Five Steps for a Better, More Engaging App Experience Using Location Data

Chappie Scheller Strategic Partnerships Manager Foursquare

User experience. It’s arguably the most important factor in any app’s success. Users crave personalized, engaging content and features, and marketers want to serve users with compelling, relevant messaging that caters to that experience.

This puts a lot of pressure on developers to create apps that:

1. Deliver a delightful consumer experience from day one

2. Provide brands with the consumer insights needed to constantly improve user experience

3. Help brands better engage with users through personalized messaging

In this post we explore five steps developers can take to leverage location data and technology to achieve success across all three categories.

Step 1: Surface the right message at the right time

To drive users to opt in to location sharing, developers should use notifications explaining how certain app features are powered by location sharing to help them see its value.

The most impactful messaging will be short and clearly explain what the value exchange is for the user, how location data is used, and what your sharing practices are. Prompts should not interfere with the user experience but should educate the user about the value exchange that occurs if and when they opt in to sharing their location. If a user does not opt in to location sharing at onboarding, developers can prompt users as they navigate to app features that require location permissions.

Foursquare puts this to the test with our own apps – as well as with partners like GasBuddy, Shopkick and Flipp – and has found that transparency and clarity are key to increasing the number of location-enabled users. Read more about how Foursquare tested opt-in messaging with our own apps here.

Step 2. Get to know the permission landscape

Naturally, most developers want users to opt in to location sharing, as this gives developers a view into users’ movements and therefore a deeper understanding of their behavioral preferences. For developers to get a view into their users’ movements, they first need users’ consent to share their location data (background or foreground / when in use). In looking to create a better, more engaging app experience, developers should become familiar with the user-permission practices for Apple and Android operating systems as the industry moves to give consumers more control over their privacy.

Foursquare’s in-house experts can help Pilgrim SDK partners optimize their user permission flow and messaging to maximize location permission opt-in based on experience with our own apps. Read more about Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK offering here.

Step 3: Give users engaging features

Your users can also enjoy the direct benefits of accurate and rich location data. Point-of-Interest (POI) data – such as Foursquare’s Places database – can be built into an app to enable:

Navigation and exploration: surface place recommendations in user vicinity (i.e. places to eat, drink, shop, etc.)

Need-to-know facts: Provide users with all the info they need about a venue – including how far away it is, prices and operating hours

Geo-tagging: Enables users to geo-tag their photos and add detailed, contextually relevant information about the location in the photo

Reviews: Help users surface place-related content directly in users’ guidebooks, giving them a fuller depiction of what is surrounding where they are staying

Social handles: Let users easily add the venue’s social media presence to posts with ease 

Step 4. Better understand your users

Location-based features can help developers uncover where users like to go, why they make purchase decisions, and how to reach them with powerful messaging. A few ways that location-based features can deliver immediate value to developers include:

1. Ping users the moment they approach or enter a location to remind them to complete a location-specific action, such as scan a receipt, take a survey, or activate an offer

2. Generate detailed behavioral insights and visit histories to create more targeted communications

3. Understand how consumers move through the world to build a robust profile of attributes for your user base

Foursquare’s SDK partners use Pilgrim’s technology to support location-based features within their apps and to personalize their user experience. By integrating with supported MMA platforms such as Airship, apps can leverage Pilgrim attributes (such as venue entry) when creating a journey to create relevant, location-based push notifications. Read more about Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK partnerships and use cases on our blog here.

Step 5. Power data-driven marketing

To build effective marketing campaigns across platforms and devices, developers need to target the right audiences with personalized messaging. With over 750 predefined user segments, Pilgrim SDK Segments provides the data-driven insight needed to create user segments and improve targeting and personalization, or to engage with key customer segments and improve customer loyalty. There are several options for user data-delivery methods, including export via SFTP, S3 or webhook to support MMA partners like Airship.

Key Takeaways

Location data and technology can go a long way to help developers achieve their mission of delivering superior app experiences. By using tools like Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK and Places, developers can: 

• Better understand your who your users are, where they go and their behavioral interests

• Create engaging in-app experiences 

• Reach users with contextually relevant and geo-aware content 

To learn more about how developers can deploy location data and technology, reach out to us at