Why You Shouldn’t Sleep on “Near Me” Searches on Google

Think back to the last time you used your phone to search for something to do or something to eat nearby – did your search include the words “near me?” Chances are that it probably did, but it is becoming more common for the phrase to be left off with mobile searches.

While Google reported that searches using “near me” or “nearby” had doubled from 2014 to 2015, they are now seeing another shift in search habits. Users are now dropping location qualifiers, such as zip codes and “near me” phrasing in their local searches, because they’ve come to realize that those results will already apply to their location. This is something that Google considers “kind of magical.”

Google Data reports that from January to June 2017, search volume for local places without the qualifier “near me” have actually outgrown comparable searches that do include “near me.” Making the case even more compelling is the fact that over the last two years, comparable searches without “near me” have grown by 150 percent.

Have we outgrown the “near me” search phrase? No, but all signs and data are pointing towards the end of needing to include the phrase when using mobile searches. Location services have made it simple for your mobile device to know exactly where you are and what is nearby without the phrase even having to be used.

Once again, think back to the last time you used a mobile device to search for something – what exactly were you searching for? According to Google Internal Data, nearly a third of all mobile searches are related to location. One area that is popular for searches are local or nearby restaurants. It is normal for searches to include the type of cuisine being sought and a zip code, but while restaurant searches have grown by double-digits in the past two years, those using a zip code qualifier have declined by more than 30 percent.

So how does this information apply to marketing? It’s simple: people want to receive the same quality and relevant information without the use of direct inputs. They may be sharing less, but are still expecting a word or phrase to produce what they’re looking for in a search. For those willing to put in the time and effort to meet these new search standards, the payoff could be big, as nearly two-thirds of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location.

Milo’s digital marketing team is ready to answer any questions you may have and work with your business to come up with a strategy that will make your digital presence truly shine. Contact us today to get started.

Rolling with the Punches: How staying agile will make you a better digital marketer

Digital Marketing blog postRolling with the Punches: How staying agile will make you a better digital marketer
The following is a cautionary tale for when digital marketing is separated or siloed from other pieces, like the ability to modify the website. This is based on my experience working on a digital campaign when a client refused to give access to their landing page and website. My hope is that the lessons that I learned will help you too.

All the players were on the field: our search ads were driving relevant traffic, social media was tuned in for customer service and our display ads were ready for retargeting, but when the time came to score, we couldn’t convert. It was devastating. The sign-up process on the client website was messy and made the customer jump through too many hoops. It was like driving the ball towards the goal and passing it back and forth between players without actually scoring. The unforgiving truth about the success of digital campaigns is that all of the parts need to work together or whole the campaign may fail. Your website, landing page, email, digital ads and social media must play as a team to guide the customer to the desired goal.
Key Takeaways: Identify your final goal and understand how all of the digital elements fit together to achieve it.

At the end of each round, listen to your analytics
The first round was shaky, but the fight wasn’t over. We got back on our feet by reviewing the data and gathering insights of the campaign so far. We initially divided our budget between social, digital and display, but the data clearly pointed in the direction of Facebook ads. We shifted the budget to Facebook ads and saw a spike in positive conversions.  Unlike TV and Radio, digital ads allow for instant feedback on the campaign performance and the ability to shift the budget to the segments that are performing better.
Key Takeaway: Listen to your analytics – they will show you where the opportunities are.

When in doubt get back to basics
Everything goes back to simplicity: you must make the customer journey easy. The easier it is the more likely they’ll make it to the end. Every clickthrough, bad landing page and extra fields they need to fill out works against you. As more data came in, we could easily see where the target traffic came from, what they clicked on, and where we lost them.  All the traffic and attention we bought to the website was met with an obstacle: the client-ran website. It was full of annoying pop-ups, long registration forms and no onboarding process for new clients.  It was like putting in the hard work and having your opponent on the ropes only to step away without finishing the fight.
Key Takeaways: If the conversion process is broken no amount of ad traffic, Facebook likes or blog posts will fix that.  Your website and landing page needs to be designed with the customer in mind.

Reviewing the Tape
In sports, reviewing the tape refers to watching video of your past performance to look for opportunities to improve. Looking back at this campaign I wish we would have started with a smaller project to gain more trust with the client so we could work better as a team.
Key Takeaway: Never walk away without learning something new from the project.

AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013

AWRF Social Media Presentation 2013

When social media first arrived on the scene companies were scrambling trying to figure out how to take advantage of this new medium. While others were asking the question, “why should I bother? Especially when all people do is share pictures of what they had for dinner or their kids back to school pictures.”

