Think With Google: Consumers Are Searching For The ‘Best’ — Even For Low-Consideration Products

Mobile searches for “best” have grown over 80 percent in the past two years, but customers aren’t simply searching for the best luxury hotels or the best mortgage rates: Searches for “best” are showing higher growth among “low-consideration” products like toothpaste or umbrellas than these “high-consideration” products, according to research from Think With Google.

In fact, mobile searches for “best toothbrush” have grown over 100 percent and “best deodorant” over 60 percent — confirming that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile research not just for the big things, but for everything.

“Whether it’s value, style, or quality we care about, nowadays anything we’re considering buying — no matter the category or price — can be, and is likely to be, researched on mobile first,” TWG’s report states. “That means today’s consumer defines what’s high versus low consideration for herself, so marketers across categories have the chance to influence these curious and investigative shoppers with helpful advice.”

“Best Of” — Via Voice And Text

So, what does this mean for marketers?

First, that even when it comes to low-cost, frequently replaced goods, marketers must assume that shoppers are doing research for “best in category” on mobile. CPG marketers in particular may need to think about their strategy in this area, as reviews for toothbrushes aren’t typically found on a pharmacy’s listing or a Yelp page; it’s likely Amazon that will yield the most results here, unless these brands think specifically about how to rank in a customer’s location-specific search results.

In that vein, there is an inherent location-based quality to these requests: Searching for the “”best x” generally means that someone wants to go somewhere or buy something in the physical world. As we wrote previously, TWG’s research bears this out: Compared to just a year ago, smartphone users are reportedly significantly more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location.

And finally, this trend suggests that the voice-first revolution matters for an even wider range of marketers than previously expected: As Google sees increases in “best of” searches across the board, it’s important to bear in mind that over 20 percent of these searches made in the Google app are made by voice. Whether you’re selling turquoise or toothpaste, search results across across platforms matter.

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Target Adds Google Voice Assistant Shopping Nationwide

Target is the latest brick-and-mortar brand to sign on to accept requests made by owners of the Google Home through their voice-activated Google Assistant (aka “Okay, Google”) for delivery or pickup via its local online shopping marketplace Google Express.

In essence, the arrangement represents an expansion of Target’s existing use of Google Express.

Starting today, Target shoppers at most of its 1,800 stores in the United States can access items through Google Express and with the Google Assistant (except for Alaska and Hawaii). Target will offer two-day delivery, as well as free shipping for any orders over $35, Google says in a blog post.

Coming In 2018

Most of the capabilities of shopping through Google Express won’t be available until 2018. For example, after the new year, Target customers will also be able to use their Target loyalty membership through REDcard to get 5 percent off most Target purchases and free shipping when using Google Express. In addition, in 2018, Target shoppers will be able to link their Target.com and Google accounts, so the service will remember all their favorite items.

“We’re teaming up with Google to create innovative digital experiences using voice and other cutting-edge technologies to elevate Target’s strength in style areas such as home, apparel and beauty,” Target says. “Work is underway for Google and Target teams to bring this all to life.”

In August, Walmart unveiled plans to rollout a similar voice-activated shopping via Google Express and Google Home tools for its 4,700 U.S. stores and its fulfillment network “to create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else,” including choosing to pick up an order in store (often for a discount) or using voice shopping to purchase fresh groceries across the country.

These partnership on voice-activation comes roughly a year after Google Home debuted as a Connected Home product to augment Google Assistant.

“Shopping isn’t always as easy as it should be,” Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP for Ads and Commerce, said in a blog post at the time of the Walmart deal’s announcement “When was the last time you needed to pick up something from the store but didn’t have the time to make the trip? Or you went to the store only to realize they didn’t have the brand you wanted? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get what you want, however you want, from the stores where you already shop? We launched Google Express and shopping on the Google Assistant to do just that: make it faster and easier for you to shop your stores like Costco, Target and  Walmart.”

Okay, Google, Target shoppers are ready to talk.

Target’s Many Omnichannel Steps

For Target, the expanded Google partnership follows a series of steps designed to tackle one of the primary challenges facing its omnichannel strategy by rivals like Amazon. In August, for example, Target acquired transportation tech company Grand Junction to promise same-day delivery to customers to match one of key appeals of Amazon’s discount shopping subscription program, Prime.

It’s the latest salvo store brand has taken to meet consumers’ demands in the age of Amazon and e-commerce. Those demands include personalized recommendation and satisfying customers’ purchasing preferences, such as online shopping/in-store pickup.

But as Amazon has expanded its discounts and two-day shipping with its Prime membership option, and has just heralded its Instant Pickup option, retailers have turned to one advantage they still possess — at least for the moment — in relation to Amazon: proximity to their customers and known inventory, which makes it possible to offer the ultimate convenience of letting someone click “buy” and then having it brought to them within a few hours.

The Rise Of Connected Intelligence, The Knowledge Graph

In general, the adoption of voice-activation and on-demand delivery/pickup follows the wider capabilities stemming from the rise of Connected Intelligence and the Knowledge Graph, which have propelled personalized, one-to-one connections between brands and digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby as they enter the mainstream of consumer behavior.

While Amazon’s Alexa has assumed an early position as a leading voice-activated assistant, Google has stepped up its push into the space as its aligns its services to brick-and-mortar brands such as Panera Bread, which became one of the first national restaurant chains to begin offering voice-activated ordering and payment through Google Assistant.

The voice-activated ordering is currently available in Panera’s hometown of St. Louis and at its six locations in the Silicon Valley area. A full rollout of voice ordering is expected to come to all of Panera’s 2,000-plus U.S. locations by the end of the year, the company has said.

Other national brands that have formally aligned with Google’s voice-activated virtual assistant to accept spoken orders via the delivery marketplace Google Express, including Costco, Guitar Center, Kohl’s, L’Occitane, Payless, PetSmart, Road Runner Sports, Sur La Table, Ulta, Walgreens, and Amazon’s Whole Foods.

In the case of Target, the retailer has been aggressively — and at times, fitfully — revising its omnichannel strategy. For example, earlier this year, it decided to abandon its sub rosa e-commerce program called Goldfish, which was dubbed as the “store of the future.”

Before that, in August 2015, Target started a beacon program with Estimote to round out its in-store sales assistance. It’s unclear how vital the beacon program has been — or even whether Target has continued to use it —  since the company has not discussed those efforts publicly. Along the way, Target’s experiments with interactivity has included retail pop-ups and a showcase IoT-based connected home store in San Francisco.

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Advertising Week Recap: Welcome To The Age Of Assistance — And Assistants

Advertising Week NY covered a great deal of ground last week, from Tencent’s expanded presence to the growth of Facebook Messenger as a marketing vehicle to the Weather Company’s heralding the Era of Cognition.

Retale Managing Director Nels Stromborg attended a number of events and meetings and here’s his takeaway.

Brands are taking action on transparency: Whether you’re a vendor, agency or seller, if you weren’t paying attention to the transparency debate, you are now. Brands are disappointed and upset; they’re running out of patience and taking action and it showed at the event. And to be honest, they have every right to be. The media supply chain has always been opaque. But in digital, it’s becoming more and more complicated, which has made the problem more pronounced. Spend has also exploded so advertisers want more accountability and a clearer view of ROI. The solution isn’t easy. Inventory sources need to address it by installing more third-party verification and opening up their data to partners. Agencies need to deliver on more transparent billing and measurement. While some progress is being made, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

 Alibaba versus Amazon: At Dmexco, Amazon was the belle of the ball. Their Amazon Services division had a big show. They used the event to tout their inventory, services and formats to advertisers (and retailers and CPG brands, in particular) – even if their current offerings are still very limited. I expect Amazon’s ad business to grow dramatically over the next year to support brand partners. But they were probably a bit jealous after seeing all of the attention Alibaba got at Advertising Week. GroupM announced a data partnership with them. Even Marc Pritchard spoke about their ability to disrupt the space. Their audience is almost entirely overseas, so their ad business doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to Amazon. But it’s fascinating to watch these massive e-commerce companies grow in influence among advertisers.

Google Americas’ President Allan Thygesen talks with Unilever USA CMO Keith Weed about Marketing in the Age of Assistants

The Age of Assistance: Get ready to see several hundred think pieces on “the age of assistance” over the next few weeks. Google’s Allan Thygesen used the phrase in a presentation with Unilever’s Keith Weed. It expertly captured a big technology shift in the market. It refers to the growing voice and chat bot movement in advertising. Consumers want more custom, personalized brand experiences. They like feeling like they’re the only one in the room – even if they’re online. For years, the best the industry could do was a well-targeted display ad. But bots have unlocked a more conversational and one-to-one campaign opportunity. That’s the potential brands see and love. They can deliver tailored, white glove service at scale through Facebook Messenger or your Amazon Echo. The AI needed to develop these tools has grown substantially better in the last three years, making it easier to meet the opportunity. The age of assistance is upon us and I think it’s here to stay.”

Leave content to the experts: The consensus on content during Advertising Week is that we are deep into a new golden age of “television.” This incredible programming is also increasingly being delivered free of advertising. What this dynamic does is make it almost irresistible for brands to stray from their core competency of product development and enter into the production business. During a panel hosted by FX, Joe Marchese, President of Fox’s Ad Products, relayed an interesting and recent exchange from a CPG. “They said, ‘We’re not in the paper towel business. We’re in the content business. We’re in the storytelling business.’ Which I look at and say, ‘Uh, I’m not sure you really want to do that, because you make paper towels!’ You hear (content) people talk about what it takes to break through, to make a story, make it timeless … [but] you need to sell paper towels tomorrow.” The point? Leave content to the experts – especially as the overall quality rises and the battle for attention becomes more competitive. Brands need to focus on what they do well.

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What Are Google Posts? How to Use This New GMB Feature

Last week we published the Latest Updates to Google My Business, which was packed full of all the new features Google My Business released in 2017.  There are descriptions of new features with instructions and links to learn more.  And still, the question I got over and over was “What are Google Posts?”

