Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

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.

Leading in Local: Game Mechanics Can Help Drive Customer Loyalty

Friday, September 13, 2013

I am at the BIA/Kelsey Leading in Local conference in Austin, Texas and I got to hear an interesting session Wednesday led by Seth Priebatsch, CEO of LevelUp.  Seth is an avid gamer and during his discussion I was surprised to hear how he is using game mechanics in his business in order to drive customer loyalty for his clients.  His company is a mobile payment platform with over a million users and 5,000 participating merchant locations and at the core of their business are three game mechanic techniques:

  1. Sunken Reward: Reward given based on visit to location or discovery which is proving to be more compelling than coupons.
  2. Progression Dynamic:  Completing an activity over and over again to gain rewards. This drives loyalty by reinforcing repeat customer behavior.
  3. Appointment Dynamic: Customers must return at a predetermined time to take action on a discount/deal. Potentially drives business during slow periods/seasons.

According to Seth, these techniques are often found in games that he plays and he saw an opportunity to use these techniques in the business world.  In addition, he shared some statistics that further support why it is no surprise that game mechanics are showing up in the business world. For instance, the average age of a gamer is 35 and 34% of heads of households play games.

Seth also talked about how credit cards typically charge a small flat fee per transaction, but technology and legislation are driving mobile payment transaction costs down to zero.  Having no transaction cost has been a differentiator for LevelUp’s success.

LevelUp trades the cost of moving money for transactional data, which creates opportunities for them to assist clients with insights mined from the data.  It was interesting to hear about transaction marketing and just how powerful the insights are in helping SMBs win more customers and get more revenue out of each one.

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.

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

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.

Optimizing the Impact and Reach of Video Advertising for SMBs

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Please join LSA and Blue Pixel Media for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, August 22 from 2 pm – 3 pm EST.

Forrester predicts U.S. online video ad spend will reach $5.4 billion by 2016 (from $2.0 billion in 2011). Marketers in the local search space recognize the importance of video content in the overall advertising ecosystem, but the challenge is getting consumers to watch these ads. In this presentation, Olivier Katz, CEO of Blue Pixel Media, will provide insight into video production and the importance of strong media placement strategies for SMB clients. They will offer recommendations and concrete solutions that will help optimize the impact of video advertising, and produce tangible results for SMBs.

Blue Pixel Media facilitates television-advertising campaigns for directories and their medium size business clients. They help deliver valuable and tangible results to advertisers with an end-to-end, cost effective and targeted local cable television marketing solution. In addition, they enable creative development, production management, media planning, and distribution, tracking and audit services at a competitive low cost.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

Find Out What a Text Message is Worth at SoMoConf

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, returns to blog on the Local Search Insider.  He is ranked in the top 2% among Gerson Lehrman Group’s 150,000 consultants worldwide and is quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Ad Age, Forbes and other publications. He has appeared on CNN and other TV and radio programs discussing trends and forecasts for local media.

Dick Larkin has discovered a magical number for text messaging, and it is $5.71.

Larkin started in 2011 with a simple plan to sell text-messaging to SMBs.  Two years later, CloseBy Text Marketing has raked in $4 million and given his yellow pages company invaluable information on how to make mobile work for smaller businesses.  Eventually, he discovered the magical $5.71.  More on that in a minute.

Larkin is executive vice president of sales for American Marketing & Publishing, which publishes 513 community directories branded as HomePages, mostly in the Midwest.  He’s one of the most knowledgeable sales professionals when it comes to SMBs. He’s one of about two dozen speakers who will evaporate the hype and describe what works at the ground level – and what doesn’t – during the Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! conference Aug. 21-22 in Chicago.  (I’ll be attending this conference, one of the better ones I’ve seen this year on the social and mobile opportunity. Check out the agenda.)

Back to Dick Larkin.  He said the $4 million came as the result of a “hard stance” to actually sell a low-price/high-interest program to SMBs instead of making it value-added in a print contract.  The determination to put a price on text messaging may seem perfectly logical, but the brain of a typical print or broadcast sales manager doesn’t usually work that way.  The manager is more apt to either ignore the product (“it’s too cheap for my reps to bother with”) or would throw it in as value-added to make the print contract more attractive.  Instead, the directory reps sold it for $995.  An easy add-on.

Larkin said AMP began learning “an enormous amount … on what messages work.”   There’s a price point (below $20) that “will have vastly better return” for the SMB.  And they found that there’s a very small window of opportunity with recipients:  within 30 minutes of when you want them to purchase something.

“Text is very, very transactionally driven,” Larkin said.  “The easier it is to make a small purchase, within a short time frame of when you want the customer to take action, the better.  The text message is going to be read within 3 minutes of sending, so the content better pack a punch.”

So now for that magical number.  What AMP discovered after sending 20 million messages was that, on average, SMBs participating in the program make $5.71 in sales from each subscriber per text message sent.   In other words, a merchant with 100 subscribers will generate $571 on average every time they send a broadcast text message.

I don’t think I need to write anymore, and I do think Larkin’s session will be very well attended indeed.

Reaching Nearby Customers with Mobile Location-Based Technology for SMBs

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Please join LSA and Moasis for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, August 8 from 2 pm – 3 pm EST.

Jason Mascari, Moasis Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer.

SMBs are looking to increase the sophistication of their marketing tactics and realize mobile is an opportunity for them. During this webinar, Jason Mascari (right), co-founder and chief product officer at Moasis, will show the importance of location when it comes to targeting consumers with mobile ads and promotions.  He will also look at how to leverage local events/activities to improve the relevance and timeliness of mobile campaigns.  Finally, Jason will explain how, for the first time, SMBs can control their own mobile campaigns.

Moasis is a San Francisco, CA based company dedicated to making local mobile marketing techniques simpler and more targeted for marketers of all sizes.   Through its Smart-Grid technology, Moasis enables hyper-local customization and timely delivery of relevant content from marketers to existing and prospective customers. By focusing on the intersection of location-specific data and local delivery, Moasis strives to create lasting products that are easy to deploy and use.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

Google Wildfire to Reveal Strategy for Helping SMBs Win with Social Media Marketing at SoMoConf

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Over the last few years, Google’s Wildfire has put a lot of effort and attention in helping big brands improve their engagement at the local level via very sophisticated social media marketing tools and solutions.  Wildfire’s capabilities have proven successful for major brands like Amazon, Puma, Sony, Target and many more, but now Wildfire is making its way to Main Street.

Ohad Tzur, North America Lead of the Wildfire Partnership Program.

Ohad Tzur, North America lead of the Wildfire Partnership Program, will be joining us at Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! to highlight Wildfire’s interest in helping small and medium-sized businesses with social marketing.  With a host of case studies to pull from, Ohad will show the value in approaching digital marketing in more holistic way by combining Google’s Wildfire technology with the widely used AdWords and other Google advertising solutions.

“At Google, we are focused on providing what we call, ‘Integrated Marketing’ solutions that approach digital advertising as a whole,” Ohad said.  “With Wildfire we want to align our client’s social campaigns with the rest of their digital activity in order to improve reach, engagement and effectiveness.”

In addition to showing how SMBs can benefit from an integrated marketing approach, Ohad will also discuss the opportunities for organizations to partner with Wildfire.  From scalability to going to market, he will help potential partners understand how they can use Wildfire to help their clients win with social media.

Wildfire is a social marketing suite by Google that combines social promotion and advertising software, mobile and desktop page management, messaging and real-time analytics in one platform.  Prior to his current role with Wildfire, Ohad worked closely with Google’s channel sales partners and helped identify growth opportunities. Before joining Google, Ohad completed his MBA studies at MIT Sloan School of Management with a focus on online platforms and global strategy.

For more info on SoMoConf, check out the full agenda and register today. See you in the windy city!