How RadioShack Lures Customers With Foursquare
Electronics retailer shares what it learned last holiday season about location-based marketing and gamification--without IT's help.
Adrian Parker, director of social media and digital strategy at RadioShack, joined Eric Friedman, business development director at Foursquare, to talk about their partnership at Web 2.0 Expo, a UBM TechWeb/O'Reilly Media event in New York.
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Parker said Foursquare was one of many companies beating down his door, promising "a solution to RadioShack's digital dilemma" when he joined the company in 2010. RadioShack has been working to build its appeal as a place to buy smart phones and other modern electronics gadgets, while still maintaining ties to its traditional constituency of do-it-yourself tinkerers.
Although Parker wasn't immediately convinced of the value Foursquare would bring, he did see the logic of tying location-based marketing to RadioShack's emphasis on becoming a destination for mobile phones. RadioShack started with a 30-day test of Foursquare marketing in August 2010, offering a coupon to people who checked in at its stores--something that proved immediately profitable because it was accomplished entirely with the free tools Foursquare offers to merchants, Parker said.
RadioShack then followed up with a more ambitious holiday heroes campaign for the Christmas shopping season. For that one, in order to achieve the heroes badge, Facebook users needed to not only check in at a store but from a number of other locations like a coffee shop or an airport--supposedly reflecting their heroic efforts to bring a good holiday to their loved ones. "With that one, we found we were bringing in new people, or maybe people who hadn't been acquainted with RadioShack recently," Parker said.
Sending those holiday heroes on a quest to visit several locations is an example of how Foursquare uses the principles of gamification to make its service more interesting for users.
"Just showing up somewhere and getting something is not that exciting," Friedman said. "You have to think of the badge as an achievement."
"We didn't want to make it just, come to the store three times and get a badge," Parker agreed.
[ Learn how gamification can work for you. Read Gamification: 75% Psychology, 25% Technology. ]
These campaigns required no IT involvement, since they were placed through Foursquare's Web-based merchant dashboard. Store systems were already capable of scanning a barcode off the screen of a customer's phone, or having a clerk punch it in manually. "The biggest investment was just creative thought," Parker said.
Getting store associates familiar with the campaigns, so they would know how to handle a mobile coupon, has been the biggest logistical challenge, Parker said. At one point, Likeable Media co-founder and CEO Dave Kerpen, an authority on word-of-mouth marketing, tried to redeem a mobile offer, got turned away by a clueless store manager, and immediately embarked on an online rant about the poor service he had received.
"I saw that and said, 'Oh, crap, this is not good,' " Parker said. He had to personally intervene with an apology and a promise to correct the error.
"Compliance is key, and making sure store associates recognize these offers when they come in," he said.
Friedman said Foursquare is putting more effort into supporting large chains, with documentation explaining its programs that they can distribute to each location, print, and maybe post by the register, as well as signage for customers coming into the store who may have never used Foursquare before. "I think Foursquare at first did an excellent job of supporting sole proprietors," he said, but chains with thousands of locations have different needs. For example, some want to empower individual store managers to create their own offers, within a framework laid down by the parent organization, he said.
Foursquare is also pursuing ways of simplifying offer redemption, such as its partnership with American Express to make coupon redemption automatic when a consumer checks in at a store location and then pays with an American Express card.
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