You could Google search, “What are Google Posts” and dig through a million links. Or hang out here and I’ll explain what a Google Post is and how you can use this new Google My Business Feature to promote your business.

What is a Google Post?

Google Posts were introduced as a way share fresh content with people who found your business through Google Search.  This new Google My Business feature lets you create posts with content you want displayed to customers when they find your business on Google. Publish your events, products, and services directly to Google Search in the Knowledge Panel and Maps.

They are meant to be used to show search user what is going on with your business right now.  Each post you create is removed from search results after seven days, or after the event date, you specify if you are posting an event.

Google Posts give you the opportunity to promote your latest and greatest content, deals, events, product updates, and service specials appear with your listing in search.  Enhance the search and comparison parts of the buyer’s journey with these quick and simple updates.

How a Google Post Shows on Search and Maps

Google Posts are part of your Google My Business account and only show as part of your business listing as it appears in search results.  If a Google Search user is looking for “best carpet cleaners in Boston” they are not going to see your posts in search results. For a service or product local search your local SEO and Google My Business optimization will need to have your business ranking high in the local pack and maps where your business can be clicked, and then they will see your Google Post.

google posts in MAPSIf they search for AAA Carpets and Floors, and that’s your Google My Business verified and optimized business account, then the Knowledge Panel for your business will display to the right of search results where customers will see your Google Posts.

google posts in KNOWLEDGE PANELTips on Using Google Post to Promote Your Business

Character Limits: Only the first 80-100 characters will show in the Post so make those characters count and preview the Post to make sure your sentence isn’t cut off.

Headlines: Write headlines that make the reader want to click through.  Think of it as an ad to inspire action.

Call to Action: Tell the viewer what to do next.  “Free Download” or “Learn How to” or “Order Now” are clear CAT’s that minimize the decisions the audience needs to make.

Image Size: The best image size is 750 x 750.  Anything smaller than 250 x 250 won’t be accepted.  Preview the post to make sure the image appears as intended.

Post Often: Share daily specials and current promotions to keep customers up-to-date on your offers.

Multiple Post: If you have more than one post, the newest one will display first and older post show in a carousel format.  Users can scroll through up to 10 posts, but only the first two can be fully seen without scrolling.

Do’s and Don’ts for Writing a Google Post directly from Google

There is a right and wrong way to leverage Google Post.  To get the do’s and don’ts we went directly to the source.  This is what Google tells us about Google Post:

google posts EXAMPLE good postGoogle’s Suggestions for Writing the Perfect Google Post

  1. Be precise: What are the 3 things your customer needs to know? What do you want them to remember, for how much, and when?
    “Happy Hour! Half-price milkshakes from 5-6 PM every Friday.” 
  2. Be personal: Show what your business values:
    “We love families at Mike’s and to show our appreciation, kids eat free this weekend!” 
  3. Tell your customers what they can do. Are you selling a product? Tell them how they can buy.
    “Tickets range from $60-$160, and are available for purchase at the front desk starting at 12 PM EST today.”
  4. Highlight what makes your business, product, or offer unique. Large selection? Free shipping? Tell people:
    “Free shipping on orders over $50.” 
  5. Be timely  use a key selling point or popular item as the hook for your post:
    “Spring is here. All flip flops now 30% off.”
  6. Be sure to include any redemption instructions, unique codes, or restrictions on offers or sales:
    “$10 off purchase of $50 or more. 50% off select women’s clothing.”
  7. Use abbreviations for days and months, and don’t use periods, to allow more space for your post, and abbreviate hours:
    Jan, Feb, Mar… Mon, Tue, Wed… 9 AM, 5 PM, 12 PM
  8. Avoid the commercial slang and excessive exclamation marks or all caps that make your post look like an advertisement:
    “BOGO: 50% off men’s sneakers.”   “Crazy SALE today!!!”
  9. Don’t include more than one offer or too many exclusions in one communication:
     “Half price coffee and tea from 3-6 PM on Fridays, and buy 6, get one free donut on weekdays.”   “10% off new seasonal sandwiches. Not valid on lunch specials.”

Creating a Google Post in Google My Business

Make sure you are signed into your Google My Business account.  From your dashboard, it is a simple process to get your posts live.

Once you create a Google Post, it will appear in search results within moments.  REMEMBER the post are removed after seven days or once the event date you have set has passed.  But old posts will be visible on mobile under the “Posts” tab.

How to CREATE a Post on Desktop

google post create on desktop

How to CREATE a Post on Mobile

google posts create on mobile

How to EDIT a Post on Desktop

google post EDIT on desktopgoogle post EDIT on desktop

How to EDIT a Post on Mobile

google post EDIT on mobile

How to DELETE a Post on Desktop

google post DELETE on desktop

How to DELETE a Post on Mobile

google post DELETE on mobile

How to Get Insights (Analytics) on Your Google Posts

Google Posts don’t integrate with Google analytics without creating a custom campaign URL.  Google My Business gives you analytics on your Google Post with Insights where you can see how many views your post received and the number of button clicks.  It can take 2 to 3 days for Insights data to be updated but this is information you need to make improvements and create better posts.

