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11/23/2010
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Yelp Intros Check In Offers

Social media firm revamps business owner dashboard with location-based customer loyalty features.

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Businesses now can reward customers and extend their marketing reach with Yelp's new Check-in Offers, part of the company's revamped business owner dashboard.

With its new program, Yelp enables business owners to incent customers to return through percent off, free, or fixed-price offers, according to the company. The developer's Android and iPhone apps synchronize with Twitter and Facebook, spreading word that a particular customer has visited a business whenever they check in. Since launching the check-in feature a year ago, Yelp's weekly business-owner email has included a metric showing the number of people that checked into the business each week, said Yelp.

Today, Yelp -- which had 38 million unique visitors in August -- took the wraps off the offers component of the check-in program. Available to users in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, Check-in Offers is open to most businesses except for mobile organizations such as drivers, plumbers, and locksmiths, for example, said Yelp.

"What happens when a consumer unlocks your offer? If a consumer chooses the 'Use it Now!' option for his Check-in Offer on that visit, it will disappear automatically from his device in a few hours time. The user or the business owner can also tap a button on the phone to mark the offer as used, expiring the timer immediately," said Yelp, in its blog.

Consumers also may choose to "Save it," which places the offer in the "about me" page, at the top of the business page where they learned about the offer, and on the "check-in" tab within the Yelp app. The user then can redeem the offer at a more convenient time.

Of course, Yelp is not alone in this space. Nor is it alone in its desire to reap the possible financial rewards associated with serving businesses. Facebook Places, Google, Foursquare, and SCVNGR are targeting all or parts of this market. But Yelp has focused on businesses since its inception, which could bode well for its future in this increasingly competitive space.

On Monday, Foursquare said it had reached 4.5 million users and opened a San Francisco office.

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