September 17, 2015

SIM Partners Highlighted in ITA’s Spotlight

By Julie Piatek

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The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) promotes “collaboration among companies in order to help them continue to scale and and raise Chicago’s profile as a technology hub.”

Our team is proud to be part of the organization, as well as to have our company featured in this week’s ITA “Spotlight,” which features a bit about our company, Velocity technology and where we’re headed (hint: it’s all about making locations matter for enterprise brands).   

We look forward to celebrating with the ITA and other Illinois-based company’s at the annual ITA City Lights event tonight — hope to see you there!


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September 4, 2015

Doctor Google Doubles Down on Health Conditions

By Amanda Bury

Google announced September 3 that it will more than double the amount of health conditions listed in its feature that provides information to answer health-related queries. (The feature was launched in February 2015.) As a result of the update, Google will offer information on conditions to help patients answer queries such as “pink eye symptoms.” The news demonstrates Google’s ascendance as a force to be reckoned with in healthcare — and also means providers should be prepared to service patients who self-diagnose.


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Image Credit: Google

With one in every 20 searches related to health, Google has long been a trusted entry point for patients to retrieve information. Google is giving patients a better user experience to curate symptoms, and conditions, even making it useful as a printout for those patients wanting to take the information to their doctor. This development has two major implications:

Patients are going to be more informed as they search for care providers — but not necessarily better informed. According to Pew data, more than one third of U.S. adults use the Internet to diagnose medical conditions. With Google surfacing more health condition data, patients are more likely to use self-diagnosed symptoms to influence their provider search (‘I have a sore throat. My Google search tells me that I have the symptoms of strep throat. I need to see a doctor to treat strep throat”). But a little learning can be dangerous. Patients who self-diagnose can lead themselves down the wrong path either because they misinterpret their research or do inadequate research. To provide an effective patient experience, healthcare providers will need to proactively ask patients why they are seeking treatment: are they acting on what their body tells them or based on something they researched? And what research compelled them to visit the doctor?

Make room for Google as a healthcare influencer: The advent of Dr. Google is a sign of Google’s continued growth as a healthcare influencer The establishment of Google Life Sciences as one of the principal divisions of the Google uber company Alphabet is a sign that Google is doubling down on health and life sciences.

Google continues to exert its influence in healthcare, and providers are going to be affected at all levels, including locally. I will continue to watch, and comment on, the evolution of Google as a force in the healthcare industry. Meantime, connect with me. I’d love to discuss implications you are seeing.

Related: Search Engine Land, “Google to Double the Number of Health Content in Search Results,” September 3, 2015

September 3, 2015

What Google’s New Logo Means for the Industry

By Tari Haro

This week Google made one of its biggest changes in 16 years — the company changed its logo. The new logo is more than a cosmetic change; it’s a sign of what’s to come for its platforms and devices. I also believe that with its new brand identity, Google is sending a message that the company is as user-friendly as its rival Apple is.

In a new Business2Community column, I discuss the implications of the new logo, including how it underscores the reality that mobile is king. The new visual identity, in context of the launch of parent company Alphabet, shows that Google never stands still. What do you think about the new logo? What other underlying meaning could it have? Connect with me — I’d love to discuss.


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Image Credit: Business2Community


September 1, 2015

Does Your Local Marketing Automation Tool Measure Up?

By Tari Haro

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With local media marketing spend expected to reach $145.4 billion by 2016, local marketing has become a higher priority on the senior marketer’s agenda. Enterprises that manage thousands of locations, such as national retailers, can scale their local marketing efforts by investing in the right tools. To guide senior marketers of multi-location enterprises, Third Door Media (home to publications such as Search Engine Land) has published its annual Enterprise Local Marketing Automation Tools: A Marketer’s Guide. I recommend the report not only for its overview of automation tool providers such as SIM Partners’ Velocity, but also for its useful overview of key trends influencing local marketing. As I review the 2015 edition, I see two major themes emerging: the importance of mobile and the absolute need for brands to possess a local data strategy that builds your brand, not just maintains it. Does your automation tool provider measure up?

The Mobile Consumer Rules

Enterprise Local Marketing Automation Tools provides a snapshot of 20 local marketing automation vendors (versus 18 in the 2014 report). All the tool providers are servicing a marketplace increasingly shaped by the mobile consumer. As the report points out:

Local marketing will continue to evolve as mobile consumers demand faster, more accurate local information. In-store beacon technology, which offers consumers access to specific offers based on their proximity to products within a store or dealer location, is becoming more widely available. At the same time, enterprises are using LMA tools to connect real-time inventory information to their mobile websites and apps, allowing consumers to find the closest location offering their desired products. The role of wearable mobile devices – such as Apple Watches – is yet to be determined, but is being closely watched by vendors and marketers alike.

I nodded in agreement as I read that passage. As we have discussed on our blog, the mobile consumer has collapsed the buying cycle dramatically, and certainly at a local level. Google’s I-Want-to-Go Moments: From Search to Store report (possibly the landmark local search report of 2015) reported that “near me” local searches have increased by 34 times since 2011, with 80 percent of those searches coming from mobile.

We believe that senior marketers should demand that their automation tool provider understand how to help grow their brands with mobile consumers. For national brands to truly capitalize on those near me searches, they need to be visible in the “near me moment.” But I also believe brands need to own the “next moment,” by providing contextually relevant content and experiences that compel consumers to take action. For instance, your tool provider should understand how to serve up mobile wallet offers in addition to optimizing your local content for mobile searches. Optimizing your content is the equivalent to being present. Serving up a mobile wallet offer encourages the next moment. Does your automation tool provider know the difference?

Data, Data Everywhere

The importance of local data also informs the 2015 edition of Enterprise Local Marketing Automation Tools. According to the report:

Industry experts agree that accurate, up-to-date business location data is the lynchpin for all local marketing initiatives. Enterprises must first assess the health of every local data point, including business name, address, phone (a.k.a. “NAP”), and business hours. From there, more effective local landing pages, search optimization, monitoring of online reviews and ratings, and engaging in paid search and social advertising should follow. 

The report urges marketers to assess how well tool providers manage the myriad complexities of local data, ranging from data analytics to the ability to support local listings with clean, accurate data. In fact, SIM Partners believes data is the foundation of all local marketing — not just to protect your brand, but also to build it. As our CEO Jon Schepke recently wrote on Search Engine Watch, “Enterprise brands need to think beyond listing management, and transform their location data into a scalable asset that is accessible and actionable.”

For instance, as Jon writes, enterprises should make their data accessible by distributing data properly among publishing intermediaries and making data findable via voice searches conducted on mobile devices and wearables. Brands need to make data actionable to encourage that next moment of search, an example being a healthcare provider that provides a scheduling widget to make it easy for patients to schedule appointments.

To be sure, a tool provider should ensure that local listings use accurate, clean data. But a data strategy should go far beyond is more than local listings. Does your automation tool provider understand the dimensions of a local data strategy?

Enterprise Local Marketing Automation Tools identifies seven crucial capabilities that tool providers should possess: listing management, local search engine optimization, local landing pages, reputation management, paid search or social campaign management, mobile optimization, and local data analytics. Of the 20 vendors assessed, only 9, including SIM Partners, are cited as having capabilities in all areas. The report discusses our Velocity platform, which helps enterprises maximize visibility for their brands everywhere.

We urge brands to read the new report and to work with their tool provider to apply the seven capabilities across the Local Marketing Adoption Curve, which we created to help marketers understand which tactic works best for them along the “crawl, walk, run” stages of local marketing. Make sure you know not only the essential capabilities of your tool provider, but how and when to apply them.

June 17, 2015

What’s Next for Local Marketing?

By David Deal


What’s next for local marketing in a post-mobile world in which everything is mobile and consumers are using devices to gain information in micro-moments?

Adam Dorfman, senior vice president of product and technology for SIM Partners, addressed this question during his presentation, “What’s Next,” at the 2015 SIM Partners SIMposium. The SIMposium is an annual gathering of business executives who explore the state of local marketing as well as its future.

In his presentation, Dorfman asserted that marketers and their customers are rapidly entering an era in which all our actions are mobile. According to Mary Meeker’s “2015 Internet Trends Report,” consumers spend more time on their mobile devices than their laptops and desktop computers combined. And mobile has eclipsed the desktop for conducting searches.

Moreover, thanks to the launch of the iPhone, our mobile devices have become miniature computers for managing our lives. Not only can we do complex searches to find what we want, we are equipped to decide which products and services we want to use with one device anytime, anywhere.

Google calls these moments of personal discovery “micro-moments,” when people use their mobile devices to help them make real-time, intent-driven decisions, both minor and major, that can have a huge impact on a brand. For instance, micro-moments can include “I want to know” moments, “I want to go” moments, “I want to do” moments,” and “I want to buy” moments that trigger search behaviors, such as, “I want to go see the new Mad Max movie. Where is it playing near me?”


Image Credit: Think with Google

As Google has noted, “near me” searches increased 34 times since 2011, with 80-percent of those searches occurring on mobile devices. And those searches occur on a multitude of touch points where consumers do research to fulfill their needs.

“People are not accessing information about your product or service from one source but from many sources ranging from Amazon to Yelp, and your brand needs to appear on all those places on the consumer journey — a journey that occurs instantly on your customer’s mobile device,” he said. Moreover, the journey is occurring on wearables such as the Apple Watch. To be found in a post-mobile world, brands need to do more than possess local pages optimized for Google. They need to be present on all the different touch points where customers find them.

“Near me searches are really requests for data, and the searcher’s location is expected to influence results whether or not it is specifically requested,” he said.

So what should marketers do in order to be present during micro-moments in the post-mobile era? Dorfman stressed two key points:

1. Get Contextual

Being present in the post-mobile era means being contextual — or delivering the right experiences to the right people at just the right moments. And the first piece of context that brands need to master is their business data, which means getting a brand’s location data right. But solving your location data is harder than it looks. Consider these common scenarios that complicate the presentation of your location data:

  • Stores exist within stores.
  • Kiosks exist within locations.
  • Several professionals may share a single location.
  • Several professionals may share several locations.
  • A professional might be based in one location but is constantly at a customer site.


Image Credit: SIM Partners

In all those settings, location data can mean something different. A Jewel grocery store in Chicago might use its name, address, and phone number as its location, but a Red Box located in front of the Jewel might need to consider location data as something more descriptive and specific, such as “near the Jewel exit at the parking lot.” Both businesses, Jewel and Red Box, must map their location data in ways that make the most sense for people trying to find them, or else those businesses might as well not exist.

Once brands have harnessed the power of their location data to drive visibility, they should create relevant and engaging content unique to their locations. Local marketing automation tools help enterprise brands scale unique, non-duplicative content across thousands of locations.

2. Think about the Next Moment

Dorfman stressed that it’s not enough for brands to be findable. They also need to own the next moment of search, or the action that occurs after a consumer finds your business. Consider a consumer looking for a drug store on a hot day in South Beach. A location nearby that wants to be findable will make its name, address, and phone data visible on its location page. But the business that wants to own the next moment will provide on its results page a mobile wallet offer for 20-percent off a tube of suntan lotion.

“You don’t have to wait for a near me moment to happen before serving a next moment — you can now cause near me moments to happen,” he said. “What if the query ‘Drug store near me’ becomes unnecessary because the drugstore knows where you are?”

He noted that the recently announced SIM Partners/Vibes relationship is intended to trigger those next moments. “We now enable brands to trigger these contextual micro-moments based on where their customers are via offers within mobile wallets like Apple’s Passbook or Google Wallet on Android devices,” he said. “With contextually relevant mobile wallet offers, we can turn ‘near me’ moments of search into on-premise moments of transaction.”

He concluded, “We have always believed that location is marketing’s next moment. It’s more true than ever.”

June 8, 2015

Master the “Five Ws and the H” of Local Search

By Gib Olander

Enterprises that get local search have stopped viewing local as a matter of helping consumers know where to find them but also as a tool that drives conversions further down the marketing funnel. They think of local search much like a journalist trying to tell a compelling story: they help potential customers find all the answers to their “who, what, when, where, why, and how” — the questions that occur at the zero moment of truth when customers make a purchase decision.

