The Three Levels of Listening To The Voice of The Customer And Why It Matters So Much For Local Marketers

Listening to the voice of the customer is so vital to the health of your business. But so many small business owners don’t know where to start and where to go. You know from experience that listening to the feedback you get in person can help you learn so much about what you sell, how you sell it and who you are selling it to. So imagine you could extend your ears and listen to feedback in a different form. Well, you actually can. Because more and more of these “discussions” are taken out of the physical business and into the online world, which eliminates the customer’s discomfort of confrontation while magnifying the impact of the comments, good or bad.

The Three Levels of The Voice of Customer For Local Business Owners

In the three levels of voice of customer listening, there are both online and offline components, two vital from online conversations and the third is an extension of the on-site experience.

Level 1: Online Review Monitoring

With 92% of consumers now reading online reviews before making a purchase, monitoring them is growing in importance. But it’s not good enough to just monitor. Respond too. Thank those who give you good reviews, and solve problems presented in negative reviews. The overall feedback you gain about a specific location, however, can give you valuable direction. Listen closely and make the adjustments being asked of you. When you show that you’re responsive, people respond in kind. Plus it gives you instant credibility among the buying public.

Monitoring reviews and notice that not many are pouring in? You may want to think about a review building strategy to encourage your best customers to act as advocates on your behalf. This can help change the perception of your location, and also help search engines index your business to better present it to those searching online. Why? Because online reviews and the rating you receive have an impact on your SEO. The more you have, the better perceived your business will be by search engine. And this is of vital importance.

Level 2: Social Listening

With your location being monitored via review sites in Level 1, you can turn to social media to listen to feedback on social networks, away from Google Reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor and others. With a social media listening tool to work with, you can track brand keywords and @ mentions of your handles. Using your own online profiles, you can then respond to the positive and negative being published on social networks. In addition, you can think of this information as free focus group feedback that you can apply to your business planning, content marketing, merchandising and customer service approaches.

With the right social media monitoring program in place, you’ll be able to listen to what is being said, track the sentiment of these conversations and gain a better and more complete understanding of your customers. For small business owners, this information is not only vital, it’s gold.

Level 3: Asking For Feedback

Once a customer leaves your location, you’ve lost the chance to engage them one-on-one and discuss their experience. But what if you could extend the opportunity to gain their feedback by giving them a link to a survey? You’ve seen this in practice many times as a consumer, I’m sure. After making a purchase, your receipt has a survey link on it and an incentive to fill it out. Consider this to be another level of gaining the voice of the customer. Every survey response is a personalized, private piece of feedback that you can use to improve your business. Best of all, by standardizing your questionnaire, you can measure your progress on specific objectives and see if you’re gaining traction or falling behind. By measuring, though, you have information you wouldn’t have gained otherwise, which puts you in a position to act.

That’s why, if you’re engaged in Levels 1 + 2 and feel that there’s something missing, bits of information you’re not getting from online discussions, go out and ask. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what people will tell you when you do.

Another reason these three approaches are powerful is because, unlike when you speak to someone one-one-one at your location, you’ll have a record of the discussion. You’ll always be able to go back and review, learn and and, most importantly, teach your staff what works and what doesn’t, identify trends, and help them improve!
And that’s important. After all, local marketing is all about adjusting to the needs of your customers. Otherwise, they may make the adjustment without you knowing. And that’s worse.

Three Ways To Avoid Losing Existing, Potential and Paying Customers By Keeping Your Online Listings Accurate

Our clients tell us stories all the time of people who come to their store or restaurant angry only to reveal that it was something little that set them off. An online issue that the business owner has no idea about is often at the source of the problem too. When they hear these stories, though, they should consider themselves lucky. It’s likely that some of these problems result in no visit at all. Our clients don’t always hear why their customers are upset and, worse, why they’ve lost a sale.

What are the three small things you should do to make sure you have a steady flow of customers who don’t start off frustrated? Keep your online listings accurate. 

1) Make Sure Your Store Hours Are Accurately Listed Online

We hear this one a lot. People look online for store hours, plan their visit and pull up only to see that the store is closed. There’s nothing more frustrating. Not only is your customer unable to accomplish what they were hoping, but they have to plan another trip to accomplish their task. More time wasted. Frustration and resentment gets built up. Sales are lost.

What can you do? Ensure that your hours are correct on your website, online listings across the web and on social media profile pages. For holidays, make sure exceptions are listed and communicated as well. Merchants across Canada (with the exception of those in Quebec, who have until Labour Day), you have until the first Monday of August to ensure that your holiday hours are accurate. It’s t to start thinking about what your store hours look like online, folks!

2) Check Your Price Lists and Menus On Search Engines and Review Sites – They May Be Old!

When people are hungry, they want fast, accurate information to help make a decision on where and what to eat. In fact, 86% of people view a menu online before dining out. But what if your menu has changed and people ordering in had no idea? Or what if they came to dine in and wanted something specific that wasn’t offered any longer?

What can you do? Get online and update your menu. Google, Facebook, Open Table, Zomato, Yelp, Trip Advisor – all of these networks need your attention – and so does your website. Update some and not others? All it takes is a handful of people to discover the wrong menu and you risk not only upsetting them, but also give them license to upset others too. How? They can simply leave negative reviews about your business for anything that upsets them. That’s why your best strategy is to update your price lists and menus and keep everyone happy.

3)  You’ve Moved But Haven’t Properly Communicated The Change Online

This one is a classic online mistake that small business owners make. When you move down the street or to another neighbourhood, you have so many details to think about. Phone lines, internet connections, moving companies, insurance and bank account updates, and the list goes on. Everything needs to be changed, including your online listings so your business is pinned, mapped and easily found by the people who matter most – your customers.

What can you do? Again, get online and make those changes. Think about your listings on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo and, if you’re a professional (think dentist, doctor, psychiatrist, lawyer, accountant, etc…) make the change on industry specific sites as well. Remember, for every error in your listing, you risk upsetting customers, not ever getting found, or getting penalized by search engines because they’re not fond of inconsistent listings. If you don’t, the result is lost sales. And you can do better than that.

If keeping your online listings accurate seems daunting, the task doesn’t have to be. There’s a low-cost solution to your problem, just ask us how we can help.

Three Search Statistics That Retailers, Restaurant Owners and Small Business Owners Should Know

We all agree that it’s important to be online. But in what way? For small business owners, time and money are resources to be optimized, with little space for waste. The easiest way to be online is to optimize for search. And the low hanging fruit within search is to claim your location’s listing on key search engines.

Why is optimizing for search so important? These three statistics help explain why your priority should be in the search optimization area of online marketing:

50% of users who perform a local search on their smartphone visit a physical store within one day

What other marketing initiative do you know of that converts at such a tremendous rate? Being found on search engines means people will make their way to your store or restaurant or salon or office. Quickly. Why? Because when people execute a local search, they’re poised to act on it. What’s interesting is that 34% of people who perform a local search on their computer or tablet also visit a physical store within a day. Ranking well has a direct impact on in-store traffic.

• 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.

Combine the first stat with this one and you can begin to see how important – and powerful – it becomes to be found online. Online activity and shopping consideration don’t always convert to online sales. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite. People start their discovery online and fulfil offline. In fact, according to the ComScore study we’ve linked to, one of the most important reasons that people conduct a local search is to find a specific business. The second most common reason? To find a business with a specific product or service in mind. So when people are looking for something specific, they’re also looking for where they can go to get it “near me”.

• 80% – 90% of shoppers read online reviews before buying a product

How do reviews relate to search? Simple, consumers can review your locations on your business listing. As a result, reviews of your business are visible to those looking for what you offer – and have a direct impact on whether they choose to do business with you or not. So be proactive responding to those who care enough about your business to give you positive or negative feedback. From an SEO point of view, the more reviews you gather, the more you become indexed. Search engines also love positive reviews, so it’s vital to empower your best customers with the tools to review your business. The more you do, the more often search engines will serve your listing.

Have questions or statistics you’d like us to look into? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be happy to respond!

Why It’s Important To Claim Your Business Listing On Other Search Engines When Google Has The Highest Search Market Share

Small business owners often ask us a very smart question: If Google has the highest search market share, why do we need to claim our listing on other search engines, directories, review sites, and social networks? After all, their reasoning goes, all roads pretty well lead through Google.

While the question is certainly valid, I’d be willing to bet that Google’s market share in Canada isn’t quite as high as you’d think. And, even so, your Google listing benefits when you also claim your business location elsewhere.

Reason #1

First, have a look at the numbers.
In Canada, search engine market share as of April 2017 looks like this:

Google’s 62% certainly leads, but is it as high as you thought? We’ve heard people say with certainty that it was over 90%. So, who owns the other other 38%? Well, mostly Bing, as 21% of all searches in Canada are conducted on Bing’s engines. That’s significant! In the U.S., Google’s combined market share – including desktop and mobile – is just under 86%, followed by Yahoo and Bing, each with about 6.5%.

So, the first answer to our clients’ question is: Google’s share of the search market isn’t quite as big as you would think. As a result, there is still significant business to be driven to your location from other search engines.

Reason #2

Secondly, the consistency of listings across different networks is also crucial to the SEO of your listing on Google. When Google creates a listing on a company’s behalf before it’s claimed, they aggregate information from other directories. Once a merchant claims its listing, Google will continue to validate it against on other directories.
As a result, the consistency of your listing on other websites still influences Google’s view of your business. So it’s vital to provide different directories with the same exact information initially and every time you make a change. This will have an impact on the SEO for the listing itself on Google, where three out of every five searches by Canadians are taking place. Simply put, the more accurate the listing, the higher it will be presented to an online searcher.

Once you have your listings up and running, wait to see how many more views you’ll get and keep optimizing.

Three Takeaways

  1. Google’s search market share isn’t nearly as high as you would think.
  2. Google validates your listing against the information you provide to other engines.
  3. Make sure that your listing is consistently posted across multiple engines and review sites.

Small businesses should heed big businessman Jack Ma’s advice

Search for “Jack Ma Advice” on Google and there are no shortage of search results to choose from. Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba and one of the richest men in China. He’s often asked for tips on long-term business success and he isn’t shy to share his thoughts. If you’re a small business owner, though, pay attention to his pointers. Even though Ma leads a huge corporation, his lessons are very relevant to businesses of all sizes.

What are the tips we like best?

  1. People need to trust you
  2. Forget the competition, focus on your customers
  3. Take all competitors seriously
  4. Lead with vision, tenacity, and grit
  5. Don’t look back, just keep going

How Jack Ma’s Tips Relate To Your Business

Let’s look at how each tip relates to your small business, with a focus on location marketing and becoming the best option for people looking for what you provide.

1) People Need To Trust You

Having a strategy to monitor and respond to customer praise or criticism from online reviews is a critical element of doing business in today’s online world. People trust people like themselves and companies that stand behind what they do. Your clients do not expect perfection. They expect an honest and sincere effort to provide the best service and, when you fall short, they expect honest effort to apologize and repair the wrong. Have a strategy to encourage positive reviews and respond to the negative ones.

2) Focus On Your Customers

You have a choice. You can either spend time worrying about giant internet shopping sites that are certainly a factor. But while you’re worrying about them, your competitors will be happy to serve the customers near you that are looking for exactly what you sell. That’s why you need to optimize your ability to be found on search engines and maps. Control how you appear, don’t leave it up to an algorithm.

3) Take All Competitors Seriously

The likelihood that your customers are considering your competitor is real. And the closer they are to you, the more true that is. Any edge you can gain over your competition can be the difference between making a sale or being passed over. So make sure that you’re indexed and making it easy to found by local searchers. How you optimize your listing and solicit positive reviews matters when it comes to converting online searches to on-site traffic.

4) Lead With Vision, Tenacity, And Grit

Be the small business owner that is known for experimenting, trying new things and asking for customer feedback. Truly listen to what your customers have to say. Ask them for their feedback. Be available in person, by email, via text or online on review sites and let them know you’re there and truly listening. The effort you put into showing leadership to your clients and the example you set for your employees cannot be understated. But in the effort and you’ll be rewarded for it over the long term.

5) Don’t Look Back/Keep Moving

Marketing is all about learning, adjusting and evolving. Every step you take should be tied to a measureable objective, so you can gauge your performance along the path to your goal. Something not working? Make a change. Something working well? Build on it. Be flexible and allow yourself room to make adjustments. Move forward while learning from your past actions.

As a small business owner, what are some tips that you can share with others? What are some of the things you’ve done that have worked for you? Share your answers with us below in the comments!

