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40pc of smartphone users have adopted location-based services

Marketers should refine their mobile geo-location tactics immediately as location-based services near the tipping point of consumer adoption, according to a report by digital marketing agency White Horse.

Based on the White Horse Digital Futures Group’s recent survey of 427 smartphone users in the United States, there are opportunities for marketers to increase social integration, test participation incentives and actively overcome privacy concerns to drive participation. Marketers must emphasize improving mobile engagement with location-based services such as Facebook Places, foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt.

“The tipping point will be driven by greater realization of consumer benefits, and those benefits will have a lot to do with consumers’ ability to leverage their network of trusted contacts to get more out every real-time experience,” said Eric Anderson, vice president of marketing at White Horse, Portland, OR. “As current LBS users expand their personal networks within LBS, the tool becomes more valuable as a means of filtering choices: where to go, what to see, what to buy.

“The LBS will allow us to carry our trusted advisors around with us in our pockets and handbags, so we can consult them in real time whenever we face an interaction where their opinion might make a difference—we can call this the principle of guided exploration,” he said. “Location-based services available now are taking this experience out into the spaces we visit, like shops and restaurants.

“But as we say, the principle is beginning to shape all our interactions.”

White Horse is a digital marketing agency specializing in digital strategy, Web development, digital marketing, technical engineering, social media, mobile and audio/video production.

Geo-location is heating up
The “Lost in Geo-location: Why Consumers Haven’t Bought It, and How Marketers Can Fix It” report found that more than 60 percent of smartphone users still are not using location-based services.

Marketers and LBS providers have more work to do in establishing the value of the services to the uninitiated, according to White Horse.

The report also found a strong correlation between location-based services usage and heavy social network usage.

Thus, brands need to strongly integrate their social and mobile strategies to take advantage of early-adopter behavior, per White Horse.

A combination of factors has kept LBS from achieving greater reach to date, according to White Horse: low ease of use, unclear benefits story in the hands of app developers and the hesitancy of brands themselves to explore the new medium and create stronger benefits stories.

 White Horse offered up some best-practice tips for brands to integrate their social and mobile strategies to take advantage of early-adopter behavior.

“For starters, brands need to cross-promote their participation in LBS and other social channels,” said Will Reese, director of the digital futures group at White Horse, Portland, OR.

“Doing so will naturally allow the brand to deepen their relationship with their most prolific—and therefore more influential—socially connected consumers,” he said.

For instance, a brand that starts a foursquare page should promote that page in venues such as Facebook and Twitter, then promise—and deliver—location-based tips that are relevant to the brand and its fans/followers.

As the brand adds foursquare tips, it can cross-promote those tips in social channels.

If the brand has physical locations, it can offer rewards through foursquare and tout that program in its other social channels.

A brand that ultimately decides to launch its own LBS can integrate that process in a variety of ways.

“As consumers contribute location-based content through the brand’s LBS—feedback on new menu items, in the case of a restaurant chain, for instance—that content can be propagated to other social channels,” Mr. Reese said.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily