Let Your Customers Know They’re Heard

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

Back in August, Google added a feature to its Places product that allows business owners to publicly respond to their reviews. If you haven’t checked this feature out yet, you should definitely be taking a look at it.

Collecting and displaying reviews is critical as reviews are continuing to gain weight in local search results ranking. Reviews let searchers get a feel for how your company does business and help build initial trust. Responding to your reviews helps you build stronger relationships with your existing customers and lets potential customers see your commitment to customer service. Letting your customers know that their voices are heard goes a long way toward increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Take the time to respond to your reviews when possible. A thank you to your happy customers, or an apology and offer to make things right for those customers whose experiences were less positive, can do great things for your business.

Categories: Local Search Tags:

Google Adds AdWords Call Metrics – Marketers Rejoice

November 2nd, 2010 No comments

It’s been known for awhile that online marketing can and does drive offline sales, but linking the two together and effectively measuring the impact of internet advertising on offline behavior has been tricky at best. Today, Google introduced “AdWords Call Metrics,” a fusion of Google Voice and AdWords that effectively brings call tracking to AdWords.

The nuts and bolts of the service are fairly straightforward: a unique phone number is assigned to each campaign and can be automatically inserted into ads for both PCs and high-end mobile phones. When a customer calls the number in the ad, they are automatically routed to the business, and AdWords tracks the number and length of calls for each campaign. As is typical for a new product launch, Call Metrics are only available to a “limited number of US advertisers” right now.

Personally, I think this has been a long time coming and it fills a need that has only become more severe as the number of SMBs advertising online has grown. Tracking return on ad spend is crucial for any business, and of course, this move should also help Google out as businesses can see more clearly the value they get from their AdWords advertising.

I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of information we can glean for our clients using this new tool…that is, just as soon as it’s available in our accounts.

Greg Sterling’s post over at Search Engine Land, AdWords And Google Voice Hook Up To Form “AdWords Call Metrics”, also offers some interesting thoughts on Google’s latest offering and what Google may do with it going forward.

Categories: Google AdWords, PPC Marketing Tags:

Google’s New Broad Match Modifier

July 19th, 2010 No comments

Last week, Google rolled out its new broad match modifier globally in (almost) all languages. The new match option means that adding a plus symbol (+) in front of any word in a broad match keyword flags that word so that it must appear in a customer’s search exactly or as a very close variant. (Plurals, misspellings, and abbreviations are close variants; synonyms and related searches are not.)  This gives advertisers a potentially very useful way to make sure their ads for “flower seeds” don’t appear for “fresh flowers” without limiting their reach by scaling all the way back to phrase match.

See Google’s infographic on the new broad match modifier and read some successful use cases from companies in the beta test.

Does anyone have any hands on experience with this new match modifier yet? I’m interested to hear what kind of results are being achieved in smaller campaigns and also how accurate the variants are in terms of what’s included and excluded.

Categories: Google AdWords Tags:

Google Introduces Twitter-integrated Display Ads

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Coming soon to an AdWords account near you: Twitter-integrated display ads! An article this morning by Douglas Quenqua at ClickZ shed some light on Google’s newest quiet project.

The display ads update in real time with the latest tweet from your account and also include a “Follow on Twitter” button. A click on the main body of the ad – outside of the button area – brings up the advertiser’s Twitter page. Not surprisingly, Google isn’t talking about the program yet, and it’s only available to a handful of select advertisers at the moment. Google may have taken their cue on this from Volvo, who, as Quenqua points out, were the first to integrate Twitter with a display ad in an advertisement that ran last year on YouTube.

Following Google’s inclusion of Twitter updates in their search results and their recently discussed plans to introduce a timeline of archived tweets to show historical trending, this new feature isn’t too surprising. Google’s ads gain relevancy and freshness, and advertisers using both platforms gain a method of integration previously unavailable. This is also an interesting additional way to leverage Twitter for marketing outside of the Promoted Tweets platform.

Categories: Local Search, Social Media Tags:

BizzSpot Employee Melissa Rounds Completes Google AdWords Qualification

May 4th, 2010 No comments

AdWords Qualified LogoBizzSpot is proud to announce that employee Melissa Rounds has taken and passed the Google AdWords Fundamentals exam, completing the necessary steps to becoming a Google AdWords Qualified Individual with a focus in Search Advertising. With Melissa’s individual qualification, BizzSpot is now an AdWords Certified Partner. Congratulations, Melissa!

