guided through the process of claiming your venue.
For most US businesses, foursquare’s automated system will call the main number for your business and give you a code that you’ll enter to claim the venue. For businesses outside the US, the claim code will be mailed to you.
Once you’ve entered the code, your venue is claimed and you’ll see your photo listed as “staff” at the bottom right of the venue page. You can add other employees by visiting their profile pages, choosing the appropriate venue and clicking “add as employee.” This prevents them from becoming mayor, leaving that spot open for your paying customers.
3. Edit the venue
If necessary, you can now make corrections to the venue page itself. You’ll find a link to “edit this venue” at the bottom right of the venue page. Make sure your address and phone number are correct and add your Twitter account, website and a description. If the map pin is off, you can drag it to the proper spot on the map. You can also request duplicate venues be merged into the main one by entering their venue number (the digits at the end of the URL) at the bottom of the editing tools page.
4. Create a Campaign
Click “Manager Tools” to be taken to your management dashboard. You’ll see all the venues you’ve claimed listed. From here you can add them to groups, making it easy to add a special to only certain venues or to split test different specials across different groups of venues.
Visit the “Campaigns” tab and click the “start a campaign” button to begin creating your first special. Each campaign can have one special but can be tied to multiple venues. Click “add a special” to define your special. You can choose from seven different types of specials:
- Swarm Special: Reward large groups of users (who don’t need to be foursquare friends) for checking in. You can define the number of people who need to be checked in at the same time in order to unlock the special.
- Friends Special: Reward people for checking in with their friends. If three people check in together, for instance, you can reward them with a free appetizer for their table. You can define how many friends need to check in together.
- Flash Special: This is a “doorbuster” type deal. You could reward the first 10 people who check in after 3 pm with a discount, for instance. You define the number of people able to unlock the deal and what time it begins.
- Newbie Special: This rewards customers for checking in at your business for the first time.
- Check-in Special: This reward is available every time a user checks in.
- Loyalty Special: This rewards your regular customers and encourages people to come back to visit you. It can be set up three different ways:
- Unlocked every X checkins
- When a customer checks in exactly X times
- When a customer has checked in X (or more) times in Y days
- Mayor Special: This rewards the customer who has frequented your business the most over the past 60 days. It only rewards one customer, so it’s best used in conjunction with another of the specials above to make sure others aren’t left out in the cold (you can run two campaigns simultaneously at each venue).
You’ll be asked to define exactly what the offer is. This is the message that customers will see in their mobile apps, so you want it to be something compelling that will draw them in. Be sure to clearly define the deal, like this: “Be one of the first 5 people to check-in after 11am and SAVE 20% on any one regular-priced toy item.” You’ll see exactly how your special will appear to customers on the right side of the page.
You can use the advanced features to specify fine print (e.g., “only one per person”) or different text for people who’ve actually unlocked the special. Foursquare used this, for example, at their SXSW party to reveal a discount code for their online store when more than 500 people had checked in. You could also use it to reveal a coupon code for your cashiers to enter.
Click “Create Special” to finalize the offer.
5. Choose the venues
You’ll be taken back to the campaign screen where you can click “choose venues” to add the special to the appropriate venues. You can add it to all the venues in a particular group or you can choose them individually from a list. Once you’ve made your selections, choose “select these venues.”
6. Activate the special
Your special is now ready to be activated. You can choose “Start Campaign Now” to launch it immediately or save it for later if you’re not ready to start it quite yet. If the campaign ends on a specific date, you can set the end date and foursquare will automatically turn it off at 11:59 PM local time on the day you choose.
A special that draws customers in is no good if your employees don’t know about it and how to redeem it properly. Foursquare provides a flyer you can print for them that shows how they can tell if the special has been unlocked. If you didn’t include a coupon code or redemption instructions in the unlock text, be sure your employees know how to ring it up properly.
8. Promote it!
Foursquare users will see your special on their phones when they’re nearby, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you promote it elsewhere. You can use other social media channels (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.), TV and radio ads, table toppers, flyers, etc. to make sure people are aware you’re offering a foursquare special.
The Campaigns tab of the Manager Tools shows you exactly how many times your special has been viewed and how many it’s been unlocked. You can drill down into each campaign to see a chart showing the number of times it’s been unlocked over the last week, month, etc. You can also see how it’s doing at different venues.
You can monitor in-depth venue statistics by clicking the venue name on the Venues tab. You’ll see charts and graphs that show who visits the venue and when they come. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a list of the top visitors and the ones who’ve visited most frequently.