Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Google Shopping Bridges Gap Between Online Shopping and In-Store Purchasing

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Google

Last week, Google Shopping added exciting new features to its product listing ads. For the first time, users can determine which products they’re shopping for are physically available for purchase at local retail stores.

Google Shopping has traditionally allowed consumers to research and compare products, and then connect with retailers online to make a purchase. These new features add a local aspect by showing nearby availability for the products consumers are searching for. If a product is available in the searcher’s area, the user may see a “local storefront” when they click a product ad. This lets the user know if the nearby store has the particular product in stock – and any similar products in stock – before they actually visit in-person. A searcher can also find additional details about the local store including business hours, location and pricing.

Google Shopping

On Google’s blog, Google Shopping senior product manager Paul Bankhead discussed how these new features benefit local retailers:

“Both local availability for Product Listing Ads and the local storefront are based on a local product feed managed through Google Merchant Center, which allows retailers to provide users with up-to-date, item-level price and availability information for each physical store…These local features help retailers leverage the scale of Google Shopping to market items sold in their physical stores.”

These new local features, available for both mobile and desktop, are rolling out to a limited number of U.S. national retailers, including Sephora and REI, with plans to expand availability in the future.

I think Google’s focus on how to drive online searches to make in-store purchases is a step in the right direction. Hopefully in short order, we’ll see this functionality roll out to more local retailers including small and medium-sized businesses. This could help SMB retailers compete with larger stores on a much broader scale.

hibu Launches New Advertising Campaign: ‘hibu. Made for Business’

Friday, October 11, 2013

hibu, the UK-based local search provider and parent company of Yellowbook in the U.S., is launching its first advertising campaign since rebranding last year.

The ten-week multi-channel campaign, entitled “hibu. Made for Business,” is focused on “helping small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) compete with big business in the battle for mobile and online customers by providing solutions built for SMEs by hibu designers and digital experts.”

The campaign promotes hibu’s three key digital products for SMEs – websites, search and display advertising – and  highlights the company’s do-it-yourself digital services as well as its personalized design services.

By using everyday language and graphics drawn by the top illustrators from around the world, hibu’s new advertising campaign creates a distinctive brand personality. The new campaign is designed to show SMEs that hibu’s team of designers and digital experts have the tech expertise and personal touch to help them compete online.

Hibu advertising campaign

In an interview with MarketingWeek, Laura Broderick, global CMO of hibu, said that the execution of the advertisements, including illustrations, is designed to help hibu stand from among its competitors:

“We didn’t want to just show the product, but the emotional side of the business. A lot of our legacy is about the relationship we have with customers. If you look at our competitors…you do see a variety of [marketing] treatments but we want to stand out not just in terms of messaging but also in the media we use.”

hibu is rolling out its advertising campaign across outdoor, digital, social, national press and radio, as well as internal media , including its magazines, print directories and Internet Yellow Pages. The campaign will appear first in the UK and U.S.; plans for Spain, Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic markets are currently in development.

I think the campaign looks like it will definitely help strengthen hibu’s position as a multi-channel marketing partner for local businesses looking to compete with larger competitors. I’m looking forward to seeing how this campaign resonates with small business owners and marketers. Great job hibu!

Social Media Users Turning Popularity into Currency

Friday, October 4, 2013

Earlier this week, I caught a CBS this Morning story that took a close look at the much buzzed-about trend of Instagram food photography.

The story noted that some savvy local business marketers are helping avid social media users turn their cuisine photo sharing hobby into “social currency” through freebies and discounts in return for geo-tagged photos at their establishments. For example, Bang Bang Pie Shop in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood is giving free baked goods to customers with more than 500 Instagram followers who take geo-tagged photos of food at their restaurant.

I think this is really creative and innovative way for local businesses to make a big impact with very few resources. Through little effort on their part, businesses are encourging customers to spread the word about their offerings through their own networks. As research has told us, consumers place high trust in their personal connections, so any reference from them is golden.

A Chicago-based startup is helping to increase this trend by connecting popular social media users to local businesses looking to market themselves through word-of-mouth. Popular Pays is an app that gives users with “online influence real world value” by allowing them to swap a piece of their social media presence for free items or discounts.

