Archive for February, 2013

The Last Frontier: The Sales Call

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lately, I’ve noticed that my conversations with sales leaders and practitioners in the local media space have taken on a new theme.  A last frontier if you will.  And what is that frontier?  It is the sales call itself.

Many media organizations have already transformed their sales structures with the addition of client support specialists to attend to the “24/7” optimization opportunities inherent with new media.  They have tested digital only versus traditional sellers.  Many have transformed their tool set by giving sellers i-pads pre-loaded with value presentations and collateral.  And most have transformed their sales forecasting and productivity management by implementing CRM systems.   Now attention is turning to the final frontier – the conversation between buyer and seller and how it is in need of a transformation all its’ own.

Kimberly Senior, Executive Director, is driving such a transformation at AT&T Business Solutions, which is producing improved sales results and customer relationships.

We have invited Kimberly to our conference in April to share her evolving story. AT&T Business Solutions might seem like an odd choice at a local media conference but their story is relevant and their success is keenly measured to assure an outstanding ROI.

AT&T Business Solutions has seen the same technological disruption in their landline business as media companies have seen in theirs.  Like media companies, they are also experiencing an increasing number of new and traditional competitors creating what appears to be a commoditization of the marketplace.   But perhaps most importantly the majority of customers that AT&T Business Solutions calls on is exactly the same customer local media companies speak to each day – the SMB community – and they are responding to the new conversations.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Kimberly speak about AT&T’s success at our Search Starts Hear Conference at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, April 13-16.

Facebook Using Offline Data to Target Online Ads

Monday, February 25, 2013

Facebook

Ad Age reports that Facebook has started a new strategy for targeting ads to its users. The social network is working with big data firms Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon to garner data from brand loyalty programs and match them with Facebook user profiles.

This approach will allow companies to very specifically target online ads to Facebook users based on their offline shopping habits. For example, when a consumer makes a purchase at a grocery or drug store using their rewards card, Facebook’s advertisers will be able to target ads to that consumer when they visit the social network:

“The targeting would hypothetically enable Coca-Cola to target to teenagers who’ve bought soda in the last month, or Pampers to show ads to North Carolina residents who’ve recently bought baby products, since Facebook’s own array of demographic and interest-based targeting options can be added to further refine audience segments,” says Ad Age.

Facebook is currently only in the testing phase for this method of ad targeting, but in the future local businesses with rewards programs could certainly find the initiative useful. It will be interesting to see how both advertisers and consumers respond, and how much the program can grow given user privacy concerns.

New Webinars Focus on Driving Business from Mobile

Monday, February 25, 2013

SkyBridge Mobile

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, “global mobile data traffic grew 70 percent in 2012.”  With more people online via mobile devices, local businesses are faced with the challenge of connecting with their customers on this growing platform. The mobile advertising experts at VoodooVox and SkyBridge Mobile were each recently featured on our 2013 Webinar Series to share their insight on how local business can adapt to this change.

Mobile: How to Generate Calls (VoodooVox)

VoodooVox discussed the impact that mobile is having on consumer shopping patterns and how local businesses and national brands are taking advantage of this.  Specifically, they discussed how to drive calls from mobile, based on costs per lead acquisition and key case studies.

Mobile Local Directories to Connect Biz & Consumers (SkyBridge Mobile)

SkyBridge Mobile discussed local mobile search and their MobiLocal Directory that connects consumers and businesses.  They also discussed the impact of mobile on local businesses and the consumers that are connecting in local markets.

To see all of our past webinars and for a list of what’s to come, check out our Webinar Page.

CityGrid CEO Jason Finger to Speak at LSA Annual Conference

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We are pleased to announce our third and final keynote speaker for the “Search Starts Here” conference: Jason Finger, CEO of CityGrid.

During our fireside chat with Jason, he will discuss the current environment and future of “local” including merchant product offers and the investment landscape.  In addition, he will give a glimpse of what’s to come for CityGrid’s properties such as Citysearch, Urbanspoon and Insider Pages.

CityGrid is one of the largest content and advertising networks for local and small businesses.  Jason oversees the entire ad network in addition to all of CityGrid’s owned and operated websites that include Citysearch.com, insiderpages.com, Urbanspoon.com and GetFelix.com.

Prior to CityGrid, he cofounded SeamlessWeb in 1999 and was responsible for growing the company’s presence to 22 cities throughout the U.S. and London.  SeamlessWeb was acquired by Aramark in 2006 at which time Jason was responsible for setting and executing corporate strategy for 260,000 employees in 19 countries.

In addition to his success at CityGrid and SeamlessWeb, Jason has been named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Innovator of the Year by the Corporate Executive Council of New York, and to Crain’s 40 Under 40 list of leading young executives.

Don’t miss out on this great discussion with Jason. Register for our conference today!

Hyperlocal Startup Nextdoor Raises $21.6M from Key Digital Investors

Friday, February 15, 2013

Nextdoor

Some major investors behind successful tech giants like Amazon, LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook are making big bets on an up-and-coming local niche social network called Nextdoor. The site, founded in 2011, brings social networking to a granular level by connecting communities of neighbors in private networks.

Nextdoor now hosts more than 8,000 neighborhoods across the country, with plans to grow internationally. According to Reuters, “members post Facebook style, giving or seeking recommendations for services such as babysitters and yard maintenance or local retailers and restaurants.” Users can also post about community events and items for sale, similar to Craigslist.org.

With Nextdoor’s hyperlocal focus, there’s potential value for local businesses down the line. Whether through advertisements, sponsored posts, or managing review and response sections, Nextdoor would provide an incredibly targeted audience for local marketers.

With some big-name investors in the digital world behind it, it will be interesting to see where Nextdoor goes over the coming year and whether it can build traction in an already competitive space.

France’s PagesJaunes Rebrands as Solocal

Friday, February 15, 2013

Solocal Group

PagesJaunes, France’s Yellow Pages publisher and one of the world’s most progressive local search companies, yesterday announced the launch of a new corporate brand – Solocal Group. The name change comes at a time when online revenues are becoming a greater share of the company’s bottom line: today, 58% of the company’s revenue comes from online, a figure that is expected to rise to 75% by 2015. The company chose the new name Solocal to better reflect digital growth and its leadership in online and mobile local search.

Though the corporate entitity will now be known as Solocal, it appears that the company’s consumer-facing products will continue to be branded as PagesJaunes for the time being.

In conjunction with the rebranding, Solocal also launched a new initative called “Digital 2015.” While the company has been rapidly transforming from traditional to digital over the past few years, Solocal will introduce Digital 2015 to fully make the switch. The company’s new objectives will include:

  • Accelerating online growth by specializing offers, focusing on client needs by business category and developing new capacities to support them in digital marketing
  • Enhancing media platform efficiency, fixed and mobile, by providing an enriched user experience and maximizing benefits for clients
  • Adopting a digital, flexible company model, through talent, IT systems, organization and culture
  • Embarking all teams on transformation, to facilitate development both in France and internationally

As you may know, Solocal CEO, Jean-Pierre Remy will be traveling from France to deliver the keynote speech at this year’s Search Starts Here Conference in Las Vegas. We’re very excited to hear more about the new iniative, the new name, and the company’s incredible transformation.

To hear fantastic insights from Jean-Pierre and other Local Search leaders at the 2013 conference, log onto LocalSearchAssociation.org to register.

WSJ Survey: Small Business Owners See Pros of Social Media for Growth

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wall Street Journal

A recent survey from the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International shows that small businesses find value in social media, but are digging in to see which channels are worth the most investment. The survey, which asked 835 business owners how they view each social network as it pertains to their company’s growth, found that six out of 10 owners see value in the medium.

Likely because it’s focused on business networking, LinkedIn was said to be the most valuable social media channel among those surveyed: 41% of business owners singled it out as the top growth driver. Twitter came in with the lowest rating among those surveyed, with only 3% seeing it as the most valuable.

Some business owners attributed the finding to lower engagement on Twitter as opposed to Facebook or LinkedIn. With Twitter’s post restriction of 140 characters, small business owners said it can be difficult to convey messages while including links to drive website clicks and direct buys. Twitter’s interface for comments and replies is also less smooth than on other social networks, making it less likely for a user to answer a question or give feedback.

However, small business owners’ perceived usefulness of each social network does not necessarily track with how businesses are actually using them. For example, Twitter usage far exceeds its perceived potential, according to the WSJ survey.

Use vs. Usefulness

Due to the overall popularity of social media, small businesses may feel the need to be present on all the major channels. My advice is to always weigh the usefulness of each marketing medium based on the needs and customer makeup of the specific business. Each channel may not yield results for all businesses, so owners must continually reevaluate and shift focus to those that do.

