‘Facebook Events’ App Is Now ‘Facebook Local’

Facebook has revamped the separate Events app it released last year into with a broader mission designed to promote discovery and reviews.

The new version, which is being rolled out on Apple iOS and Google Android devices is called, simply, Facebook Local.

“Last year, we launched a standalone app for people who love using Facebook events to find things to do around them,” said Aditya Koolwal, Product Manager, in an email. “Now, we’re updating that app to help people find more things to do with their communities. The new app, Facebook Local, helps you easily find what to do, where to go, where to eat, or what you need— all recommended by the people you know and trust.”

If that sounds a lot like Foursquare and Yelp, you’re probably right. But for Facebook, the decision simply follows its years-long focus on local as it tries to counter its primary advertising and marketing rival, Google.

The release of Facebook Local comes after another high-flying quarter for the social network. Earlier this week, Facebook reported its Q3 2017 earnings by saying it now has nearly 2.1 billion people using Facebook every month and nearly 1.4 billion people using it daily. (Instagram also hit a big milestone this quarter, now with 500 million daily actives.”).

Facebook Local app in action. Source: Facebook

Overall, total revenue grew 47 percent year over year, and we had our first ever quarter with more than $10 billion in revenue. And with social media being inherently local, Facebook’s effort to make it easier for its users and businesses to connect and engage with each other is essential to keeping those numbers rising.

“For my part, when I think about our Marketer segment, we have SMBs; we have brand, direct response, and developers,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told analysts during the company’s earnings call. “We’re seeing strong growth across all those areas. “I think if you think about where the growth remains, it really is in increasing the relevance of the ads, because the ads I think are getting better in terms of reaching the right people at the right time.”

All Users Are Local

While Facebook Local didn’t come up during the earnings call, the importance of local advertising did.

Sandberg touted Facebook’s Custom Audiences and its targeting tools, as leading to better experiences for both consumers and businesses.

As an example, she pointed to an effort by the Alameda County Fair, a local fairground in Pleasanton, California. The Fair used Facebook to target people within 25 miles of their fairgrounds, focusing on ages 20-to-51 who have specific interests in concerts, music festivals, and theme parks. As a result of Facebook’s tools, the Fair saw season pass ticket sales for 2017 rise by 50 percent compared to 2016.

“That’s really about finding the people that are interested,” Sandberg said. “And if you look at the percentage of our ads business where people are using our most sophisticated approaches to finding the right audience, I think we still have a lot of opportunity for growth there, and that will improve both the quality of the ads people see but also the returns to marketers. And I think that will hit all of the verticals and all of the segments.”

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Diagnosing The Marketing Challenges Of ‘Aesthetic Healthcare’

It looks as though the spa industry could use some extra self-care when it comes to being discovered by and engaging with its customers.

That’s the diagnosis of SMB marketing platform eRelevance. The company’s The State of Aesthetic Healthcare Marketing 2017 report outlines some of the problems facing the industry, which includes spas and wellness programs.

Even as Google has begun to offer help to make booking an appointment with a treatment center literally as easy as finding one in Google Maps, businesses are plagued by several issues, says eRelevance CMO Adam Weinroth:

  • Practices are far from satisfied with marketing results: Nearly 60 percent of respondents cited lack of results (30 percent) and lack of measurement (28 percent) as the chief reasons for dissatisfaction with their marketing efforts.
  • No practice surveyed focuses exclusively on repeat business from its patients but practices recognize its value: None of the practices surveyed focuses its marketing exclusively on generating repeat business from existing patients despite clear benefits and cost efficiencies. According to respondents, this is due to limited time and expertise.
  • Practices see benefit to outsourcing patient marketing to an expert: While 92 percent of respondents said they are executing patient marketing internally, 60 percent said they would consider outsourcing to a proven expert.

“Aesthetic healthcare practices that want to thrive in today’s competitive environment must find a way to reach the most qualified consumers, with the most relevant messages, in the most cost-effective way,” said Weinroth. Most practices, through the survey, acknowledge the best way to do that is by generating more repeat business from their existing patients. We found that while most of the practices surveyed are aware of the unmatched benefits of effectively marketing to their existing patients, they simply don’t have the resources or expertise to execute the kind of sophisticated marketing campaigns necessary to effectively reach their patients to business growth.”

GeoMarketing: How do we define “aesthetic healthcare?” 

Adam Weinroth: U.S.-based medical spas and elective healthcare practices offering non-invasive cosmetic procedures.

How does the marketing of this category differ from the general healthcare marketplace?

