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Brands go local, get social

IKEA‘s Leontyne Green gets it. The CMO, our Spotlight profile, pulls all the levers at her disposal in the marketing arsenal: email, a loyalty program, owned and paid media, TV, radio, search and the IKEA catalog, in order to reach customers.

More recently, social and other digital tactics have been added to the mix. Many marketers talk about integrated marketing, but few seem to pull it off successfully. Green talked to Direct Marketing News about the need to “get [IKEA’s] message out in a complete way.”

Marketers struggle with ways to use social media effectively, and IKEA’s CMO seems to have at least gotten it partly right with January’s “Bring Your Own Friends” promotion. As one of its first forays into social marketing, IKEA targeted more than 430,000 Facebook fans and encouraged them to invite friends for a day of in-store freebies and discounts. The campaign helped the home retailer build its just-launched “IKEA Family” loyalty program members to one million strong. IKEA went beyond “likes,” leveraging the opportunity with a call-to-action to motivate customers.

Foursquare is another way for marketers to offer incentives by implementing a discount for check-ins. I’m continuously surprised by the number of brands that don’t take advantage of this easy opportunity. I hope that is beginning to shift, based on big brand examples in recent months.

Neiman Marcus hosted an in-store Foursquare challenge in March, in which customers who checked into store locations were eligible to win a Manolo Blahnik coffee table book. Wanda Gierhart, CMO of the Neiman Marcus Group, told Direct Marketing News: “We are hoping to engage those customers who are growing increasingly comfortable with using online media in many different ways, as well as new customers who might be socially active on sites like Foursquare, but had not come into Neiman Marcus before.”

Good thinking: it’s smart integrated strategy. Walgreens is another major merchant that launched a Foursquare campaign in March that offers digital discounts for check-ins. American Express Co., which has partnered with H&M, McDonald’s and Sports Authority on location-based offers on Foursquare and Facebook, added Twitter to its roster in March with its “Tweet your way to savings” campaign. Users sync eligible AMEX cards with Twitter accounts, then tweet the special-offer hashtags to load Card-ember offers directly onto their cards, and save with an automatic statement credit when they make a purchase.

It’s highly trackable and easy. I personally earned $10 off my new strappy sandals by tweeting #AmexZappos for $10 back. You can bet that just as I’ve gotten in the habit of checking for online coupons before buying online, I’ll now make sure I tweet for savings in the future, if it means more of my hard-earned dollars in my own pocket.

Now that some of the big guys have begun to put more thought, investment and campaign work behind marketing through geo-tagging, perhaps more marketers will follow suit and leverage this powerful tool. And we consumers will begin to see real benefit from Foursquare check-ins beyond the appearance of possessing a social life.

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