For example, let’s say an agent for a national insurance firm wants to set up an office providing auto, home, life, and renters’ insurance in Akron, Ohio. The agent will need a presence on a store locator, an individual location page, perhaps a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook page, and a paid search program. She will need to consider “who, what, when, where, why, and how” in creating a local presence that includes a Web listing in apps, directories, in-car navigation units, and search engines:

  • Who means possessing a thorough understanding of the agent’s customer and incorporating that insight into her local search presence. For instance, the agent should study her customer ratings, incorporating their ratings on her local site, and provide functionality that makes it easy for customers to share their opinions on their social spaces.
  • What means identifying for search engines the name of the enterprise and the business category. The choice of the primary business category determines what bucket of keyword the agent’s listing get associated with it as well as the competitive set to which the business will be compared.  What also means ensuring that the agent’s name is listed accurately and consistently.
  • When is all about paying attention to the element of time and content. For instance, the agent should make sure her hours of operation are listed accurately for local search results. When also means considering seasonal content, such serving up tips for safe driving during winter months.
  • Where means ensuring that potential customers know where to find the agent when they conduct potential searches. The agent’s address should be accurately listed wherever her brand name appears. Her address should be geocoded properly, giving the correct latitude and longitude information so that someone using Google Maps can find her. The agent’s information should be optimized for a searcher using a mobile phone.
  • Why is about helping customers understand why they should choose to do business with the agent. The agent should communicate your local competitive advantage. The description of her business call out anything special about her or exemplifies her brand promise in some way.
  • How means addressing how the agent expects to do business with people. Does the local agency operate with an open-door policy or by appointment? If the latter, then the agent will need to include a lead form or scheduling widget on her local listing in order to guide customers into the door after her business has been found.

Businesses, search engines, and customers all view the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” a bit differently: businesses from the perspective of being found, search engines in order to rank them, and customers to find businesses they trust and that suit their tastes. Businesses that still view search as just a matter of “where” are going to be ranked lower by search engines and lose business to the brands that have mastered these six essential elements.

This post is adapted from a recently published SIM Partners report, “Local Search Marketing for Enterprise Brands.” The entire report is available here.

October 22, 2014

SIM Partners Studies Impact of Google Pigeon on Your Brand

By Adam Dorfman

When Google unleashed its Pigeon update months ago, my colleagues at SIM Partners and I agreed that it would take some time before we could assess Pigeon’s impact on brands. Since then, using the Velocity platform, we have researched its effect on clients and have learned that Pigeon has a number of implications for brands. Studying 5,000 location pages across several industries, we wanted to know how Pigeon affects crucial factors such as website traffic and ranking performance among businesses that depend on local listings. I discuss the results of our study in my new byline for Search Engine Land and encourage you to read our findings and let us know how Pigeon is affecting your brand. Read the article here!

October 15, 2014

Team Member Spotlight: Annie Badeusz

By Ashley Sandal

This week our Team Member Spotlight features Annie Badeusz, our Sales Support Administrator!

Who in your life has influenced you the most? How did they do it?

The people in my life who influence me most are definitely my parents.  They taught me from an early age you need to work hard and put yourself out there to get where you want to go.

If you could buy one thing to complete your home, what would it be?

If I could buy one thing to complete my home it would be a Bath & Body Works 3-wick “Leaves” scented candle. Go get one and thank me later.

Why do you like working at SIM Partners?

My favorite thing about working at SIM is knowing that your work has an impact.  Every day working here is different, it’s a great learning environment full of challenges.  Everyone here works so hard at what they do and they enjoy it which is great to be a part of.


September 8, 2014

Team Member Spotlight: Neal Deters

By Ashley Sandal

This week our Team Member Spotlight features Neal Deters, our Local Search Marketing Associate.

1. What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $25? Why?

The most enjoyable way to spend $25 for me would be going to the movies. I watch a lot of TV shows and Movies in my free time, but going to the actual movies with friends is always the most fun.

2. If you could travel back in time to any specific event or era, where would you go and why?

If I could travel back in time, I would go back to the early 90’s during the rise of the commercial Internet. I have always grown up with the Internet around me, but have never quite fully understood the impacts it had early on in people’s lives. Seeing that unfold would be very amazing to witness.

3. What is your favorite part about working at SIM Partners?

My favorite thing about working at SIM is the ability to work with so many different departments to create a positive impact for all of our clients. Everyone at SIM cares deeply about giving clients the best possible service and that is something I truly admire.

January 7, 2014

SIM Partners Tech Predictions for 2014

By Deanna Sandmann

2013 was another huge year for technology, with the creation of wearable devices such as smart watches and Google Glass, the announcement of Amazon’s drone delivery service (which they hope to launch sometime in 2016), medical technology advancements and many other exciting developments.

So what will 2014 bring? It’s hard to say for sure, but here are some of our predictions…

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