Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

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.

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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 Web.com.  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 http://bit.ly/LSAwebinars.

Instagram, Twitter Direct Image Messaging Brings Opportunity for SMBs

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

As social media channels continue to pile on new features that make them act more like one another, the capabilities that once differentiated these tools are becoming less and less unique.  The latest bit of “feature-creep”-  as Roundarch Isobar’s Tim Dunn calls it - to take place is the recent introduction of direct image messaging on both Twitter and Instagram.

Instagram Direct allows users to send photos directly to people that follow them and Twitter now lets users send images via mobile direct messages.  With these recent updates, SMBs have a new way to connect and engage with their followers.  These images have the ability to tell a more personalized and direct visual story while building brand and product awareness.

Given the limited reach of these messages, targeting the best customers in conjunction with some sort of loyalty program may help maximize customer engagement. Similarly, listening to followers may uncover an opportunity to directly promote or inform of a product or service to a specific follower.  Once a targeting approach is defined, here are a few ways SMBs can use direct image messaging to drive consumer actions:

  1. New Products: Before making a new product available to all customers, SMBs can give specific followers the feeling of exclusivity by messaging a “sneak peak” photo of a new product that just arrived while making it available just to them.
  2. Coupon Codes: SMBs can give followers a reason to visit their store by sending a picture of a coupon for an in-store discount that expires that day.
  3. Sales and Promotions: Instead of just telling consumers about a sale, now SMBs can show them by sending pictures of the specific products and services that are on sale.
  4. Greetings: Create specific picture messages for special occasions, holidays, birthdays, etc.

Just like any other form of marketing, there needs to be boundaries and limits to the amount of messages that SMBs send. Overdo it and followers are sure to stop following.  With a thoughtful content schedule and targeting strategy, these new direct image messages are a great way to connect with followers on a more personal level.

See below for a great infographic Tim Dunn and team put together on the increasing levels of feature-creep among social networks:

BIA/Kelsey Leading in Local: Groupon Interested in Being More than Daily Deal Site

Friday, December 13, 2013

Today 500,000 merchants work with Groupon. While that sounds like a big number, Groupon sees much greater opportunity in the space with 30 million local businesses out there.  And while Groupon is best known for its daily deals, it is interested in becoming much more than that.  As we’ve heard so many times at the BIA Kelsey Conference, Groupon is seeking to leverage its existing business into leads for other marketing services.  Sean Smyth, SVP of partnerships at Groupon, acknowledged that in order to reach their goal of becoming a platform as opposed to an event based service, it must work with other companies in the local space.

What spurred this service expansion?  It was Groupon’s experience with daily deals as a demand vehicle.  Merchants would use Groupon to drive demand for their services, but Groupon was in many cases too successful creating fulfillment issues for the business.  In order to help avoid problems like this, Groupon had to learn the business of those they were helping, and in some aspects, it had to know the business better than its owner since the merchants had often demonstrated an inability to forecast the impact of its offers. In learning the business, Groupon discovered there were so many other inefficiencies that existed within small business, many of which were areas where Groupon felt they could help.

Another driver for change was the realization that the daily deal product provided limited engagement with the merchant.  While 50% of merchants that run a deal on Groupon followed up with a second deal, that still only constituted a single digit number of engagements.  Groupon wanted to work not on driving single events, but on something that could be a constant service, a platform.

So, Groupon acquired Breadcrumb to expand its services.  Breadcrumb is a restaurant tool and an investment in the future to improve Groupon’s value chain.  Breadcrumb is on its way to being the operating system for local businesses to provide services like POS, payment services, and a reservation platform.

But as they build the supply side of their business (now a marketplace of 65,000 deals per day just in N. America), Groupon is again looking at the demand side, and that is where partners can help.  They have a partner program – a global platform where partners can incorporate or add Groupon offers and deals into their own marketing tools or services to reach consumers.  It will be interesting to see if Groupon can successfully expand the service that made it so popular.

Nearly 1 in 4 SMBs Use Twitter for Advertising and Promotion

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Small and medium-size businesses are increasingly using Twitter for advertising and promotion, according to the latest edition of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor survey.

The survey, which tracks how SMB advertisers in the US are evolving their media usage to gain and retain customers, found that nearly 1 in 4 SMBs – or 24.3% – used Twitter for advertising and promotion. This is up from 22% of SMBs in 2012 and 16.1% in 2011.

Additionally, approximately one third of the SMBs surveyed rated Twitter’s return on investment as excellent (between 10-19 times spend) or extraordinary (more than 20x spend), as seen in the graph below. Comparatively, only 25% and 17.1% of SMBs in 2012 and 2011, respectively, rated their return on investment as excellent or extraordinary.

BIA’Kelsey’s survey also found that SMB increasingly believe that Facebook is worth their advertising investment. One-third of SMBs – 34.1% – perceived the return on investment on Facebook pages as excellent or extraordinary in 2013, compared to 29.4% in 2012 and 23.1% in 2011.

It’s fantastic to see that SMBs are increasingly catching on to social media’s marketing potential, but there is still a lot of work for local marketing partners to do in terms of educating SMBs on the audience and reach of social and other digital mediums, evaluating which marketing channels fit best, and helping them choose  the most effective ways to reach customers.

Check out more insights from the survey over at BIA/Kelsey’s Local Media Watch blog.

The Growing Importance of Ratings and Reviews in Local Search

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Online reviews and ratings are having a huge impact on the local search space.  As platforms like Facebook, Google and Yelp give reviews more importance and improve their ability to filter out fake ones – and government officials crack down on dishonest practices – consumer trust and use of reviews can only be expected to grow.

In my Street Fight article, I discuss how reviews and ratings are some of the most powerful pieces of information in local search.  Not only are they impacting SEO for local businesses, but they are significant influencers of consumer action.

Read my full article at Street Fight.