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!

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.

Are you paralyzed by having too many digital choices?

There are so many choices to consider when developing a digital presence. Small business owners throughout Canada are trying to figure it all out, trying to determine how to best leverage the digital ecosystem to capitalize on the extraordinary numbers of people that digital can drive to a business.

With so many options to choose from, we’ve actually seen business owners paralyzed by how overwhelming it all is. After all, the options available to promote a business are just one variable, other considerations include the type of business being promoted, the type of customer being sought, the radius the business is looking to draw from, the assigned budget, and the time devoted to executing a digital marketing plan.

While these seem like excuses for not doing anything, they’re not. They are legitimate reasons for being confused, hesitant or downright wary. And with so many decisions to make, the small business owner ends up making none. Decisions get put off for another day. After all, small business owners are often not marketers. They’re concerned with making the best pizza, or providing the best customer service, or building the best product.

That’s why we propose taking baby steps. Start small and build around your initial successes. The easiest of most cost effective first step? Ensuring that how you appear online is consistent across search engines, review sites and mapping technologies. Claim your listings, take control of your message and manage the information that is critical to driving people to your door or to pick up the phone and call you.

But with so little time and savvy, what’s the best way to get going?

Allow the experts at 10|20 Marketing to walk you through the process, take it off your hands and get you online and findable quickly, effectively and easily. Allow us to claim your location, manage your listings and publish your menu (or price list), at a monthly cost of a single sale or one day’s worth of an employee’s salary. By managing your location’s listings across the web, you’ll benefit from the information being accurate, consistent and easily updatable.

And once we have enough data streaming in, we’ll be able to tell you how many views your properly managed listings are generating. When the time comes, we can help you use this data to add the next piece into your digital mix.

So don’t be paralyzed by choice. Start small with a managed plan, become found online and promote your small business to a specific target in a specific area to increase your sales and profits.

The importance of being optimized for “Near Me” searches

So, what is a “near me” search? For the small business owner, it’s probably one of the fastest growing search techniques and, some would argue, the most important. A “near me” search basically consists of a web user, most often on their phone, searching for combinations of ideas that are “near me.” Think coffee shop near me. Or shoe stores near me. Pizza places near me. You get the idea. Using location services on the consumer’s phone, search engines are able to deliver results based on a searcher’s physical location in proximity to your brick and mortar location. The closer you are to the person looking for you, the more likely you are to turn up in their specific search results.

While the “near me” search technique is a relatively new way of searching, a Google case study from 2015 found that “near me” search had doubled since the prior year and 80% of those where on mobile devices. For a trend that didn’t really take off until 2013, we’re talking full out explosion of the “near me” search technique in 2015.
We dug up some statistics that show just how important it is to be optimized for local search. In the summer of 2015, Google surveyed mobile phone users about their mobile shopping and search habits. The results speak for themselves.

  • 91% said they turn to their phones for ideas when trying to figure something out
  • 90% said they are usually not certain about which brands they want to buy from
  • 87% of Millennials say they have their smartphone at their side, day and night.
  • 82% use their phones to check for potential in-store purchases
  • 71% of smartphone users say they’ve used a store locator to find a specific store location
  • 61% percent of smartphone users say they’re more likely to purchase an item from a business that takes the time to customize location information.
  • 51% said they discovered a new company or product through a mobile search

So, as a small business owner, what should you do?

  • Make sure the information about your business is consistent and error-free across search engines, review sites and mapping technologies so you are found when a consumer looks for something “near me”.
  • Ask for reviews from happy customers on Google, Yelp, Facebook and other must-have networks. Reviews are important to solicit, and positive reviews do even more to ensure that you’re indexed favourably.
  • Use the data from each platform to customize marketing campaigns and content development to ensure that people find you, click on options to call your location, ask for directions to your business or visit your website.

The evidence is all there, consumers are more and more phone-intensive. Brand loyalty to a retailer is up for grabs and if you can be there for them when they need what you have, your proximity to them and the value you offer are the key ingredients to driving them through your door. The bottom line? Be sure they can find you.

How much does your location matter today?

