Posts Tagged ‘local businesses’

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.

Yelp Adds New Direct Message Feature

Monday, June 30, 2014

These days, local marketing best practices highlight the importance of one-on-one engagement with consumers more than ever before. A company’s product or service may be exemplary, but in our increasingly digital and social environment, consumers are often paying just as much attention to how well businesses interact with them and address their questions and concerns.

In a move that reflects this trend, Yelp recently introduced a new feature that allows users to directly message a business via its business’ listing page. The tool, which is available to any business that has claimed its Yelp listing, relays user messages directly to a business through its Yelp account as well as via email. The email feature is a nice perk because it allows businesses to read and respond to user messages directly from their email account without logging into Yelp.

Yelp’s new tool is a great idea because it creates a simple and easy-to-use way for consumers to communicate directly with businesses and visa-versa. Consumers generally need to call a business or visit its website or social media pages to request the information they are looking for. Now, consumers will be able to contact a business they find via Yelp without leaving ever leaving the platform. Businesses often want the ability to easily mine and respond to potential leads. Now, they will be able to view and respond to inquiries directly from their email inbox.

It really all comes down to convenience. Rather than navigating through mechanized voice prompts or website pages, consumers want the ability to reach out to businesses for what they need wherever and whenever they conduct a search. In order to accommodate this, businesses want faster mechanisms for addressing consumer feedback that don’t require them to take many additional steps.

The sticking point will be how well businesses take advantage of this new tool. Unanswered or delayed messages can become a problem – especially since Yelp will publicly track business’ response times to inquiries. Yelp will also allow businesses to turn off the direct message feature. If businesses go this route, it could send a bad signal to Yelp users about how much the business values them – potentially leading to lost leads.

Yelp’s ability to continuously innovate its product offering to reflect consumer and business trends has given the company a big advantage in the local market. We’ll be watching to see how this new tool is used within the market and whether both consumers and businesses catch on.

Mobile Goes Universal: New Survey Shows Older Generations Embrace Mobile as Local Shopping Companion

Monday, April 14, 2014

Conventional wisdom tells us that younger generations trump older generations in their use of mobile devices during the local purchasing process. While teenagers use their smartphones at every opportunity to find local businesses, read reviews and scan deals, their parents and grandparents rarely rely on their devices to take advantage of what is increasingly available via mobile, right?

Maybe not. According to the results of a new consumer survey conducted by Thrive Analytics and released today by the Local Search Association, older generations — including Boomers and Seniors — are embracing mobile as a local shopping companion.

Local marketers should take note of the growing importance of mobile across all age groups, including Boomers and Seniors, and the various ways in which mobile usage and preferences are uniform across generations.

Take a look at our infographic below overviewing our survey results, and then head over to Search Engine Land to read my analysis of the key takeaways from this study.

Older Generations Embrace Mobile as Local Shopping Companion from Local Search Association

Click-to-Call Programs Drive Value for Local Marketers

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

While the local advertising landscape is changing in new and significant ways, one thing that remains constant is the importance of customer phone calls to small businesses.

Last week, Telmetrics, the call measurement company, announced that it experienced more than 160% growth in 2013 in the number of digital local search call programs it monitored.  According to the company, marketers, advertising providers and ad networks increased the use of calls as a performance metric across mobile, desktop and vertical directory search ads.

Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics, said, “The number of marketers adopting calls as a cross-media ad performance metric is growing significantly because digital marketers recognize the value of using call analytics as key engagement and conversion indicators.”

The growth seen at Telmetrics seems to be a simple case of supply meeting demand.  While there are now so many different ways that consumers can discover or find local businesses, phone calls remain the most desired result of those marketing campaigns.

A new study by BIA/Kelsey found that approximately 2 in 3 SMB respondents (66%) said they considered calls to be an excellent or good lead source – more than any other source. Online forms and in-person interaction were a close second and third, respectively.

As the local search and advertising space continues to fragment, we expect the solutions that drive consumer actions—specifically calls—will capture an increasing amount of ad dollars.  Even though the way we advertise locally continues change, the objective for local businesses remains focused on driving consumer action and interaction with them. Calls, store visits, appointments, reservations and clicks are all strong leads to making a sale.

The importance of these consumer actions is why we started our Ad to Action competition this year.  The competition is now officially closed to further entries and the judging is underway.  We are excited to explore all of the the marketing tools that are driving consumer action and will announce the winners at our LSA|14 conference.

Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Websites

Friday, February 28, 2014

This week we focus on the importance of small business websites when it comes to attracting local consumers.  Studies consistently show that many SMBs don’t have a website, and those that do struggle with related activities including SEO, mobile optimization and formatting.

