Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Local Retailers Generate Store Visits with Online Purchase Delivery Alternatives

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One advantage local brick and mortar retailers have over online-only retailers, such as Amazon, is that they can be more flexible when it comes to the way in which they deliver a consumer’s online purchase. In addition to lowering the cost for consumers, some delivery alternatives have the capability of generating in-store visits, which creates another opportunity to sell.

Some delivery alternatives include reserving products online and picking up/paying in-store, using the store as a delivery hub or shipping directly to stores. Not only do these alternatives help lower costs, but consumers want local businesses to offer this flexibility. According to a Forrester Consulting study, conducted at the end of last year, about half of respondents said it was important for retailers to offer in-store pickup for online purchases.

In addition to creating a positive customer experience for those looking for this kind of service, delivering directly to the store increases foot-traffic. This is important because, 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 equal votes.

The offline pick-up offers an up sell or secondary marketing opportunity for businesses. Much like the products not on the grocery list that end up in the shopping cart, this interaction often generates further sales or opportunities to build customer loyalty.  I can see the in-store pick up being used by retailers to:

  • Recommend similar or complimentary products;
  • Remind consumers of concurrent deals, promotions;
  • Inform consumers of new inventory/products; and
  • Request an online review.

Since an in-person visit is not an option for online-only vendors, and the lead quality of that interaction is so high, the in-store pickup is an incredible opportunity for brick and mortar stores to leverage.  In addition to enhancing the visual experience of the customer from what he or she sees online, the store can appeal to many more senses like touch, feel, smells and sounds.  For this reason, the in-store pickup has the ability to generate more traffic and create more opportunities to make a sale.

LinkedIn Survey: 94% of SMBs Use Social Media for Marketing [Infographic]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LinkedIn recently shared an infographic entitled, “The Year of the Social Small Business,” which highlights results from an SMB survey on the ways businesses are using social media in their marketing efforts. LinkedIn’s survey found that about 94% of SMBs said they use social media for marketing, while 61% said that social media helps them gain new customers.

Check out the infographic below for details.

Street Fight’s Local Data Summit in Denver

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I got the chance to attend Street Fight’s Local Data Summit in Denver and it was a great event.  In addition to making connections and networking with the savvy local experts, I learned all about the exploding developments in big data that are helping local marketers deliver stronger ROI.

I really enjoyed the panel titled, “The Quantified Shelf and the Promise of Real-Time Inventory,” moderated by Perry Evans, CEO at Closely and featuring Jeremy Geiger, CEO at Retailigence; Mike Wilson, CEO at Goodzer; and Sherry Thomas-Zon, VP of Shopping at Local Corp.  Here are some of the highlights from the session:

  • Large retailers have a ton of data and have some technical expertise and resources, but they still need help in developing insights and targeting strategies.
  • SMBs are getting involved in the data game but, compared to the national brands, they don’t have the data sets or resources needed to really leverage this information.
  • The retail space was the primary consumer of data but data providers are becoming more flexible in order to support more industries.
  • Ecommerce is only 10-15% of the retail space.  At the end of the day the experience of going and talking with someone is driving sales.
  • Online scheduling is an extremely important development in the local space because it is the equivalent to closing the loop between online and offline.
  • The primary goal of big data is guiding and measuring the path to purchase.

Perry Evans, CEO at Closely; Jeremy Geiger, CEO at Retailigence; Mike Wilson, CEO at Goodzer; and Sherry Thomas-Zon, VP of Shopping at Local Corp at Street Fight’s Local Data Summit in Denver, CO.

Groupon’s Deal Builder Helps SMBs Help Themselves to Daily Deals

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A few weeks ago, Groupon launched Deal Builder which is a new self-serve tool that allows business owners to create deals and offers that become a part of Groupon’s daily offering. Groupon is hoping the tool will help broaden the types of businesses using the platform, such as those not located in major urban areas outside of Groupon’s normal sales reach.

Offers that are created through Deal Builder tend to have a lower audience, as they aren’t sent out in one of Groupon’s main e-mail blasts or notifications.  While at first blush that might seem like a drawback for Deal Builder, local merchants in the past have been unprepared for the high volume of traffic that Groupon e-mails can create.

