Archive for February, 2010

The New Local: Location Based, Social Centric & Behaviorally Targeted

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In my “Locals Only” column this month, I discuss the impact of recent announcements by major tech, online, and mobile companies regarding their plans for local search:

  • According to a recent patent submission, Yahoo is in the process of developing a mobile local search application that will take into account a user’s location, the time of day, information in the user’s calendar, past behaviors, weather, social networking data, information about the proximity of a social contact, and other data when providing results.
  • AT&T told Forbes about its plans to launch buzz.com, a new local social search site that will reportedly let users poll their friends and ask experts for advice about different nearby businesses.
  • And Apple announced its new iPad tablet, which incorporates iPhone apps, Google Maps, a built-in compass, WiFi, and wireless data capabilities – allowing users to access location-based information from wherever they are.

With so much change, I think it’s important to reflect on how these new technologies and services will affect our industry— and what our small business clients will need to do to keep up.

There’s no doubt that as media continues to fragment, and marketing tools become more complicated and sophisticated, many opportunities and challenges lies ahead for the small business owner.

For my thoughts, check out my Search Engine Land column here.

Small Businesses Cite Poor Sales as Major Concern

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I recently took some time to review the January issue of the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) Small Business Economic Trends report, which tracks the latest developments in small business sales, employment and other factors. The data, which is updated on a monthly basis, is clear: despite overall improvements in the economy, small business optimism and growth remains stalled.

Somewhat buried in the report, however, is one statistic that I think is important to call out. Last December, the single most important problem facing small businesses—by a 14-point margin—was poor sales. In fact, sales concerns are at an all-time high since NFIB began tracking the statistic in 1986.

Essentially, small businesses are making a plea for help.  And no one is in a better position to help them generate sales than us.  More than ever, we need to activate the new and innovative solutions that we’ve been building to help these business owners take advantage of the slowly improving economy.

Consider the stats:  our print and online Yellow Pages products were used almost 17 billion times in 2009, produce one of the strongest ROI’s of any medium and are the most effective medium at generating new customers. We can help small businesses generate those much needed sales better than anyone.

While we can’t singlehandedly restore confidence to the small business sector, Yellow Pages can play an important role in its recovery.  Our success will be the success of the small and medium-size business.

CNN: Has Twitter Peaked?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I came across an interesting article on CNN.com that questions the future of Twitter, which had enormous growth in early 2009 but has not seen its user base expand for nearly six months, according to several Web analytics firms.

In the article, one analyst suggests that Twitter may be a victim of its early success. After users flocked to the site to follow celebrities, athletes, and news organizations, some had possibility decided the site simply wasn’t for them. Others say that maybe there’s too much chatter on the site now for it to still be useful.

Yet Twitter and its supporters say that existing users are using the site now more than ever. According to Twitter CEO Evan Williams, Twitter saw its highest usage day ever following the earthquake in Haiti. Additionally, some experts think that the use of mobile devices and third-party programs like TweetDeck are skewing Twitter’s numbers lower – and that in fact its user base is still growing.

Several Yellow Pages companies have embraced Twitter. For example, SuperMedia launched its own handle, sp411, which provides local search results via the site. Other YP members, such as Yellow Pages Group, have launched their own handles as well as a channel to communicate with their customers.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter evolves to stay top of mind for users.  Whatever its path or future success, it’s clear that social networking is here to stay and that its impact on local search is real.  That’s going to make it harder than ever for local businesses to keep up with the trends and where our industry’s multichannel, platform agnostic direction can play a significant role.

R.H. Donnelley Emerges from Bankruptcy as Dex One Corp.

Monday, February 1, 2010

We’re excited to share news that Yellow Pages publisher R.H. Donnelley, which we heard last month was close to exiting bankruptcy, has announced its emergence from Chapter 11 protection as the new Dex One Corporation.

In a press release this morning, the company introduced a new board of directors and its listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DEXO.”

Dex One chairman and CEO David C. Swanson stressed his company’s plans to further develop a hybrid range of advertising solutions including online and mobile search, print yellow pages directories, voice-search platforms and pay-per-click networks.

“We selected the Dex One name because it clearly communicates who we are and what we do – Dex, your trusted marketing partner for over a hundred years, and now, your One stop shop for getting your business exposed to active buying consumers whether they’re searching our robust suite of Dex products or on other major search sites or search engines,” Swanson said.

As we’ve noted, Dex One currently lists 11.5 million businesses online through its DexKnows.com Web site, supplies content for YellowPages.com, and has deals with search engines such as Google and Yahoo. The company is also beginning to offer online video advertising and reputation management for companies seeking to improve their online customer reviews.

For more information, read the full release here.

Florists Searches Double in February

Monday, February 1, 2010

It should come as no surprise that in February, the number of “florists” searches just about doubles the monthly average for the rest of the year in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

For our local business advertisers, generating leads is key.  Data shows that 85% of Yellow Pages’ shoppers follow-up with a purchase after searching the “florists” heading … and more than 40% of these shoppers will end up purchasing from a florist that they have not used before.

Another interesting factoid about this heading is that a greater number of consumers – about 31% – consult this heading from work either via print or Internet Yellow Pages compared to other headings – about 22%.

If you’re among the 28 million who will purchase flowers this year, take a look at the tips below from our friends at the Society of American Florists to extend the life of your bouquet:

  • If your roses arrived in plastic water tubes, remove them before arranging.
  • Remove any leaves that will be under water, taking care not to damage the green bark.
  • Re-cut stems by removing 1-2 inches with a sharp knife.
  • Immediately after cutting, place roses in a clean, deep vase of water containing a flower food provided by your local florist.
  • Check the flower food solution daily and make sure to keep it full, clean, and fresh. Replace the solution if it becomes cloudy.

Even with such TLC, your flowers are likely to last just a few days, but the ROI for “florists” advertisers remains strong year-round.  The “florists” heading is the 18th most referenced among more than 4,000 different Yellow Pages headings and generates over $30,000 in annual sales revenue per advertiser.