Stay Ahead of Local Search Trends at ‘Search Starts Here’ Workshops

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The workshops and break-out sessions scheduled for our conference are great opportunities to hear from industry leaders about the most current trends that are impacting the local search industry.  The subject matter and panelists for this year’s workshops are particularly relevant.  We are really looking forward to learning about the latest and greatest technologies and innovations that are driving the industry forward in areas such as mobile, SEO, social media and more.

The workshops will be led by high ranking officials from many influential organizations.  Here is a list of all the workshops scheduled at this time:

What To Know about Local SEO
Bryson Meunier (Resolution Media)
Will Scott (Search Influence)
Andrew Shotland (LocalSEO Guide)

Clicks, Calls & Leads: The Evolving Local Business Model
Dylan Swift (Yelp)
Bill Dinan (Telmetrics)
Debi Hensley (SuperMedia)
Hynek Stehno (Local Spectrum)

Scaling Social: Can It Be Done Cost Effectively?
Brendan King (VendAsta)
Justin Sanger (SupportLocal)
Trevor Sumner (LocalVox Media)
Shiri Yitzhaki (Amdocs)

Mobile Offers and Loyalty in the Marketing Mix
Jeff Fagel (edo Interactive)
Christopher Folmar (SuperMedia)
Blair Swedeen (Placecast)

Winning the Hispanic Market
Azim Tejani  (YaSabe.com)

Automating Local Marketing for Efficiency at Scale
Howard Lerman (Yext)
Ben Gibson (The Search Agency, Inc.)
Pete Gombert (Balihoo)
Paul Wicker (Kenshoo Local)

Don’t miss out on these great discussions and register for our conference today.

For more information on these workshops and to see the schedule of events for “Search Starts Here,” check out our conference Agenda Page.

Belly Launches Free Sampling Program to Attract Shoppers to Local Businesses

Friday, February 8, 2013

Belly

Belly, the Chicago-based digital loyalty company, recently launched Belly Bites, a new service that allows local businesses to offer free promotional items like a cookie, pizza, massage, or gym membership to Belly users via the company’s website, mobile app and e-mail subscription service. The goal is that those who receive the free sample will try it out and come back as loyal customers.

Belly has some unique features that address key concerns that local businesses have with free or discounted online promotions.

First, Belly enables local businesses to target their free samples to their most desired demographics using information Belly collects on the businesses and neighborhoods its users frequent. For example, Belly makes sure that a free sample from a new coffee shop isn’t offered to users who already have a regular spot and are unlikely to switch.

Second, Belly has a process in place that prevents the typical overcrowding that can occur with free or discounted promotions. Belly staggers customers based on how many people a business says it can accommodate within a given week or month.

It will be interesting to see how this free online sample platform works out and if businesses and customers catch on. We’ll be watching!

Yahoo! Partners with France’s PagesJaunes to Bolster Local Search Data

Thursday, February 7, 2013

PagesJaunes

One of the big predictions when Marissa Mayer took the helm at Yahoo! last summer was that the company would increase its focus on local. While Meyer countered several months later that local wouldn’t be among Yahoo!’s priorities, a joint announcement by Yahoo! and PagesJaunes last week indicates the company isn’t steering clear of local search completely.

Yahoo! and PagesJaunes, France’s Yellow Pages publisher and a major innovator in the local search space, agreed to a partnership that will give Yahoo! access to the millions of local business listings in PagesJaunes’ arsenal. The move will not only help improve Yahoo!’s search results, it will also increase visibility for PagesJaunes already popular business listings. PagesJaunes’ print, online and social products reach more than 90% of French consumers.

During Yahoo’s most recent earnings call, Mayer identified Yahoo!’s three near-term priorities: “increasing usage, growing our international presence and appealing to a broader demographic of users.” It’s clear that an important part of Yahoo!’s international growth depends on supplying its search engine with the comprehensive and accurate business listings that PagesJaunes and other Yellow Pages and local search companies provide.

As some of you may know, PagesJaunes’ CEO, Jean-Pierre Remy, will be traveling to the U.S. to deliver the keynote speech at our annual Search Starts Here conference in April. We’re honored to have Jean-Pierre with us so that he can share how he transformed PagesJaunes from a traditional print publisher into one of the world’s most progressive local search companies. Visit our conference website for more information.