On your desktop, select a post in the Posts Menu and it will show you the number of views and clicks.  On the Google My Business mobile app find the post you want in the post menu and tap the down arrow icon at the top next to “Published” to expand the screen and see the number of views and clicks.

Try Google Posts for Your Business – IT’S FREE

Use Google Posts to get more information about your business in the search engine results sidebar beyond just hours and location. Promote the latest sales and offers, and add location-specific promotions that help build online awareness about your business. Your post content will appear that the top of search results on mobile and be one of the first things a mobile Google Search user sees.

 

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USE THESE FREE GUIDES FROM REPUTATIONLOOP.COM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing  |  8 Low-Cost Digital Marketing Tactics  |  Local SEO Checklist: 9 Tips to Get Found Online  |  2017 Reputation Management Checklist  |  Using & Understanding Google My Business INSIGHTS  | Local SEO for Brick & Mortar Businesses Guide

 

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post What Are Google Posts? How to Use This New GMB Feature appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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Latest Google My Business Updates – Summer 2017

Google has been very busy in 2017 with the latest Google My Business updates! While some updates are well widely advertised, many go unannounced even though they feature major changes and added features Google My Business users should know.

If you feel you are not up to speed on the Google My Business Updates, you can check the Google My Business Updates leading up to 2017 in case you missed any.

Latest Google My Business Updates for Summer 2017

1. Create A Free Mobile Website with Google My Business

June 2017 – You can create a free mobile-optimized website to represent your business from your Google My Business listing.  You can customize themes, photos, and text of the site Google creates from the information and photos on your Google My Business Listing.

The free website you create updates automatically whenever you change your business information or add photos. It is also optimized for display on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices.  You can find this option by signing into your Google My Business Listing and clicking on the “Website” menu option.

This free website is meant to be a super simple free website for small businesses that don’t have a website, so absolutely nothing fancy or complicated is going on here.

Latest Google My Business Menu - Website Button

2. Google Posts Now Live for GMB Users

June 2017 – Publish events, products and services directly to Google Search and Maps with Google Posts from your Google My Business listing.  These posts appear to customers in search results and on maps in a few moments.  REMEMBER these posts are supposed to be timely, so they are automatically removed after 7 days or after the event has passed.

Latest Google My Business Post ExampleCreate a Google Post on Your Desktop

Latest Google My Business Updates Post - Desktop

Create a Google Post on Your Mobile Device

Latest Google My Business Updates Post - Mobile

Here you’ll find Google’s instructions to Edit or Delete a post.

3. Google Rolling Out Messaging Feature within GMB

July 2017 – With the new Messaging feature in Google My Business you can message customers from your Google Local Panel in mobile search.  This chat feature is currently available on desktop and mobile browsers, as well as the search app on Android.

The biggest of the latest Google My Business updates, chatting with potential customers can be a game changer for small businesses able to offer the personal touch researching customers crave. There is an in-depth question and answer post on Bluementhals.com that will answer a lot of your questions on what you can and cannot do with this new feature: Google My Business Messaging FAQ

On your Google My Business home page you should see a new section for “Messaging” in the menu and a big box option for “Message with Customers” to get set up by verifying your phone number to receive messages and setting an autoreply to customers who use the chat feature.  Once set up, when your business shows up in the local panel in mobile search people will see a message icon next to the call icon where they can send a text message to the number you selected.

Latest Google My Business Update - Message Icon

4. GMB Updates Insights Email Sent to Businesses

July 2017 – Google My Business Insights gives you an inside look at how people find your business listing on the web. Insights focus on how customers use Search and Maps to find your listing, and what they do once they find it.

Each column in the bulk download serves to provide insights in the following sections:
• How customers find your listing
• Where customers find you on Google
• Customer actions
• Driving directions requests
• Phone calls
• Photos

CLICK & LEARN: Using and Understanding Google My Business Insights – Free Download

With concrete performance data, it is now much easier to justify investing in local SEO as it is a huge advantage to be able to tie this type of activity to direct changes in search performance. If you can pair this up with an effective local keyword tracking tool and URL tracking parameters, then you’ll be able to clearly demonstrate the value Local SEO activity has had to a business.

The new bulk download option provides data broken down into the following columns:

  • Total searches
  • Direct searches
  • Discovery searches
  • Total views
  • Search views
  • Maps views
  • Total actions
  • Website actions
  • Directions actions
  • Phone call actions

Visit Google’s guidelines for descriptions of what each of these columns means.

There’s still only one line per location, so you don’t get a daily breakdown. This means if you want to make any comparisons then you’ll need to download the data in 7 days, 30 days,90 day or custom bursts. Which isn’t ideal but this is still a major improvement.

