Article Archive by Author

September 12 2011

Local Businesses Take Heed of Google Places

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If you are a local business, ignoring the internet can be a death sentence.  With the rise of mobile phone usage, and the reliance of GPS systems, many people are using location based services to find local businesses.  If your company is not listed in the local search results, you are overlooking a large pool of potential customers.  However, it is not enough to simply “claim your business”, given the increase of social media features built into local business listings.

Social media is becoming a part of our every day lives.  Even if you do not participate in social media channels, the effects of social media interaction can play a large role in what you see online.  For example, in Google Places a business can be listed with their address, a brief description of their products or services, links to photos, Google Maps, and customer reviews. There is also a section where visitors can “Report a problem” with the listing and one of the options is to report “This place is permanently closed.” If there are enough visitors reporting the business is closed, the business is flagged as “reportedly closed”.  Pending a review by Google, the listing may be changed to “permanently closed.”  How much of an impact can this be on your business if, even for a few days, your business is incorrectly labeled as “reportedly closed”? 

It is naïve to think Google Places will list every active business or flag all of the closed businesses accurately.  The system is not perfect, but it allows for social media interaction and that’s what attracts many people to provide their feedback.  There is undoubtedly room for mischief with the system if one of your competitors decides to take an unethical approach.  Google does not divulge how many people must report a problem like “This place is permanently closed.” before it updates the listing to “reportedly closed”.  But is it worth the risk to your bottom line to ignore Google Places when so many people are using the internet to find local businesses?  As part of your overall business strategy, you need to ensure you are monitoring your business listings after they are initially set up.

August 5 2011

Landing Page Load Time Testing

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If you are currently running an AdWords campaign, or even considering it, a thorough review of your destination urls (landing pages) is very important.  Google, for example, calculates the page load times for landing pages used in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and factors that into the overall Quality Score they assign to keywords in the campaign.  Quality Score is an important factor in where ads will be displayed when they are served by the AdWords auction-based system.  Google multiplies the Quality Score and the max CPC for each keyword when assigning a ranking to all ads that are considered relevant for a particular search query.  There are other factors that play a part in determining Quality Score of which some you have little or no control over (historical clickthrough rates) and others where you have direct control over (landing page load time). 

Google recently introduced a new service called Page Speed Service to help test and optimize web page load times.  While I am hesitant to recommend turning over the optimization of web pages to Google, if nothing else, it is an excellent service for those who may have previously been unaware of their landing page load times.  In addition, it gives users insights into what degree of improvement they could see if they were to implement proper changes to their website pages to help improve page load times.

The next time you are optimizing your PPC campaigns, or if you are just starting out with a new AdWords account, be sure to test your landing page load times before you decide on the best place to drive your paid search traffic.  The decisions you make now will directly affect how much you have to pay for placement in Google’s sponsored links.  If you are not sure of your landing page load time, here is a link to the testing service: http://www.webpagetest.org/compare.  The test takes a few minutes to complete for each url you enter, but the wait is worth it, as it could save you money in the long run with your PPC campaigns.

May 25 2011

Mobile Marketing Strategies

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The growth of mobile internet usage is without precedent right now.  More people are using their smartphones to access the internet and engage with downloaded applications than ever before.  Thanks to the advancement of mobile devices, smartphones and tablets specifically, marketers have completely new channels in which to develop their promotional strategies.  In today’s business climate, there’s a great opportunity for marketers to take advantage of this shift in user behavior, as more people conduct business and use their mobile devices for personal use.

I recently read an excellent whitepaper on Permission and Privacy within the mobile marketing space and thought it was worth noting the 6 C’s as outlined in the whitepaper:

  • Choice. The consumer must “opt-in” to a mobile marketing program.  Consumers have a right to privacy and marketers must therefore gain approval from consumers before content is sent, and include clear directions on how to unsubscribe from communication should it become unwanted. This ensures consumer pull rather than consumer push.
  • Control. Consumers should have control of when and how they receive marketing messaging on the mobile phone and must be allowed to easily terminate or “opt-out” of an unwanted program.
  • Customization. Any data supplied by the consumer must be used to personalize content (eg: restricting communications to those categories specifically requested by the consumer), making content as relevant and useful to the consumer as possible.
  • Consideration. The consumer must receive or be offered something of perceived value in return for receiving the communication (product and service enhancements, requested information, entry into competitions, discounts etc.)
  • Constraint. The marketer must effectively manage and limit mobile messaging programs to a reasonable number of programs.
  • Confidentiality. Marketers should commit to refrain from sharing consumer information with non-affiliated third-parties.

These 6 C’s, or guidelines, offer thoughts on Best Practices of how to effectively manage a mobile marketing strategy.  Unfortunately, in the land of “spam” too many unscrupulous marketers, and I use the term marketers loosely, choose the easy path of ignoring these important steps looking to simply play the percentages.  Typically, spammers ignore all measure of ethics and simply cast as wide a net as possible ignoring Best Practices.  No matter how irrelevant the marketing message may be, given the sheer volume of spam that is sent, spammers believe if they can get even .05% to convert, the “spam” campaign is profitable.  But for real businesses, who want to protect their reputation and brand, these 6 C’s should be referenced whenever new mobile campaigns are considered.  Customers will take notice of the extra effort and in the long run it will increase your reputation and the effectiveness of your mobile marketing strategies.

 

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