Deal Builder may also help SMBs improve their ability to connect with consumers on mobile devices.  Mobile Commerce Daily recently highlighted an SMB’s offer on Deal Builder that resulted in half of the redemptions coming from mobile devices.

Despite Social Media Examiner’s study released last year that found 80% of marketers don’t plan on using a daily deal site, Deal Builder opens the door for more SMBs to experiment with daily deals at their own pace.  The self-serve model takes away the hand-holding that was needed to create deals, takes away any sales pressure, and offers customized solutions selected by the SMB itself.

For Groupon, the tool improves its ability to house more deals and generate more locally focused content.  Similar to all the recent news related to Yahoo’s local search capabilities, Deal Builder further solidifies Groupon’s standing as a legitimate local marketing solution for SMBs.

“With the launch of Deal Builder, we now have a customizable solution for the thousands of merchants that contact us directly every month wanting to run a deal,” said Dan Roarty, vice president of product development at Groupon.

Since SMBs can’t compete with the marketing budgets of national brands, it helps to have solutions like Deal Builder that get them in the mobile ad and search space without devoting a lot of resources.  In addition, by having more control over the direction of deals, SMBs can use their local knowledge to develop customized and relevant offers.  It will be interesting to see if Deal Builder does help Groupon break into and catch on with businesses in smaller markets.

LSA|14 Boasts Insights, Innovation, Networking, Steve Wozniak and much more

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Steve Wozniak. Innovations in local. Partnerships. The beach. There are plenty of reasons to make your way to Huntington Beach, Calif. April 27-29 for the 2014 Local Search Association Conference.  And there is less excuse for not coming – we are offering 40% in savings compared to last year’s price and you’ll still get top-level speakers, productive networking opportunities and powerful insights as we work to make our conference even better this year.  Did I mention Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak yet?

Check out what attendees had to say about last year’s event as a place to network, partner and learn from other professionals in the local advertising space.  And get ready for what should be the premier local advertising gathering of the year.

To learn more or register now, visit See you in SoCal!

Yahoo Partners with Yelp, Adjusts Display of Local Search Results

Monday, February 10, 2014

UPDATE: Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer announced a new partnership with Yelp on Friday of last week at an employee meeting.  Yelp’s listings and reviews of local businesses will be incorporated into results on Yahoo’s search engine.

In addition, early last week, Yahoo announced that they have added a “noticeably larger map,” business photos and vertical specific business information to their local search results.  According to their announcement, “this is another step towards a faster, more beautiful search experience.”  Much like Google’s local search results, the update adds more emphasis on business photos.



The similarity to Google search results is no surprise considering Marissa Mayer’s long held position as head of Google’s local products before becoming the CEO at Yahoo.

The improved look and feel is directly related to the time Yahoo has spent on improving their business data and information around the world.  The search giant has partnered with many local business data providers and this work is starting to pay off. For instance, just last year Yahoo partnered with Solocal Group (formerly PagesJaunes) to improve their local search results for French users.

The emphasis on local results across search engines continues to be ratings and reviews, but with more rich data sources, these engines can make searching locally a much more enjoyable experience.

Facebook, Netgear Partner to Help SMBs Offer Free Wi-Fi to Customers in Exchange for Check-ins

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Facebook has teamed up with Netgear to make it easy for SMBs to offer free Wi-Fi to customers in exchange for check-ins on their Facebook business pages.  According to the announcement made at CES 2014, Facebook Wi-Fi will be available on four of the Netgear’s premium dual-band 802.11ac wireless routers.

Customers accessing the service are automatically taken to a business’s Facebook Page and are then asked to check-in with the option to “like” the Page before they begin using the Internet. In order to make it simple, there are no special codes needed, and the customer has the option to automatically check in for free Wi-Fi on return visits.

This seems like a win-win-win for the local space. For Facebook, generating more check-ins will improve their social data and subsequently, their local search platform.  For SMBs, the partnership drives customer engagement through check-ins, allowing them to reach and build awareness among a larger audience. Finally, the always connected customers receive access to free Wi-Fi making for a positive in-store experience.

As followers and check-ins increase from Facebook Wi-Fi, SMBs will win some social media marketing longevity. In addition to reaching more customers with their future posts, announcements, coupons and other news, they are also getting access to more customer behavior and engagement data via Facebook Page Insights.  Local businesses will be able to then use this data to develop comprehensive loyalty or promotional campaigns that target their most active and loyal customers.

