Posts Tagged ‘SMB’

LSA Member Innovation in Local: MatchCraft

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This week we hear from MatchCraft, a search marketing technology company that supports publishers and local advertising companies around the globe. The company’s AdVantage platform is a fully automated SEM solution that delivers campaign results with little to no human intervention and works to drive ROI for campaigns of any size - including micro-budgets of $100 (or less) per month. MatchCraft has been around since 1998 and operates in 21 countries and 14 languages. 

We caught up with Jill Hammond, vice president of marketing at MatchCraft, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does MatchCraft solve? How?
We all love the thrill of managing large media spends but we find the biggest challenge most SEM technology providers face is how to get great results for low-budget search campaigns. Many of the merchants our clients work with are spending $2000, $500, even $100 per month; with budgets at that level there’s not a lot of room for the publisher to dedicate campaign management resources to tasks like customized campaign setup or ongoing optimization.

At MatchCraft, we’ve created a fully automated solution that delivers excellent campaign results with little to no human intervention. Once the campaigns are up and running, AdVantage adjusts bids hourly, which means more high-quality clicks at lower cost.

What makes MatchCraft innovative?
We’ve been a small, nimble team for more than 15 years. The search marketing landscape has shifted hundreds of times during MatchCraft’s existence, and we’ve shifted with it, building products and platforms that meet the needs of our specific customer base and the merchants they service.

We’re innovative because not only do we provide our customers with reliable, high performance products, we are also committed to ensuring those products are easy to sell.  We empower their sales teams with the training and materials, online and in person, needed to garner greater market share. MatchCraft delivers great results to our clients because everything we do is built around our customers’ needs and wants.

How does MatchCraft make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
Businesses mostly want the same thing from search marketing: more customers. MatchCraft’s technology delivers advertisers not only more potential customers but better qualified potential customers. Because our campaigns are so highly targeted by both location and content, the people who end up clicking on the ads are more likely to be the right people. And higher conversion means higher ROI, happy merchants and better retention rates for our clients.

Consumers also win when search campaigns match the right businesses with the right searches. Whether you’re looking for a plumber or a dentist or a used car, relevant results mean you’re getting the information you want at the exact moment when you’re looking for it. That’s what a good online search experience is all about.

What is next in local?
Two things, and they’re related. The first is clearly mobile. As users continue to shift their searches to their smartphones, we need to focus on helping merchants increase their presence in mobile search results. It’s essential that mobile ads incorporate click-to-call and other immediate contact options so users who are on the go can actually reach the business they’re interested in buying from.

The second thing all the companies in our space are working on is conversion attribution – all the way through to the sale. That’s easy for ecommerce companies, but historically it’s been really hard for local businesses to connect online search advertising with customers who walk in their front door and make purchases. Mobile is the key bridge, and we’re working hard to help our customers connect the dots from search to click to call to conversion.

For more info, check out the video below, contact Jill directly at jill@matchcraft.com or visit www.matchcraft.com

MathCraft’s AdVantage SEM Platform from MatchCraft on Vimeo.

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!

LSA Member Innovation in Local: Marquette Group

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today we hear from Marquette Group, a cross-channel, digital agency managing marketing and advertising efforts for a long list of brands, including Edward Jones, ServiceMaster, Bank of America, Roto-Rooter and Nationwide Insurance. The Company began in 1963 as a Yellow Pages agency and over the years has successfully made the transition to digital. Marquette Group is headquartered in Peoria, Illinois with offices in Atlanta, St. Louis and Milwaukee. They recently placed among the 2014 Best Places to Work in Illinois.

We caught up with David Lenzen, EVP sales and marketing at Marquette Group, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does Marquette solve? How?
We’re in good company when we say that erroneous and missing data is a significant concern in the local space. It’s pervasive and the reason we focus intently on data management.

We find that brands typically don’t have a strong platform or strategy for collecting and using localized content. Meanwhile, at the SMB level, the challenge is recognizing the need then finding time to manage and create content across the platforms where consumers are looking–Yelp, Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.

We offer the strategy, the platform, the content management, and of course, the performance analytics for brands and their locations.

What makes Marquette innovative?
We bring innovation to both campaign strategy and the technological developments needed to meet those strategies. Strategic innovation includes not just a client-specific, but location-specific understanding of goals and market nuances. We then construct the marketing programs with a unique mix of providers’ digital products combined with our own search solutions and proprietary client location data management systems.

How does Marquette make the local space better for advertisers?
Marquette Group acts as a single source for building integrated, efficient campaigns to drive results for our clients versus acting as an agency focused on leveraging and selling a singular media type. By bringing simplicity to a complex advertising marketplace and remaining media neutral, Marquette Group focuses on connecting our clients’ national brands to local consumers exactly how those consumers are searching at key moments in the customer lifecycle—regardless of medium or device. Our focus is performance and our loyalty is to the advertisers’ brand and their local lead generation goals.

What is next in local?
Social and video still have a long way to go for local and were highlighted on our 2014 predictions blog. Understanding how to use social and video for lead generation and loyalty building is still new territory for the majority of local businesses. Worth mentioning, too, is the need for greater use of content in social given the growing impact on SEO.


For more information, visit www.marquettegroup.com, email David Lenzen, EVP Sales and Marketing, or follow Marquette Group on Twitter @marquettegroup or find them on LinkedIn.

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.

Top 10 Tips for Local Search Success

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Business owners today see all the different ways that consumers are seeking out, discovering and considering local businesses, and they don’t know where to start their marketing efforts.

In our column for Search Engine Land this month, I offer my 10 tips for best positioning local businesses in today’s ever-changing local search environment. These include:

1)     Ensure key information about your business is accurate & accessible

2)     Populate your top local business listings

3)     Build a website with the user experience as the key priority

4)     Optimize your website for search

5)     Start a blog to provide a steady stream of content

6)     Leverage visual content, including photos and videos

7)     Ensure your business website is mobile-friendly

8)     Engage on social media channels used by your target customers

9)     Encourage reviews to add credibility to your business

10)  Pay attention to your success – and adjust your approach as necessary

Click here to read my full column on how to integrate each of these tips into your local business strategy.

Amazon to Launch Marketplace for Local Services

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Amazon.com has plans to launch a new marketplace for local services, according to a report by Reuters.  The new offering will compete directly with existing local market players including Yelp and Angie’s List – as well as home improvement chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s – which provide resources for customers to connect with local service providers.

Third-party vendors make up about 40% of Amazon’s sales, and these existing relationships provide the critical mass needed to have a meaningful impact in local.  As the Reuters report notes, Amazon will refine the tool much like the company did with AmazonFresh, its grocery delivery service, by gauging demand and testing logistics in local markets before introducing the product nationwide.

Amazon’s move isn’t surprising to those who attended our 2014 Local Search Association Conference in late April. Industry experts Matt Booth, Neal Polachek, and Greg Sterling predicted that “Amazon will score big with SMBs beyond Amazon Web Services” in the near future.

While there are few details, I believe Amazon is getting into the local services space for a few reasons. For one, a large number of consumers are looking for local service providers. According to YP’s most recent Local Insights Report, of the top 10 most searched local categories, seven are service providers.  Plus, there are billions of local searches each month via digital and mobile, many of which are related to local services.

Second, while the local services space is massive, it has been difficult for media companies to turn a profit given the unique needs and offerings required for each locale. Industry observers estimate that the home repair and improvement market alone represents a $250 billion opportunity, and cracking the local services nut presents substantial upside for the marketplace that can do it best.

Finally, as search traffic continues to fragment across platforms, the local services offering that provides the best user experience across the board will have the greatest potential for success.  Given Amazon’s strong brand and standing as a leading e-commerce platform – in addition to its focus on reviews and security – the company is well-positioned to capture the entire purchase process for local services in one place.

While there are many other reasons that we are probably not aware of yet, this is a big move, and we will be watching it closely.

LSA|14: Reducing Complexity for Digital Ads With A Balance of Control and Automation

Monday, April 28, 2014

The “mobile is local” theme continued in this morning’s session with Ginny Sandu, senior product manager, mobile and local advertising for Bing Ads.

Sandu outlined Bing’s strategy as three fold:

  • Eliminate complexity for small businesses: Helping businesses transition from print to digital that removes complexity.
  • Enable local task completion: For most local businesses this means driving calls and walk-ins.
  • Measuring local ROI for SMBs: Providing tools for the SMB to measure the success of their programs.

“We could make things, easier, simpler, and cheaper for small businesses, however when the rubber meets the road, you want to make sure your advertisers are getting the ROI they are looking for,” said Sandu.

Recognizing that complexity is one of the biggest barriers to local businesses achieving ROI from a mobile ad spend, Bing has developed a new product called Bing Ads Express, which is currently in beta.

The Bing Ads Express concept employs a light, simple signup approach, with a pay-per-click model and no keywords to chose.  Despite the simplified approach, business can still target where they want their listing to show, the radius in which the business should appear in ads for users, what the budget should be, and the number of clicks a business can expect to receive.

This product is particularly appealing to partners who have clients with relatively small digital spends.

“If you have a client with a digital spend of a $150, you don’t want to spend four to five hours for them on it every week.  A lot of our partners expressed interest in something where the complexity is reduced.”

Sandu said that the key lesson for Bing has been striking the right balance between control and automation, and that they are taking lessons learned from Bing Ads Express to apply to the entire Bing Ads platform.

“People want automation but they want some bells and whistles that allow them to maintain control.”

Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Social Media

Friday, March 28, 2014

Given the limited advertising budgets of SMBs, the reason more and more of them are starting to use social media as a marketing tool is the potential reach these platforms allow without the need to spend big.  These social outlets are becoming a popular way for brands and local businesses to connect with, inform and reward followers and fans.

In addition to organic reach, many of the most popular social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) offer paid advertising opportunities with the capability to target very specific audience segments.  These targeting capabilities are powerful on these platforms, especially when trying to reach local consumers.

Here are some compelling stats that show how the impact social media is having on consumers and local marketers:

  • Close to 6 in 10 global consumers say that friends’ social media posts influence their purchase choices. (IBM Institute for Business Value)
  • 56% of millennial local consumers said that they have interacted with social media in the past 6 months at some point in the purchase funnel. (BIA/Kelsey)
  • 94% of SMBs said they use social media for marketing and 61% said that social media helps them gain new customers. (LinkedIn)
  • Of online adults, 71% use Facebook, 18% use Twitter, 17% use Instagram, 21% use Pinterest and 22% use LinkedIn. (Pew Research)
  • Facebook has about 25 million active small business pages. (Facebook)

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

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.

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.