The procedures offered by aesthetic healthcare practices are elective and payed out-of-pocket.  Consumers are making purchasing decisions not based on medical need or insurer requirements, but on drivers such as loyalty, brand awareness and value.

Social media and email are the top methods for driving awareness and discovery. How well are professionals in this space using those channels?

Generally, they are using untargeted, unpaid social posts, which are largely ineffective due to limited reach and lack of segmentation and relevancy. Regarding email, the vast majority are simply email blasting. This is problematic for two reasons: First, they’re essentially spamming their patients, which drives them away, making them ripe for competitors to move in. Second, industry statistics show that marketing emails only get opened 20 percent of the time.  So, best case, professionals in the space are missing out on engaging more than three quarters of their patients—an enormous, missed opportunity.

Are professionals under-investing in other channels?

The internal staffs at most aesthetic healthcare practices simply don’t have the time nor expertise to achieve sophisticated patient marketing across channels. The result is a staggeringly underwhelming level of repeat business from existing patients. And that then leads them to over invest in chasing new business through traditional advertising, which, on average, costs about $1,000 per new aesthetic patient.

What accounts for the high rates of “dissatisfaction” with their marketing services? 

The dissatisfaction comes from a lack of results, the inability to measure results and the overall struggle of trying to execute effective patient marketing with nowhere near the time, technology or expertise necessary to do it well.

How has the use of search evolved in terms of getting their locations discovered? 

Search is no longer just about pages of blue links. Consumers aren’t just using mobile devices, they are driving true mobility between many screens and apps. That means practices should be thinking about search via Google, yes, but also Yelp, maps, Facebook, Siri and more.

Could search and the use of location targeting/analysis generate more repeat customer business (alluding to the data point that few practices tend to focus marketing dollars on repeat business)? 

It may, but those kinds of techniques miss out on the power of effective customer marketing: Knowing exactly who your customers are and how and where to reach them. What we’ve found to be most effective is digitally surrounding customers across channels with personally relevant information.

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Google Opens Up Direct-To-Search And Map Posts To Local Businesses

Google My Business clients have a new discovery tool that will let their announcements, promotions, events, and other news be found directly in query results and on their Google Maps listings.

Dubbed Google Post, the feature was first offered to select major brands, celebrities, and to the presidential candidates who wanted an easy way of getting the word out about location-based news they had, such as special appearances and events.

The Posts will appear within Google business listings. Customers only have to “tap” the Post box to read the full item. Users can also share the Posts to friends via email or social channels.

“With 82 percent of people turning to search engines to find local information, your Google listing is the ideal place to showcase what is unique about your business,” writes Rosa Wu, product manager Google My Business, in a blog post. “Even when customers know exactly what they’re looking for, they still want to get to know the business and see what it has to offer. That’s why Google My Business is bringing Posts to local businesses — an easy way to help attract new customers and build relationships with the customers you already have.”

The latest tool in Google My Business follows the recently added ability for restaurants to publish their entire, detailed menus within their search results across Google could change the way eateries are ultimately discovered by patrons interested in specific meals.

Like the direct-to-search and maps feature for menus, Posts takes the friction out of having to leave Google Maps, wait for an outside menu site to load, and then have to return to the main app for directions and other details such as reviews, directions, and hours.

It all stems from Google’s determination to offer users a complete walled garden where they don’t have to lose the ease of staying in its search app functions, whether it’s to hail a car or book a fitness appointment.

The key difference with Posts is that it allows for the easy distribution and discovery of time-sensitive news that a local business wants new and existing customers to know.

Among the ideas that Google suggests local businesses might use Posts for:

  • Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.
  • Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.
  • Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.

From there, businesses can choose the ways consumers can take an action from a Post. For example, they can connect with customers directly from their Google listing by giving them a “one-click path” to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even make a purchase directly online.

“Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice,” Wu says. “With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-action directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.”

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YP Digital Presence Promises Businesses ‘Complete Location Information Control’

YP’s been on an aggressive product rollout the last few weeks, and its latest, ypPresence Plus, promises to tie them all together as businesses struggle to ensure they have the most up-to-date details about their locations across all digital channels.

The concept of Digital Presence Management refers to the process of overseeing and correcting all information about a business location across desktop, mobile, social media, interactive reviews, mapping/navigation platforms, store pages, directory listings, and anywhere else a consumer can encounter and seek knowledge about a brand’s place.

“A strong digital presence begins with a website and continues with a consistent, up-to-date business profile that consumers can access online and on mobile devices,” says Stu MacFarlane, EVP of Product and Marketing at YP.