Unique approaches like these are enabling local businesses make a big impact on a very targeted scale. But the question remains, are these programs a good idea, or a bit too unorthodox?

New YP Ad Campaign Promotes ‘The New Way To Do’

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

YP

This month, YP is debuting a new logo and tagline, “The new way to do,” as part of a multi-channel brand and advertising campaign to highlight the company’s “commitment to be the most efficient tool to getting the job done.” The campaign highlights YP’s mobile app, which underwent a major resign late last month.

YP

YP is positioning its mobile app as a better alternative for people who are busy, want to get a lot done and need YP to connect them with businesses that can help. For example, one ad features the line, “search and you shall only find. yp and you shall finish,” followed by the phrase, “18 million businesses, one app.”

In an interview with Ad Week, Alex Kaminsky, VP of brand and advertising at YP, said YP stands out from search engines, review sites, social networks and other products that provide local business information:

“I wanted to be very explicit that we are not a social media business. We’re not about just searching. We’re about getting things done….The Googles, the Yelps, the other companies – they have great products and they have terrific brands, but I think we have a more active approach to helping people get stuff done.”

YP is rolling out its new campaign with outdoor ads in New York and San Francisco, and will extend to Los Angeles and Atlanta next month. The company is also introducing display, search and pre-roll video ads, as well as radio and event sponsorships at festivals and sporting events.

YP Campaign

Additionally, MediaPost reports that YP is building a Facebook app that will invite people to post and share their to-do lists, including “I need to rake leaves this weekend” and “find a wedding gift.” The app will use keywords and geo-targeting to connect people and make recommendations on local companies to help.

I think YP’s new branding, as well as the creative and social media tools it is introducing to support its roll-out, will help position the company as a unique alternative in an increasingly crowded market. I look forward to seeing how the campaign plays out over the coming months.

Key Metrics for Success With A Local Business Website

Monday, September 16, 2013

We regularly discuss key types of content and tactics local businesses can employ to improve their websites. But often missing from the conversation is an emphasis on the importance of analytics in helping businesses to identify and act on both opportunities and challenges with their sites.

In our Locals Only column on Search Engine Land this month, I highlight how Google Analytics can provide local businesses with ongoing and targeted insights into which content, functions and flows are working on their websites (and which are not). Local businesses can use these insights to build more complete and effective websites that better meet the needs of their target customers.

Click here to read my full column on Search Engine Land.

New Infographic Shows How Influential Yelp Reviews Are In Local Search

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We often talk about the growing influence of online reviews in driving local purchasing decisions. We came across an interesting new infographic from Merchant Warehouse, created by Column Five, which compiles recent research to illustrate just how significant a local business’ presence on Yelp, the online review site, plays in its ability to attract customers and new business.

As the graphic shows, there’s a lot that more that local businesses can and should be doing to engage potential and existing customers on local sites like Yelp and others – ranging from Google Places to YP.com, DexKnows.com, YellowBook.com and SuperMedia.com. Check it out.

Yelp

 

 

Franchisors Assert Significant Control Over Local Online Branding, but Also Provide Significant Funding

Friday, August 30, 2013

BIA/Kelsey hosted an informative webinar on August 21, 2013 highlighting results from its Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) study of 600 SMBs.  There were two enlightening points regarding franchise accounts:

  • On average, a franchisor pays 43% of a franchisee’s local online presence costs.
  • 51% of franchisees say their franchisors are “highly involved” in the social media presence of their local businesses.

Here are the slides from the presentation:

BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor Slide 1

BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor Slide 2 Source: BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor (LCM – Wave 17), Q3 2013. www.biakelsey.com

Warren Kay, BIA/Kelsey’s new executive in residence, said, “Franchisors made a mistake in the early days by letting franchisees create a presence that sometimes competed with the corporate entity. Franchisors probably won’t allow individual locations to drive their brand message through social media. And, that’s good.”

In the past decade, there has been a decline in corporate support/funding for dealer/franchise yellow pages and local search programs. But this new information indicates corporations are willing to share in the cost of a franchisee’s local online presence, presenting a renewed opportunity for co-op funding. LSA’s co-op service bureau can be a great resource to agencies and publishers. For more information, contact Local Search Association’s Val Onyski by phone at 248-244-0731 or via email at val.onyski@localsearchassociation.org.

BIA/Kelsey will present more findings from Local Commerce Monitor Wave 17 at the September 11-13, 2013 Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing Conference at the Hilton, Austin, TX. For more information, click here.

Yelp Rolls Out Mobile Reviews and Consumer Alerts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A recent update to the Yelp app allows users to publish reviews directly from the local search site’s mobile platform. The update is currently only available on iOS, but will be arriving on Android phones shortly.

Previously, mobile Yelp users could only offer “tips,” or short tweet-like comments, after checking-in to a business.  The updated app keeps the quick “tips” system in place, but also adds the option to leave full-length reviews.  As with the desktop version of Yelp, mobile users can also upload their own pictures to be displayed in-line with their review.

Yelp

 

Yelp estimates that an average of 10.4 million unique monthly users accessed its platform last quarter. With so many mobile users using Yelp, it only makes sense for the company to bring the smartphone app’s functionality in line with the desktop version.  Now that users can publish their opinions on the go instead of until waiting they get home, it is likely that Yelp will see an influx of reviews – both positive and negative. Now more than ever, local businesses should be mindful of reviews left on Yelp and treat every costumer like a potential reviewer that must be impressed.

In addition to its mobile updates, Yelp has also taken action to strengthen the trustworthiness of its reviews.  Like all anonymous and open systems, online review platforms like Yelp can be susceptible to gaming.  Unfortunately, the volume of business that can be won and lost based on online ratings has led some to use dishonest tactics to take advantage of the system.

Last week, All Things D reported a troubling story about a Groupon employee caught threatening a restaurant owner with negative Yelp reviews if he didn’t list his business on Groupon.  And on the other side of the coin, there have been numerous reports of business owners offering incentives to customers (discounts, cash, gift certificates, etc) in exchange for good reviews.

 

To this end, Yelp has begun adding disclaimers to businesses caught manipulating the system.  Mashable reports that users will be greeted upfront with a warning (pictured above) that the business has been cheating the system when visiting an offending business’s page on Yelp.

YelpFor those businesses worrying about illegitimate negative reviews driving away business, Yelp spokesperson Vince Sollitto told All Things D that page owners can flag suspicious reviews to the Users Ops team, and can also publicly respond to reviews.  As Yelp continues to grow as one of the preeminent digital local search providers, strengthening its commitment to honestly representing consumers and businesses will become increasingly important.

Facebook Adds OpenTable Restaurant Reservations to Mobile App

Friday, August 23, 2013

Facebook recently announced a partnership with OpenTable to bring online reservations to the social network.  An update will bring the booking service to Facebook’s mobile app and mobile website in mid-August, with desktop functionality coming at a later date.

This news has some interesting implications for restaurant owners.  Admittedly, OpenTable is no stranger to the local search space. The booking service has been partnered with Yelp and Google Maps for some time now, and has been a popular local search tool in its own right.

However, Facebook offers an entirely different level of integration into the average consumer’s online experience. Unlike with Yelp and Google Maps, which require users to access an external browser to view OpenTable’s mobile site, Facebook’s integration with OpenTable will be entirely within the social network’s app. This provides Facebook with the all-important advantage: convenience.  To date, it’s the only platform that allows users to chat with friends, plan a night out, and schedule their dinners all through the same platform.

For thousands of restaurant owners, the all-too-difficult bridge between capturing users with community outreach and driving real sales just got a little easier to cross. By engaging consumers at multiple points along the path to purchase on a single platform, businesses now have an even greater opportunity to convert impressions to sales.  If you’re a local restaurant owner and you haven’t already been reaching potential consumers with Facebook, now would be a great time to get started.

Best & Worst Ways to Influence Local SEO Rankings

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In our monthly Locals Only column on Search Engine Land, I discussed how the vast majority of local business out there – even those heavily invested in digital and mobile marketing – are constantly looking for insights on how they can improvement their placements in Google’s search engine results.

A survey released earlier this month by Moz’s David Mihm asked 35 local marketing experts to rank what they perceive as the best and worst ways to influence local SEO rankings. The survey provides a strong blueprint for local businesses on where to prioritize their local marketing efforts to generate greater visibility for their brands and one-up their competitors. It also provides perspective on actions to avoid that can damage a business’ credibility in local search.

Click here to read my column on Search Engine Land.