The Internet has turned into a great local business marketing tool in the past couple of years. While local businesses have not yet adopted these tools into their marketing strategies, the technologies are moving forward with or without them. The convergence of Search, Social Media and Mobile Marketing is bringing business information with products and services into the hands of the local consumers.
Having had Internet business experience for the past 16 years, I can tell you this is probably one of the few times where we can put all the local business marketing puzzle pieces together and see what marketing tools we have available over the next 2 – 3 years. Let’s review each one so we can see how they come together.
Local Business Listings
In short these are the interactive yellow pages of the Internet. Interactive because as a business owner you can update and manage these listings at search engines, social communities, 411 web sites, GPS/Mapping websites and basic business directories. They are also interactive because consumers can post their experience they had with your business, products or services. In order to get started you need to claim, update, monitor and manage these listings at multiple local listing websites. Don’t have the time resources? Don’t worry, there are companies that provide local business listing management services.
Local Business Listing Marketing vs. Data Services
As a business you will want to seek out companies that provide the marketing services. The companies provide basic data services only push your information out, but they do not help you protect your listing from being hijacked or for that matter manage your listings for marketing purposes with various types of content like coupons, events, QR codes, consumer reviews, coupons and citations. The marketing services have a higher cost to them than the data services, because the marketing services are more effective and do more for your business.
This will be the first time that most local businesses dependent upon the local consumer for their revenue will need to manage their public relations. Consumer Reviews are not just about other consumers seeing the information, but too many negative reviews will adversely impact your website ranking position in search results. This is no longer about just consumers posting their frustrations to a website or blog, but directly into your local listing. As a business you will need to closely monitor these reviews and also begin to engage customers that have positive experiences to post their information as well.
Local Listing Coupons and Mobile Coupons
The Local business listing gives the business the opportunity of posting their coupons, offers, and discounts. They are then available for consumers to find through web searches and through their mobile devices. While this is not available through all local listing websites or available for free, this is in no uncertain terms the demise of the traditional coupons.
Events and Promotions
If you promote your business then you will want to use the Events promotion tool within Local Business Listings. You can include Specials, Events, New Products, General News, pretty much any alert you wish to make the local consumers aware of so they can find it through a web search or a mobile search.
These small square bar codes will allow you to program them for consumers to scan using their mobile devices. The code will then do whatever is programmed to them. For example, a coupon, discount, offer, event, website link. You can also use them on business cards, websites, traditional ads, store window, and much more.
This tends to add a level of complication for most businesses. If you’re familiar with the idea of inbound links, this is very similar only this time is not necessarily just about a link, but your company name, address, city, state, zip, phone and many other aspects that are related to what is known as HCards to include your longitude and latitude of your business address. Because this is a combination of marketing and technical expertise you may wish to get someone to help you with this item.
Websites that are hyperlocal give a local business the opportunity to highly target advertising and marketing geographically and demographically. While these websites are not as prominent for this purpose yet, this will change and needs to be planned for in 2011 and beyond.
Having had Internet business experience for the past 16 years, I can tell you that that geographic marketing is the direction of our immediate future. Hopefully I was able to portray to you some of the known components of local business marketing and how this local business marketing tool can be used to reach the local consumers.
Certainly your time resources are limited and Local Business Listing Management Services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing. You will find this to be of great benefit to your time resources and the low cost service may eliminate your yellow page ad costs. Let the experts of over 16 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly and prevent brand security issues from occurring.
The number of service providers that are attempting to help the local business and the small business to get listed are on the rise as the Internet becomes more valuable to the local businesses. What is strange is that in most of these cases the business is already listed! If you have a phone number for your business you are already listed with the major search engines and the major websites that focus their attention on the local market.
The local listing websites can be broken down into four major categories that include with some examples:
* Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask)
* Local Listing Communities (Yelp, Judy’s Book)
* 411 Websites (Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, Super Pages)
* GPS (Magellan)
Any one of these websites receives their original data from the phone companies and other public sources. After all, local listings have been on the web for a number of years. There really isn’t anything new about this.
Let’s put local listing services into perspective.
First and foremost, the service that you really need to focus on is setting up an account, claim your business listing, updating your local listing, and then maintaining your local business listing. This will allow you to update your listing with current contact information, products, services, website, coupons, photos, videos, and much more. This is not something a “get listed” service will perform for you. Of course it is best to claim and maintain your listing at multiple local listing websites. We will explain why shortly as the world is greater than Google in this case.
Once you have completed this process your listing is more likely to appear for the appropriate search results on search engines and provide the consumer with your information on their mobile searches too. Claiming your listing will insure that you will receive your QR Code that will benefit you to market to local consumers. Additionally, claiming your listing will help you better manage consumer reviews, which will become important for search engine rankings in the future.
Getting your business listed can provide you benefit by getting your information into secondary local listing website that are predominantly 411 websites. The benefit here is something called citations. In particular Google is looking to verify your business which happens by finding your business information through these other 411 websites. So, there is a benefit from these “get listed” services, however, do keep it in perspective as to how much it will really help your business market to the local consumers.
If you’re wondering why you need to manage multiple local listing websites, the answer is relatively simple. Your customers will choose which local listing website they post their review about their experience, your products and your services. This is probably the one area that Google will not be the 800 lb gorilla in the near future. Local listing communities have been on the Internet for quite some time and the consumers have been using them to post their comments.
This is another reason why getting listed services are not going to be helpful. Consumers have been posting their comments without the involvement in this process by the business they are writing about. Without claiming your business listing you will not be able to manage the consumer reviews, which will ultimately play a role with your website ranking position. Google’s failed attempt to acquire Yelp for $500 million during the 2009 holiday season is a good indication of the type of data Google is seeking out.
Getting listed services are not going to eliminate another individual or competitor from hijacking your listing. Local listing hijackings are a very real problem as there really is no good quality control. The search engines have attempted to make this process as secure as possible; however, there are always loop holes, particularly with 411 websites. If anything, getting listed services are more likely to cause confusion by adding duplicate listings and not having security checks to verify the business they are listing.
Duplicate listings are equally an issue with local business listings. Information about a business is coming from multiple directions to major search engines. This includes getting listed services, 411 websites, the business itself, and local listing communities. As this industry evolves over the next few years, this information will get cleaned up, but in the meantime it is important to focus on not adding to the turmoil of data.
Getting listed services are for the most part only running a computer program to distribute your information to a variety of sources. You are getting what you pay for from these low cost services. They have a role relative to increasing the awareness of your business at multiple locations in a short time. This information will aid you with citations as Google’s local listing algorithm is in effect.
If you want to use the local business listing as a local marketing tool to reach the local consumer, then you need a service that will have a progressive plan to help you manage these local listings and multiple local listing websites. This progressive plan includes setting up accounts, claiming your listing, updating your listing, and maintaining your listing. This will then be followed by consumer review management, citations, and QR codes.
Your time resources are limited and your expertise is with your business. This does not necessarily include the management of Internet marketing of your business. Local business listing management services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing. You will find this to be of great benefit to your time resources and the low cost service may eliminate your yellow page ad costs. Let the experts of over 15 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly.