The ability to provide a Google check-in offer is now live. The feature has been added to the Offer coupon creation option in the Google Places dashboard and a detailed help file has been added to Places for Business Help area. Google describes the process as follows:
Allowing customers to check-in when they redeem offers
If your customers have to visit your locations in order to do business with you, you can request that they check-in on Google Maps for Mobile
before they redeem your offer. To check in to places, users first sign in to Google+. They can choose to share the check-in publicly or with some of their circles, which helps spread the word about your business within their circles on Google+. They can also choose to keep their check-in private and still redeem an offer.
If your customers do not have to visit your location, for example if you serve homes or businesses by delivery or by callouts, you can keep this option off (set to “No”) and customers will not be asked to check-in when they redeem offers. We use the Service Areas and Location Settings setting on your listing to determine if you have a service area for offers that have already been created. When you create a new offer, you can choose whether to allow a check-in during redemption.
How can check-ins help my business?
Check-ins are a good way to promote your business online. It’s like an online tool for word of mouth advertising. It also associates the use of an offer with your physical location which helps connect customers both online and offline.
How much does it cost to upload an offer into Google Places?
It’s free for merchants to upload an offer into Google Places.
Will other people see my customers’ check-ins to my business?
Your customers will choose who see their check-ins on Google+. If check-ins are public, anyone can see them. If check-ins are shared with a circle, a smaller group such as the family or coworkers will see them. If check-ins are private, only the customer can see them.
If I ask users to check-in when they redeem an offer, do people have to check-in?
Customers who use Google products that support offers and check-ins (currently Google Maps for Mobile on Android) will have to check-in when they redeem an offer. Customers can choose which circles they share their check-in with.
Which products can ask users to check-in?
Currently, Google Maps for Mobile on Android will ask customers to check-in before they use an offer. Other mobile products that have offers (such as the Google Offers for Android) will soon ask users to check-in as well.
The process to create a check-in offer is very simple. Select the Offers tab in the Places dashboard and answer the last question in the affirmative:
Coupon offers have had a checkered past within Google Places.This is the first time since the creations of Places Offer coupons that a meaningful way to surface them has been presented. As a check-in offer they don’t really function to drive new traffic and they target customers that are already at your location. As such it makes sense to try them as a way to increase upsells and possibly to promote new services that your customer might not be aware of.
The ability for customers to share them via Google + is interesting but discovery is limited by the fact that they are only visible when a customer visits and are currently can only be seen on Google Maps for Mobile on Android. No iPhone option currently exists that I know of.
Google + is only integrated to the extent that a user can share the coupon with their circles. There is no way to currently to easily promote the coupon via a business + page although it is possible.
The bottom line? Coupons may have a life yet at Google as a way to offer a more granular user shopping experience. This baby step to exposing them helps but not as much as one might hope for. There’s always tomorrow.