Blog

August 22, 2016

Make Location Data Actionable to Create Next Moments

By Julie Piatek

Location data is not a static asset that brands publish solely to make their storefronts more findable. It’s a dynamic competitive weapon that any business needs to manage constantly and share wherever consumers conduct “near me” searches. To turn searches into commerce for brick-and-mortar storefronts, brands need to make their location data actionable.

In Mobile Commerce Daily SIM Partners Chief Marketing Officer, Tari Haro, urges brands to start using their location data to convert searchers to customers. Doing so requires businesses to do a number of things differently, such as combining data with content such as mobile wallet offers to create next moments, or the action that occurs after someone finds your business through a search.

As noted in the post, when businesses combine location data with other assets such as demographic profiles of customers and third-party information such as weather conditions, brands can use data to better support contextual marketing that makes location more relevant. Read her post to learn more, and contact us to discuss how we can help you make location data actionable.  

 

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August 18, 2016

SIM Partners and Shoe Carnival Nominated for Prestigious Award

By Tari Haro

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When you deliver a mobile search program that combines the context of location with mobile wallet offers, good things happen — including a 25:1 ROI and industry recognition. I’m proud to announce that SIM Partners and our client, national shoe retailer Shoe Carnival, have been named a finalist in the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) 2016 Global Smarties™ Awards.

As discussed in a newly published case study, Shoe Carnival collaborated with SIM Partners to turn searches into revenue by designing a customer acquisition experience tailored to omnichannel consumers. For example, to turn “near me” searches into store purchases, Shoe Carnival has been sharing mobile wallet offers (using SIM Partners’ Velocity Wallet) that contain discounts for consumers if they visit a Shoe Carnival. Within 15 days, Shoe Carnival experienced a 25:1 return on investment as a result of using Velocity Wallet.

Being nominated for the MMA’s Smarties Awards validates the innovative nature of our partnership delivering in-store sales through mobile wallet offers. The Smarties are the only mobile marketing awards honoring innovation, creativity, and success on a global scale. SIM Partners’ “Velocity Wallet Turns ‘Near Me’ Searches into In-Store Purchases” for Shoe Carnival” was one of only two finalists in the “Mobile Search” category.

Businesses that operate multiple brick-and-mortar storefronts need to constantly innovate in order to thrive in an era when consumers can buy what they want online with a simple click. SIM Partners clients such as Shoe Carnival are doing so by collaborating with us to combine content, location data, and experiences that capitalize on the growing popularity of omnichannel discovery. Shoe Carnival understands that winning with mobile means designing the right experiences that will resonate with shoppers as they use mobile devices to look for locations with footwear they need.

Congratulations to Shoe Carnival and to the SIM Partners client team. Contact us to learn more how we can help you, and read today’s press release for more detail about the award nomination.

August 15, 2016

SIM Partners Delivers 25:1 Return on Investment for Shoe Carnival

By Emily Helander

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SIM Partners client Shoe Carnival understands that mobile is at the heart of its customers’ omnichannel journey. Our newly published case study tells the story of how the national footwear retailer collaborated with SIM Partners to turn searches into revenue by designing a customer acquisition experience tailored to mobile consumers.

For example, Shoe Carnival has optimized its store location pages to be found easily for consumers using mobile devices to search for footwear options nearby. And to turn “near me” searches into store purchases, Shoe Carnival has been sharing mobile wallet offers (using SIM Partners’ Velocity Wallet) that contain discounts for consumers if they visit a Shoe Carnival. Once downloaded to a consumer’s mobile device, mobile wallet offers can be redeemed in-store as well as used for location-based GPS and beacon notifications. As discussed in our case study, one in five people who clicked on the offer saved it to their mobile devices. Within 15 days, Shoe Carnival experienced a 25:1 return on investment.

According to Google, 76 percent of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a business within 24 hours — and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase. Shoe Carnival understands this reality and is thriving as a result. Read our case study and contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed with location marketing.

August 9, 2016

Micro-Moments Get More Contextual

By Adam Dorfman

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Micro-moments just might be the phenomenon that shapes location marketing for years to come. Google defines micro-moments as, “times when people use their mobile phones to decide what to do, where to go, and what to buy.” And as mobile phone usage increases, micro-moments are only getting bigger.

In my latest Search Engine Land  byline, I share how micro-moments are becoming more contextual as Google introduces tools such as filtered search results that make it possible for consumers to make more targeted, context-aware searches. And brands are figuring out how to serve up content appropriate to each person’s circumstances, ranging from the time of day to their location.

