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June 17, 2015

What’s Next for Local Marketing?

By David Deal

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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?”

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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.

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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.”

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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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