What we forget is that social media is really nothing new. It’s something we’ve done since the days of AOL, America Online. Don’t you remember the 500 hour free cds and usernames like Kitty 902010? It’s really just a fancy way of describing how we communicate on the internet.

We know that Social Media isn’t going away. It’s the #1 activity on the web and when we pull out our cell phones, 91% of us are using them for social media related activities.

Here is a great example of the larger role mobile plays in our day to day lives. This is a picture of St. Peters Square in 2005. Nothing really to write home about. Fast forward to 2013 and you’ll notice nearly every person has a mobile device to capture the moment. But they aren’t just capturing the moment for their personal collection. They are sharing the moment in real-time on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s what we call the real-time web.

So as business owners how do we take advantage of social media? With all that we have going on where do we start?

It begins with your website. Think of your website as your hub. Everything that you do should revolve around getting traffic back to your website. Facebook is not your website. Your activities on social media are the spokes that drive traffic back to your site.

Now if it’s been a little while since you’ve updated your website it may be time for a makeover. Sure we get busy, but we need to think of our website as our business card on the web. It’s the first impression we give when someone is researching our company. And with keeping mobile in mind it’s even more important that we take a mobile first stance to our design. What we like to call responsive. Responsive design allows your website to resize to fit whatever device someone may be using whether it be an iPhone, tablet, or desktop computer.

An example of recent redesign is the AWRF.org website. We wanted to put the social icons at the top for a couple of reasons. Number one was to share with people where they can find and two to let the search engines know what social media sites are connected to us. This way when someone searches out your company Google can return the social media sites as relevant results.

We also added an image that would quickly give a visitor an idea of what the website was about. You have roughly five seconds when someone visits your website to before they give up and leave.

Finally we made sure to have a clear call to action telling the visitor what we wanted them to do. All of these items were above the fold. Meaning when you visit from a desktop you can see all three items.

Now that we have our website in order we need a way to measure our efforts. It doesn’t make sense to put in all the work without understanding the return. One of my favorite tools is Google Analytics. Mostly because it’s free but also because it gives you great insights to how people are visiting your website and if the content you are sharing is working.

You can see how many people have visited your website. What country, state or city they came from. The amount of time they’ve spent on your site. All of this data will help you to understand how people are using your website. Don’t trust my word on going mobile, let the data guide you.

So we have our website in order and a way to measure our efforts. How do we choose a social network? It starts with connecting the dots with our traditional marketing goals. Who are the people we are trying to reach? Where do they spend their time? With over 200 social networks it can be overwhelming. Don’t forget forums they are great for niche communities and discovering conversations that can’t be found on more traditional networks.

Let’s talk a bit about blogging. Blogs are great way to easily update your static websites. For those who are a bit leary about the pressure to update often because of the name blog can name it something like news.

What are some of the things you can talk about? Stories of employees volunteering or doing good in the community. An employee spotlight. Share your company milestones. Customer stories and testimonials are great options. What about your frequently asked questions. Certainly you have customers that reach out with same questions over and over. Make them short blog posts. Blogs are a gift that keep on giving. Long after you’ve written a post you’ll reap the rewards of that content.

I’ve listed a few blogging platforms although my favorite is WordPress. It’s simple to update. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. Talk with the guys in your IT department about implementation.

As business owners you certainly wear lots of hats. Finding time to manage social media and digital marketing may be one hat too many. Where do you find the time? It’s a team effort. Look for subject matter experts within your organization that can contribute on a regular basis. Find employees that are active on social media. But make sure you put a social media policy in place to guide them on what is acceptable. What works for their personal Facebook account isn’t always what’s best for a corporate account. And be sure to make it a habit. Check your accounts first thing in the morning. Get in a routine.

Now that you have some pieces in place it is extremely important to listen. If you’re going to be involved you need to participate. This means knowing when a question has been posted about your company. Don’t let it sit for 2 or 3 days. Answer the question. You’ll know it’s out there if you take the time to listen and monitor your accounts.

I’ve listed a few tools to help manage your social media efforts. All of them are cloud based tools to allow you to manage from multiple devices from any location with internet access. Be sure to check out Bit.ly. It allows you to take a really long URL and make it tiny. You also have the ability to track where clicks are coming from and where your links are being shared.

Be sure to reach out if you have any questions. There are a couple more slides with additional tools and an example of how search engines return social media channels in search results.

Social Media in Manufacturing

The first step in utilizing social media for manufacturing is determining if social media makes sense for your business.   I’m not entirely convinced that social media marketing makes sense for every business.

At it’s most basic form, social media is simply having a conversation online and can take shape in many different ways. Interestingly, most companies jump on Facebook and Twitter completely missing out on other opportunities. Having a presence on these to social networks doesn’t guarantee success.

Here are some basic steps for developing a social media strategy for manufacturing:

1. Start with the end in mind

What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to reach new customers? Existing? Will you be promoting a new product or service? Choose one. It can be difficult to be all thing to all people.

2. Where are you customers?

Where do your customers spend their time online? If it isn’t Facebook or Twitter, figure out where the conversations are taking place.

3. Listen

If all you do is promote and share links, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to “network”. After all there is a reason why it’s called “social networking”.   Tools like search.twitter.com, Social Mention, and even Google search can give you real-time insights to what those in your industry are talking about.

4.  Participate

Especially in forums.  Forums are a great way for you to do market research, understand frustrations within your industry, and connect with those USING your product.  There are some excellent forums for the manufacturing industry.  Look for ways to engage.  Think about joining a Twitter chat. #MFGchat is a bi-weekly chat for the manufacturing industry. A great opportunity to have one on one interaction.

5.  Connect

A great way to connect with customers is by just jumping in.  It’s like a big networking event, those who already know each other will be having a conversation and you have to find a pleasant way to jump in, but be careful, online communities don’t take kindly to spam.

6.  Evaluate

Are you seeing results from your involvement in social media?  Know what metrics you should be evaluating.  You’ll be able to figure this out based on Number 1.  Start with the end in mind.  If it’s about making new connections, were you able to convert those online connections into real world meetings?  If you’re trying to grow you newsletter, how many new subscribers came as a result?

If you’re a manufacturing company, how are you implementing social media into your business?

Social Media and the Insurance Agent

Social media for Insurance Agents. A regulated industry with do and don’ts to make your head spin. How does an insurance agent/agency even begin to take advantage of the social media options available? Should insurance agent take part in social media?

Absolutely.

Social media/networking gives you the ability to connect with existing clients and prospective clients in a way that traditional media does not. It creates dialogue.

Social networking goes beyond Facebook and Twitter.  While these are great networks for engagement and we’ll discuss, there are some other areas that offer a great return on your efforts.

1.  Blogging – builds your website content and keeps your website fresh and up to date.

  • Adding a blog to your existing website gives you the opportunity to write relevant content based on your audience.
  • Create a section dedicated entirely to FAQ (frequently asked questions).
  • Once a week address a FAQ on your blog.  If you’ve been in the industry for a while this shouldn’t be hard to do.

2.  Twitter – A great way to connect with other agent and build back links to your website

  • Use Twitter to connect with other insurance agents/agencies.
  • Use Twitter to share content created on your website.
  • Participate in industry specific Twitter chats (held once a week/bi-weekly/monthly).  Twitter Chat Schedule
  • Connect with local Twitter users
  • Answer industry specific questions

3.  Forums – Find a non-insurance related forum and become the part of the community.  Actively participate in discussions.  This takes time as regular forum users are highly protective and treat spam harshly and quickly.

  • Learn what people are talking about related to insurance issues
  • Answer industry specific questions
  • Market research the frustrations related to insurance
  • Creates dialogue with potential clients
  • Builds back-links to your website
  • Sets you apart

4.  Facebook – Facebook is the starting point on the web first thing in the morning for plenty of users.

  • Connect with existing clients.
  • Share content relevant to them.
  • Avoid industry lingo and focus on relevant content that encourages dialogue.
  • Create a simple welcome tab.  Make it the default landing page.
  • Interact with your fans.

5.  YouTube – Video is a great way to connect visually

  • Create short engaging video
  • Think “less commercial” and more “value”.  What usable information can they take away?
  • Be creative – don’t be afraid to bring in an outsider to help
  • Client testimonials, introduction to staff integrated on your website
  • Keyword optimize.

5.  Google Places – The percentage of smart phones continues to rise.  This means local search is becoming increasingly important.

  • Create/Claim your Google Places profile.
  • Integrate your profiles, pictures, and video.
  • Tag your profile based on industry.

These are just a few suggestions to get your started on Social Media with a touch of digital marketing.  Both should be integrated into a traditional marketing strategy, not as a replacement.

How have you integrated social media and digital marketing into your insurance agency?