5. Add Customer Action Links to GMB Listings

Aug 2017 – Include specific action links people viewing your profile can click to do things like make online orders or reservations directly from Google Search or Maps.  I consider this the most impactful of the latest Google My Business updates when looking at increasing sales.  Getting customers exactly what they want with just a click moves them through the sales funnel faster.

These actions include:

  • Booking an appointment
  • Placing an order
  • Reserving a table
  • Searching for items
  • Viewing the menu

If your business already uses a third-party appointment booking service, links to those may appear automatically and cannot be edited in Google My Business.

Add Customer Action URL to Your GMB Listing:

Latest Google My Business Updates - Add Links

6. GMB Lets Businesses Edit their Listings Directly in Search Results

September 2017 – Businesses can quickly edit their Google My Business local listing directly in Google Search results.  Google has created a business dashboard visible to you right in Google Search.  To see your editing options, first make sure you logged into your GMB account, find your business on Google Search, and click on the “EDIT” button that appears above your listing.

Latest Google My Business Update - Edit in Search

On this search dashboard you can:

  • Add or correct business information, post updated hours, and more.
  • Post on Google and stay engaged with your customers.
  • Share photos that make your business stand out.
  • See how many views your listing gets, and easily access detailed information about your listing’s performance.
  • Know when users upload photos of your business.
  • Quickly take the most important actions to complete and enhance your business listing.

Latest Google My Business Updates You May Have Missed from Early 2017

  • Google Removed “Permanently Closed” Listings from the Local Finder
  • Google Removed Access to Classic Version of Google Plus
  • Google Launched Desktop Platform for Reviewing Edits to Business Listings on Google Maps
  • Google Rolled Out Snack Pack to More US Industries
  • Business Can Now Access 18 Months of Data from Insights on Google My Business Dashboard
  • Google Started Actively Showing Local Pack Ads on Mobile

Learn How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing for Local Search

Knowing that Google is Master of the Universe when it comes to search engine use and new customers finding your business, it is VITAL you understand the importance of optimizing your Google My Business listing. Give Google the information they want so you can rank higher search and make your business more visible to new customers using local search.

CLICK & LEARN: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Complete listings also influence search engine user behavior as one study shows that users who view more complete listings are about 30% more likely to report an intention to visit a store or purchase from it (Gybo 2014).  Don’t miss out on new business when these seven easy Google My Business optimization tips.

 

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Latest Google My Business Updates – Summer 2017 appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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What Pitney Bowes’ Partner Program And Google Android Deal Means For SMBs

Pitney Bowes hasn’t had to stray too far from its century-old beginnings as a business-to-business maker of “hand-cranked postage-stamping machines” with its latest update.

The company, which has long-since repositioned itself brand as a global technology and software company focused on business data, has rolled out Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, a “commerce enabler” that provides access to all its solutions, analytics, and APIs in a simple dashboard.

The announcement was part of a series of product highlights Pitney Bowes previewed this past week at Google’s offices to highlight its partnership with Google on its G Suite on powering Android devices to help manage contact between between businesses.

Alongside Google G Suite, Pitney Bowes also said it would use the applications associated with with GeoMarketing‘s parent Yext (more details here about our relationship), Acquisio, DocuSign, and Nimble CRM to power its new cloud-based marketing system.

The goal of the new system is to seamlessly assist clients identify customers, locate opportunities, enable communications, power shipping from anywhere to everywhere, and manage payments.

Pitney Bowes Updates Its History

And that’s where the updating of one of its oldest business and marketing functions comes in: Last week, Pitney Bowes introduced the SendPro C-Series, which updates the traditional process of choosing and adding postage to mailings.

The new SendPro system lets offices instantly compare postage prices between Federal Express, UPS, and the United Postal Service. Aimed at small businesses, SendPro helps choose ideal sending option for every parcel, letter and flat a business mails, while also providing full tracking and delivering savings across carriers.

“What’s distinctive about this feature is that 85 percent of small businesses in the U.S. use a combination of FedEx, UPS and USPS, but the rate structure is so complicated,” Mark Shearer, executive vice president and president, Pitney Bowes Global SMB Solutions, told GeoMarketing before a press conference held at Google’s offices. “No normal human being can figure it out. And what all too often happens is that people spend more than they need to.”

Mailing Reinvented

Clients that use this Pitney Bowes solution can also  get up to 39 percent discount from USPS just by using that device, Shearer added.

The C-Series is based on the mobile Android operating system. The new Pitney Bowes Small Business Partner Program, and will allow the companies and their clients to deliver “a broad range of new web and android applications directly and rapidly to the device.”

“Creating this partner ecosystem gives our more than one million small and medium businesses and e-commerce clients the opportunity to use a broad range of cloud and mobile enabled business applications to better reach their clients, manage their operations more effectively and ultimately grow their businesses,” Shearer added. “Our digital platform creates an entirely new client experience and offers the flexibility to quickly add more partner applications and bring even greater value to our small business client base in the near future.”

Clients should view shipping and mailing are the “anchor tenant apps” of the new cloud marketing system, Shearer said. But the most exciting thing is what will come from innovation from companies like Google, Yext, and from small developer shops around the world.

Pitney Bowes is also hosting a hack-a-thon to promote its platform with the grand prize being a job working on our development organization.

“We’re trying to have fun with it,” Shearer said. “My background is IBM hardware and systems. What I found is every time we introduce an open platform, no matter what you have in mind, the industry will run with it in an unanticipated direction. So today’s announcement is really about  trying to encourage innovation on top of the small business platform.”

Pitney Bowes clients will get an Android tablet to manage their accounts and partner apps on the SendPro system.

“It’s the Android application ecosystem that we’re trying to inspire,”  Shearer added. “As an application platform, it’s just ubiquitous. It also has some really interesting impacts. With the old postage meter, every office had ‘Joe’ to manage it. Joe was the only one that could figure out how to use the postage meter. With this new device, anyone can manage their postage and track orders without having to ask someone else for help.”

In keeping with the way Pitney Bowes has evolved its focus on location data over the past two years to meet what it calls “the era of cognition,” the company will also be working with Yext to help manage location information. Earlier this year, Pitney Bowes created a new data unit that promised to make the seemingly infinite amounts of customer insights more manageable.

“We do have a lot of location intelligence assets and I do envision SaaS based applications that help our client’s target their market and better understand how to market to their current client base,” Shearer said. “We are using a lot of these technologies in our own relationships with clients. Now that the new devices are all cloud-based, we’re measuring everything. If clients are having a hard time with certain features, or are not fully exploiting the value, we’ll digitally cultivate their awareness of these features and help them use it.”

 

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8 Low-Cost Small Business Digital Marketing Tactics – FREE DOWNLOAD

Do you feel like you are spending a lot of time and money on your marketing and not getting results? Maybe you could use some low-cost small business digital marketing tactics?  Could be you just don’t know where to start, much less how to level up.

Digital marketing can seem complicated when technology changes so quickly and every trend promises to change the way we do everything. Knowing what works and committing to simple small business digital marketing tactics you can master quickly keeps your business growing above the influx of trends and quick fixes.

Low-Cost Small Business Digital Marketing Gives You the Competitive Edge

Everyone uses the internet to research, compare, and buy their next purchases, so you need to be strategically positioned online to get found by new customers. For your business to succeed, you are going to have to jump on board and grow your online presence.

 

low cost small business marketing tree

Just reading that sounds expensive, right?  A list of all the digital marketing activities you could pay to have someone do for you is long.  You’ll find strategies such as Paid Search (pay-per-click and online ads), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Conversion Optimization, Content Marketing and Email & SMS (text message) Marketing.

That’s not even a full list and it’s daunting!

Sure, you could find experts and marketing agencies to market your business.  But there are low-cost small business digital marketing tactics you can execute in-house that will save you money while growing your business.

Learn What Digital Marketing Tactics Grow Your Business in “8 Low-Cost Small Business Digital Marketing Tactics”

Digital marketing can work for even the smallest business by keeping it simple and concentrating on the tactics you as a business owner can do yourself or at least manage with a low-cost professional service.

These 8 Low-Cost and No-Cost Digital Marketing Tactics will get you in the game, growing your online visibility and attracting new customers. A bonus list of free resources at the end will help you jump ahead in growing your business.

Time to Get Started Growing Your Online Presence and Reputation

Sometimes the problem isn’t exactly knowing what needs to be done – it’s figuring out how to start, right?

When you begin working on your digital marketing, it seems like there always a new way to market your business online. Wasting time and money on one new marketing strategy after another seems to be the norm for small businesses committed to growing their online presence.  Seasoned business owners and online marketers have been through this, and they’ve tried everything and learned the handful of methods that truly work for small businesses.

No Defined Digital Marketing

Why Digital Marketing Makes More Sense Than Ever

No matter what industry you are in, there is a good chance that your top competition has a better internet presence and reputation than your business.

New customers are searching online before they make their next purchase.  You need to show up in the first positions in search engine results to remain competitive in any market.

The most successful businesses have also created a strong awareness of their company with an audience of potential customers.  Digital marketing positions your website as a high-ranking online presence that works 24/7 advertising your business.

4 Ways Digital Marketing Grows Your Business

  1. Attract new customers
  2. Building a positive online reputation
  3. Find out what customers want
  4. Stand out in a crowded marketplace

All marketing activities should be geared towards two things: growth and profitability. Digital marketing provides a wide array of cost-effective tools and platforms that give even the smallest business direct access to a huge audience of potential customers.  These customers are dependent on their computers, phones, and mobile devices to decide where to buy. That’s good news for digital marketers!

That’s you by the way.  You’re the digital marketer in this success story. 

At least you will be after you download your free copy of 8 Low-Cost Small Business Digital Marketing Tactics above.

Here are some of the 20+ free resources you’ll get with your download:

 

Free Demo RepLoop

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post 8 Low-Cost Small Business Digital Marketing Tactics – FREE DOWNLOAD appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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Nearly One-Third Of US Online Population Will Use Voice Assistants By 2019

While mobile-centric micro-moments has changed the way consumers search for and discover local businesses, the current revolution in voice-activation appears to be taking things in a different direction.

An eMarketer overview forecast of voice-enabled technology (subscription required), charts the rapid rise of Connected Intelligence-based digital assistants as making the transition from mobile to the living room.

At the moment, over 60.5 million people — 18.5 percent of the population — will use voice-activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby, with one-third of US internet users speaking to voice assistants by 2019 (75.5 million people).

Finding Consumers’ Voice

In terms of the use cases, eMarketer cites a February study from HigherVisibility that says consumers primarily employ voice-activated assistants for “simple commands,” such as playing music (14.2 percent), setting alarms (12.6 percent), checking the weather (12.2 percent), looking up a contact (9.4 percent), and getting traffic info (7 percent).

Those numbers were further borne out by an NPR survey this summer that found most of the people surveyed used their smart speakers to play music (68 percent) or check the weather (58 percent), most of the uses offer additional points of connection for brands.

In looking at over two dozen use cases, just 13 percent of smart speaker owners use their smart speakers to find a local business.

Looking more closely at search, 20 percent Google search queries are made via voice, while 25 percent of Microsoft Bing users speak their search requests.

The Search Is On

Understanding how people are using voice-activation is the first step, said Mike Grehan, CMO of Acronym and CEO SEMPO in a panel discussion on the topic last month.

In looking at how digital assistants are impacting search, Grehan pointed a study that found 60 percent of voice queries are from people seeking a service, not search,

“When you look at the patterns that you go through, voice is about recommending and suggesting, and then you have discovery, and then you have all those keywords that are not being used to find something on the web,” Grehan said, at the panel event, The Drum Search Awards USA, which was hosted at GeoMarketing parent Yext’s offices in NYC.

A report from Forrester this past spring warned that it was high time for CMOs to face the facts that digital advertising has not worked when it comes to engaging consumers and that the emerging role of voice-activated digital assistants and the connected intelligence that powers the devices by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft will lead to only further breakdown of traditional marketing models.

Ad executives have largely dismissed that warning.

“Is this the end of advertising? I don’t think so,” Fernando Machado, Head of Brand Marketing at Burger King, told us last month at an industry event. “New technology has always opened doors for advertising. This represented a creative way to get the message out, a new way to reach our target audience, to reach our fans. That’s how we see technology: a chance to develop bigger idea that can be deployed across different channels.”

Last April, an ad campaign promoting Burger King’s Whopper set off Google Home devicesby asking its personal digital assistant what the quick serve restaurant chain’s signature product was.

Within hours, Google “blocked” devices from recognizing the question.

In the spot (a 15-second YouTube version is here), a Burger King cashier addresses the audience saying that there’s too many “delicious ingredients” in the Whopper to list in a short commercial. So, instead, the cashier leans in to the camera and says, “But I’ve got an idea: Okay, Google, what is the Whopper Burger?”

Even though Google prevented its devices from responding to the prompt, the ad got more than 10 billion impressions around the globe, with the U.S. leading the charge, Machado said.

Anselmo Ramos, founder and chief creative officer of Miami’s DAVID The Agency, said that the spot was indicative of Burger King’s irreverent, try-anything spirit and how voice-activation will simply represent another channel — in other words, a new beginning for advertising, not the end.

“When you look at radio, everybody understands how to write a spot that hits all the emotional spots,” Ramos said. “With Google Home, no one knows. It’s no territory. So we need to guess and learn. Luckily, we have a great client in Burger King that is willing to embrace new ideas, new technology.”

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Nearly Half Of Online Consumers Are Interested In Using Connected Home Devices

Awareness and interest of voice-activated digital assistants has been rising rapidly in the past year and the shifts among the main devices are reflecting that surge.

With Samsung’s Bixby being rolled out and Apple’s Siri-powered Homepod scheduled to be released at the end of the year, Microsoft and Amazon struck an agreement this week to integrate their respective Connected Intelligence agents, Cortana and Alexa.

Source: Magid Advisors

While 49 percent of U.S. consumers use their voice assistants on a weekly basis, compared with 31 percent of global respondents, according to a JWT, Mindshare, Innovation Group study, penetration of voice-activated devices is still relatively low. But the interest in such technology has clearly entered the mainstream.

As such, almost half of 2,400 consumers surveyed online by Magid Advisors expressed interest owning such a device. Among the topline findings of its report:

  • 25 percent of people who have a connected-home device use voice-activated digital assistants to shop for retail items on the internet
  • Siri (not Alexa) dominates both awareness and usage of voice-controlled digital assistant systems
  • 42 percent of people who have used a voice-controlled digital assistant said that reason is because they like to have their hands free to do other things
Source: Magid Advisors

Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors, offered a few insights into the company’s findings.

GeoMarketing: How do you see the state of virtual, connected assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Bixby, and Okay Google in terms of consumer and brand adoption/activity/use cases?

Mike Vorhaus: Siri is obviously way out front due to its distribution across Apple devices. Products like Alexa, Cortana, Google Home, etc., are all close to each other in awareness and usage to date by consumers.  This is definitely a close horse race at this point.

How do you think it will change over the next year, as Bixby is being rolled out and Apple’s Siri-powered bid for the Connected Home, Homepod, is due to be released in December?

I anticipate that the Siri/Apple device will be very appealing to consumers.  Nonetheless, the devices/software from Amazon, Google, etc., are all strong competitors.

Noting the appeal of voice-activation’s hands’ free capabilities, do you expect that speaking to a device, versus typing on it, will change consumer behavior in specific ways?

Yes, consumers will likely be less exact and will be able to repeat more information than they might otherwise when typing. That should make for better searches and better understanding of what the consumer is saying.

Does the rise of voice-activated interactions call into question the role of websites, in terms of the way they’re constructed from an SEO standpoint, to the kinds of visual-centric (as opposed to audio-oriented) information they provide?    

Yes, just like mobile devices have replaced a lot of desktop/laptop devices, I anticipate the voice-activated devices will similarly reduce use of the desktop/laptop devices.

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Geo 101: What Marketers Need To Know About Micro-Moments

From geo-targeting to voice search, technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers. But it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: what marketers need to know about the evolution of micro-moments.

What Are Micro-Moments?

Google first used the term “micro-moments” in 2015, as a means to describe the way mobile has created the consumer expectation for immediately being able to find — and get — what they want within instants after registering their interest online.

Essentially, the idea is that customers have always experienced moments where they want to “know, go, do, or buy” something, as Google puts is. But the smartphone allows users to solve for those wants while on-the-go, and nearly immediately. As such, it’s critical for brands to be present during these (often location-specific) “micro-moments” when wants are registered and decisions are made: After all, 76 percent of location-related searches result in a same-day business visit.

But the way that customers search for and find information during these “micro-moments” has evolved over the two years since the term was coined.

“Consumers have become more empowered than ever to get what they want, when they want it,” ThinkWithGoogle put it in a recent report. “Waiting has become a thing of the past. That translates into today’s pervasive micro-moment behavior — immediately turning to a device to know, go, do, and buy. To capitalize on that behavior and win over consumers, marketers have been forced to rewrite the rule book. [They’ve] had to double down on addressing the needs of consumers in the moment, committing to being there and being useful each and every time… In short, marketers have had to start being a lot more assistive.”

Successful Micro-Moments Marketing

In order to reach customers on their personal devices at the right moment, there are a few trends that marketers today should be aware of to start:

  • “Near Me” is now implied: In the early days of “micro-moments,” customers used the phrase “near me” en masse — and this was an indicator that they were looking for something to do our buy in the real world in real time. Today, Google’s research suggests that customers expect their search results to be “near them” by design: As search results have evolved pursuant to customers’ real-time, “near me” desires, they’ve become increasingly mapped to the physical world: For example, Google’s mapped “three-pack” of results appears at the top of search results. Additionally, if a consumer searches for “new car,” they don’t simply see links — they see the knowledge card, with prices, configurations, features of cars for sale, and more, all seamlessly. As we wrote earlier this year, Google now assumes people are looking for something in the physical world, which wasn’t the case several years ago. All of this appears to have rendered the “near me” search irrelevant — even as people expect more location-specific, targeted content than ever.
  • Search isn’t just text — it’s voice, too20 percent of searches within the Google app are by voice, and the volume of voice searches is growing across the board — particularly those facilitated by intelligent assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. In this year’s 2016 Internet Trends report, venture capitalist analyst Mary Meeker cited Google Trends statistics that keywords associated with “voice-related commands” have risen 35x since 2008, when Apple and Google first unveiled their respective speech-activated controls, and continue to climb. Essentially, customers are searching by voice during “micro-moments,” too — and that trend is likely to continue.

Brands are taking these changes seriously, prepping their underlying data layer for consumption by voice-activated intelligent assistants as well as thinking about how the voice/audio renaissance impacts what resonates with consumers during micro-moments.

For example, Pandora is taking a cue from shorter video ads currently being offered by YouTube, Facebook, Fox Networks, with a similar version for audio ads in order to help better capture mobile consumers on-the-go and drive sharper creative. As we wrote earlier this month, following tests of the shorter format that showed lifts in ad recall with pest control service Orkin and jobs site ZipRecruiter, Subway is planning to use the Pandora 10- and 30-second audio ads in the next few weeks. This shorter ad length reportedly prompted greater recall and action amongst younger demos.

Essentially, brands of all stripes will need to think about the future of search in order to remain discoverable during crucial micro-moments — as well as to create compelling mobile content that communicates relevant information quickly enough to match consumers’ desires and ability for recall.

Read more about micro-moments marketing:

How ‘Micro-Moments’ Changed The Marketing Game For Booking.com, CVS

Macy’s Turns Toward Omnichannel, With Special Attention For ‘Micro-Moments’

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