Getting Power Reviewers to do Local Reviews for your business

This week has been very interesting from an online review perspective.  MarketingVox introduced an article about how blogs strongly influence purchasing decisions (based on Jupiter research) and Rubicon Consulting shared a study that suggested 9% of Internet users produce 80% of all user-generated content. Putting both of those articles together means there is a small group of internet users that every business owner needs to meet, love and impress to get reviews and blog posts about their business.

I’ve said this many times but Local Internet Marketing and e-commerce are not that different.  Both want sales and both require blogs, search engines, reviews and everything else to be found.  It’s very similar to the Porn industry paving the way for online marketing tactics used by businesses today (only not as dirty and you can tell your mom about your business).

Some ideas for finding and/or creating reviewers for your business and finding the time to seek out the reviewers is why more and more local businesses are going to need help maximizing their online marketing plan.  The average small business owner works too many hours on their business to devote to online (but finding the time to devote to online is worth every lost hour of sleep!)

Creating a YouTube channel for your business (ie: Will It Blend? or Mercedes C300) and actually using it.  Creating a Google Profile for your business and actually using it.  Creating a business profile and asking people to rate your service.  All are great ways to create opportunities for people to rate your service.  The next option is do a little research and email those people you see rating your competition and inviting them to your store.

Power bloggers are constantly being sent free products to blog about because major companies want them to be honest with their viewers.  Ethical bloggers announce that they were gifted the items and then share their honest opinions.  The same holds true for local bloggers.  Would a “discount for a review” offer at your local store be worth it?  Do you have loyal customers you could just ask to write a review?  What kinds of strategies have you used?


November 4, 2008 at 12:42 pm 2 comments

Google Maps Guidelines – Don’t Make These Mistakes

A special thank you goes out to all the bloggers that talk about Google Maps and local search.  Recently, there was a great article (actually it’s right here) about Google Maps.  The only thing I wanted to add was the importance of using the right information, using a trusted partner if you can’t do it yourself and not abusing the system. 

Using the right information:  Don’t put your call tracking number in the Local Business Center.  Don’t put a UPS store address or PO Box.  Don’t list services you don’t offer.  It’s not worth the long term potential harm this could do if Google realizes you aren’t being honest.

Trusted Partner:  Make sure that whatever company you use to list your business information through is a Google Reseller (ie:  Local Business Directory) because if they aren’t they may be cheating the system or they may not have your best interests in mind.  A Google partner is always better than someone that uses Google and is now willing to add your listing.

Don’t Abuse the System:  So we all see the “Map Spam” when we do a local search.  Don’t join that bandwagon!  It’s not worth it.  That’s for lead generation people who don’t care if they get blacklisted because they’ll just go create another site, another name and it doesn’t matter to them.  You invest too much time and money in your business image to get involved with anything but the honest, Google guideline approved business information.  You’ll win in the end and it’s not worth the worry.

October 4, 2008 at 6:23 am Leave a comment

Long Term Value (LTV) of Local Search Engine Marketing

Long Term Value (LTV) is the basis for a lot of marketing efforts.  The web hosting industry pays out huge commissions ($80-$150) for a new client that spends $8.95/mo. because of the long term value of a hosting customer.  That’s also why web hosting related terms are so expensive and competitive in search engine marketing.  Companies will pay $20 per click knowing that each new customer is worth $537 (60 months at $8.95/mo.)

I would venture to say that most industries don’t analyze or pay attention to the long term value of a new client because it takes too much effort and isn’t as easy as the Cost Per Action (CPA) or (Cost Per Lead) CPL we are all so used to.  With a local business and local search engine marketing the focus should be the LTV, and here’s why.

Let’s talk about a local restaurant like Peter’s Soup & Sandwich (PS&S is what I’m going to start calling them).  PS&S does a lot of catering in and around their primary location of Localville, KY.  When they try to analyze the response from their search engine marketing efforts they are looking for coupon downloads and coupons coming into their restaurant as to whether or not their online marketing is working.

They also do catering and hopefully have a call tracking number for their catering line to quantify their catering leads from online marketing channels (Suggestion #1 – CALL TRACKING on all marketing materials, sites, channels etc.).  They are currently seeing a $15 CPA (meaning they spend $15 on online marketing to get someone to download the 20% off coupon).  They’ve also found that 50% of the downloaded coupons end up in the store (they are excited about that percentage:).  The real CPA is now double the $15 because it takes two coupon downloads to get someone in the store.

Now if PS&S were to simply look at the cost of getting a new customer ( $30+) and their average restaurant tab is $20 they will say, we need to cut back.  But here’s where LTV becomes so valuable and why some companies are willing to pay a lot more for traffic via paid search marketing (Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing or MSN AdCenter) than others.

PS&S has amazing sandwiches and their soup is loved by all.  Most new customers end up coming back with their friends, family and don’t need to click on the Localville Restaurant keyword on their second trip (no marketing spend) .  In fact, the rewards program that PS&S has is showing them that their average new customer comes back 3 times a month.  This means that the $30 they are spending for a new customer is worth $60 to them in just the first month, plus they are getting word of mouth advertising (still #1) from these new customers.

Now the explanation above simplifies (I hope) the importance of not looking at the “This click equalled this action” mentality that often comes from any website owner. By analyzing the Long Term Value of a new customer, PS&S learned that they are profitable in just the first month on their paid search marketing.  Even if their average customer only came back once a month, the cost of getting a new customer would have them breaking even on their marketing after two months and being profitable after the third visit.

Take LTV and apply it to your own business and see if that changes your perception of how your online marketing is growing your business.  The hardest part is doing the research to find out how many of your new customers are turning into repeat customers AND gathering their information the first time so you can follow up with them (and remind them to come back) at a fraction of the cost of PPC advertising.

July 7, 2008 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

CrazyEgg, Heatmaps and your local business

Understanding what people are doing on your site is critical (as mentioned in previous posts) but as I’ve used CrazyEgg more and more I’m starting to realize the power in seeing what people do on your site.  Now I don’t mean, what pages they visit or how long they stay but what they actually do on my sites.

Are they interested in all the links that say free or coupon?  Are they clicking on the “contact us” page from the homepage more than I thought and are they using the top or bottom of the page to get there?  The features available by simply copying and pasting a snippet of java code (just like analytics) from www.CrazyEgg.com are amazing.  See below:

When looking at the above heatmap you can’t help but know where people are looking.  All of their tools are helpful and visual which means you don’t have to understand “web analytics” to know that your contact us page is getting lots of attention and you should move it or make it more of a priority.  Same goes for your coupon page or hot items or realizing that people love to see that you have a blog.

We all love free tools and this is just another oldie (a few months) but a goodie to add a little insight to your website overview.  Here’s a helpful CrazyEgg review if you don’t believe me:)  You can also create a free account at www.CrazyEgg.com.  If there are other helpful tools you’ve come to love and enjoy please share them with me via the comments section.

June 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm Leave a comment

What is the point of local search if local businesses don’t know?

What is the point of your site?  What is your goal in marketing online?  Do you have any tracking on your site?  How many small business owners don’t have answers to these questions?  The answer is always surprising and scary, most of them.

The point of local search is to allow me as a consumer the ability to find the business I am looking for, when I’m looking for it.  Lately I’ve become addicted to 1-800-GOOG411 and have nothing bad to say about the project.  It’s been quick, easy and I can name of 5 businesses that have had additional sales because of it:

Local Papa Johns (Family Pizza deal), Local GameCrazy (Wii Fit), GameCrazy (another Wii for a friend), Local Costco (hours of operation to go buy stuff at night), Local GreatClips (hair cut)

Do any of these businesses know that if it weren’t for GOOG411 I wouldn’t have bought from them?  It’s true! Before my addiction to GOOG411 I used my phone to locate local businesses and call them.  Some had websites and others didn’t.  It was usually more frustrating than helpful BUT when the time comes that all local businesses have a simple website (ideally their business name .com) that I can access anywhere, it’s going to be difficult for them to see success.

Free site builders (www.weebly.com or www.synthasite.com) are so easy to use and a typical small business would do fine creating their own site.  www.networksolutions.com or www.register.com have small business offerings as well, that don’t take much time or energy from a business owner. However, there are still millions of small businesses that should be online but are not.

The point of local search is to let consumers find their local businesses.  Attention business owners without a site, please get one.  Attention business owners thinking about online marketing, do it!  You can easily get creative with words (domains are only $6.95 with coupon code OYH3 at www.godaddy.com).  Have some fun and help future customers find you when they need you.

June 20, 2008 at 8:50 am 2 comments

Local Businesses and the love of coupons meets Web 2.0

So if you ask any successful local business owner where they spend marketing dollars you are bound to hear that they currently use or have used one of the Money Mailer, Coupon Pak or other business coupon mailers in their area.  Why are coupons so great?  Because almost everyone that is offered a discount on a service, product or food they usually use, will go buy more!

So what do Coupon Mailers and Web 2.0 have in common?  Simple, I like to save online and in stores!  Coupon sites like FatWallet and CouponCabin are still popular with online shoppers because you can insert coupon codes, get special savings, or just feel like you did:).  Local Businesses need to pay attention to what has worked in the past and apply it to the future.  By adding coupon offers to your site (printable, usable etc.) you can track the effectiveness of your site, remind customers to frequent your site (and you can sell them more stuff) AND encourage customers to join your mailing list etc. for the special savings.

Creating a coupon can be as easy as providing a link, inserting code or the ol’ copy and paste. Sites like OneMinuteCoupon.com offer free coupon building tools to make it easy for anyone with website access to add a coupon to your business.   Using the ancient practices of coupon mailers and yellow pages you can now help your business meet Web 2.0, by adding coupons to your local business marketing toolbelt. 

The other important piece to the coupon offerings is that coupon usage increases with income (at least it does online).  In June of last year, PriceRunner did a survey of it’s users and guess what: Coupon Usage Increased with Income.  To really make your small business succeed you need customers that have money.  Online coupons are used by people with money and the assumption is that those same people will look for local deals as well.  With the push to go local, go green and save the world, why not appeal to online coupon users, with money, and entice them to shop with you?  Just a suggestion.

June 2, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

Pizza is just one example of successful online marketing

Local internet marketing can work and does work.  An example of this is Papa John’s pizza place.  The point in highlighting this article about $1 Billion in online pizza sales is that we as customers love simplicity and we have to buy certain products and use certain services LOCALLY.  The fact that a lot of pizza is selling online should open the minds of a business owner to say, I bet my local customers would love to do (insert your business or service here) online.

Ordering online, scheduling appointments online, asking questions online, it’s all possible.  Now the interesting piece to this article is that Papa John’s has invested over $15 million in web technology to make this ordering process work.  Here’s what that means to a small business owner, invest in your web presence and your customers will reward you.  Ask your mom to use your site and listen to her pain points, send it to your most loyal clients and ask them to share their insight.  Just because they don’t like or do like something doesn’t mean you have to do it but if there are any common themes, address them!

It’s free and easy to have family and friends use your site and their feedback is usually the closest example to a real customer.  Remove pain points, simplify your site, put your contact information everywhere and create your own billion dollars.

May 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

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