“Catch” New Customers With Pokémon Go

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

The division between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar has historically been a source of friction for retailers, with apps being viewed as an ally to the online world. But Pokémon Go came along and changed all that! Never before has an app pushed users to really get out and pound the pavement to visit real-world locations. Sure, some have tried, but none have ever been this successful.

As with anything new, marketers are clamoring to learn how to take advantage of this new phenomenon to drive sales, which leads many to wonder, “Is Pokémon Go just a fad? Will my efforts be worth it in six months?” Only time will tell, but consider this: Once you’ve gained a new customer, they may be yours for the long haul, regardless of whether they’re still playing the game next year!

To help you consider how your brand might use the popular app, I’ve rounded up a few of the best ideas and examples for Pokémon Go marketing opportunities.

Promote Your Brick-and-Mortar Location

Coffee Shop ExampleObviously, the first tactic that comes to mind is pushing foot traffic into physical stores. Businesses are doing this in a variety of ways, from simply using signage to let passers-by know about the Pokéstop inside to emailing subscribers to notify them of the Pokémon gym location nearby. A local coffee shop in my neighborhood drops a lure for every $5 spent.

If you don’t have anything nearby to promote, you’ll have to get creative. I’ve heard of businesses offering a percentage off of your purchase if you’re on their favorite team. You could also consider giving freebies to players or hosting special Pokémon Go-related events.

Niantic is not currently accepting suggestions for new Pokéstops or gyms; however, in an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic CEO John Hanke alluded to potential future opportunities for businesses to purchase “sponsored locations” on a “cost-per-visit” basis. We’ll have to stay tuned to see how this pans out.

Make a Connection to Your Products

Online retailer Moosejaw seemingly carries nothing that relates to Pokémon Go, but they dove right in and created an “Unofficial Pokémon Go Trekker Kit.” They curated products that made sense for Pokémon Go users – think backpacks and light travel gear – and promoted the kit via email. How could you take a similar approach to promote your online business? What products could you relate to the Pokémon Go phenomenon?

Moosejaw exampleSupport Your Brand’s Cause Marketing Efforts

Why not encourage users to give back while checking a few Pokémon off their list?  Some animal shelters have asked that players come in and take dogs for “Poké-walks.” The Durham Bulls, a local baseball team and Bronto client, took things one step further. After noticing they had several Pokémon and Pokéstops on their property, the organization decided to open the park at a special time to host an event. For a $5 admission fee, they allowed people to comb the grounds and raised $3000 for Second Chance Pet Adoptions. What a great way to spin this fad into doing some good! And they likely even generated some revenue along the way by opening their team store during the event.

Durham Bulls Event

Image Source

Create Products That Play On This Trend

I subscribe to a lot of newsletters that promote design freebies around the web. This week, one designer was selling Pokémon Go PSD mock-ups. A real estate agent I subscribe to sent an email promoting a post he wrote, outlining all of the Pokémon hot spots in the city he holds listings in. I also received an email from Trulia promoting a cheat map they’d created for their site.

Trulia example
Withings, a retailer that offers a step-counting device, sent an email promoting an article they published after looking at results of increased fitness associated with usage of the app.

Withings example

Complement Your Social Media Outlets

Since the release of Pokémon Go, Foursquare, which had largely declined over the last couple of years, has seen a sudden resurgence in check-ins. While playing, people are out and about with a “check-in” mentality. These check-ins increase visibility of businesses on social media when shared with friends, which may also generate some additional foot traffic.

Withings also created an Instagram campaign related to Pokémon Go that featured a contest, asking subscribers to post and tag photos taken with the Pokémon Go app that included any of their products.

Withings Instagram campaignFinal Thoughts

I’ve seen tons of examples of brands trying to use Pokémon Go to their advantage, from the creative and thoughtful to the downright stupid or irrelevant. One email preheader I saw referenced Pokémon Go, but the email itself made no reference to the app whatsoever. Creative subject lines that play off of the game are one thing, but shallow click-bait is another.

Use tactics that complement your brand and make sense. Get creative, have fun and don’t forget to take things lightly; it is a game after all! And remember: Even if Pokémon Go has peaked, those customers you gain can end up lasting longer than their player level. No matter what you do, try to ultimately get that email subscription or social media follow so you can create a connection that will really last.


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