The Five-Step, Quick Start Local Content Marketing Plan: Measuring and Evaluating

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The Five-Step, Quick Start Local Content Marketing Plan: Measuring and Evaluating
Creating a Local Content Marketing Plan

Creating content that attracts prospects, keeps customers engaged and creates conversions all at the same time is definitely not easy to do!

I love a good journey, and that’s exactly what I’ve been taking you on for the last month or so – a journey to create a local content marketing plan that is easy to implement and evaluate. Yes, this journey includes measuring and evaluating the results.

As this journey comes to an end, here’s a refresher: I started by covering the 5 Steps to a Local Content Marketing Plan, then began a deep-dive into each one of the steps in part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the series. Today, I’m wrapping up the journey with how to measure and evaluate the success of the local content marketing plan.

Creating the foundation for Local #ContentMarketing Success by @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #SEO
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Measuring the Success of Local Content Marketing
1. How to Know if You Succeed

To gauge the results of your efforts you must measure. If you plan the evaluation right, all you’ll need to do at the end of the local content marketing initiative is to aggregate the data from the various metrics you’ve gathered, then spend a bit of time analyzing what it means. On one level this analysis will be relatively straightforward, because you will be comparing results data against baselines and benchmarks that you identified earlier in the process. But there’s a catch: you need to connect the results to your content.

2. Connecting Content to Customer Behavior

Regardless of your results, whether strong or weak, you need to know if they were influenced by local content marketing efforts, or by something else. The more time that elapses between posting content and seeing evidence of results, the more difficult it is to connect the two. Furthermore, the ability to chart connections depends a good deal on the kind of business you are marketing and how closely the things you measure overlap. For instance, how are clicks, likes, and comments related to overall marketing goals, in addition to the marketing of a specific piece of content?

If the goal is to get more in-store traffic and you achieve that, how will you know that it’s a result of the things you measured? Do more clicks translate into more in-store traffic?

If the goal is to get more sales, like in the example used for the architect earlier in the series, then the sales funnel stages the prospect is in could be significantly longer, and you could have several different marketing initiatives targeting them.

Example: The initial goal was to get them to come to an event at the office. They attended, went to the website, read an article about architecture and downloaded an eBook – and now they are potentially in two different sales funnels. If there isn’t a CRM in place to track all the campaigns a prospect is in, I highly recommend you consider it.

3. Gathering Metrics

The things that you measure are usually proxies for the things that you really want to achieve. As an example, if you’re looking to boost in-store traffic, then it doesn’t make much sense to measure online engagement (clicks, likes, etc.). Instead, ask yourself this: What kinds of things will indicate the business is getting more in-store traffic? If this is the goal, you may include a discount code in the online content, then count the number of in-store customers who use the code. This will give you an idea of how many customers came to the local business as a result of seeing the content on the website or social media.

You could most likely have different measurement indicators for each piece of content. For example, the graphic designer (used as an example in earlier posts) wants to get clients for her website design business. Using a tool like Google Analytics, she can track the numbers and demographics of people who viewed an article on her website – who clicked from perhaps Facebook or Twitter and then clicked through to her website to see her portfolio. To track these metrics you would need to have Google Analytics and goals set up.

The graphic designer can also chart the progress of a given user, to see whether – after viewing her portfolio – they completed a contact form, and later, if they actually hired her! She can also identify which pieces of Facebook content were most effective in driving traffic to her site, and then refine her social media content going forward.

4. Revising Your Goals

Like the business owner above who wanted to increase in-store traffic, you may get to the evaluation step and find that your proxy measurements are not compatible with the goals. In some instances, you may find that the goal you initially established is too big to be achieved in a single local content marketing campaign. In that case, you would need to revise that goal to be more in line with the things that can be measured.

What’s the bottom line to all this? Goals, audience, content topics, channels, and measurement indicators are all part of a circular planning process. Once it is mapped out it can be used repeatedly to cultivate new customers – and deepen the loyalty of existing ones.

Unlike traditional marketing strategies, content marketing is best implemented as an ongoing process, with its results viewed as cumulative equity in the brand. And again, as mentioned in Part 4, do create valuable content based on the E-A-T concept of Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google loves high-value E-A-T content and the happier you make Google, the higher the content will rank in SERPs.

As we know, all good things must come to an end, and that includes this series. If you have just landed here at the end without reading the preceding posts, Parts 1–4, then start here and work your way through them individually.

Success Starts with a Solid Foundation

One last thing – to successfully track behavior, to measure success and conversions beyond a solid local content marketing plan, you will need a solid foundation. This foundation is part of the beginning, it’s not the goal itself. It starts with the website, moves into Google Analytics set-up, goal tracking, and much more – and the Advice Local team is here to help you get started from that solid foundation! Request a demo and learn more today!

White-Labeled Local Presence Management Solution

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6 Common Business Listing Issues that Can Damage Local Presence

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6 Common Business Listing Issues that Can Damage Local Presence
Common Listing Business Listing Issues

For better or worse, there are plenty of factors that can impact a business’ online visibility. How well a business manages its online listings plays a role in determining how often it appears in relevant search results and how many local customers discover the business online.

This means that simply having business listings isn’t enough – businesses must take the initiative to actively resolve listing issues that can damage local presence.

Some of the most common problems for local business listings include:

Incomplete or missing information
Outdated, inaccurate or inconsistent NAP data
Unclaimed or unverified listings
Low-quality visual content
Using a single listing for multiple locations

Let’s take a closer look at what causes these issues and how businesses can fix them to protect their local presence.

6 #Business Listing Issues that Damage Local Presence by @GetPlacedLocal #AdviceLocal
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The Most Common Problems with Local Business Listings
1. Incomplete Listing Information

The more information businesses make available online, the more likely potential customers are to visit the website and store location. So, each business listing should be as detailed as possible. Always include the business name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP data), along with other relevant information.

Some directories allow businesses to include additional information, such as driving directions to the store, photos of the building or products, hours of operation, and other details a customer might want to know before heading to the store or making a purchase.

2. Inaccurate NAP Data

Unfortunately, even if the listing includes NAP data, it’s not always accurate. Whether the business moves, gets a new phone number, or changes its name during a merger or acquisition, there are plenty of ways for NAP data to become outdated.

To keep a business’ NAP data up-to-date across the web and prevent bad data from spreading, business owners should go straight to the source. Data aggregators like Acxiom and Infogroup propagate business data to directories and other websites. So, in addition to submitting updated NAP data to relevant directories, it’s critical to make sure the major aggregators always have accurate, relevant information about the business.

3. Duplicate Listings

More data is not always better. In fact, duplicate listings are a huge problem for businesses trying to take control of their local presence management. There should only be one listing per business location in each local business directory.

How do duplicate listings happen in the first place? It might be that the business has changed locations or names and, instead of updating the existing listing, a new listing is erroneously created. Whatever the case, business owners should keep an eye out for duplicates and remove any extra listings they discover.

4. Low-Quality Visual Content

Some directories allow businesses to upload images to help customers visualize where the store is located and what the business offers. However, low-quality images can do more harm than good by giving potential customers an unflattering view of the business or product.

For example, consider how a dark, blurry photo of a restaurant would make you feel about eating there. It doesn’t matter how good the food tastes if a low-quality image online causes potential diners to lose their appetite before they even book a reservation.

Instead, the business should highlight popular merchandise or menu options with flattering photography that offers a realistic perspective. The business should also showcase the storefront so people can easily recognize it when they come to the shop or restaurant.

5. Unclaimed Listings

Another major issue is failing to claim existing listings that are already published and visible online. That’s right, listings can appear without the business owner even realizing! For instance, Google My Business listings are often auto-generated by information readily available online – which means the business owner might not be aware the listing exists.

This is dangerous for several reasons. One of the main risks is that the listing information will be incorrect. Although Google is pretty good at piecing together information to create a listing, it’s not always the most up-to-date data that gets curated and displayed.

Claiming the listing also allows the business owner to add more detail and optimize the business listing. For example, with a claimed listing, the business can ensure only flattering photos are displayed and make sure the NAP data is 100% accurate.

6. A Single Listing for Multiple Locations

 For businesses with more than one location, a single listing per directory is not enough. Whether there are two stores or 2,000, multi-location businesses need to have unique listings for each individual location. After all, each location has its own address and contact information that should be easy to find online. Local customers want details about the most convenient store for them to visit – including NAP, hours, directions and other relevant data.

Many business owners still don’t realize the importance of having a unique listing for each store or location. Individual listings allow multi-location businesses to drive web traffic to their websites and foot traffic to their physical stores. Additionally, each listing should link to a unique landing page specific to the location.

Local Presence Management for Businesses that Want to Get Found

Managing a business’ local presence isn’t easy – especially for someone who is busy trying to run the business, too. If you’d like to hand the local presence reigns over to a team of professionals, get in touch with Advice Local today!

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Internet Trends Report 2017 Infographic

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Internet Trends Report 2017 Infographic
KPCB Internet Trends Report 2017 Infographic

Each year digital marketers around the world eagerly wait for Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers (KPCB) to share her Internet Trends Report at the Code Conference. This year’s 355-page slide deck is filled with charts, graphs and stats that are inspiring and educational – plus some shockers.

At Advice Local, we review the deck each year, dissect the trends presented and bring you the top trends as an infographic – Internet Trends of 2017. Keep scrolling to see the graphic.

And if you’d like to see a detailed dissection of each image in the graphic, I have that for you too. Read the #QueenofLocalSEO’s Internet Trends of 2017 right now.

#Internet Trends 2017 #Infographic. Tks @Advice_Local and @KPCB for data. #DigitalMarketing
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You can embed this infographic on your blog (see below the graphic for the embed code) and share with your online community. Please be sure to give credit to Advice Local for the infographic’s creation, and to KPCB as the data source.

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We can help you leverage these trends! Request a demo and find out how today.

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What’s Trending? Must-Know Data Points from the 2017 Internet Trends Report

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What’s Trending? Must-Know Data Points from the 2017 Internet Trends Report

What’s Trending? Must-Know Data Points from the 2017 Internet Trends Report
The 2017 Internet Trends Report Infographic

The time has come… Yes, that time of year when once again I get to share my insights into the 2017 Internet Trends Report!

Each year, Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers (KPCB) presents the Internet Trends Report, highlighting all the data they have gathered about consumers, digital marketers, advertisers and brands during the prior year. This year’s 355-page slide deck meets all of our expectations, and more. When you get time, you really should start going through it slide-by-slide.

I’m diving into @KPCB’s 2017 #Internet Trends Report with @Advice_Local #SEO #Mobile
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The #QueenofLocalSEO’s Take on the 2017 Internet Trends Report

Internet Trends Report 2017

Today I’m going to break down the 11 trends that stuck out the most – and a bonus #12. The below images are excerpts from our full 2017 Internet Trends Report Infographic that’s available for embed and sharing with your clients and friends. Let’s Get Started…

1. USA Internet Usage Grows Each Year

2017 Internet Usage Stats

Are you really surprised that internet usage in the USA is up? The only thing that surprised me here is the fact that usage is up only by 4%. I’m on the internet pretty much 24/7, and so is my team. I imagine this is the same for a lot of companies around the United States.

A fact that really hit home for me is that desktop usage is declining by the minute, as mobile usage keeps increasing. Definitely, more of us are on the internet and we all seem to have smartphones!

#Internet Usage is up. Desktop is declining. #Mobile is increasing says @BernieColeman
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2. Advertising Spend Increases as Mobile Usage Increases

2017 Advertising Spend

Of course, with mobile usage increasing we are definitely going to see an increase in mobile advertising spend. Surprisingly, it’s reported that $73B is spent on Internet Advertising with only $37B of that total being spent on mobile. Does it seem like something’s wrong with this picture?

In the USA alone there is a definite gap in the amount of time spent on mobile compared to the mobile ad spend – a 7% gap that advertisers should be taking advantage of. Are you leveraging mobile advertising yet? Maybe you need to put this into your next quarter’s planning.

3. Google and Facebook Dominate Internet Advertising Growth

Google and Facebook Advertising Growth in 2017

Right now Google and Facebook are dominating internet advertising growth. Brands and businesses seem to be spending the most money with them. In fact, of the $73B mentioned above, it appears Facebook is getting $13B of those dollars while Google is getting $35B.

From 2015 to 2016, Facebook advertising has increased a whopping 62%, Google 20%, and all others combined have increased 9%. Perhaps this explains why Twitter, Pinterest, and the other platforms are continually trying to fine-tune their advertising options.

4. Facebook and Pinterest Advertising are Driving Sales

Facebook and Pinterest 2017 Advertising Metrics

While Google is getting $35B in advertising dollars, it looks like Facebook and Pinterest are actually getting the most sales. Of consumers surveyed, 26% reported that if they clicked a Facebook Ad, they followed through to make a purchase. On that same survey, 24% reported that Pinterest is a great place to browse and buy!

We have more and more clients shifting a portion of their advertising budget to Facebook ads, when it makes the most sense for their product. This allows them to stretch their ad dollars farther and reach consumers where they like to visit.

#Facebook and #Pinterest Convert More Browsers into Buyers says @BernieColeman
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5. Social Media Advertisers Like Measurable Metrics

Social Media Advertising Metrics 2017

Tracking social media ROI is the same elusive target it has always been. Just as with offline advertising, measuring is one of the biggest challenges, and many advertisers have shifted the metrics of what they consider a success. In fact, 56% consider the ad a success if they get engagement. Of those surveyed, 21% are still looking to the conversion to measure success. And surprisingly, 15% reported that if they see amplification, they’re happy.

I didn’t take this survey, but if I had, my priority would be conversion first (like a download, a demo requested, or an opt-in) and engagement second. With engagement comes amplification, so I wouldn’t consider it as much a metric as a positive side-effect.

6. Marketers Still Find Social Media Marketing a Challenge

Advertisers 2017 Top Social Media Challenges

As mentioned above, social media ROI is a big issue. In fact, 61% reported that their biggest challenge is measuring ROI. For others in some cases, it’s getting the big boss (or the CFO) to approve the social media advertising budget, with 34% reporting they struggle with connecting social media campaigns to business goals. And that’s probably the reason why they do not get that budget approval from the higher-ups.

7. Consumers Want Better Customer Service

2017 Social Media Customer Service Stats

With advertisers shifting their dollars to social media, consumers want and expect to get better online support. Mary Meeker reported that social media could help deliver that.

Here’s an example. Because 60% of consumers want easier access to online support, Facebook’s chat feature could be the answer. But hold on, because social media might not be the only solution.

Google has a messaging feature that a local business can turn on within the Google My Business dashboard. When this feature is turned on, the consumer can send a text message to the business, and they can respond via text. If handled correctly, this means that 24/7 customer service is basically available from Google search results.

8. Google’s Geo-Targeted Local Ads Drive Foot Traffic

2017 Google Geo-Target Ad Stats

The social media advertising stats above are eye-opening, but it doesn’t mean you should stop looking to Google to spend an advertising budget! In fact, from 2005–2017 the number of Geo-Targeted local ads driving customers right to the door has increased 5x, for a total of 5B cumulative tracked store visits.

What should this tell you? Yes – it’s time to make sure that location data is up-to-date! That Google My Business listing will only continue to gain in importance, not drop or decrease.

#Google Drives Local Traffic. Got Bad NAP Data? @Advice_Local can help!
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9. Voice Search is on the Rise

Voice Search Stats for 2017 from the 2017 Internet Trends Report

Have you replaced typing with voice on your phone yet? How many requests are you making daily to Siri or Google Now? Trends show that 20% of mobile queries are made via voice.

Consider the content on your website. Is it still stuffed with keywords, or is it conversational with a natural flow? 70% of requests made via voice search are in natural or conversational language. If the content is complicated and feels like it is written by a machine, chances of placement on the first page of search could be bleak.

10. AI is Getting Smarter

2017 Amazon Echo Usage Stats

Speaking of machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) is getting smarter each day. Let’s use Amazon Echo as an example. Their AI has used learned over 12,000 skills as of April 2017. Currently they have over 10 million users, vs. less than 2 million users in 2015.

But I hope you realize Amazon is not the only one using AI. Google’s RankBrain algorithm is a smart AI that returns search results to consumers based on their intent vs. what they actually search for.

11. Mobile Device Time has Doubled in the USA

2017 Mobile Usage Stats

I began by talking about internet usage and mobile vs. desktop, and I want to close by sharing an eye-opening stat! Time being spent on mobile devices has doubled. In 2014 users spent an average of 2 hours,17 minutes per day. Today, mobile device time is topping out at over 4 hours and 14 minutes per day. And mobile usage will only continue to increase!

Everyone MUST Optimize for #Mobile says @BernieColeman!
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12. And That’s a Wrap

Bernadette Coleman’s 2017 Mobile Tips

I’m known for telling it like it is, and today I want to tell you that local, mobile and social are more important than ever before. From advertising to mobile optimization and directory listings, businesses and brands that fail to meet the consumer on their own terms will be left behind!

It’s Time to Take Action

Have you noticed the new products we are rolling out to help meet these consumer needs? From reputation management and a branded mobile app solution, to our location landing page technology, we have you covered! Learn about our partner solutions today.

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5 Reasons You Need to List Local Business Hours Online

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5 Reasons You Need to List Local Business Hours Online

5 Reasons You Need to List Local Business Hours Online

You already know that businesses need to maintain accurate NAP data (name, address, and phone number) online, but have you thought about how additional business details can improve visibility and attract consumers?

For instance, have you considered why local businesses need to advertise their hours of operation online? That includes listing hours on the business’ website as well as in other local citations and business listings.

5 Reasons You Need to List Local Business Hours Online via @Advice_Local
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The most obvious answer is, “So customers know when the business is open.”

While this statement is certainly true, it only scratches the surface of the true benefits. So, let’s take a closer look at the reasons businesses need to make their hours readily available online.

Why Local Businesses Need to List Their Hours Online
1. Show Up in More Search Results

Search engines are more likely to trust businesses they can understand. This means Google gives preference to a business that provides detailed, accurate information about its stores online.

By including hours of operation on its site, a business is providing helpful data to Google that will make it more likely to appear in local search results. Of course, more visibility in search results translates into more traffic in-store and on the web.

2. Instill Confidence in Customers

Would you drive across town to visit a store if you weren’t sure it was open? Probably not – and, chances are, neither would local consumers.

If a business displays its open and close times for each day on its website, customers can be perfectly confident in knowing when the business is open. Shoppers are more likely to visit the store if they’re positive it’s open.

3. Create a Sense of Immediacy

Another perk of displaying business hours online is encouraging customers to visit the store sooner than later. Think about it: if someone sees that the store is closing in a few hours, they’re less likely to wait for another day to visit and more likely to do their shopping ASAP.

Without information on the hours of operation, Google can’t tell customers that the business is “Open Now” or include it in specific searches for local stores that are currently open. The risk here is that on-the-go mobile shoppers might skip the store if it’s not listed as “Open Now” on Google.

4. Specify Holiday Hours

Local businesses need to update their website and Google My Business listing to reflect any seasonal changes to their schedule. After all, what’s the point of having holiday hours at all if no one knows you’re open?

Customers appreciate businesses that provide the information they need and trust brands that maintain accurate hours of operation online, even during holidays. Plus, listing holiday hours increases the odds of appearing in filtered search results for businesses that are currently open.

5. Differentiate Multi-Location Business Locations

Including detailed information online is especially vital for businesses that have multiple locations. If store locations have different sets of hours, it’s crucial that customers can easily find out which store is open right when they want to go shopping.

Not only does this make it easy for consumers to choose which location to visit, but it also prevents wasting their time by visiting a closed location when another is open the next town over.

Is It Time to Update Your Business Listings?

Maintaining up-to-date, detailed business listings with hours of operation is just one of the ways businesses can optimize their local presence. For more advice on how to optimize a business’ citations, listings, and online visibility, get in touch with the Advice Local team today!

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Three Strategies to Help Local Businesses Overcome the Challenges of Real-Time Marketing

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Three Strategies to Help Local Businesses Overcome the Challenges of Real-Time Marketing

Three Strategies to Help Local Businesses Overcome the Challenges of Real-Time Marketing
Local Business Real-Time Marketing

With nine out of 10 mobile searches leading to an action and more than 50% of those converting to a sale, local businesses and brands that leverage real-time marketing strategies have a greater chance of winning the sale.

Beyond that, there are countless advantages of a real-time marketing strategy and methods for implementing one, such as leveraging trending items, popular hashtags and events to drive local business and website traffic.

Local #Business Real-Time #Marketing Solutions by @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #SEO
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Real-Time Marketing Challenges for Brands and Local Businesses

Despite all the pluses, there are some very real challenges that the business or brand will need to overcome for successfully marketing in a real-time environment.

The Challenge – Getting Approvals Quickly

The bigger the brand, the longer it takes to get approvals through the pipeline. From idea to inception, it can take up to a week (or longer) for all the eyeballs to review and sign off.

An example of this is getting an article drafted on a Google update or new feature. A project like this would start with the writer, then the editor, submission to marketing for review, and then to the person responsible for putting the article on the website and clicking publish. If revisions are necessary, that can be another week to get back through the approval process.

The Solution – Empower Trusted Leaders

In order to be more active in real-time, a better solution would be to empower trusted leaders to make these types of decisions to speed the approval process along. Perhaps have a point person for the various areas, such as if it is blog that needs approved, or troublesome tweets that need responded to. Without a sense of urgency, competitors will always get their voices heard first. By the time a piece is sanitized, approved and released, the audience will have moved on to the next big thing.

Take care to invest in training for front line staff. Be sure they are fully educated about relevant content topics, the brand’s core messages and company best practices for solving problems.

The Challenge – Keeping Customers in Real-Time

In the world of real-time marketing, brands can’t be a snoozer. No one willingly buys from a boring brand. Competitors are just a click away and a prospect will be long gone if not intrigued by what the business has to say. Creating useful content that people want to read, watch and interact with is 100% necessary. I’m not saying the business must deliver a Hollywood masterpiece, but it must educate, entertain or help solve a problem for their customers. Ideally, achieving all three simultaneously is the best approach.

The Solution – Give Customers What They Want

The easiest way to get from A to Z here is to focus on what the audience wants and needs, not on the business wants and needs. Businesses that put their customers first can easily create content. Here’s an example:

A customer is planning to attend a wine tasting at your vineyard – what information would they need to know before arriving? E.g. any special preparation, such as eating a light lunch or perhaps, for the woman, a reminder to leave her stilettos at home, because there will be lots of outside walking. Another example is weather condition updates that would impact how the customer should dress the day of the wine tasting. This is the type of information you would want to share with those attending the day before or possibly the morning of the event.

It’s important to be cautious when engaging in real-time without first thinking through possible all the possible hazards. For example, creating a campaign around sunny days during hurricane season is in poor taste. If people feel that a brand is trying to exploit a trending item such as this or they lack authenticity, it could mean trouble for the business.

The Challenge – The Coolness Factor

Let’s face it. Some products and services just aren’t cool, which can make it hard for the brand or business to be cool in real-time. The business might be a solid performer with loyal customers, good products and excellent customer service, but for example, a plumbing supply warehouse just isn’t that cool.

