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Ann Taylor has become the latest retailer to tap into the growing popularity of FourSquare and offer store discounts based on how often users "check in" at one of its locations.  According to Mashable, customers will begin receiving a 15% in-store discount after their 5th check in, and customers who are "mayors" of each location will get 25% off items that aren't already on sale.

On the surface, this is a smart move for Ann Taylor, as it rewards mobile customers for engaging in existing activities.  It's also a smart promotional play; as customers check in at Ann Taylor locations (the program is being piloted in 8 NYC stores for now), this activity is often shared with their online social communities, such as on Twitter.

So how could Ann Taylor (and other retailers that are offering similar initiatives) build on this FourSquare promotion?

Let's look at the Ann Taylor example, and the small NYC pilot FourSquare program they have launched.  If I were consulting with Ann Taylor, I would suggest that they consider creating a social/mobile marketing advisory panel from among the customers that are most frequently using FourSquare to check in at NYC's Ann Taylor locations.  As my friend CK can tell you, while social media is big, mobile marketing is poised to become gigantic in the coming years.  By reaching out directly to some of Ann Taylor's most passionate customers that are also social media and mobile media savvy, Ann Taylor could get some incredibly valuable advice directly from its customers about how to improve its mobile marketing and communication efforts.

I recently worked with Dell on a similar initiative.  Dell identified a few dozen customers that were actively using social media tools to discuss the company, and Dell brought them into its Round-Rock headquarters to meet with them and get feedback directly from them on how the company could improve its efforts.  Over two days, Dell heard from its most passionate customers about how the company can improve its marketing, product design/development, customer service, and social media efforts.  I was blown away by the event and can tell you that the discussions were incredible, and a joy to be a part of.

Ann Taylor could do the same thing, and I think it would be a wonderfully smart move for them.

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier