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Category Archives: Lead Generation And Monitoring

Facebook’s local search improvements create new opportunities for businesses

Facebook’s local search

Although Google’s dominance of valuable search traffic market share seems beyond question, Facebook is making strides to secure a larger portion of it. Currently, Google has more than 63% of traffic in mobile search, where the growth is considered to be, and a monopoly on search traffic in general of 95%, according to industry intelligence gathered by comScore. However, Facebook has been steadily modifying how search works on its platform in ways that could mean new changes are coming to the local search landscape.

This is good news for businesses that would like more options to capture local customers while searching locally. Recently, industry expert SearchEngineLand.com noted the seven key improvements that Facebook is making after having tested each to see if they truly delivered:

  1. Using location much more effectively

Local business pages on Facebook have now changed to prominently highlight maps and directions at the top on “Home” and “About” pages. Many searches from the top search box also automatically return results based on the user’s location. This provides truly local search results, SearchEngineLand.com says, noting that clicking through to see all results opens the “Places” tab and provides more results within three miles.

  1. Places are prioritized

In the past, the functionality of the “Places” tab was sorely lacking, according to SearchEngineLand.com, but now that has changed: “Facebook Places today is not only highly functional, it is the first information provided when relevant (i.e., when a search is made that implies a place or local business). For example, a search for “Texas Beaches” or “Plumbing services” returned Places results at the top, followed by pages of local businesses. And Facebook recognizes when location is not relevant — a search for “Wonder Woman movie” returned videos, news and a Wikipedia page.”

  1. Search engine results are much more robust and complete

Search results on Facebook are now much deeper and provide more valuable information. The publication tested lawyer listings and found that they now show profile pictures, addresses, distance from the searcher, whether offices are still open, and a star rating, as well as a description of the type of law the firm or attorney practices.

  1. Improved indexing of information

Previously, Facebook had poor indexing of information in its search function, according to SearchEngineLand.com. Now, that is improved with the addition of suggested search terms that appear when a user is typing in the search box. These suggested search terms frequently pull up business categories that Facebook offers its business users to identify what kind of business they are. In this way, Facebook helps the searcher use search terms that will provide better results as indexed on the platform, the publication notes.

  1. Facebook is beta testing new features, including integrating friend posts and local search

Facebook hopes to compete with Google by incorporating its social media data with search results to make sure its offering is as good as its competitor’s. According to industry expert TechCrunch, the company is now testing its improvements with some users to determine if extra posted information about a place or business makes a difference in their search and a business’ ability to tap into valuable “word of mouth” leads.

Facebook also is changing its map results from static to interactive, which SearchEngineLand.com says is a necessary addition to its search function: “The map functions much like Google or Apple Map local searches, providing business listings with pin locations on the map that can be pinched in or zoomed out.”

  1. Facebook is using crowdsourcing to build out its database

Facebook appears to be leveraging the already proven tactic of tapping into its wealth of “free manpower” in the form of users providing recommendations, much the way Google uses its “local guides”.

According to SearchEngineLand.com, some users are being asked to provide input into details about places that they’ve checked into via Facebook Editor. When the user checks in or tags a place, a series of yes-or-no questions are asked, such as “Does this place have parking?” or “Is this the right location on the map?” or “Is this the same place as [another name]?”

SearchEngineLand.com columnist Wesley Young notes: “Based on the information that I’ve been asked to verify, it appears that Facebook does have a fair amount of inaccurate information — leftovers from allowing users to create new place listings themselves. What appears to be a selective “trusted” editor function is an attempt to rectify that, but it also is making some users unhappy. Facebook didn’t ask users to be editors and just automatically asks those questions once a new post is created. A Google search for Facebook editor suggests searches for “delete Facebook editor,” “remove Facebook editor” and many other similar search terms — so it’s unclear how long Facebook will essentially force its users to help clean up its database.”

He maintains, however, that more accurate and comprehensive information would help further improve Facebook’s search function.

  1. The introduction of city guides

Based on research that social media is boosting travel and entertainment spending as users seek out experiences that they can share with friends and reflect positively on themselves, Facebook has created City Guides that provide information on popular places such as restaurants and sights for frequently visited cities, according to SearchEngineLand.com.

The guides list the user’s friends who have visited the city, and by tapping on each friend’s name the user can see a list of places that the friend visited while there. The guides also list “local favorites” and Young says they have more of a “TripAdvisor feel that is more personalized or targeted and adds a rich surf-and-discover function to Facebook’s local search experience.”

How to benefit from the new Facebook changes

With the improvements that Facebook is making, SearchEngineLand.com notes that users will have more reason to spend more time on the platform and consume more content. This can easily result in small businesses that already benefit from the engagement it provides becoming customers of its advertising offerings.

We agree that it’s a good idea for businesses to review their local pages’ “About” section, checking for how information appears in search results to make sure it captures search traffic in accordance with Facebook’s changes. Both SearchEngineLand.com and we recommend doing the following as soon as possible:

  • Review your Facebook business profile and make sure it includes contact information, details about your business and interactive functions you can adopt.
  • Make sure your location information is accurate and offers a physical map location that shows up at the top of your business profile when your page is displayed.
  • Add business categories that further describe your business. Although you are only asked for one business category when you create your Facebook page, you can return and edit the “About” section to add two more business categories that may help improve visibility, depending on the search terms used.
  • Activate buttons that Facebook offers, such as call-to-click and appointment schedulers that help convert traffic to your page.
  • Don’t leave blanks in any section that might trigger Facebook to crowdsource answers. Your answers will be the most reliable answers.

If your business needs assistance with your Facebook presence or other digital marketing initiatives, contact DAS Group today at 1-800-717-2131.

Yelp Drives Conversions Better than Google and Facebook, Study Says

Yelp Drives ConversionsWe have been closely considering the results of a new study of consumer purchasing habits by Nielsen, commissioned by Yelp, which states review sites drive higher conversions than search and social media. The survey of 2,000 adults throughout the United States found that 92 percent of respondents said they made a purchase after visiting Yelp, “at least sometimes, frequently or almost always.”

Some experts say the results more or less state the obvious: “At the highest level, this makes sense because reviews have a strong influence on consumer buying behavior, and review sites are generally part of consumers’ path to purchase,” says Greg Sterling of searchengine.com.

The survey says that most people who made a purchase after visiting Yelp did so within a week or less, and he notes that consumers using Yelp appear to be low in the funnel: “Consumers who use online consumer review sites and claim they make a purchase after visiting Yelp are also reporting they do so faster than before, compared to a Nielsen study from 2014. The number of consumers who report purchasing something within a few hours increased by 212 percent, and the number of consumers who say they make a purchase after a day or less increased by 55 percent.”

Nielson’s recent survey provides additional findings:

  • 74 percent of the consumers searching online for a local business turn to consumer online review sites at least monthly.
  • Yelp ranked above other online review sites as “most trusted, most influential and most useful.”
  • 79 percent of Yelp users say they are looking for a business they can visit multiple times.
  • 55 percent of Yelp users searching for restaurants have ordered takeout or delivery from a restaurant they found on Yelp.

Even though Yelp commissioned the survey, and Sterling advises employing a healthy amount of skepticism to the results due to that association, he maintains that other data sources and non-sponsored surveys support the survey’s findings.

He points to Nielsen’s non-commissioned Global Trust in Advertising Survey that was conducted in 2015, which found that “consumer opinions posted online” ranked higher for trust than most other marketing channels.

There’s more research that backs it up as well, Sterling notes. The Local Media Tracking Study, which was non-sponsored and conducted by Burke for the Local Search Association, polled more than 8,000 consumers in 2016. It found they were more likely to connect with a local business via calls, email, or a store visit after visiting a review site vs. other channels

Sterling also references research that shows a large majority of Yelp searchers’ queries now happen in the Yelp app on mobile devices, and that these users are often closer in time to a purchase decision as well.

We feel these studies’ results are worthy of every marketer’s consideration when planning digital strategy. The evidence clearly points to using review sites if at all possible, and when relevant, to market a large portion of products and services.

Old Skool: Why Print Yellow Pages Are Still Worth Considering as Part of Your Lead Generation Programs

print-book

So is it worth advertising in the Yellow Pages print directory today? It’s no secret that the volume of calls advertisers receive from the yellow pages has declined significantly over the years. This is not a trend likely to reverse itself, but as the cost of advertising on local search and directories continues to increase, the yellow pages can be another way to drive high-quality calls at a price often less than what you would pay per click. Will it last forever? Not a chance. But don’t let the perception that yellow pages is dead prevent you from using print to drive incremental call volume in the near term.

The print Yellow Pages saw a large decline in usage during the recession. The housing market collapsed and the economy was unstable. Consumers weren’t spending. However, as the economy recovered, so did the call volume received by Yellow Pages advertisers. By 2011, two out of three Yellow Page advertisers noticed an increase in calls, according to the Association of Directory Publishers. This rise was much stronger for print than for the Internet Yellow Pages. In 2013, the president and CEO of Market Authority, Steve Sitton, cautioned small and medium businesses to pay attention to how the print Yellow Pages can work for them. The company’s analysis of small, medium, and rural markets showed that the migration from print Yellow Pages to digital local search was only a meager 3.24 percent in 2012, and a majority of consumers were using both print and digital search media.

According to the LSA Local Media Tracking 2015 Study, seven out of 10 consumers will use the Yellow Pages to call a business. About half of Yellow Page users who open up the phone directory become curious and will start looking at other ads. They tend to look at nearly five ads before they make a decision, and they are giving those ads their full attention. Sixty percent of people who turn to the Yellow Pages end up purchasing something from a business they found in the yellow pages.

The following data from CRM Associates as of August 2015 demonstrates how Yellow Page ads deliver prospects at a sustainable ad cost compared to other local advertising alternatives.

Average Ad Cost per Call ($)

Local Display Ad $25

National Display Ad (volume greater) $28

National Trademark Ad $9

Companion Directory Display $9

Internet Yellow Pages $19

CRM Associates shares the return on ad spend (ROAS) to be $3.50. In other words, the local display ads produce, on average, $3.50 of profit for each dollar spent on Yellow Pages, and these amounts increase for other ad sizes.

Some people still rely on the Yellow Pages print directory to connect with local businesses. They’ll intuitively pick up the print book to skim the pages for restaurants, medical assistance, and home and auto repairs. It remains a powerful medium for some industries, especially home services, offering consumers the contact information they need to make a decision when and wherever needed. Most yellow pages programs today combine a subscription model, with some form of pay for performance in the form of pay per call and most publishers provide programs that let you take advantage of their digital products as part of a comprehensive program.

At DAS Group, we monitor all calls and call outcomes for our clients from all sources of advertising placed. Print yellow pages has continued to be included as one of our recommendations based on the return on ad spend (ROAS) our clients still receive. Even though our primary business today is search, display and mobile, we often find ourselves explaining to clients why they may not want to write it off completely yet.

Dialing Down: A Closer Look at Call Quality

The increase in mobile connectivity has helped to shape communication as we know it, connecting people from all corners of the globe and creating new opportunities for business. No longer do consumers operate in a limited, defined space. Instead, the boundaries of communication are blurred and in some cases, non-existent. Within the category of consumer technologies, cell phones are the most rapidly adopted with the innovation of the smartphone largely responsible for an increase in phone call leads. Today, businesses are experiencing higher inbound calls across new and emerging channels as consumers are utilizing the power of technology at their fingertips.

connected

This increase in inbound phone call leads can provide valuable data and insight, thus enabling businesses to better analyze the quality of these leads and develop more specific strategies for lead conversion. Gone are the days of companies taking on the role of aggressor to actively engage consumers and clear a path through the competition. The tables have turned as consumers are now demonstrating more proactive buying habits by seeking out the products and services that they want with a high intent to convert these searches into purchases.

Call Data & Lead Quality

GraphIn their latest mobile local media forecast, BIA/Kelsey’s research points out that mobile search will generate 73 billion calls to businesses in 2018, up from 30 billion in 2013. This increase in call volume provides immense opportunities and the report, “Phone Calls: The New Currency of the Smartphone Era” explores the world of call monetization, most of which is attributed to the wide use of smartphones. (Source: BIA/Kelsey)

Some of the BIA/Kelsey’s report’s key findings include:

  • Estimated $64.6 billion is spent annually across media on localized ads to generate calls to businesses.
  • The growth in call volume works well with local business’ sentiment towards calls, with SMBs naming them the most valued form of incoming leads according to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor™ survey.
  • One of the driving forces behind the growing importance of calls as currency is the growing sophistication of call analytics, to measure call quality and gain strategic insights from call data.
  • The value assessment of calls is highest in local verticals that place a high value on new customer acquisition (e.g., appointment-based local verticals such as financial services, home services, and professional services such as lawyers, doctors).

In essence, marketing and technology combine to form the perfect union as consumers now have a tool to perform searches at their leisure, as well as the ability to make an instant phone call, converting a prospect into a final sale. There is no denying that marketers will inevitably come to the same conclusion that phone call leads are a valuable lead source. For mobile users, post-engagement comes naturally and should be considered an important insight for sales teams to use to their benefit. By the time the consumer has decided to take the next step by calling, they have already gone through most of the pre-purchase decision making.

Advertisers and marketers can also engage in tracking and analytics best practices to measure the effectiveness of campaigns designed to encourage consumers to a call to action. In particular, location based advertising is key as consumers are more likely to actively pursue a sale if they are in close proximity to their intended place of purchase. Through strategic messaging, advertisers can expect a high ROI on the ad dollars and an increase in high quality leads.

Insights into Call Tracking – Calls are King

Prior to the onset of multi-channel marketing, elements such as print, television and online media co-existed separately in the sphere of analytics, never really crossing over or merging. Now, multi-channel marketing tactics are blended to create more powerful campaigns that can effectively work together.

Through these different channels, companies can now integrate tracking campaigns for a variety of media such as website visits or inbound phone calls and can even start comparing phone call conversion rates with online conversion rates. Even within your website, different phone numbers can be assigned to specific campaigns or pages allowing for very astute analytics.

Conversion Ratios

By investing in mobile driven advertising campaigns, businesses can expect to find tremendous lead- generating opportunities. Statistically, inbound phone calls are 10-15 times more likely to convert than inbound website leads. Through call tracking data, routed calls can be handled by the best available sales representatives who can seize the chance to convert prospects into confirmed customers by opening discussions for specific product sales or promotions.

Consumer Behavior

Consumers today, especially avid mobile users, tend to do product research at a much more practical level. In reality, extensive research is rarely performed on a mobile phone, but rather research for products or services that are for an immediate need. This in turn shortens the distance between when the customer searches for an item, to them calling for further inquiry.

With higher conversion ratios, valuable customer insight can be gained at such an individual level. These insights are important in tracking consumer behavior, retention rates and probability of returning customers.

Spam Calling

There is no disputing that the more data retrieved from inbound callers can give the best return on investment, however, a point of frustration for some advertisers is the increase in spam calls received. Telephone hacking or computer generated spam calls detract from the marketer’s goal of focusing on qualified calls and leads. There are a number of call integration tools that can assist businesses with blocking these unwanted calls so that the goal of converting qualified leads is always top priority.

In today’s mobile driven world, there is no doubt that call data can provide valuable insight into consumer patterns, have a direct impact on ROI through conversion and provide a means for high quality leads.

Companies can enjoy these benefits by:

  • Implementing call tracking phone numbers on websites and any other marketing channel available.
  • Collecting data to analyze call generation through the different advertising channels as well as conversion rates.
  • Optimizing the marketing channels that produce the most calls and conversions.

These insights help by building on higher quality leads, which in turn lead to enhanced marketing strategies and increased conversions.