Want to uncover best practices to ensure that your business is visible and winning during micro-moments? Contact me; I’d love to discuss.

August 8, 2016

Google GMB Update Underscores the Importance of Attributes

By Adam Dorfman

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On August 1, Google removed a feature that allowed businesses to manually edit their introduction/description field on Google My Business (GMB). This news means that businesses with brick-and-mortar storefronts need to pay more attention to their data attributes — or descriptive content about a business — to be visible when “near me” searches occur.

Business descriptions used to be incredibly important for the mapping algorithm, but due to spamming and poor descriptions, Google has placed less and less importance on editing over the past few years. Indeed, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land noted that keyword stuffing and spamming contributed to the removal of the feature. (But businesses can still edit their introduction/description fields on Google+.)

The most interesting aspect the announcement is that Google will rely on attributes instead for further details on businesses. As Google noted, “Editing of attributes, coming soon to all Google My Business views, will be an improved way to describe your business to users on Google Search and Maps.” Relying on attributes makes sense from Google’s perspective because structured data such as attributes is much more useful than paragraphs of typo-laden, keyword-stuffed descriptions.

At SIM Partners, we have been discussing the growing importance of attributes. My SIM Partners colleague Gib Olander recently defined attributes as a deeper layer of descriptive information such as product offerings, business specialties, services a business provides, payment methods accepted, hours of operation, and unique offerings within the business category.

Attributes are an important part of any business’s location data management foundation. As Gib noted, descriptive content assists in discovery search, or initial searches for a category. Managing your attributes properly ensures that your business will appear in the consideration set.

I recently noted in a recent Search Engine Land column that attributes are becoming so important that data publishers such as Google, Foursquare, and Yelp are strengthening their ability to capture and publish data attributes about businesses.  Why? Because the use of mobile devices has accelerated the purchase decision at the local level. Mobile consumers are deciding where to do business via micro-moments, or times when consumers use mobile devices to make quick decisions about what to do, where to go or what to buy. In other words, the discovery search that Gib noted has become rapid discovery and purchase.

Attributes can make the difference between someone finding your business or someone else during a micro-moment. And as I noted in Search Engine Land, attributes encourage “next moments,” or the action that occurs after someone has found you during a micro-moment. Publishers such as Google and Foursquare understand that businesses failing to manage their attributes correctly will drop off the consideration set when consumers experience micro-moments.

It’s important that businesses manage your attributes as precious location data assets, especially as voice search makes it possible for consumers to do more descriptive searches for a category (“Siri, find me deep-dish pizza restaurants that serve lasagna, too”). As you manage your location data, make sure you have listed every possible attribute that differentiates your location, such as the availability of free parking. And, as always, share your location data with publishers such as Google and data aggregators such as Factual (collectively known as data amplifiers) that share your location data where near me searches occur.

Bottom line: now is the time to manage location data such as attributes as a competitive weapon. Contact us to discuss how we can help.

 

August 4, 2016

SIM Partners Forms Partnership with Ed Bennett Consulting

By Amanda Bury

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I am pleased to announce that SIM Partners has formed a partnership with Ed Bennett Consulting, which provides digital consulting services for the healthcare industry. Ed, a Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame member (2012), will help SIM Partners amplify our voice by enriching our thought leadership with his own expertise. 

Ed Bennett is an industry veteran who earned his stripes at organizations such as the University of Maryland Medical System. He is also a kindred spirit. Like SIM Partners, he is an early adopter of digital with a passion for helping healthcare systems succeed by building their brands.

Ed understands the importance of location marketing as the foundation for patient acquisition, with centrally managed location and physician data at the core of the experience, “I look for three things in a vendor partner: a proven track record, a solid technical foundation, and a smart team focused on solving customer problems — Velocity Health gets high marks on all three, and I’m pleased to be part of their team.”

Ed Bennett Consulting advises healthcare systems on how to create their futures with digital, and his consulting complements SIM Partners’ Velocity Health, a comprehensive local and location marketing solution for healthcare marketers to attract and manage patient relationships in the age of the mobile consumer. He is a renowned thought leader and active speaker (you can catch him at the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Marketing Development in Chicago September 11-14), and he constantly pushes the healthcare industry to become more responsive and transparent. For example, in 2009, he created the Hospital Social Network List to encourage healthcare systems to adopt social media, and his Physician Transparency List encourages healthcare systems to share patient comments and ratings for their physicians.

