I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how financial services companies in the UK could use location-based services to enhance their brand. (Note, I’m going to focus on foursquare here, rather than Facebook places or Gowalla, as this is the one that I have most experience with.)
The key thing to remember is that you don’t actually need to have geographically diverse locations, such as branches, in order to use location-based services effectively.
Here’s an example – AmEx teamed up with foursquare this month for a trial to offer its card users cashback when they paid using AmEx at participating merchants. All you do is sign up your card via the AmEx foursquare page, check in to the location as normal, ‘load’ the deal to your card via your smartphone, then pay as normal. The money gets credited to your statement within a few days. It’s easy, straightforward, fun, creates a bit of buzz and you get a special badge too. The added bonus is that AmEx donates some money to charity when you complete your first transaction – probably not the main reason why you would do all this, but a nice touch all the same.
What a fantastic example of a financial services brand engaging with consumers in an innovative way!
So, with that in mind, here are some things that could be done in this country right now. The first, and most obvious one, would be a high street bank because of the physical presence that they have around the UK. If such a bank were to set up a foursquare presence, then it could create a range of badges for customers such as ‘SuperSaver’ (for when you make 10 deposits into an ISA); ‘First-time buyer’ (for when you take out a mortgage); ‘KidsFund’ (for when you open a CTF; or ‘Chequing In’ for when you have to deposit a pesky cheque.
As we all move more towards a scenario where purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by your online networks, by social media sites and by online reviews, wouldn’t this be fantastic PR for a bank to have a certain section of its customers talking about its products and services via foursquare. The big benefit comes when these users’ foursquare accounts are linked to their twitter and facebook profiles, which I’m assuming most are.
You could make more of this, of course, by introducing discounts or special offers for whichever user is the ‘mayor’ of a branch, although I suspect that this would be a logistical nightmare for the product development and administration teams. So, why not invite all the mayors of all your locations to take part in feedback sessions to help improve customer service and develop new products or propositions? This could be a virtual or real-world event, but it would be a really valuable focus group.
Extending this example further, if this bank was a sponsor in the sporting or musical world, as many are, then you could leverage that sponsorship even more through foursquare. Santander sponsors the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team, of course. What if you could check in to a Grand Prix circuit and then get a discount off your purchase of Team McLaren Mercedes merchandise if you pay with your Santander card?
The idea of badges would work quite well with a company like AVIVA too, given its sponsorship of athletics. VISA could, of course, do something similar to AmEx and also has a golden opportunity (forgive the pun) to capitalise on its involvement in London 2012. The London 2012 foursquare site is well-established and looks very impressive.
So, there you’ve got banks, payments providers and insurance companies, particularly those that put money into sponsorship as part of their marketing, which can amplify their reach through the use of foursquare. I hope to see developments in this area in the not-too distant future.
[Image credit Nan Palermo.]Read More