The Solution – Partner with those that Can Bring the Wow

If the brand lacks coolness, there are two basic options to raise their clout: (1) choose not to leverage real-time marketing or (2) partner with others that have more clout or a need. Personally, I recommend the latter.

Here are a few examples of how to up the “wow” factor:

Sponsor a local Little League team, and engage customers who are parents in sharing funny stories about their family’s experience with kids’ sports. While it’s not related to plumbing, it will get create real-time content the business can leverage and photos they can share on social media.
Donate a portion of sales revenue during a specific timeframe to an important cause. Many local businesses are doing this right now because we are in hurricane season and so many have lost their homes. This will get customers talking about the business and also buying during what might normally being the slow season.

It’s important when using this strategy that the business is not perceived as making a paltry donation just to generate more sales or for commercial gain.

Real-Time Marketing is Real-World

Real-time marketing should meet customers’ wants! Brands that put themselves in the customers’ shoes will more likely meets their customers’ needs. Let the customer decide what’s important, not the PR team.

Need help getting more local visibility in real-time? We have the perfect real-time solution. Click to learn more now!

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The Newest Google My Business Feature: Community Q & A Coming to Google Maps

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The Newest Google My Business Feature: Community Q & A Coming to Google Maps

The Newest Google My Business Feature: Community Q & A Coming to Google Maps
Google news

Google’s at it again… the good news is they are not rolling out a new algorithm this time, but instead adding a new feature for Google My Business (GMB) listings.

Traditionally, consumers searching online for a specific product or service would need to visit the business’ website or call to ask additional questions before making a purchase decision.

Community Questions & Answers Coming to Google Maps

This newest GMB feature, Community Q & A, now available in the maps listing of a business, is another example of Google’s desire to provide consumers everything they need to make informed decisions right from search results. (If you’re not familiar with the Google’s other newer features, Posts and Messaging, you should read about them too.)

Questions and Answers Coming to #Google Maps! @BernieColeman shares for the scoop! #GMB #SEO
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In Google’s announcement made just a few days ago, they encourage local business owners to log in through the Google Maps app on an Android device and add a few questions and answers they frequently get from consumers.

At Advice Local, it’s important to us that we investigate all of these available features for our customers, so here’s a few screen captures showing what Community Q & A looks like.

Google Maps Q and A Feature

Google My Business Maps Questions

Here’s What You Need to Know About this Google Maps Questions and Answers Feature:

At this point the Community Q & A feature is only available on Android, so to add questions or answers the business owner or representative will need to use an Android device.

Since this feature isn’t public yet, at this time only the business owner will be able to see and add questions to their own map listing.

Once this feature goes live, consumers will then be able to post questions for the business and community to answer.

Businesses on Android devices will be able to receive notifications when a new question is asked and answered.

The community and the business can reward relevant questions and answers with a “thumbs up”. Search Engine Journal states that the more “thumbs up” a question receives, the higher it moves up in the maps listing.

Google hasn’t yet made any announcement alluding to when they will make this available on iOS, but I hope it’s soon! My team of Apple fans is definitely anxious to test it out.

Need help creating, claiming and optimizing Google My Business listings for the businesses you represent? Now is the time to find out how Advice Local can help!

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Yes, Local Businesses Can Offer Amazing Customer Service with Facebook Messages

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Yes, Local Businesses Can Offer Amazing Customer Service with Facebook Messages

Yes, Local Businesses Can Offer Amazing Customer Service with Facebook Messages
Local Business using Facebook Message for Customer Service

Creating and managing a Facebook Page is a great way to expand a local business’ online presence and stay in touch with local shoppers. But there’s another reason businesses need to stay active on Mark Zuckerberg’s social site: to provide on-the-go customer service through Facebook Messages.

KPCB’s 2017 Internet Trends Report revealed that 60% of consumers want easier access to customer support. Using Facebook Messages is one specific way local businesses can meet this need. The report also shows that 21% of consumers want access to live support. Live support coming right up: Facebook Messages will show customers an alert when the Facebook Business Page is available for live chat. Keep reading on how to get started!

Offer amazing customer service with #Facebook Messages! @LissaDuty shares how! #AdviceLocal
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Enable Facebook Messages on the Facebook Business Page

Invite customers to contact the page by enabling the “Message Us” function on the Facebook page.

Follow these steps to turn it on:

Go to the Facebook Business Page
Click Settings
Click General
Check the box next to “Allow people to contact my Page privately”
Click Save Changes

Once enabled, customers can use the Facebook Messenger app on their smart devices to communicate with the business page, or through the message functionality on desktop.

Connecting to Local Customers with Facebook Messages
1. Converse with Consumers

Facebook Messages allows a business to have real conversations directly with their customers. Don’t let team members fall into the habit of copying and pasting generic answers to common questions. Make sure each response is personalized. It’s better to approach each customer contact like an in-person conversation with a customer visiting the local business.

