10 Local Apps Driving Traffic (And Conversions)

Now-a-days, smartphones are intertwined into our everyday lives - from conducting tasks as simple as sending a text message, to more robust functions like discovering popular restaurants when in an unfamiliar area.

And while there is no denying that these handheld devices have changed the way we interact with the world around us, they have also changed the way that businesses operate. This is because businesses now need to worry about another channel to attract, acquire and convert customers through. To make things more complicated, mobile acquisitions can come from a variety of places - from mobile websites to mobile applications. For example, it isn't uncommon for someone to consult a service like Yelp to look for local shoe boutiques, or a service like Foursquare to find a new coffee shop to try.

In order to make sure mobile is driving traffic to your brick-and-mortar store (or website, in some cases), it is important to monitor these platforms. Discover 10 local apps driving traffic (and conversions) below:


1. Yelp - iOS, Android

Nearly 10 million consumers used the Yelp mobile app in January of 2013 alone, with more than 4.5 million calls and 5.6 million directions generated from the app in the same period. Those stats prove that consumers are not only flocking to Yelp to search for local businesses, but are also taking actions once they find businesses that they like. That said, it is easy to see that brands who don't take the time to customize their business profile on this site are surely missing out on some valuable conversion opportunities - especially since it is free to claim a business page on Yelp. Plus, Yelp recently updated its Nearby feature to provide even more relevant business suggestions to the platform's iOS users, as the company claims that nearly half (approximately 45 percent) of all searches on its platform now come from mobile apps. This shows that consumers want to discover new places while they are out and about, which is also a time when they are more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar shop and make purchases.


2. Foursquare - iOS, Android, BlackBerry

Foursquare boasts an audience base of 35 million people, who can record, share and recommend their favorite local places with their friends. Businesses can claim their listing on this site and use the platform's free tools to promote news, events and discounts. In addition, the platform allows business users to set up Foursquare Specials to attract customers and entice them to check in. It is important to remember that every time a consumer checks in to your venue, they are also providing you with free, digital word-of-mouth advertising. Foursquare also offers businesses with analytics, so they can track their customers' activities, as well as offers a business app for iOS, so owners can monitor their Foursquare activity while on the go.


3. Facebook - iOS, Android

Unlike Yelp and Foursquare, Facebook is primarily a social network. However, businesses can still claim their business on Facebook (free) and leverage the company's business tools to reach local audiences. Businesses can feature their addresses and store hours on their Facebook Pages, as well as launch advertisements that target consumers in particular (local, for example) areas. In addition, consumers can check in to businesses, which like Foursquare, provides the business with free, organic advertising. It is also important to note that the world's largest social network recently launched a new feature dubbed Graph Search, which aims to compete with the likes of Yelp. This is because Graph Search allows users to search for phrases like "restaurants nearby" or "hotels my friends like." While this feature isn't available on Facebook for mobile yet, it is expected to roll out soon. Lastly, Facebook offers a business app for both iOS and Android users, which allows marketers to monitor their Pages directly from their mobile phones.


4. Groupon - iOS, Android

Local daily deal provider, Groupon, offers deals in more than 500 cities around the world. It's not uncommon for someone to check this app while on the go to see if they can find savings in their local area. That said, it is important to note that this app is really only helpful to merchants who actually launch a deal with Groupon. For those merchants who do have active deals (especially Groupon Now deals), this app is a valuable tool for driving foot traffic. This is because consumers have the opportunity to not only purchase and redeem Groupons from the app, but also browse categories like "lunch" to find relevant and nearby merchants. In addition, Groupon offers a Groupon Merchants app for iOS and Android, which enables participating merchants to leverage the app to redeem Groupons and accept credit card payments from customers.


5. OpenTable - iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

This location-based service is exclusively for restaurants, as it enables consumers to make reservations for their favorite dining places online or from their mobile devices. The platform allows consumers to make reservations with more than 27,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada and Mexico. This service is particularly valuable in filling empty seats, as almost a third of OpenTable bookings are made between the non-peak hours of 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. The app enables diners to search for restaurants by name, location, real-time availability and cuisine, as well as view menus, ratings and reviews. Moreover, consumers can earn Dining Reward Points, which are redeemable for Dining Cheques and are good at any OpenTable restaurant.


6. Google Maps - iOS, Android

Google Maps is much more than just a direction service, as it also allows consumers to search for nearby businesses or business categories. In fact, Google's acquisition of Zagat is even put to good use in this app because consumers can check out reviews for nearby businesses through the app, as well as discover offers for local businesses when available. Brands that want to make sure that their business shows up on Google Maps, however, must claim their listing online through Google Places. In addition, it is a good idea to have your business listed on Google+, as Zagat reviews are already accessible from the traditional website, and may make their way to the Google+ mobile app in the future (consumers can already check in to businesses with the Google+ mobile app). 


7. LivingSocial - iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Similar to Groupon, LivingSocial offers consumers local daily deals. The application amplifies deals for merchants who participate with the service, as it allows consumers to find local offers and even order takeout or delivery from the app. In fact, this app is particularly useful in getting deals in front of consumers who don't necessarily check their email, but want to find a great deal (50-90 percent off) on restaurants, spas, gyms and other services or products. Consumers can purchase deals directly from their phone, get access to exclusive LivingSocial events and share deals via email or social with friends.


8. Urbanspoon - iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Like OpenTable, Urbanspoon is targeted to the restaurant industry, as it helps consumers discover places to eat and drink. Consumers can leverage the mobile app to find nearby restaurants, make reservations, view places their friends like, analyze reviews and even check in to establishments. Users can filter restaurants by neighborhood, cuisine or price. Restaurant owners can partner with Urbanspoon to publish their reservation availability and take reservations from consumers online and on mobile devices.


9. Shopkick - iOS, Android

Shopkick helps to make the shopping experience better and more productive for consumers. This platform is a digital loyalty program that enables consumers to earn rewards for actions like visiting their favorite stores, scanning items and making purchases. The Shopkick platform has more than 5 million users, and partners primarily with large retailers and brands. That said, consumers can use their rewards (a.k.a. kicks) to treat themselves to items like gift cards, Starbucks lattes, designer merchandise and even trips.


10. Angie's List - iOS, Android

With Angie's List, members can view consumer reviews for businesses in more than 500 categories, including roofers, dentists and plumbers. The app provides users with a list of local service providers that come complete with verified ratings and reviews. The platform has a member base of more than 2 million users, and also rewards its participants with discounts. Although reviews come solely from members who have used a service that is featured on Angie's List, businesses would be smart to monitor how much traffic this platform drives to their store, as well as their reputation on the platform.