“It can be time consuming and difficult for business owners to manage their information in all the places it appears,” MacFarlane adds. “ypPresence Plus gives business owners control over their listings, ensuring that consumers across the web have the information they need to feel confident about contacting the business.”

It’s About Local Discovery

YP is billing ypPresence Plus as the latest in a series of enhancements to YP’s portfolio of integrated solutions, including the recent launch of ypWebsite Pro, which is meant to help local companies create a central internet hub. With ypWebsite Pro, local businesses have the ability to earn top rankings in organic search results and get found on local directory sites.

The addition of ypPresence Plus is designed to ensure that as local places see their discoverability rise, consumers will be able to find real-time data about those business locations.

“Local business owners can lock in critical business information for each location so it can be showcased across more than 60 sites, including the ready-to-buy audience on yellowpages.com,” a YP representative tells GeoMarketing. This helps build credibility with search engines and ensure core information is accurate when a consumer is ready to make a purchase.

YP is working with Digital Presence Management specialist and Knowledge Engine Yext as a partner on ypPresence Plus. (Full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More on that relationship here.)

“We’ve heard from clients that ypPresence Plus works, delivering accurate online information, which helps drive clicks, calls and customers,” the YP rep says. “In a study of more than 1,400 clients, ypPresence Plus delivered 98 percent accuracy across publishers for core content.”

One client,Jan Steinlage, marketing director of Kansas and Missouri based Saylor Insurance Service, says that “ypPresence Plus saves me time so that I can focus on other areas of marketing and growing our business. It gives me peace of mind knowing that our business now has a better online presence, which is something I did not have the time nor expertise for.”

The Costs Poor Digital Presence Management

For years, YP has explored the ways consumers zig-zag from device to device, platform to platform, online-to-offline when searching for products and services.  The fragmented customer journey makes it harder than ever for brands to be where local consumers are looking and to gauge success.

If a business has inconsistent or wrong information related to a location, the loss of that consumer’s spending isn’t just a one-time problem; it represents a basic loss of trust that another brand can capture and retain.

Considering that on average, business owners will see their information changed, without their consent, every six days on one of 60 leading sites consumers find a business on, it’s critical that business ownerstake control of their online data, YP notes.

Without actively managing it, vital business information, such as a business name, address and phone number, may be listed incorrectly on sites that consumers visit frequently.

Since consumers use multiple sources in their search for local businesses – everything from websites to search engines to review sites to social media – it is imperative that the data is accurate and consistent.

In terms of quantifying the problem, research by comScore conducted on behalf of YP found that YP users reference an average 5.6 sources of information. Consumers also say that they are much less likely to contact businesses that have inaccurate or incomplete information online.

While the rise of connected intelligence through voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa may soon call the idea of a brand’s website into question, brands need to ensure they have a handle on the details that define their outlets — and on their terms.

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YP Taps Verve To Help Expand National-To-Local Ad Reach

YP has signed up Verve as a display ad distribution partner as the company, which bills itself as “The Real Yellow Pages” looks to expand its reach and focus to serving national brands that want to target local consumers.

The deal comes a week after the rollout of ypWebsite Pro, which helps local brands create central internet hub with a mobile-responsive, SEO-ready website.

This agreement between YP and Verve is actually an expansion of an earlier partnership to power YP’s mobile display for SMBs by extending similar capabilities to national brands.

YP’s pitch to brands is that consumers arrive at YP’s sites by searching for a specific local product or service.

The company backs that up by citing conducted by comScore on behalf of YP, 74 percent of YP users make a purchase after searching, and those searchers spend an average of 34 percent more per purchase than all searchers.

Therefore, serving YP’s display ads to those “intent-focused” consumers would seem to be particularly valuable — especially outside of the confines of the websites within YP’s own network. Working with Verve will spread those display ads to placements within the apps and publisher sites that Verve is aligned with.

“With millions of users, YP is committed to connecting local businesses with consumers wherever they are, on whatever device or medium they’re using,” said YP CEO Jared Rowe. “We rely on industry leading partners like Verve to help us expand our reach beyond our owned and operated channels. This agreement allows us to focus on our large consumer audience while delivering even more value to our clients.”

Although the emergence of connected intelligence through voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa may soon call the utility of a brand’s website into question, the fact remains that brands need a central hub for the vital business information consumers need, Stu MacFarlane, Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing at YP, noted in an interview with GeoMarketing last week.

“Websites are foundational to connecting local businesses with consumers, and a strong SEO strategy is critical to delivering traffic to their sites,” MacFarlane said.

