Why The Apple Watch Is An Important Location Marketing Consideration for Small Business Owners

The new Apple Watch Series 4 was released last week, and now that we’ve been able to play around with it, we see some incredible potential for it within the location marketing world. As a result, small business owners should be aware of some of the more obvious reasons to keep tabs on the Apple Watch – and some that are more obscure.

3 Obvious Location Marketing Apple Watch Uses

Connectedness

Let’s start with the obvious reasons and why they’re essential to the small business owner. First, it’s important to note that the Apple Watch, since the Series 3 iteration released last year, is available in an LTE version. LTE functionality allows users to stay connected via data and phone services to people and their apps. As a result, iPhone apps are now available on your wrist, for the most part, even when you leave home without a phone.

Online Directories and Reviews

Apps such as Maps, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Booking Now and other vital directories become even more crucial. At the turn of their wrist, your customers can now find you, read reviews about your location and decide whether or not your business is worthy of theirs. As a result, having a strong directory presence and review building strategy becomes even more critical to small business owners.

Apple Pay

Another way that Apple Watch can impact small businesses is through payments. Apple’s Wallet app is available on the watch, making it easy for customers to pay you. All it takes is a tap of the watch your terminal and, just like that, you’ve received your payment. This makes having a console that is optimized for tap and Apple Pay even more important than ever. For some consumers, knowing that you keep up with technology is a key reason for them to visit your business location. As of February of this year, it was reported that over 127 million people worldwide are using Apple Pay. And that number is only going up.

2 More Obscure Location Marketing Apple Watch Uses

Geofencing + Business Alerts

Geofencing is the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. As a result, you can push an alert or coupon to Apple Watch users who are close to your business. With the haptic feedback from the watch “tapping” the wearer on the wrist, people will be aware of your alert sooner because they will feel it – and not discover it waiting on their phone when it’s too late because it was sitting in a purse.

Running Your Small Business

Time to look at the other side of the coin as well. While the Apple Watch can help you attract people to your business, it can also help you become a more efficient business owner. There are several apps designed to help you run your business and keep you on task. From CRM apps to ones for accounting and invoicing, or note-taking applications to reminders and to-dos, the Apple Watch can help you focus on what you do best and service the people who do come through your doors – all thanks to the navigation apps on their wrist.

As a small business owner, what’s important is being aware of the potential of this watch. It’s not that you’re expected to do all these things, but trying even one of the tactics may be the one thing to get on the radar of your potential customers. And that might very well be enough to turn someone’s indifference for your business into a real difference for your business.

Building Online Reviews Are Worth The Effort. But Don’t Take Our Word For It.

Meeting with clients every day, we get to see their frustrations with online strategies, promises of improved SEO and solutions that have come, been paid for and gone. We talk about SEO – and the corner of it that we operate in – as a series of small improvements that add up to make a big impact.

What we’re seeing now, with the adoption of online review building solutions now a stable of our offering, is that a steady stream of reviews can have a significant impact on getting discovered and generating conversions to sales. Building online reviews does have seen success, but don’t take our word for it. We’ve been reading quite a bit and have found some really great articles around the web that point out the reasons why.

We encourage you to have a look at these and join us back here in the comments for a discussion about building online reviews.

• Reviews are the Most Prominent Local SEO Ranking Factor in 2017
Search Engine Journal, November 13, 2017

A business with a significant number of reviews on its Google My Business page can rank relatively well in local packs. However, it’s not just the number of reviews that matter. Even more important than quantity of reviews is what’s being said in those reviews. Google My Business pages with reviews that mention a keyword, and/or the name of a city, were found to have higher rankings in Google’s local pack. (Read more)

• The Impact of Online Reviews on Businesses
BrightLocal, March 15, 2017

Key ‘Takeaways’ From This Post

  • Consumers are likely to spend 31% more on products/services from businesses that have excellent reviews.
  • 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • A negative review can drive away approximately 22% of customers
    (Read more)

• How Online Reviews Impact Local SEO and Why They Matter to Your Bottom Line
Shopify, February 7, 2018

Typically, by the time someone has started looking at review websites (like reviews on your product pages or Facebook, Epinions, Angie’s List, or elsewhere), they’ve already figured out what they need and how a business might ideally fulfill that need. The critical thing to note is that the mental gap between reading a review and making a decision is ridiculously small — and customers typically decide yes or no almost immediately. So, as a small business, your online reputation can directly influence your bottom line. (Read more)

• Why Online Reputation Management Is Like Brushing Your Teeth
Entrepreneur, December 17, 2015

Think about why you brush your teeth. You don’t do it because your teeth are brown and dirty. You do it preventatively. It’s a habit that’s good for you because it impacts your long-term health and the look of your smile. Now think what would happen if you waited until your teeth were gross before you decided to start brushing. Your teeth might fall out. You’d probably get gum disease. Your smile would be tarnished and discolored. It might be too late to fix everything and, at the very least, you’d have a lot of ground to make up. Brushing your teeth is an insurance policy against all those negative outcomes. Online reputation management (ORM) works the same way. Many folks realize how important their online presence is only once they have a problem — a nasty negative, an ex’s rant, a sketchy forum that sticks out like a sore thumb, etc. We fix these results, but it can take months and months, or even years. And that can be a hard pill to swallow. (Read more)

• Why you always need to get online reviews?
BirdEye

You could have hundreds of reviews and a high average star rating, but if your most recent review is from a year ago, for all a customer knows you could be a completely different business by now. How do they know that your current staff is as friendly and knowledgeable as last year’s? How can they be sure your product quality hasn’t declined over time? If customers haven’t been reviewing your business lately, who have they been reviewing instead? (Read more)

These are just a handful of articles about the importance of building online reviews that are available online. It’s a topic we’re always happy to discuss too.

Say Hello To Google Posts From Google My Business

We recently were invited to write a post on RestoBiz and thought that it would be really interesting to cover a relatively new feature from Google My Business (GMB) simply called Posts. It’s a feature that Google would like you to think of as a status update – and Posts is powerful.

As Google describes: Posting through Google My Business lets you publish your events, products and services directly to Google Search and Maps. By creating Posts, you can place your timely content in front of customers when they find your business listing on Google.

Nuts & Bolts of Google Posts

As we wrote in that article, posts are meant to be timely, which is important to retailers. They expire seven days after they go live, so when thinking about what to publish on your Google listing, consider promotions, events, holiday information such as changes to your hours or contest information. If you’re creative by nature, you can add pictures, short-form videos and GIFs.

For businesses with less of a retail focus, such as professional service companies or practices, consider adding thought leadership pieces as well. This means you can feel free to link to content that you find interesting or important from other websites, along with your thoughts and opinions.

Accessing this feature is easy, it’s the second option down on the left hand side menu. And when you log into your Google My Business account after after posting content to your listing, Google offers insights into your content, allowing you to see the number of views and button clicks generated for each post. Check in on your GMB insights section to learn which posts work best and what perform below average. Using this information, you can optimize your next batch of Posts, and refine the marketing recipe that works best for your business. We recommend to our clients that they post at least once every three to four days to avoid having no posts present on your listing after they expire.

Ultimately, though, why use Posts? Well, Early indications show that posting content to your listing has an impact on your location authority. That affects the ranking power in Google local search results, which impacts the position of your business on Google Maps. Put another way, the greater your location authority, the more likely your business listing will show up on Maps. This will result in not only more views of your listing, but also more calls to your establishment, more foot traffic via directions and mapping and more website visits as well.

At the end of the day, Google wants to know that you’re engaged in your listing. The more engaged you are, including new Posts, customer reviews and keyword heavy descriptive text (another new rollout), Google will be more favourable to your listing.

Why use Google Posts?

  1. They help searchers find your business
  2. Google likes businesses that keep their listings relevant
  3. They’re currently underused, which gives you a first-mover advantage in your market

To learn more about Google Posts in Google My Business, email mark@10-twenty.com OR call 1-888-388-1020.

A Note To Small Business Owners: We Hear You

If you are a small business owner in North America in 2018, you are undoubtedly feeling the pressure. And likely very confused.

Every day you are bombarded with messages about online sellers coming to steal your business, large competitors adopting “omni-channel” strategy and reports of your imminent demise.

At the same time, you are told of the opportunities presented by social media can level the playing field. How Facebook will save the day….no make that Instagram….or is Twitter the right vehicle? Maybe LinkedIn should be your go to.

One thing is certain, if you try to follow all of the advice out there, you will undoubtedly have to work full time on your online strategy, leaving little time for what you do best.

