If Foursquare is ever going to be worth more than $100 million to Yahoo or anyone, it will have to add not just a hell of a lot more users, but also a hell of a lot more local advertisers. Currently, there are only about 2,000 live offers on Foursquare from local bars, restaurants, and stores worldwide. It is not a lot, but Foursquare is taking steps to ramp up that number.
Now every unclaimed business venue has a link asking, “Are you the manager of this business?” The link takes managers to a page asking them for proof that they are indeed the manager so that Foursquare’s sales team can call them to set them up with tools for claiming their venue and managing offers. There is also a new Businesses page explaining the different tools available to local merchants.
Businesses who claim their venues on Foursquare get a dashboard with realtime stats on number of check-ins, times of day people check in, most recent visitors, and most frequent visitors. They can also manage the offers and badges people get when they check in. These include Mayor specials, specials for people who check in a certain number of times, or wildcard specials which can be customized. A special can be anything from a free drink to 20 percent off a purchase.
The more specials and badges people can unlock when they enter a store or restauarnt, the more likely they will be to check in using Foursquare. Once a steady stream of people start checking into a venue, the stats Foursquare provides could start to become a meaningful dashboard for local businesses.
Other startups, such as Snacksquare, are already using Foursquare’s APIs to help local businesses manage their campaigns and offers on Foursquare and connect directly with consumers. But now Foursquare is getting more serious about helping local businesses itself.
If Foursquare is going to scale, it needs to be self-serve, which is avery difficult proposition for local merchants who tend to be busy all day running their businesses. But if it means more foot traffic, small businesses will at least give it a try.