The best way to engage with people on Facebook is to respond earnestly and in real-time. Team members shouldn’t be afraid to simply have a conversation.

Consumers who visit the page will get an “Active Now” alert when the page is available to respond immediately. Here’s what it looks like:

Facebook Live Chat Feature

2. Get the Timing Right

The business’ average response time is listed on the Facebook page, so faster responses not only mean better customer service, they also encourage more messages in general.

After all, wouldn’t you be more likely to message a business that responds within ten minutes over one that takes 24 hours – especially if you have a quick question that might influence your decision to buy?

Response time is key, but response consistency also plays a role in managing customer expectations. For instance, if customers get a response within a minute the first time they message the business, then hear nothing for two days the second time, they’re going to feel frustrated.

Facebook Messages is a form of instant messaging, so instant responses are preferred. Unfortunately that’s not always possible, especially for smaller businesses with smaller teams.

3. Make a Positive First Impression

So the business doesn’t have the resources to keep an eye on Facebook Messages 24/7? That’s OK! Set up an automatic greeting with Facebook’s Response Assistant, setting the expectations for when the consumer can expect a reply. (Also include an alternate method to contact the business directly for a quicker response.)

To set up the Facebook Response Assistant:

Go to the Facebook Business Page
Click Settings
Click Messaging

Once you’re in the messaging area, read through the various options and set up the automatic greeting.

Once a team member is ready to chat, they should introduce themselves and thank the customer for their patience. Remember, consumers are people, and they’re using Facebook – a social network – to contact the business. Something as simple as a friendly introduction helps the business to build rapport.

4. Use Public Data to Personalize the Interaction

Not only can businesses use social media to improve communication with their customers, they can also use it to provide more personalized service. This is especially possible with a platform like Facebook, that gives businesses access to tons of information about their customers.

When someone sends the business a message, team member should be encouraged to do a little digging. Details like the user’s gender, location, age, and even hobbies are often publicly available on a person’s Facebook profile – enabling team members a better opportunity to personalize each customer’s experience. If there is a conversation history, the team member should read it.

Local businesses can use Facebook to connect with more consumers and provide amazing, responsive customer service.

Consumers are Going Mobile – Are You?

Did you know that mobile usage has doubled in the past three years? Yep, and on average, consumers spend 116 minutes every day on social media. With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook certainly takes up its fair share of those minutes.

It’s time to start providing consumers and customers the opportunities they hunger for via messages, mobile and more! Request a demo today and find out how our mobile app solution, live chat and other solutions can help you!

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The post Yes, Local Businesses Can Offer Amazing Customer Service with Facebook Messages appeared first on Advice Local.

How to Attract Local Custoemers Using Real-Time Marketing

Blog – Advice Local

How to Use Real-Time Marketing to Attract Local Customers

How to Use Real-Time Marketing to Attract Local Customers
How to Use Real-Time Marketing for Local Businesses

With mobile users now averaging 3+ hours per day (and mobile usage still increasing) and social media platforms always going, consumers want and expect 24/7 availability and communication with businesses. So how can businesses get this done? Real-time marketing strategies can help make this two-way communication happen!

Use Real-Time #Marketing and Connect Locally says @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #QueenofLocalSEO #localseo #seosolutionstexas
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It’s not a 9-to-5 world anymore, and consumers want to hear from local businesses and brands on Facebook, Twitter, via live chat, and more. There are several ways a business can connect with consumers, and one of them is to participate in real-time conversations to build loyalty with current customers, and meet new ones.

Let’s explore 5 ways local businesses can have more real-time conversations.

Five Real-Time Marketing Tips to Create a Two-Way Buzz
1. Match content to the channel.

Choose the right channel for both content and audience. For instance, if you want to reach young men, consider creating content that works well on YouTube. Use Pinterest for content focused on women and children. If your audience is filled with baby boomers, Facebook is the way to go. And don’t forget email, which provides a good supplement to real-time discussions. Businesses don’t have to guess: Here’s a resource to identify where various audiences can be found.

2. Leverage the power of multiple screens.

75 percent of mobile users use their mobile devices while they are watching television; it’s called second screening. To take advantage of this trend, create a poll while a popular series is airing where people can vote on the best/worst. Yes, I’m thinking #TGIT here. You would tweet the link to the poll on the hashtag, and provide periodic Twitter updates on the results. This same concept can be used during shows like The Grammy’s, The Voice, or with various shows that could tie in to the business. The idea is to reach and engage in real-time.

3. Use live conferences and events to connect.

In today’s world people are always posting photos, videos and tweets during their memorable moments. When a business can leverage a moment such as a conference to meet a new audience, that’s a big win! Again, this is about hashtags, but this time it’s about finding popular hashtags and participating in conversations.