Not to worry, though, there are steps to take that are not overwhelming and that do not require much management. These are foundational steps that can help you to set the building blocks for a more cohesive online/offline strategy.
Here is how you can get going:

  • Take care of your online findability: register with as many search engines, maps and review sites as you can in order to maximize your footprint. This is the best way out there to ensure that paying customers who are looking for what you offer TODAY can find you and make their way over to you instead of to your nearest competitors.
  • Get customer feedback: Once those searchers become visitors and/or clients, get their feedback. The Voice of the Customer has never been so critical. Get their emails so you can market to them, solicit their feedback with a simple survey and encourage them to write online reviews, especially when you know that their experience was a positive one.
  • Use that feedback: Use that information as constructive criticism. Improve. Use the emails to send out promotions and to stay in touch with your clients. Don’t bombard them, but send regular useful information to them. Send them insider promotions. Referral bonuses. News about new developments. Be selective but consistent.
  • Add in a data component: Use the data you collect from your listings and reviews to understand more about your prospects. Who are they? Where are they coming from? What keywords are drawing the most traffic? Build a profile of your best prospects. Tag them as your low hanging fruit
  • Paid social: Target the low-hanging fruit with Facebook or Google advertising using the data you have collected. Monitor the return on investment.

There are several services out there that can help you through this process. Some that are completely hands off and some, like ours, that will walk you through these steps and guide you.

In some cases, the annual cost can add to be less than the value of one new customer.

Either way, the only thing that you cannot afford to do is nothing. The cost of doing nothing is far greater than the small expense of getting the basics done. Start now. Your business depends on it. And work with a team that hears you.

The Small Business Owner’s Advantage

Competition is getting more and more fierce.

If you are a retailer, especially a smaller chain or independent operator, the deck is stacked against you.

Malls are filled with international, cookie-cutter stores. They have multiple locations, marketing departments, technology budgets and “omni-channel strategies”.

And what do you have? Not enough hours in a day. Municipal construction in front of your doors, B mall landlords who don’t want to invest, and very little experience marketing or promoting your business.

Sound dire? We certainly hope not! Because challenges bring opportunities. And here’s what we see.

You have an intimate knowledge of your clients’ likes and wants, which is based partly on instinct, experience and an understanding that there are clients out there who need to have a say and who appreciate that you listen to them.
Given this, think about how you should grow sales. The simple answer is that you need to get more people to come in the door to experience your difference firsthand.

To drive them to your door, it’s important to have a basic understanding that, right now, there is a segment of the population who are searching online for what you are selling. People want what you sell, they want it soon, and they’re searching for you, whether you realize it or not! The question is: Can they find you?

Take these steps to ensure that they do:

  • Claim your business with as many search engines and review sites as you can. Once claimed, you can control how you are seen and how you are found by searchers.
  • Encourage existing customers to post online reviews if they have had a great experience
  • Monitor what people are saying online about you and respond with concern to any negative comments
  • Collect email addresses and market directly to your satisfied clients.

There are tools out there that cost very little in the grand scheme of things, but add a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to claiming listings and building positive reviews. Investing in these tools allows you to stay relevant. And it keeps you doing what you do best – running your business and getting to know your customers!

Lo-Lo-Lo! Why It’s Important To Think Local Marketing For the Holidays

Halloween is about to come and go and, with it, Christmas lights and displays will arrive. With the big shopping season just around the corner, it’s vital to think about your local marketing efforts to get your retail location ready to generate traffic.

This means ensuring that your online local business listing is updated and accurate.

Retailers are always thinking about how to increase foot traffic to their store. And with 72% of all in-store purchases made following online research, it’s vital that your business details are correct. Even more so during the holidays. As hours and other details change, you must make sure you’re optimized online.

What should be the first thing on your holiday list then? Ensuring that your holiday hours are accurately represented. This means everywhere. On your website, social networks, and local listings on search engines, maps and review sites. Consistency matters!

Inconsistencies across networks can easily lead to consumer confusion and a loss of foot traffic. During a recent bank holiday, it was found that 85% of brands never updated their opening hours online. This included not only major retailers, but also local shops and businesses that need every advantage to attract people to their door.

Back home in Canada, this can account for a significant loss in revenue. According to the CPA Canada 2016 Holiday Spending Monitor, last updated in January, 37% of Canadians planned to spend over $800 during the last holiday season. It’s easy to see just how easy it would be to lose out on your fair share of the pie if shoppers were frustrated with the accuracy of your business listings.

Something else to think about is that the shopping season starts earlier than it has traditionally. Last year, retail sales in Canada decreased 0.5% in December over November – a decline that followed four consecutive monthly increases in Canadian retail sales. Sales made during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are pulling more money into November – which gives you all the more reason to ensure that you’re all set up and ready to go with your listings before then.
So, with all this in mind, we ask you this: It’s October 19th, are your listings ready?

QuickBooks Connect Toronto, Here We Come!

The phone call came last Thursday, when @IntuitBry called with an invitation to speak  at the Intuit QuickBooks Connect conference in Toronto. The event is coming up in early December and we couldn’t be more excited to lend our expertise to the small business leaders and accountants in attendance. Intuit has asked us to share our expertise in local listing management and online review strategies.

QuickBooks Connect provides small business owners and accountants with an opportunity to learn, connect and be inspired to grow their businesses through breakout sessions and keynote presentations. Breakout sessions are led by industry experts and participants will have the chance to get real world advice and connect with peers.

10|20 Marketing’s Presentation Abstract

How to Improve the Odds of Attracting Small Business Clients Online
Where can an small business owner, be it an accounting practice, individual accountant or retailer, get the most value for their dollar online? What are some of the easy-to-use tools available to them that don’t require too much of their time? What should they know about these low-hanging fruit solutions that will help drive business to their doors, keep them relevant in a digitally changing world and help them build online relationships?

Also, we’ll examine which metrics they should look at to prove that their investment is bringing a return. This presentation will look at these challenges, provide solutions and outline which tools can be used to achieve these goals. We’ll look at Google My Business, relevant review sites, and platforms designed to drive phone calls, website visits and walk-ins to their locations, in addition to the metrics that make the effort worthwhile.

Let us know if you’re going to be there and we’ll be happy to set up some time while we’re in Toronto. QuickBooks Connect is taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre December 4 – 6, 2017. Hope to see you there!

How Small Business Owners Can Be Looking For Love In All The RIGHT Places

No matter who you are, it always feels great to hear praise from those around you. Family. Friends. Strangers on the street. Now imagine that you run a restaurant, a small boutique or a salon. For small business owners, getting praise from your customers feels that much better.

There are many ways that customers can share their love with you. The challenge, though, is to stay on top of it all. The key is to make sure that you’re looking for love in all the right places.
Praise, you see, can come in many shapes and forms. 

A Quick Guide For Small Business Owners: How To Look For Love In All The RIGHT Places

1) Reviews Sites
People are leaving feedback about you that the world can see, so it’s important to make sure that you’re monitoring feedback on review specific sites. Think Yelp, Trip Advisor, Rate MDs and other similar sites. Thank people for high praise and try your best to turn negative reviews into praise by being responsive, caring and helpful. Opinions can change if you make an effort to show love to those who didn’t.

2) Online Local Listings
Reviews can pop up in places that may not be on your radar. Keep monitoring your online listing and apply all the same approaches we outlined in the point above. Visit Google, Bing, Facebook, and other search engines or social networks to ensure that the reviews on your local listings are seen. And when you get love from a client, give it back with a big thank you.

3) Social Networks
Yes, we did mention social networks above, but that was in relation to your business listing. People are also discussing their experiences at your establishment on Twitter and Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram or sharing videos across social networks as well. Using social media listening tools such as Brandwatch, Sysomos, or Synthesio can help you track mentions of your brand across social media and watch the sentiment associated to your locations. To keep your listening program low cost, use the native search tools on each network or set up Google Alerts to help you capture mentions of your business.

But wait! There are other forms of online love that you should be aware of as well.

4) Content Shares
When you post content to your own social networks, the people sharing what you post are showing you great respect. Why? Because they’re helping extend your message and introduce you to new people. Their share helps create a viral extension of your brand that brings new exposure to your content.

5) Likes
Though not as effective as a share, even a like for your post should be considered as positive praise. When someone likes your content, it’s possible that others in their network are made aware of their appreciation for your post in their own timelines. So, yes, sometimes a like is more than a like. It’s love!

6) Comments on Social Media Posts
This one is trickier because a comment can be positive or negative. Just like reviews, keep an eye on the comments to your posts and get in there to represent your business. Move the discussion along, answer questions, show appreciation for praise and help fix problems that are presented.

So there you have it, six places to look for online love. What are you experiences looking for brand love online? Share yours in the comments!

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.