Categories: BizzSpot News Tags:

Why is Social Media Important to the Business Owner?

April 20th, 2010 No comments

As a culture, we are subjected to a constant influx of marketing, both online and off, while we go about our daily lives. Most of this advertising is tuned out as irrelevant background chatter. What are you doing to make your company stand out from the white noise of marketing? How do you connect with your customers on their own terms?

There has been a lot of talk recently about the potential of social media marketing, and for good reason. Web users in the United States, (which includes 74% of adult Americans, according to Pew Internet,) averaged over six hours a month on social networks in February 2010. The number of unique, active participants on social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, has grown almost 30% in the US over the last year. (Further related statistics are available in the full report from the Nielsen Company.) The amount of traffic received by Facebook is nearly equal to Google, who reaches 80% of US internet users. (See article from Hitwise: Facebook Reaches Top Ranking in US.)

What can leveraging this social media power mean for your business? First and foremost, social networks are a platform for incredibly low cost, high return brand awareness; they encourage business transparency and offer an easy method of two-way customer engagement in a forum where consumers already spend a good portion of their time. Social networks also provide a venue for people to hear about your services from a source they trust more than an ad – their family and friends. 60% of customers who are a fan of a business on Facebook are more likely to recommend it to a friend; on Twitter, that figure is 79%. (Read the full study from Chadwick Martin Bailey.) In the past, it could take days or weeks for a customer who had a good or bad experience with a business to tell their friends and relatives. Today they can, and do, tell all of their Facebook friends or Twitter followers in mere seconds. Considering that the average Facebook user has 130 friends, that’s a lot of recommendations – and a lot of potential exposure for your business.

If you aren’t maintaining a social media presence, you are losing out on the most cost effective marketing method available. Furthermore, you are missing out on the chance to connect with your current and potential customers through a means of communication they’ve already chosen and use heavily. If you want to get people thinking and talking about your business and build customer trust and loyalty, social media is the answer.

Categories: Social Media Tags:

Why Write a Review for a Local Business?

April 19th, 2010 No comments

A slightly older but still relevant article that raises some excellent points about why leaving reviews is important, especially with regard to smaller local businesses. The author also includes some guidelines for writing a powerful review that could help your favorite local business rank higher on reviews sites and gain more new customers.

As I see it, citizens leave positive reviews in places like Google Maps, Yelp and Yahoo! Local for 2 good reasons:

1) To praise a business that served them well.

2) To help neighbors find the best answers to their local needs

Reason #1 is revolves around a feeling of intimacy between customer and business owner in which the customer appreciated the services rendered enough to devote a little free time to write about it. It’s a type of thank you note.

Reason #2 stems from a sense of civic duty. The reviewer senses that his community, or visitors to his community, will be searching for local goods and services and that his positive review will help these searchers to find the best answer to their needs.

What do you think the main motivator is to write a review? When or why would you post a review for a local business?

Read the full article on Search Engine Guide

Categories: Local Search Tags:

50% of US Population has a Social Media Profile

April 13th, 2010 No comments

A new study released today shows that consumer use of social networking web sites is not a youth phenomenon. Apparently now at least half of those living in the United States have social media profiles. While nearly eight in ten teens (78 percent) and 18 to 24s (77 percent) have personal profile pages, almost two-thirds of 25 to 34s (65 percent) and half of 35 to 44s (51 percent) also now have personal profile pages.

Read the full article on WebProNews or go directly to the study by Edison Research and Arbitron, Inc.

Categories: Social Media Tags:

Why Are Customer Reviews So Important In The Local Marketplace?

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

Word of mouth recommendations are still the number one influence for most consumers today, but the ways people communicate those recommendations are changing rapidly. Is your business equipped to keep up with your potential customers?

97% of consumers today search the Internet when looking for a product or service in their area, according to a new report from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat. (The full article is available here: www.webpronews.com) What kind of information are they looking for? Increasingly, one of the answers to that question is “customer reviews.” According to a survey by Opinion Research Corporation, the majority of searchers (up to 84%) say their purchasing decisions are influenced by customer reviews they find posted by other customers. (Read the full article here: www.businesswire.com) Furthermore, those potential customers prefer reviews written by other consumers, and hosted or verified by an independent third party. Testimonials on websites hold little to no weight with consumers, who tend to interpret them as hand-picked out of the past or made up and thus not an accurate picture of current business practices and customer opinions. Independently hosted reviews drive 22% more leads than those generated by testimonials.