From Verve’s vantage point, the idea of display ads being “static” or leading to banner blindness, particularly within the mobile space, ignores the fact that they still reach and influence millions of consumers.

“Mobile marketing is far more than a banner displayed on a phone,” said Verve CEO and President Tom Kenney. “It is a powerful opportunity for brands and publishers to deliver extremely relevant and localized messages in contextual moments that resonate with consumers. We look forward to combining the Verve location-powered insights and targeting model with YP’s exceptionally large user base to deliver superior consumer experiences and tangible business results for advertisers.”

 

 

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As Social, Voice, And Visual Search Rises, YP Finds That Websites Remain ‘Foundational’ For Locals

While the rise of connected intelligence through voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa may soon call the idea of a brand’s website into question, the fact remains that brands need a central hub for the vital business information consumers need.

Even a Facebook page or accounts on Instagram or Twitter are not enough for local businesses who want to achieve wider SEO aims, says local media and directory services platform YP.

The company’s launch of ypWebsite Pro this week is meant to help local brands create that central internet hub. The new tool promises local businesses the ability to earn top rankings in organic search results and get found on local directory sites.

With ypWebsite Pro, local businesses get a mobile responsive, content-rich website supplemented by a full range of SEO services designed to improve rankings on Google and other leading search engines, YP says in a blog post.

But YP is quick to note that this is not simply another custom website-builder that hosting companies like GoDaddy provide. The YP offering also enables local businesses to claim, update and manage their business listings across more than 60 search, social and directory sites to ensure accurate and consistent information across the web.

“Websites are foundational to connecting local businesses with consumers, and a strong SEO strategy is critical to delivering traffic to their sites,” said Stu MacFarlane, Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing at YP.

“The ypWebsite Pro product is proving to be an extremely valuable SEO solution for our clients, MacFarlane added. “Results from extensive product trials show that over 70 percent of keywords rank on page one of Google after five months or less.”

The new product is also meant to connect the more than 50 million monthly visitors looking for on yellowpages.com. Clients that combine ypWebsite Pro with a ypLocalAds product get preferred access to this ready-to-buy audience in a way that drives high-value leads to client websites and works as a perfect supplement to SEO efforts.

It is worth noting that YP isn’t just focusing on websites these days. The company recently expanded its partnership with Microsoft’s Bing for the Redmond software company’s artificial intelligence assistant, Cortana.

“YP’s relationship with Bing and Microsoft gives us access to new features and avenues to help us optimize search campaigns to deliver more quality leads for our advertisers,” Rich Maraschi, VP, Advertising Products at YP, The Real Yellow Pages, told us last month. “Voice search is an emerging channel for small businesses to use to connect with consumers. We are working closely with Bing on the strategies for how to use Cortana to get quality, targeted leads for businesses.”

The move is part of an investment by YP to provide “better integrated solutions” that enable local businesses to build their presence, MacFarlane says.

GeoMarketing: Is ypWebsite Pro intended for specific kinds of local businesses?

Stu MacFarlane: ypWebsite Pro is ideal for the kind of local businesses that would be those interested in looking to outperform their competition, are digital market savvy (meaning that they understand the value of SEO and interested in diversifying digital marketing portfolio), and businesses with perhaps a poorly designed website or looking to upgrade or redesign their YP website.

Is there a particular profile of SMB who would benefit from it?

Some of the key customers segments (SMBs) for this product include construction/contractors, dentists, insurance, auto repair & service, plumbers, legal services, medical services, and physicians and surgeons. That said, ypWebsite Pro can be a great fit for a wide range of SMB business types. More importantly, the types for businesses that can benefit the most from it are those who are not currently showing up organically on the first page of search results for important terms in their category and geography and are missing out on potential customers as a result.

What’s the value of ypWebsite Pro generally versus other kinds of pages that SMBs might have, such as Facebook Pages or Google My Business?

First and foremost, a business’ website serves as the digital storefront and is an indispensable piece of their presence in this day and age. A website builds credibility and trust for your business, further building your brand. Additionally, ypWebsite Pro provides the benefit of ownership of your content as opposed to allowing outside entities to own/control the content.

How customizable are ypWebsite Pro pages?

ypWebsite Pro allows for a customized, content-rich, and compelling site with 10-15 pages of carefully researched content that reflects the client’s business. The sites are not templated or “cookie cutter” but rather are customized the client’s needs. ypWebsitePro also offers a new blog post on the website each month that is industry specific (to the client’s business) and relevant information formatted for any device.

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