SIM Partners will continue to develop our state-of-the-art Velocity Health platform to ensure that healthcare systems manage patient acquisition at scale. Ed will help us amplify our voice across the marketplace, through public thought leadership and in more targeted outreach to healthcare systems. We already publish thought leadership such as The Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Building a Physician Directory. Ed will help us ensure that our ideas reach the healthcare systems that can benefit the most from better location marketing.

I’m looking forward to strengthening our position as an industry leader through our relationship with Ed.

 

August 3, 2016

How Location Marketing Drives Patient Acquisition

By Annie Badeusz

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Often when patients search for medical care online, their intent is to find a doctor — and that process can be messy and painful. In today’s on-demand world, with patients acting more like consumers, a difficult physician discovery process is unacceptable. To be more responsive and to acquire patients successfully, healthcare systems need to treat their physician directories as digital front doors with seamless and user-friendly discovery. These were the key points of a webinar that SIM Partners delivered July 27.

The webinar, “How Location Marketing Drives Patient Acquisition,” was hosted by Amanda Bury, Managing Director, Healthcare, SIM Partners and sponsored with Greystone. Amanda shared how patients are behaving more like consumers and the opportunity healthcare marketers have to deliver care on a more personalized level. Creating a personalized patient experience starts with an effective location marketing strategy — and location / physician an data is the core foundation.

The Data Challenge

Solving for complex data sets is the number one challenge for healthcare marketers. Physician data can be available in just one place, or multiple places. Cleansing and optimizing this data (e.g., name, address, phone number, hours) is critical for healthcare systems to be visible in the “near me” moments when patients are searching for physicians. Once data is structured, it can be distributed to the major data amplifiers such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Foursquare, and Healthgrades. Healthcare systems can then monitor the health of their physician data and continue to improve the patient experience.

Enhance Digital Access Through Physician Directories

How can we leverage data assets and make the patient journey more simple? The answer is through physician directories. As Amanda mentioned during the webinar, physician directories should be built with optimized physician and location data. According to SIM Partners client data, 50 percent of all traffic coming to health sites is going straight to the physician directory. For that reason, it’s important that physician directories and websites are seamlessly integrated — patients should have the same seamless experience no matter the platform or device.  When you combine actionable and accurate location data, your physician directory acts as the one source of truth that allows patients to stay up to date. Healthcare marketers can continually improve and simplify their physician directories by taking that actionable data and combining it with contextual content to ensure they are visible in search.

Create “Next Moments” through Optimized Physician Profiles

Another way to ensuring physicians can be found when and where patients are looking for them is through optimized physician profiles. Physician profiles must first and foremost be optimized for mobile through responsive design. Healthcare marketers can also drive next moments with actionable results by making profiles more robust through calls to action, such as scheduling widgets, click-to-call functionality, and driving directions. Finally, you can drive visibility to physician profiles through SEO best practices like providing localized content around physicians, treatments, services, and specialties.

Amanda concluded the webinar with these next steps healthcare marketers can take to creating a digital front door that drives patient acquisition:

 

  1. Take inventory of your network physicians: ensure that profiles exist for all physicians.
  2. Assess the health of your physician data: data must be accurate on all physician profiles pages so that the correct information is displayed when patients are searching.
  3. Organize your physician and location data from one central source: use a content management system that can adapt to Google’s changes, and is able to update physician pages accurately across the entire ecosystem.

To learn more about the opportunity for healthcare systems to deliver a more personalized patient approach, check out the The Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Building A Physician Directory, and follow Velocity Health.

Street Fight: “Treat Your Store Locator Like a Shopping Cart”

By Gib Olander

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Store locators should be revenue generators. But too often, businesses that operate multiple storefronts treat their store locators like forgotten assets. At a time when consumers increasingly use mobile devices for “near me” searches, store locators form the crucial link between searches, in-store visits, and sales.

In my new Street Fight column, I discuss the tremendous opportunity for brands to make location marketing more powerful by treating their store locators like shopping carts, making the discovery process and conversion to offline visits as easy and personal as Amazon does with its own shopping cart. For instance, businesses should make their store locators easily findable through optimized location data, and they should guide users to the “next moment,” or the action that occurs when someone finds you through a search. Store locators create next moments in a number of ways, examples being the publication of mobile wallet offers, driving directions to stores, or appointment schedulers on professionals landing pages.

Read my new column to learn more, and contact us to discuss how SIM Partners can help you win with location marketing.

August 1, 2016

Digiday Awards for SIM Partners’ Velocity Validate a Culture of Innovation

By Jon Schepke

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I am beyond excited that the SIM Partners Velocity platform has won a 2016 Digiday Signal Award in the category of “Best Location-Based Marketing Platform.” As we noted in today’s press release, the award recognizes the best of marketing and advertising platforms “that are bringing efficiency, effectiveness, and creativity to the media and marketing process for brands, agencies, and publishers.” To me, the award demonstrates the increasingly important role that location marketing plays in building national and international brands. A platform such as Velocity maximizes the value of local marketing at scale.