In this age of the Internet and the world getting smaller and smaller, there is a school of thought out there that contends that your business location does not have the same importance as it used to. That the old adage of the three things that matter most for any business – location, location, location – is no longer relevant. No longer valid.
It’s interesting then how some retailers are finding out very quickly that having a physical presence is kind of critical to selling your products. How else do you explain Amazon testing new brick and mortar concepts, Warby Parker famously launching as an online eyewear discounter then opening flagship stores in major cities?

Could it be that there are different types of consumers out there? Some who want the tactile experience of shopping in a mall or trying on a product, while a different subset prefer the ease and convenience of shopping from their sofas in the comfort of their own homes?

Well, the truth is, whether you are a bricks and mortar retailer or strictly an e-commerce business, you will sell more if you can be found online. Today’s consumers start the shopping experience on their computers or, even more frequently, on their mobile devices. Consider the following: 97% of smartphone users use a search engine on their mobile device at least once per week; 85% of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores vs. online; and 50% of local searches lead to a store visit within a day. So all roads do lead to your brick and mortar location.

As a result, the best and most cost effective advertising approaches that a small retailer can employ are to:

  • Ensure that your location can be found on all of the search engines and maps that people are using when looking for small local businesses;
  • Optimize your keywords to ensure that they stay relevant by monitoring and tweaking them over time and;
  • Use the data from your keyword performance to direct marketing budget to search engine marketing, or pay-per-click advertising.

This is where we can help. Allow 10-20 Marketing to help claim your listings, post your menu or price list, monitor your comments online, monitor your keywords and geomodifiers, and recommend your best course of action.
In today’s day and age, your location is still critical. But it is your location on the search engines and maps that will ultimately help determine the longevity of your business. Allow us to put you on the map.

5 Factors That Will Help Your Business Achieve Better Listings on Google My Business

What are the top ways for your local business to thrive on Google? We turned to the guys at Local SEO Guide and their 2016 Local SEO Ranking Factors for inspiration.

While there are a number of important factors to consider, Andrew Shotland and his team ask:

Local SEO is a fickle beast. Not only do you have to worry about traditional SEO around a businesses website, but you also have to worry about traditional local signals like Google My Business, citations and reviews. This creates a real challenge: How do you prioritize not just your Local SEO operations but your investment in Local SEO?
What does this mean from an everyday perspective? Consider these five core conclusions from their study:

  • Reviews matter!
    Good reviews help greatly. Using Google reviews and sources like Yelp and others will count towards higher listings. Be sure to ask your clients to review your business, monitor review sites to ensure the conversation stays positive, and respond in the right place at the right time.
  • Make your listing attractive
    Google My Business profile views are also a major factor for local SEO. Claim your listing with Google, make sure your business information is up to date and remember to include keywords, geomodifiers and images to make your listing attractive.
  • Think about your on-site SEO
    Organic ranking and positive SEO practices on that front still matter if you want to rank locally as well. Think of the content that you add to your website and ensure that you keep things fresh. The content you post to your website or blog can go a long way towards helping you stay relevant for local search results with Google.
  • Build relationships to build backlinks
    Quality citations and quality backlinks matter greatly too. Be noticed, get referenced and look to build relationships with people who can provide high quality referrals back to your website.
  • Think of your searcher
    Local SEO should take into account user intent and the various factors that qualify their decision.

Are there any tips on what to avoid?  There’s one important thought unveiled in the Local SEO Guide’s Study: stop wasting time on geo text. There is simply no statistically significant correlation that shows how stuffing city and state names in titles improves search performance in relation to Google My Business. While it’s been assumed for a long time, this practice can now safely be put to rest.

Need help setting up your Google My Business account? Let us know and we’ll be happy to get you up and running with Google, Bing, Yahoo, review sites and key mapping technologies so your business is found quickly and easily online.

An SEO Specialist Walks Into A Restaurant…

It’s always smart to focus on SEO when it comes to promoting your restaurant online. However, this can be done in many ways, with on-site SEO only one of several options.

What’s truly important, though, is what searchers are finding when you come up in their results. What if you come up first but the searcher is able to find information related to your competitors that the search engines don’t offer about your business? For example, what if their menu is syndicated across search engines and review sites and yours isn’t? It would stand to reason that the consumer is going to click on the business that gives the most information first, even more so if the menu is present.