During his keynote address at last year’s LSA Conference, Dan Levy, director of small business at Facebook, discussed the value in SMB social marketing given that 70% of users are connected to a local business on Facebook.  More recently Levy has said there are now 25 million Facebook Pages for SMBs, and 1 million of those businesses are active advertisers. As the numbers suggest, Facebook has become an affordable marketing solution for SMBs and the social media powerhouse continues to help SMBs connect with local consumers.

5 Tips to Leverage Twitter’s New Nearby Feature

Friday, January 17, 2014

In my column posted this week on Marketing Land, I shared key takeaways for local businesses looking to leverage Twitter’s new Nearby feature, which enables certain mobile users to discover tweets posted by others in their immediate vicinity.

The tool, which is still in beta, has received early buzz from marketers and analysts. Many believe Nearby could potentially provide opportunities for local advertisers if it becomes a staple in Twitter’s mobile app. Their immediate focus has been on how Twitter might use Nearby to enable small businesses (as well as national businesses with local outlets) to promote sponsored tweets within the Nearby map to targeted users. Those talking have described Nearby as Twitter’s first stab at entering the local space in a way it hasn’t been able to up to this point.

Although Nearby is still in its beginning phases, I still think there are simple steps that local businesses can pursue now to take advantage of Nearby as part of their ongoing Twitter efforts. Check out my full column on Marketing Land to learn more.

YP Continues to Improve Digital Business with Sense Networks Acquisition

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On the heels of a re-branding, website redesign, app redesign and major ad campaign, local search and advertising company, YP recently announced that it had acquired mobile ad company, Sense Networks.  Gaining access to Sense’s location and behavioral data will help YP offer more accurately targeted search and display ads.

As one of the largest mobile advertising companies in the US, YP’s acquisition of Sense Networks is one of many major moves that YP has made this past year to improve the effectiveness of its digital assets. Given growing demand from local businesses for digital advertising solutions, YP has done the following to help their clients get found by local consumers:

  • Re-launch of YP website: The site has been redesigned to better connect consumers and local businesses through a more user-centric design, improved navigation and a cleaner, more functional format.
  • New YP logo and ad campaign: “The new way to do,” debuted 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.”
  • Redesigned version of YP’s smartphone app: This new update brings a cleaner, more modern aesthetic to YP’s popular local search tool, making it easier and faster for users to find what they’re looking for.

As YP continues its transformation from traditional media company to a full service local search, media and advertising company, YP is working hard to innovate and invest in digital marketing solutions that will help them capture a larger share of the growing digital ad spend of local businesses.

Borrell Shares Tips on Making Move from Media Company to Marketing Agency

Monday, January 13, 2014

During last week’s webinar with Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, he shared insight into the evolving local media space, specifically the transformation of media companies into marketing agencies.  With publishers rushing to meet SMB demands to buy SEO, social media management, reputation management and other services, their business is fundamentally changing.  Instead of selling high-margin media products, local media pros are now selling less-scalable marketing services.

When it comes to profitability, Gordon provided some best practice examples of companies that went from traditional media company to a successful digital business which included LSA members Mediative and  He also provided some great insights and advice that can help local marketers become more digitally savvy:

  • By 2018, consumers will curtail their media time by 19 minutes, effectively saying “enough!”
  • 64% of SMBs are “very” or “somewhat” optimistic about near-term (12 months) improvement to the local economy.
  • SMB marketing budgets were up 10.7% in 2013.
  • On average, SMBs get 5 sales calls per week and listen to only 1 of them.
  • 42% of SMBs pegged digital media for more spending.
  • Online spending is an energizer bunny; it keeps going and going.
  • 70% of SMBs use FB, compared with 64% two years ago.
  • 85% of SMBs say mobile presence is important, yet only 19% engage in mobile marketing.
  • When it comes to evolving from traditional media:
    • Know how much you’re chasing; set goals
    • Partner.  Don’t go it alone
    • Build slowly; don’t invest heavily
    • Expect profitability (almost) from the outset
    • Train, train, train reps.  Then train them again

Check out the entire presentation below:

For access to all of our past webinars and a look at what’s to come, visit