Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Infographic: Consumers Turning to Mobile & Various Combinations of Local Media in Last Mile

Monday, August 18, 2014

Consumers are using vastly different combinations of local media to inform their purchasing decisions and mobile devices are changing the way consumers interact with local information.  According to our latest edition of the “Local Media Tracking Study” conducted by Burke, between 2012 and 2013, computer/laptop usage for searching for local products and services decreased while mobile phone/smartphone and netbook/tablets both increased.

The study includes interviews with 8,000 U.S. adults conducted online and by phone. The infographic shows that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices when seeking, discovering or considering local business information.  With that being said, businesses need to develop integrated advertising and marketing strategies that span across devices.

For more commentary on the study, check out our post on Search Engine Land or take a look at the infographic below:

Consumers Increasingly Turn to Mobile & Varied Media Combinations in Last Mile from Local Search Association

Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Daily Deals & Digital Coupons

Friday, August 8, 2014

While the daily deal craze has somewhat settled down over the last few years, there are still strong supporters of this marketing tactic.  And with the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices, digital coupons are becoming more widespread and offer conveniences that paper coupons can’t.

Some marketers find that daily deal websites are ideal for introducing new products, brands or businesses to the market. People tend to be more willing to try something new if there is a deal attached to it, rather than pay full price for something they aren’t sure about.

All in all, people like discounts and here are some stats on how daily deals and online coupons are functioning in the marketplace:

  • 53% of SMBs said daily deals are the most effective technology tool in attracting new customers. (Constant Contact)
  • 80% of marketers have no plans to use daily deal sites, such as Groupon or LivingSocial, in the near future. (Social Media Examiner)
  • More than 70% of digital coupon users will use a mobile device to redeem a discount in 2014. (eMarketer)
  • When asked about unplanned purchases, 21% stated they bought from daily deal websites and 28% claimed they buy products they had never bought before from daily deal websites. (Ryan Partnership)
  • 68% strongly believe that digital coupons have a positive impact on a retailer’s brand. (RetailMeNot)

Be sure to check back next Friday for our next edition of Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week. Have a great weekend!

Shift to Video Continues with New Yelp and Facebook Updates

Friday, August 8, 2014

Video continues to take a central role online for consumers and publishers.  A 2014 Cisco study predicts that by 2018, 79% of all Internet traffic will be video – and Yelp and Facebook are working to accelerate that growth.

Yelp recently introduced a new feature allowing users to post 3-12 second videos related to local businesses in order to better capture ambiance, lighting, noise and other features that are hard to capture with photos.  Currently, the feature is only accessible on the Yelp app for iPhone users but is expected to be available for Android soon. 

Image Source: Business Insider

Bringing the sights, sounds and motion from a local businesses to the digital world is going to be extremely helpful for a wide range of verticals. According to a study by Animoto, 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching videos explaining a product or service.  In addition, Yelp users post around 23,000 photos each day, and that kind of activity should help the review site generate video content at a similarly rapid pace.

While Yelp does provide some tips and examples of what a good video looks like, the downside to the feature is that there doesn’t seem to be much the company can do in regards to video quality.  On the other hand, poor quality videos should be less a reflection of the business and more so of the uploader.

Facebook is also putting some effort into growing the influence and overall presence of videos on the social network.  In March this year, Facebook introduced a new video ad unit that is 15 seconds long and runs inside a user’s news feed. The ads automatically play without sound and when clicked, they expand to fill the screen with sound.

With Facebook’s often cited 1.5 million small and medium-sized business advertisers, the introduction of these ads may seem like a big win for Facebook and SMBs alike, but it hasn’t happened yet.  The ads are still in preliminary stages and according to a story on Re/code, Facebook is running tests and working to get users ready for the full roll out of these ads by showing more autoplay videos in the news feed.

“We have to get the consumer experience right, and autoplay is obviously a big deal,” Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small businesses, told Re/code.

The time table isn’t clear, but much of the testing of the new ad format is taking place with the help and ad dollars of big brands.  The cost for these ads are well outside the typical SMB ad budget, with Mashable saying in February that ads start at $600,000.

The continuing shift towards video content for consumers and publishers alike is changing the complexion of the digital world. And this shift is only being accelerated as big names like Yelp and Facebook invest in video solutions and products.

Infographic: Number of SMBs with Mobile Optimized Websites Increases by Over 75%

Thursday, August 7, 2014

While there have been many studies documenting the lack of mobile optimized websites among small businesses, a new study from Constant Contact illustrates the contrary.  After surveying over 500 SMBs, the study found that SMBs with mobile optimized websites jumped from 34% in 2013 to 60% this year, a 76.4% increase.