Did you know that 86% of people view a menu online before dining out and that 50% of local searches lead to a visit within a day? With this in mind, look at just how important it becomes to ensure that your listing is optimized with proper business information and your menu. Because it’s most important for people to see what you’re serving, where you’re located, if you’re open, and if they can easily make a reservation.

Working with 10|20 Marketing to claim your business listings, provide your business information and post your menus to key online networks actually improves your SEO. Search engines like Google and Yahoo have algorithms to determine which businesses show up in search results. One of the things the rankings are based on is “user interaction”. By adding your menus into all these listings more people will be clicking and viewing them and those businesses organically rise in the search rankings.

This makes for a powerful one-two punch. Your menu attracts diners and the business information that goes with it gets them to your restaurant. Allow us to help you ensure that your listings are updated with your menu and proper business details so you don’t lose this powerful opportunity to expose your restaurant to new diners in your local area.

What’s Your 10-20?

One of the questions we’ve been asked most often over the past month is “what does 10-20 mean”? It’s a question that can be answered easily, actually.

We took inspiration from CB Radio slang. In fact, the following is from CBSlang.com:

If you hear a truck driver say “10-20” on their CB radio, it’s just another way to say “Your current location.”
And this definition from Urban Dictionary offers a little more history:

The phrase essentially means, “What is your location?” or “Identify your position,” but is a corrupted phrase from the original “10-20” used by law enforcement to verbally encode their radio transmissions so that non-police listeners would not easily discover police operations, as well as to communicate quicker and more efficiently by standardizing frequently used phrases.

These verbally-coded messages were called “10 codes”, of which “10-20” stood for “Identify your position,” or “Where are you?” originally. Other such codes include “10-7” meaning the officer was busy such as with a traffic pull-over, “10-8” meaning that the officer was back on patrol such as from having just written a citation, the popular “10-4” as an affirmative, “10-10” as a negative and “10-22” to disregard a previous transmission have only seen light integration into common use. It was not uncommon for a city to have its own set of particular 10-codes for other phrases frequently used particular to that locale.

So that’s where we took our inspiration from.

More importantly, though, is ensuring that your 10-20 is protected online. And by that we mean that your location, your brick and mortar address, should be claimed and consistently presented across a number of search engines, review sites and mapping technologies. Why? Because when someone searches for your business or keywords associated to it, you’ll have a greater chance of turning up on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook or Tom Tom, to name a few online listing technologies. And in today’s local search-driven economy, being able to pinpoint your location on the maps and search engines that drive the small business economy is not just good practice, it is critical to the survival of your livelihood.

Because if your small business doesn’t show up as a search engine result, your competitor’s will.

Our Mission Is To Help Every Small Business Become Found Online Easily

10|20 Marketing wants to see every small business succeed online. With the importance of local search only growing, it’s essential that businesses are found where people are searching for them. That means on search engines, review sites and mapping technologies.

With 10|20 involved, the process to ensure that local businesses turn up on these critical search engines is easy, time saving and automated. We will ensure that your location is consistently presented and error-free, that menus are present and easily updated, and reviews aggregated and monitored, so your business can enjoy improved findability and better overall search engine optimization across the web.

Why? Because modern consumers start their shopping experience on search engines and listing sites. The results they get from those sites determine where they spend their money, with reviews on each location’s listing helping them determine if a business is the right fit for them. As a result, if a business doesn’t appear in local search results, the consumer will be happy to spend their money at a competitor.

Consider these statistics:

  • 49% of local searches occur without a specific business in mind.
  • 50% of local searches lead to a store visit within a day
  • 85% of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores vs. online
  • 86% of people view a menu online before dining out.
  • 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

10|20 Marketing will help you turn up in searches for your business and related keywords by:

  • Claiming all your location listings on key search engines, review sites and mapping technologies
  • Managing how your business appears across the internet with consistency
  • Fixing errors or omissions that are costing you sales
  • Listing your location on new engines, review sites and maps
  • Keeping your menu or price list syndicated and updated
  • Monitoring your customer reviews and ratings
  • Driving more customers to your locations