Only 10% Of Businesses Would Pay For Foursquare: Survey

Only 10% of businesses that are currently using Foursquare as a free marketing tool are willing to pay for the service; that’s one of the interesting survey results presented last week during the “Location Services: The New Local Search?” session at the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle.


Search marketers Will Scott (of Search Influence) and Mat Siltala (of Dream Systems Media) presented the results of what’s believed to be the first survey of Foursquare advertisers — a survey in May of 127 non-chain businesses across the U.S. Most of the respondents were from the restaurant and retail industries.

A majority of the business owners who replied say they became aware of Foursquare within the last year, and heard about it via word-of-mouth from a colleague, friend, or employee — not from a Foursquare-using customer. Some other interesting survey results include:

  • almost 60% have a total annual advertising budget of less than $2,500 (online and offline spending)
  • more than 90% are also on Facebook
  • almost 90% use Twitter
  • more than 90% have a web site
  • almost 80% have claimed their Google Place Page; almost 40% use Yahoo Local, and almost 20% use Bing Maps as marketing tools

But for Foursquare, the 10% willing-to-pay figure has to be somewhat alarming. An explanation for the low number might be found in these other survey results: Most of the businesses who replied say they are tracking Foursquare check-ins, but most also don’t know if Foursquare is helping their business or not.

You can see the full set of slides/survey results on Mat’s blog.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Foursquare | Search Marketing: Local Search Marketing | Stats: General | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • T Campbell

    Possibly because if Foursquare went behind a paywall, it would immediately lose all ability to compete with its rivals and be dead as a service within two years?

    There’s a place for pay content on the Web, but that place is not in a general-audience social service like Foursquare.

    “Would you advertise on Foursquare if it committed suicide?” Yeah, I’d vote no, too.

  • GregGoodson

    There’s no way around it, the pie chart in this post is awesome. I had to tweet about it, lol.

  • BradleyT

    There’s a huge difference between taking a survey and saying, “Yeah I’d pay for that” and actually whipping out the credit card and paying for it.

    10% is probably closer to 1%.

  • Matt McGee

    T Campbell — I don’t think the question is about Foursquare going behind a paywall, of course they’d never do that. The question was asking if Foursquare offered tools/features for local businesses at a cost, would they pay for them. And that’s what the local biz owners are saying no to.

  • T Campbell

    But that’s not the question being asked in the survey, is it?

  • T Campbell

    “If you had to pay for it, would you still use Foursquare?” != “If Foursquare offered some brand-new extra services, would you pay for them?” Occam’s razor would suggest a scenario where Foursquare remains just as it is, only “you have to pay for it.”

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