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Marketing Using Mobile Apps

By: Amy Elderken

With over a quarter of Canadians using a mobile device in 2013 to access the web (mobile phone, 20%; tablet, 6%), there has never been a better time to reach out to potential customers. Here is my list of the top 5 apps to help you attract more customers in 2015.


In a Facebook-sponsored study from IDC, Facebook users checked the mobile site an average of 14 times per day in 2013, making it one of the most actively used apps available. Although Facebook’s growth seems to have plateaued, it still boasts the largest user base of all social networks.

Over the past year, Facebook began restricting the organic spread of content, meaning that when you make a post on your business page, Facebook allows only a small fraction of your fans to view the post. In order to reach a larger portion of a page’s fans, businesses must now allocate a budget towards boosting their posts and use tools such as Facebook Offers.

Facebook Offers allow you to create specialized deals, directly from your page. These deals will show up in your fans’ timelines. When your fans claim your offer, their friends may also see it as a story in their personal news feeds, extending your post’s reach. The offer can then be claimed online or at your pub or liquor store. For the most accurate results, target your ads to your specific market. Looking to sell more wine? You can target your ad to those who list ‘wine’ as an interest. Facebook’s analytics will give you the flexibility to see what works, experiment, and make changes as you need to.

Get started at www.facebook.com/business/offers.


Instagram, one of the fastest growing social apps of 2014, is the perfect tool to showcase happenings at your pub or liquor store, highlight menu items, feature staff, offer recipes and pairing suggestions, and more.

To utilize this platform effectively, there are a few key things to consider:

  • Share beautiful, consistent images – Good lighting and stability are some of the keys to good photography. If your phone isn’t generating quality photos, pick up a DSLR or a newer point-and-shoot, then capture and transfer those photos to your smartphone for posting.
  • Good editing is essential – I recommend two apps: Snapseed for editing, and VSCO Cam for light edits and filters. Both are available for free through your app store.
  • Always geo-tag your location – This will allow potential customers to search photos that have been posted from your location.
  • Tag relevant people or businesses – Tagging the people and brands represented in a photo (alcohol brands, sales reps, etc.) will help generate more exposure for your business.
  • Add hashtags and increase your reach – Hashtags are the primary way people find content on Instagram, so choosing the optimum hashtags can make a huge difference. #Vancouver, #Gin, #Wine, etc. Also consider popular global hashtags like #Food, #Picoftheday, #instafood.
  • Engage with your customers – Make it a habit to reply to anyone who comments on your photos or takes a photo from your location.

More information can be found at instagram.com.


Foursquare’s app is still a key player in mobile for business. 78% of people who search locally on their phone end up making a purchase, so it’s important to utilize geo-location based tools like Foursquare to your advantage. Although Foursquare is not a new app, the geo location-focused network has worked hard over the past year to make significant improvements to their user experience. The people at Foursquare noticed a sharp decline in the number of “check-ins” over the past couple of years. Users were finding more value in socializing with friends or discovering new or nearby businesses, than they were documenting their stops along the way. In 2014, Foursquare decided to create Swarm, a separate app just for check-ins, and keeping up with friends, while reinventing the Foursquare app as purely a discovery platform.

Foursquare for business allows you to reach out to people nearby who are searching for what you offer, or people who have visited similar businesses, but not yours. It lets businesses set up ads that are targeted to the right people, and you don’t pay anything unless a user clicks on your ad.

Learn more at www.foursquare.com.


Yelp, best known as a review platform for businesses, is also useful as a “discovery engine”. The mobile app allows customers to search what’s nearby and write reviews on the spot. A great way to harness the power of mobile searches is to set up a ”Yelp Deal”.

Yelp Deals are prepaid vouchers that offer consumers a discount or deal at your business. It’s an easy way to give consumers who are already searching for a business like yours an incentive to choose you over your competition. Yelp users can buy your deal or gift certificate directly on your business page via the Yelp website or mobile app.

Visit www.yelp.ca for more details.

Google Maps

Google Maps may seem obvious, but few businesses are keeping their profiles up-to-date and optimized, and may be missing out on sales opportunities as a result. In addition to your general location, hours, and phone number, Google Maps now allows users to upload photos and associate them with your business. As a pub or liquor store, you can beef up your web presence by uploading your Instagram pictures to the platform as well. You can inspire potential customers with menu items, recipes, community events, staff, tasting notes, and exclusive products. Making it easy for customers to access information about you means they’re more likely to choose you over a competitor in the area.

Visit maps.google.ca for more information.

Technology and marketing are constantly evolving. While I’ve outlined some key platforms, new apps with a mobile marketing component are constantly hitting the market. It’s important not to be married to any one platform or solution. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and don’t be afraid to try new things. Marketing is supposed to be fun, after all!

Amy Elderkin is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Popcorn. Her passion for building community and creative approaches help her clients find success. www.gopopcorn.ca