Here are some compelling stats that help put into perspective how websites are critical to any small business’ local strategy:

  • 2 in 3 American and Canadian consumers indicate that a local business having a website affects their opinion of the business and whether or not to use it. (BrightLocal)
  • 45% of US and UK SMBs said they don’t have a website, and in both cases only 6% of respondents with websites said they were mobile-optimized. (hibu)
  • 59% of consumers visit a business’ website when conducting a mobile search. (Google/Nielsen)
  • 40% of SMBs said they are going to increase their budgets for websites by 10-15% within the next 12 months. (Thrive Analytics)
  • More than 90% of SMB websites audited didn’t display a contact email address, and nearly half lacked a phone number on their homepage.  (vSplash)

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

Yodle Survey: Small Businesses Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Although 9 in 10 consumers say they are influenced by online reviews, a large number of small business owners don’t recognize the importance of reviews in their customers’ decision process, according to the results of Yodle’s inaugural “Small Business and Online Reviews Survey” released yesterday.

Yodle’s December 2013 survey polled 300 SMB owners nationwide across a large array of service industries to get their perspective on online reviews.

The most significant findings include:

1. Only half (50%) of SMB owners think positive reviews are important.

  • In fact, almost one in four (23%) believe that it’s unimportant.

2. Most small business owners aren’t receiving or asking for online reviews.

  • 55% of SMB owners don’t receive any online reviews.
  • 19% of SMB owners receive an average of only 1-5 online reviews per month.
  • 24% of SMB owners don’t know if they receive online reviews.
  • Only 13% of SMB owners are approaching customers about posting online reviews.

3. A significant number of SMB owners aren’t responding to or monitoring for online reviews.

  • Only 20% of SMB owners respond to online reviews.
  • 68% of SMB owners don’t spend any time monitoring for online reviews.

4. SMB owners don’t effectively leverage customers’ online reviews.

  • Just 14% of SMBs post customer reviews to their websites.
5. Many SMB owners believe that the online reviews system is unfair.
  • 61% of SMB owners think that review sites favor businesses that pay to advertise with them, while only 10% don’t believe that to be the case.
  • 50% of SMB owners said they are unfairly impacted by negative reviews compared to larger businesses, while only 20% of SMB owners contradicted that opinion
  • 43% of SMB owners stated that online reviews are unfair because they don’t verify that people who leave reviews are actual customers.

The Yodle survey provides valuable perspective on the large gap between how consumers and many SMB owners view the importance of online reviews. For SMB owners to stay competitive with one another and with larger brands, they will need to adjust their marketing strategies to place more value on managing their online reputation through the reviews medium.

SMB owners who fail to encourage positive online reviews and/or address negative online reviews will be disadvantaged in winning over consumers in their path to purchase. While the online reviews system may not be perfect from the SMB owners’ perspective, they should nonetheless work to improve their presence in it rather than simply neglecting it outright.

For more information, read the full Yodle survey here.

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.

How Local Businesses Can Overcome Obstacles To Mobile Conversion

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In our Local Search column for Search Engine Land this month, I discuss new research that found that even though ready-to-buy consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to search for local business information, most are turning to alternate sources aside from smartphones to actually complete their purchases.

The findings beg the question: what is it about smartphones that is inhibiting consumers who search via mobile from following through with buying products and services?

In the column, I outline four recommendations for local businesses to help spur mobile transactions: optimizing their website for mobile; using actionable, informational and reassuring mobile messaging; leveraging local e-commerce business tools; and establishing digital storefronts.

Read my full column at Search Engine Land to learn more.

Trevor Nadeau of Yellow Medya Gives ‘Wake-up Call’ to Local Search Industry

Monday, May 13, 2013

In his discussion “Lost on the Map” at the Web 3.0 conference in Istanbul, Trevor Nadeau, managing director of Yellow Medya, discusses the problems local and multi-location businesses face due to their incorrect or missing business listings.  From store locators with locations in the middle of the sea, to major brands missing in digital local search, Nadeau discusses what he describes as a “wake-up call” for the local search industry regarding the need for professionals to make sure local businesses can be found and found accurately. Here is the video of his presentation:

WebsiteAlive Webinar: Connect Now! – Connect and Capture Your Target Audience

Monday, April 22, 2013

Please join LSA and WebsiteAlive for an exclusive webinar presentation this upcoming Thursday, April 25.

In this webinar, WebsiteAlive’s Managing Partner and CEO Adam J. Stass will discuss the importance of giving consumers the means to easily connect with local businesses via directory listings. Adam will discuss ConnectNow!, a solution that is intended to quickly connect consumers to companies via live chat, e-mail lead, click-to-call or text/SMS.

WebsiteAlive is a software developer and online communications provider. Since 2004, their live chat and click-to-call solutions have been used to meet and greet website visitors, answer questions, increase leads and close sales. Used by more than 11,000 web and mobile sites, WebsiteAlive’s solutions support Internet-based small, medium and large businesses and organizations.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!