Here’s an example of leveraging an event hashtag:

A local bar & grill participates in the hashtag conversation of a conference being held near their location.
After building a rapport with a few attendees, the bar & grill offers a happy hour special to those who come by after the event ends.
Most likely, those conversing with the local business will retweet the offer, share it at the event with people around them, and bring the local business some new customers!

If the business has representatives at the event and can connect with attendees personally in real-time, it’s even better. But if not, the business can still build a rapport by retweeting attendees, asking them questions, and then continuing to nurture the relationship online after the event.

4. Avoid the “tell and sell.”

Real-time is all about engagement, it’s not advertising. Resist the temptation to tell everyone how great a product is, and why they should buy now at the special introductory price! Don’t tell and sell; there’s no faster way to attract negative buzz and repel prospects. Keep the conversation light, unless the person engaging specifically asks for more information.

5. Encourage many-to-many conversations.

One benefit of real-time marketing is to get customers talking with each other, not just with the business. Once customers start talking they become brand advocates. While this strategy can be a little nerve-racking, the real-time environment allows the business to address criticism promptly, correct misinformation, and resolve customer issues before they evolve into something bigger. Keep in mind that an authentic response is social currency that builds loyalty.

Start Engaging in Real-Time Today

Creating real-time content that engages customers is not easy, but it is doable! Businesses meeting this need can build lasting relationships with customers. Those that don’t? They’re losing out in a big way.

Need help with real-time solutions? From directory listings to Facebook ads and content creation, we have the team and resources to help! Request a demo today to learn more.

Local Presence Management Reseller Solution

The post How to Use Real-Time Marketing to Attract Local Customers appeared first on Advice Local.

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Managing your Local Presences – Mulitple Locations

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Local Presence Management Best Practices

Consistency, accuracy and clarity are the most important elements of a business’ online data. For practitioners like doctors and lawyers, local presence management can be trickier than it would be for typical local businesses – especially when multiple practitioners work at a single organization. However, both solo practitioners with a unique address and multiple practitioners who share one location face local presence concerns that are unique to practitioners.

To deal with these extra complications and ensure correct information is displayed in search results, Google My Business has specific guidelines for solo practitioners and organizations with multiple practitioners at one location. Practitioners need to be wary of common issues that lead to inconsistent local citations, create bad data, and decrease online visibility for practitioners.

Some of the most common problems for practitioners include:

Duplicate Google My Business Listings – Creating more than one listing for a single location violates Google My Business guidelines and can result in account suspension if not corrected.
Complicated Google My Business Guidelines – Google My Business listings have a unique set of guidelines for practitioners, which makes creating and maintaining these listings more complicated than other types of local businesses.
Discrepancies in How Directories Handle Practitioners – Not all directories or search engines treat practitioners the same as organizations. It’s important to differentiate practitioners from their organizations to avoid confusing search engines and potential customers.
Submitting Practitioners as Organizations – A common mistake is misrepresenting a practitioner as an organization when submitting information to data aggregators like Infogroup, Factual, Acxiom, and Localeze. This seemingly minor error can quickly snowball into a much bigger problem because these websites are sources for local citations and directories. Inconsistent data can spread across the web and damage a practitioner’s reputation and ranking in search results.

Best Practices for Multiple Practitioners at One Location

Here are some tips to avoid or resolve the issues listed above for multiple practitioners who operate out of a single location:

The organization should create a Google My Business listing for the location, separate from those of the individual practitioners.
The title of each practitioner listing should only include the name of the practitioner (and not the name of the organization). For example, a doctor working at an address shared with other practitioners should write his or her listings as: Dr. X, MD. However, the doctor should not write his or her listing as: ARC Plastic Surgery: Dr X, MD.
When submitting business details to data aggregators, submit each practitioner at the location as a separate professional and submit the organization as a business.

Best Practices for Solo Practitioners

Though solo practitioners face the same problems mentioned above, the solutions are slightly different. Here’s how a solo practitioner can maintain clean, consistent online data:

Create a unique Google My Business listing for the practitioner. The business name can simply be the practitioner’s name and title or the practitioner’s name plus the name of the organization. For example, a doctor could choose between these two acceptable formats:

Dr. X, MD
ARC Plastic Surgery: Dr. X, MD

Ensure the practitioner can be contacted directly at the listed phone number during the stated hours of operation. Always use a real physical address and maintain up-to-date contact information in the listing.
When submitting business information to a website like Infogroup, do so as an individual professional and not as a business.

Still have questions? We can help! Advice Local works with practitioners to clean up bad data, build a consistent web presence, and increase visibility so local clients can easily connect. Click below to find out more!

Free Online Visibility Report

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