Four Fantastic Reasons Why Small Business Owners Should Have An Online Customer Review Monitoring Strategy

For small business owners, a great, cost effective way to understand how people appreciate your establishment is to monitor customer reviews. These reviews are honest, sometimes brutal, assessments of how people feel about doing business with you and your staff. Whether positive or negative, they give you a great opportunity to learn about what is working and what isn’t inside your business. More importantly, though, they drive perceptions about your locations to potential customers who are just waiting to make a decision on where to shop, eat or benefit from services like the ones you offer.

Benefits of Monitoring Reviews

Let’s elaborate on the different reasons to monitor reviews of your store, restaurant, spa, salon, or professional services business.

  1. Perceptions are impacted

    We hear it all the time. People don’t trust companies, they trust people. More precisely, they trust people like themselves. As a result, more and more people are looking towards online reviews to decide where to shop, eat or be pampered. 92% of consumers read online reviews. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews. And 80% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s up to you as a small business owner to monitor and respond to these reviews. Providing answers to problems and showing appreciation to those who praise you demonstrates that you’re hands on and interested in feedback. (Check out this great infographic that highlights the above statistics and many, many others.)

  1. SEO benefits

    Search engines value what others have to say about your business. This online feedback provides them with fresh content to crawl, new keywords to index and backlinks that provide your website with credibility you can’t generate elsewhere. The more reviews collected about your business, the greater the chance of being found online. It’s truly that simple.

  1. Look for patterns in sentiment and improve your operations

    When you monitor reviews, it’s important to look for patterns that will help you make business decisions. Are people complaining about your hours? A specific employee? Product availability? Are your customers more likely to complain about your business based on the season? Do they complain about one location more than others? Thinking of these questions alone, you can already see how you can make decisions that will shape how to go about developing an ever-evolving business strategy.

  1. Identify advocates

    There are people out there who really like your business and aren’t shy about sharing specifics with the world. Find these people, say thank you and activate them online! Identifying and activating your best advocates can have a great influence on those who are considering a purchase. Highlight their content on social networks and make it easily shareable for them to amplify on their own social media accounts. And, when you have a positive interaction on-site, don’t be shy to ask for a review. After all, encouraging positive reviews is a great way to sell others you haven’t even met yet.

The bottom line

While small businesses have challenges fitting all marketing imperatives into a budget, review monitoring doesn’t have to break the budget. In fact, solutions like the one offered by 10|20 Marketing make it easy to monitor these reviews, while leaving money left over for your other marketing initiatives. Ask how we can help you stay on top of this valuable market research!

A Real-Life Lesson On How To Avoid Customer Frustration, Confusion And Anger

We just heard a great story from one of our sales agents. He recently hosted a dinner for his family and ordered sushi for everyone. To ensure that his guests had what they wanted to eat, he sent them a link to the restaurant’s menu from their website. His brother sent him his order and our agent called everything in. When the food arrived, they were surprised to see that his brother’s selections were all wrong.

What happened? Our agent’s brother had used a menu from Yelp that turned out to be outdated. The restaurant had made changes to their menu, but wasn’t savvy enough to make sure it was consistently published across review sites and search engines.

This example shows just how important it is to be consistent beyond your website. While one customer went to the website for the menu, the other looked right past it and found the menu elsewhere. And it was unfortunately wrong, which creates deep customer frustration, confusion and anger.

As a business owner, you may understand this from a theoretical point of view, but when it counts, you may just update your business information, including your menu, at the one place online that matters most to you, your website. Why? Because that’s what you’ve invested in.

We suggest, however, that you invest more in thinking like your customers. Where are they online? What are their habits? Why make them click over to your website when search engines, review sites, or a social network can give them the information they need faster and more efficiently? If you’re not thinking like your customers do, that’s where the opportunities for frustration, confusion and anger arise.

If you’re looking to invest budget into solving these problems, because you only have so much time to go around, ensuring that your business is found where people are searching is a great place to start. Make changes to your menu? No problem. Through automated processes like ours, we’re able to get those changes applied at the push of a button and published online just as quickly.

In the case of this sushi restaurant, having the right menu in the right place at the right time will save the owner from having an unhappy client to deal with, a busy team scrambling to make things right and the very real possibility of a bad online review, which can create lasting damage.

There’s nothing worse than surprising your customers with the wrong things. Consider our solution as your insurance against that. Look into our services for restaurants to learn more.