In addition to becoming mobile optimized, SMBs are engaging in mobile advertising as well.  Around 21% said they advertise through mobile devices, with another 23% saying they have interest in doing so in the next six months.

What’s interesting is the way SMBs are going beyond marketing and advertising on mobile devices and using them to work more efficiently.  For instance, 61% of respondents use mobile storage apps, 58% use scheduling/calendar apps, and 51% use financial managements apps to help them manage their business.

Check out the infographic below or download it here.

Digital Marketing Tactics that Drive Customer Retention for SMBs

Monday, July 28, 2014

In my recent article on Street Fight, I talk about the importance of customer retention for SMBs and highlight some of the best digital marketing tactics that help build loyalty and repeat customers.

According to a recent study by Gigaom, email marketing is considered the most effective digital marketing tactic for driving customer retention, followed by social media and content marketing (websites, blogs, etc.).  These tactics should be fundamental pieces of any SMB’s marketing strategy and the best part about these tools is that they are understood methods that require minimal time to manage and are cost-effective.

Check out the full post on Street Fight.

Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: In-Store Purchases

Friday, July 25, 2014

Despite the growth of e-commerce and online shopping, in-store purchases still reign supreme. For that reason, according to a BIA/Kelsey study, SMBs voted in-person interactions as “excellent” lead sources more than any other lead source, except for calls, which received a comparable amount of votes.

The Internet and other digital technologies have transformed the way consumers make purchases – and that’s not because they can make these purchases online. Instead, these technologies are giving consumers the ability to conduct extensive research that allows them to be more informed about the products or services, price and availability.

Here are some stats that show how in-store purchases are still driving local commerce and the digital technologies that are helping facilitate these transactions:

  • Two-thirds of total local purchases (65.9%) are still being purchased in-person. (BIA/Kelsey)
  • Digital currently influences 36% of in-store sales, a figure forecasted to rise to 50% by the end of 2014. (Deloitte)
  • Nearly 80% of local searches on mobile devices turned into purchases, with nearly 90% of those purchases made in a physical store. (comScore/Neustar Localeze/15 Miles)
  • Four out of five Yelp users visit Yelp.com before spending money, and 93% say that visiting Yelp leads to a local purchase. (Nielsen)
  • 21% of Pinterest users, 30% of Facebook users and 17% of Twitter users said that they have bought an item in-store after sharing or “favoriting” an item. (Vision Critical)

Be sure to check back next Friday for our next edition of Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week. Have a great weekend!

Automated Tools To Help Local Businesses Tackle Online Marketing

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In my Local Search column on Search Engine Land this month, I talk about the growing promise of automated local marketing solutions in providing local businesses and marketers with faster, more reliable and more cost-effective service.

Marketers are increasingly turning to automation to help them better achieve a variety of advertising objectives. According to a new survey, 45% of marketers believe that automation is most important to improving marketing productivity, while 44% believe it is key to increasing sales revenue, and 42% think it is vital to increasing lead generation.

To demonstrate the opportunities ahead in local, I discuss three of our Ad to Action Awards winners and the ways that their offerings are lowering barriers for local businesses and marketers to compete online.

  • Rio SEO’s Local Listing Manager solution is automating online business listing management so that local businesses can update their listings throughout the web from a single dashboard
  • The Search Agency’s AdMax Local product is enabling marketers to offer SMBs automated local SEM campaigns at a price point they can afford
  • Sightly’s TargetView offering is enabling local businesses to create, target and distribute video ads so they can compete with big brands.

Read my full column on Search Engine Land.

SoMoConf Speaker Spotlight: Shannon Kinney, Founder, Dream Local Digital

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today’s Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! speaker spotlight features Shannon Kinney, founder and client success officer at Dream Local Digital, a digital marketing agency that has worked with thousands of small businesses across North America. She and her team specialize in offering online marketing assistance such as websites, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, SEM and more.

Shannon Kinney, Founder & Client Success Officer at Dream Local Digital

Shannon has over 15 years of experience in the development of successful Internet products, sales and marketing strategies and has worked on the teams developing successful Internet brands such as cars.com, careerbuilder.com, and over 60 online media properties for newspapers all over the U.S. and Canada. Prior to that, she spent over 10 years in media sales and sales management in Maine.

We asked Shannon a few questions about her upcoming SoMoConf session, and here is what she had to say:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
We will review top takeaways from the LMIA report and expand to cover some of the latest case studies on companies leveraging social media to build brand awareness, reach and serve customers, develop relationships and audience.

What about your session are you most excited about?
Sharing some of the great tips and best practices that we leverage every day in our work with online marketing, and making sure that every attendee leaves with ideas they can implement themselves!

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
Social media is one of the most powerful tools to engage your community, promote your content and your advertising products and this session will provide several tips on how to make the most out of your time invested!

What is your favorite social media platform to use?
I personally favor Twitter and Instagram as communication platforms, LinkedIn for business communication, and love Facebook for its broad reach and application. I also spend a lot of time with Pinterest and Snapchat!

Click here to learn more about the SoMoConf event or register now!

Google Turns Local Product Searches into Delivery Business

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To date, Google product searches have delivered fairly relevant local results, but have failed to translate those results into actual purchases.  Now, Google is introducing a new platform to that helps consumers move from product searches to real-life transactions.

The offering, called Google Shopping Express, allows consumers to buy products from several major participating retailers through Google’s interface. In turn, Google will take a single-digit percentage cut of each transaction and then deliver the purchased product from the physical retail store to the consumer on the same or next day. Instead of operating massive warehouses and store inventory – along the lines of Amazon – Google simply acts as a facilitator of local product transactions.

Currently, the service offers products from the likes of Target, Costco, Toys “R” Us and Whole Foods, and is operational in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. A source told Re/code that Google execs have set aside around $500 million to expand the service nationwide. According to Tom Fallows, head of Google Shopping Express, the company is “willing to sustain that investment over time as this gets going.”

While there is the obvious benefit of using Google to help sell local products, it will be interesting to see how they incorporate small retailers in the mix.  At this point, the service looks well suited for retailers that offer specialty, one-of-a-kind goods that aren’t available anywhere else. On the other hand, the local drug store with common brand name products might struggle to compete with the pricing flexibility of national chains like Walgreens.

Once again, it looks like small local retailers face an uphill battle when it comes to competing with the influence of national retailers.  If Google plans to continue this partnership model for Google Shopping Express, we can only assume that the national brands will have priority over small local retailers that offer the same products with less reach.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this new Google offering resonates in the market and what impact it has on local product sales.

Think Tank Chicago: Exploring Local Advertising on a Dark and Stormy Night

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ryan Vaspra, SVP of product and operations at Sightly, shares his thoughts on our recent Think Tank Chicago event which brought together local advertising leaders from companies including Facebook, YP, R/GA, Twitter, MediaVest, Ifbyphone, Marquette Group, Cars.com, Where 2 Get It, CityGrid Media and SMG Local Spectrum. The group discussed exciting new ideas and trends in local that have the potential to take our industry to the next level.

As lightning flashed and thunder crashed outside the 80th floor windows of the Aon Building in downtown Chicago, a group of local marketing thought leaders convened for dinner and spirited discussion – an industry “Think Tank,” graciously hosted by the Local Search Association.

The group was comprised of a diverse set of executives from agencies, publishers, media, and technology companies like Sightly, the online video ad tech company I represent.

The theme of the evening was an exploration of “how local advertisers are using various media outlets to drive clicks, calls and store visits,” what the LSA introduced this year as “Last Mile Advertising.”

From the offset, the discussion focused on what local advertisers want from marketing and advertising solutions and what providers’ pricing should be.

Many participants didn’t feel our industry necessarily needs to provide “free or nearly free” solutions for SMBs as incentives for them to try our products, especially if the value is evident. Simple? Yes.  Effective? Yes.  But simple and effective solutions are rarely free or inexpensive.

Some agency executives felt it’s our job to provide fairly priced, effective solutions but not worry about saving all SMBs from their competitors. In local business, those who are smart, savvy and willing to learn are usually the ones that survive. Conversely, to paraphrase one exec, “Those who don’t get it, usually don’t get that they don’t get it.”

Finally, our best takeaway was that the group felt agencies and service providers provide value by bundling and integrating marketing solutions. Otherwise, SMBs tend to “hopscotch” from tactic to tactic, treating each marketing solution as a stand-alone solution. In reality, bundled solutions create a much more valuable multi-touch, integrated marketing presence for the SMB in its local market than any individual tactic does at any given time.

It was a one-of-a-kind event and LSA brought together a very impressive and influential group of professionals from a diverse set of locally focused companies. The intimate setting made it easy for us to dive deep into the issues impacting the local space.  With such varied experiences and perspectives in one room, we came away from the meeting with insights that are extremely valuable for the future of local.