So, what does this mean for your business?

Customers are looking for reviews to see what others have said about your company before they decide to do business with you. So, if you currently do not have a way to show customer reviews to your potential clients, either offline or especially online, they take their business to another company. Reviews are key to building initial trust with your customers and one of the most cost effective ways to get new customers!

Categories: BizzSpot News Tags:

Enhanced Profile Pages From BizzSpot – Improved Content, Faster Load Time

March 16th, 2010 No comments

BizzSpot, a Florida-based company which provides internet advertising, customer review services, and an online presence to local businesses across the country, has unveiled upgraded profile pages for their customers. Faster load times, integrated sections for photos and video, and an interactive customer review section are just a few of the enhancements now appearing on BizzSpot’s profile pages.

BizzSpot’s new profile pages display a better overall visual appearance as well as improved organization. The new sections for photos and video are especially exciting. Separate photo and video tabs allow businesses to build online media portfolios, which can be updated and maintained at their convenience through an individual login to their profile page. The photo section automatically creates a slideshow from the uploaded images. Pictures of job sites and completed work, video testimonials, and virtual office tours are just a few of the possibilities made available through these sections. The profile pages now also include a customer login where all of these features can be managed from a dashboard.

The enhanced profile pages also feature an integrated customer review system. Clients can leave verified reviews either through a phone call, which is then transcribed, or by going online. BizzSpot’s unique system differentiates between actual customers whose reviews are given a verified stamp of approval, and other reviewers of the business who do not receive this stamp. Additionally, the business owner is able to respond to low review scores directly on their profile, improving customer service and lending further authenticity to the review system. The BizzSpot review policy explains the strict guidelines.

Visitors to a business’s BizzSpot profile will find multiple ways to save the business information or share it with their friends. BizzSpot’s Facebook application allows reviews to be displayed on the reviewer’s wall, instantly making it possible for all of their friends to know the great job that business owner is doing. An API also allows all reviews to be posted in the BizzSpot Twitter stream, helping drive traffic to that page.

In late 2009 Google began discussing a project called “Caffeine,” an update to the algorithms it uses to index and rank WebPages. Along with a host of other improvements and changes, Google now plans to begin using page load time as a ranking factor for its search results. “If you have two sites that are equally relevant (same backlinks…everything else is the same), you’d probably prefer the one that’s a little bit faster, so page speed can be an interesting theory to try out for a factor in scoring different websites,” says Matt Cutts, a Google representative. Page load time is already one of the factors used to determine quality scores (and thus, to a certain extent, cost) within Google AdWords.

The new iteration of BizzSpot’s profile pages are optimized not only for content but also to achieve the best load time possible. By using sprites, multiple graphics can be “stacked” into one image; the result is a smaller overall page, which takes fewer http requests to load. Both of these help improve the time a website takes to display. In addition, all the css and javascript is mini-fied (the process of removing all unnecessary characters from source code, without changing its functionality, thus making the file smaller) and gzipped (a compression process to make files smaller). The resulting shorter load time translates to a better user experience in the eyes of many consumers.

The pages are also better optimized for SEO purposes. The use of header tags (H1, H2, H3) has been improved which helps communicate the topic of the page to the search engines. The pages also now include location breadcrumbs that help the user know where they are in the site’s hierarchy; search engines like this as it gives them contextual clues about the page’s content and the structure of the site. Micro-formatting has been used for the business’s contact information and for the reviews. Micro-formatting is simply a semantic markup that allows the search engines to know the meaning of a piece of information on a web page. This allows reviews from BizzSpot to appear in the search engines’ results pages. Additionally, all features work with javascript disabled (degrade gracefully), which means even if a visitor to the page has java disabled they will still be able to see and use the profile page. The profile page is also compatible with all of the popular web browsers – Internet Explorer back to IE6, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and others.

The profile pages now available to BizzSpot’s customers combine an array of features that are both user friendly and SEO friendly. A full featured review system, social media integration, and multiple enhancements to the site architecture make BizzSpot’s enhanced profiles an aesthetically pleasing and ultimately powerful marketing tool for local businesses.

Categories: BizzSpot News Tags: