Local businesses in numerous regions are faced with the same problem. They need traffic, but lack the resources to get more people through the door. Armed with the rich source of user data it has been collecting over the past fourfoursquare Ads years, Foursquare believes it has come up with the ideal solution.

Now with 40 million users to call its own, Foursquare has made a serious move to monetize its location-based social network. Driving those efforts is a new ad platform that has recently been rolled out to all small businesses worldwide. The format is available on a self-serve basis that lets advertisers go in and create their own units.

How Do They Work?

Users see Foursquare ads as soon they open up the app. The units may be served up based on the user’s location, usage history, or search patterns. That essentially means they may be targeted by locations they’ve visited in the past, or targeted when using the app’s internal search engine. It’s important to note that ads will not be delivered to users who are currently checked into a venue. However, the format is structured to get customers in the door, and that’s what sets the Foursquare platform apart from what is being offered by other ad service providers.

The self-serve ads can be purchased on the popular pay-per-action model, meaning small businesses only pay when someone clicks (or taps) their ad to view more information or checks in at their business location. On that note, pricing is primarily structured on the nature of the business. For example, a small business would likely bid anywhere from $1 to $3 to attract a Foursquare user, while larger family restaurants may bid as much as $7 per customer. Additionally, all businesses have the option to promote store listings, special offers, or user-generated tips in their ads.

How to Get Started

Getting started with Foursquare ads is simple. The first thing you need to do is make sure your business is listed and claimed. Your next step is logging in to the dashboard and creating your ad, which entails uploading a picture and adding your content. From there, you can set up a monthly budget, and publish your ad. You can visit that same dashboard to manage your content and budget, and monitor the performance of your campaign. As far as self-serve ad tools go, it’s one of the most user-friendly options up for grabs.

Making the Most of Your Opportunity

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Foursquare ads are worth the gamble and the value of the service itself. While the app is still very popular, many feel it hasn’t managed to live up to its full potential. Shortcomings aside, Foursquare has been great for local merchants, and with approximately 1.5 million marketers using the platform, it has the potential to go very far in the location-based social networking sector. Here are some tips you can apply to get the most from the new advertising offering:

Use a compelling image. The image you choose can either make or break your ad. You need to choose something that’s going to grab the user’s attention and compel them to interact with your content. One approach that works extremely well is the use of human faces, which have a way of attracting people. So for instance, if you have a CEO, manager, or brand ambassador your customers will recognize, slap their photo on your ad to give it some personality.

Follow up with strong copy. Images have a way of capturing attention, but more often than not, they need a little help generating action. You can make that attractive photo even more effective by adding some clever copy to the mix. Remember that you only have a limited amount of text to work with here, so spin your copy wisely and make every word count!

Optimize your offers. By giving you the ability to dangle offers, Foursquare ads give you a chance to not only drive traffic to the door, but increase sales in the process. The key to success, of course, is presenting a good offer. First and foremost, you need to make sure your offer is attractive enough to pique the interests of your customers. Anything under 20% could be kidding yourself and wasting your time. You should also keep your offer simple with as few terms, conditions, and tricks as possible attached.

Make Your Own Success Story

According to Foursquare, Sky Room, Bronx Beer Hall, and Barcade have already generated great results with its new ad product. Will you be the next local marketer with a success story to tell?