The Digiday Signal Award is the latest in a number of honors that SIM Partners’ Velocity has won recently. In 2016, Velocity earned a Stevie award for technology innovation and a BIA/Kelsey GOLOCAL award for excellence in generating sales revenue for clients. In September 2015, Velocity won two Street Fight Local Visionary Awards for Best New Product for Enterprise Brands and Best Lead-Gen Campaign. These awards validate what our clients have known all along: Velocity powers location marketing for enterprise brands.

I also believe the accolades say something about the nature of successful product development. In our case, Velocity is a by-product of a commitment to ongoing innovation and the right culture.

Innovation Is a Journey

SIM Partners launched Velocity in 2006 based on a simple premise that businesses needed a better way to connect with consumers locally at scale. Velocity promised to maximize the value of location marketing by making it more efficient for businesses to maintain and update their location pages across thousands of storefronts. Delivering on that promise has meant innovating the product constantly.

For instance, in recent months, we have enriched Velocity with the ability to support mobile wallet offers (which resulted in our winning the Street Fight award for Best New Product for Enterprise Brands), created a reporting tool that delivers better insights into the health of brands’ location data, and launched a Velocity Health solution to support the fast-changing healthcare vertical. These innovations pay off for clients. As I reported in a recent blog post, leading national retailer Shoe Carnival Shoe Carnival experienced a 25:1 return on investment after just fifteen days on the Velocity platform. As a result of Velocity’s advanced location data management, Shoe Carnival increased their visibility across the entire discovery ecosystem with a 76-percent lift in organic site visits.

The innovation journey will always continue. There is no other way. I’ve seen too many businesses languish because they became satisfied with their offering until a technology breakthrough or the entrance of a new competitor upended them.

A Product Represents a Culture

Earlier this year, I was collecting my thoughts for a blog post about the 10-year journey SIM Partners has been taking. So much of what I wrote about our ability to grow for 10 years came down to the ideas, chemistry, and work styles, and vision of our people — collectively, our culture. Velocity reflects our own culture that is based on a passion for technology and Internet marketing and a desire to make every interaction count.

We hire and develop the kind of people who are constantly immersed in location marketing and the technologies that fuel consumer experiences locally. For instance, when we’re not at work, we’re playing Pokémon Go, Snapchatting, Instagramming, Yelping, and then blogging and talking about these applications of technology and location marketing while we figure out how to keep Velocity on the cutting edge. Our work and our ideas reflect the natural way we live. When your people live location marketing 24/7, your work becomes a natural extension.  

To create great products, you need the right culture. But you also need clients that believe in you. All of us at SIM Partners are grateful to the many brands that have made Velocity the foundation for their location marketing, including Harry & David, Red Wing Shoes, and Shoe Carnival. Get ready for more innovation as we define the future of location marketing.

 

July 26, 2016

SIM Partners CMO Tari Haro Selected As An ITA CityLIGHTS Awards Judge

By Julie Piatek

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The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) recently announced the 2016 judge panel for the 17th annual ITA CityLIGHTS  Awards, which includes SIM Partners Chief Marketing Officer, Tari Haro. Now in its 17th year, the ITA CityLIGHTS Awards recognize the achievements across the local technology community. Nominations are open to the community. Finalists are selected by the judging committee and winners are determined by public vote.

Tari’s selection as a judge is another sign of how our company is leading in our community as well as our industry. Since joining SIM Partners in fall 2014, Tari has positioned SIM Partners as a category leader in location marketing — our technology platform, Velocity, helps brands be found in the “near me” moments of search and converts searchers into customers during the “next” moments. In 2015, SIM Partners CEO Jon Schepke was named an ITA CityLights award finalist in the “CEO of the Year” category, and in 2014 SIM Partners was a finalist in the “Rising Star” category.

Tari will join 60+ other Illinois tech innovators and leaders to review entries — and select finalists — for the following categories:

  • CEO of the Year
  • CityLIGHTS Industry Champion
  • Industry Disruptor
  • Lighthouse
  • Outstanding Technology Development
  • Prominent Women in Tech
  • Rising Star
  • Technologist of the Year

Voting will begin on August 8th, when finalists are announced., Winners will be announced at the ITA’s annual ITA CityLIGHTS event on September 15th at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago. We hope to see you there!