BNI Networking Elevator Pitch

I really enjoyed meeting everyone at today’s BNI Networking breakfast in the West Island. For those who are looking for more information about 10|20 Marketing, we invite you to read some of the articles on our blog or our launch post on LinkedIn. Our new, complete website will be live in the next few weeks. If you’d like a notification when it launches, please sign up for our mailing list, our form is located along the sidebar on the right.
Our elevator pitch, which resonated with some of you this morning, is below.
Thank you for all the interest. Looking forward to connecting with you further!

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Five steps to intercepting shoppers looking to buy in store

Our Toronto-based sales agent made some interesting points about the average retailer’s state of mind in today’s market. His points were frightening, enlightening, validating and motivating all at the same time. Here’s why.
Our agent, Stuart, speaks with small retailers all over Ontario every day and, invariably, the discussion turns to the challenges that these traditional retailers face. This includes concerns about online retailers, discounters and off-price daily deals. And they’re right to be concerned. Because, as a brick and mortar retailer, there are things you just can’t control.

However, when it comes to selling to people in an increasingly digital world, what you can control is how you use digital approaches to intercept shoppers. If you start with the premise that a segment of the population will only buy online, your responsibility is to look for buyers who will visit your store to make a purchase. Your focus should be on those who will only shop in retail stores or use search engines and online reviews to make a purchase decision.

After all, why worry about the others when they are not your target? The fact is, 85% of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores vs. online stores and 50% of local searches lead to a store visit within a day.

So there are people looking to spend money offline. They are looking for advice on where to go. Your role, in this case, is to intercept their search and prevent your competitors from converting this online search to store visits.
But how? Here are five steps to intercepting these consumers:

  1. Claim your listings so that you control the details search engines and review sights present about your business. Take control of what prospective clients see about you and your physical location.
  2. Research what the most “winnable” keywords are for your business and associate them to your listing. Make sure that these keywords are specific enough to separate you from the pack, but general enough to cast the widest net.
  3. Optimize for local search by tagging your listing with the proper geo-modifiers and ensuring that people searching for your product in specific areas can easily find you.
  4. Monitor your online reviews to respond to any detractors and highlight your promoters.
  5. Capture new customers’ emails and communicate with them on a regular basis so that you’re fresh in their minds and able to reward them for being loyal.

The low hanging fruit in the retail environment is not in trying to convert consumer behaviour away from the online world, it’s using the online ecosystem to your advantage. Get found by those who are searching for what you offer, direct them to your location and give them a great shopping experience. That is what will keep them coming back again and again.

Spas & Salons: Clients need to find you before you can help them find their style

If you own a spa or salon, you know that your clients have options. It’s up to them to decide on which looks, styles, and treatments – and any combination of the three – they want when they visit your business. Catering to their desires and helping them find their look is the best way for you to keep them coming back again and again.

However, if you want to help them find their look, the first thing you need to do is help them find you. Because when it comes to search, they also have many options. There are different search engines and review sites for them to discover your business and your price list. And, if they don’t discover yours, they’ll find your competitor down the street.

So it’s important to put your business details – think address, phone number, business hours, a detailed description and your price list – on the top sites and apps that people turn to when deciding on which salon or spa to visit. This includes big players like Google, Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare, as well as more regional and beauty-specific sites and apps.

Consider these statistics:

  • Google “near me” searches have increased by two times over the past year.
  • 49% of local searches occur without a specific business in mind
  • 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a location within five miles.
  • 87% of smartphone owners make a search engine inquiry at least once a day
  • 97% of smartphone users use a search engine on their mobile device at least once per week

Working with 10|20 Marketing, we’ll help you place your price list on these key sites and apps and give you one place to update your price list, specials, photos and announcements. And by placing your price list online as text, you’ll benefit from every item on it becoming a viable keyword that will help people discover your business. The more ways people can find you, the better.

With our help, we can ensure that your location is consistently presented, error-free and that reviews are aggregated and monitored, so your spa or salon can enjoy improved findability and better overall search results across a number of engines. Moving, adding photos or making a change to your business description? Easy too. Just send along the changes and the process to apply them across the web with the same consistency as your original information is as simple and efficient. You’ll never have to worry about making these changes yourself.

Not everyone is looking for your website. But they are looking for the service you provide. Our solution is an easy and cost-favourable way to market your business and get found. And if you’re already marketing your business online in some way, it works beautifully in conjunctions with those digital and social media marketing as well.

Getting found is foundational, though. And having people walk through your door, though, is always the number one priority.