Happy New Year everyone! A new year means a new resolution, and I hope that everyone has come up with some great search and social media resolutions for 2011. If you have the time, please share your 2011 search resolution with the team here at SEO Boy by commenting.
As for me, my 2011 search and social media resolution is to dive right into the location based search marketing game. Sure, I dabbled in the area in 2010, but for 2011, I plan to design an entire marketing strategy around location based product search. Led by the projected rise in smartphones over the next few years, search marketers, pay per click advertisers, and social media marketers are all investing in location as the next big area of growth. Therefore, while all organizations and services can benefit from participating in location-based marketing platforms, my post today will primarily aid those places that will profit most: small, B2C businesses.
Get Your Business Listed
I abide by a simple rule: If it has places in the name, make sure your company is listed as one of those places. While this doesn’t cover all the sites your business should be listed on, it certainly covers the bases: Google Places, Facebook Places, and Twitter Places. It seems that all of the tech giants today give you the opportunity to share your business information, so why not claim your address and page. I admit, it may take some time to verify your business with so many sites, but it is definitely necessary.
A wide variety of customers are all across the Internet, and unfortunately, you will not be able to target all of those customers with just one social network or search engine. My suggestion: Schedule a morning to dedicated to listing your business. More specifically, prioritize where you can benefit most and plan to have your site listed in 10 networks by the end of the month. Here is a quick list for you to get start with:
- Google Places
- Facebook Places
- Bing Local Listing
- Twitter Places
Get Your Products Listed
In 2011, take the extra step to list your products as well as your business with the search engines. Bing Shopping for Merchants and the Google Merchant Center both offer opportunities to upload your business product feeds to optimize your services in their respective shopping channels. Just last month, Jen wrote an in-depth article on the benefits of the Google Merchant Center and further explains how product listings and product extensions can improve your ROI.
Additionally, if you have an actual physical address and store location, make sure to get listed on Milo. Milo displays real-time, in-store inventory availability. Described as the “anti-Amazon,” Milo.com attempts to bridge the gap between online and in-store commerce by highlighting local inventory in product search results. With smartphones becoming more ubiquitous, this is a great chance to target those customers who are researching products and deals while they are out and about in your town.
Watch for the real-time, local inventory market to heat up in 2011 as EBay recently acquired Milo for $75 million and Google entered the space in March 2010 with Bluedot.
Next up for your 2011 search resolution: Mobile coupons. Start simple, polishing up your Google places profile and then, create a mobile coupon. Ideally, coupons are more inviting to a potential customer and give a greater opportunity for interaction between your brand and that consumer. A good coupon can often lead to customers reviewing, recommending, and sharing about the deal and the business.
After setting up your Google places coupon, get creative with your coupon offerings and target a number of niche audiences through other mobile coupon services. ChaCha coupons, Yowza, and MobiQpons are a few alternative mobile opportunities with larger fan bases for local small businesses.
Facebook places, Gowalla, Yelp, and Foursquare are all platforms that allow small businesses to uniquely geo-target ads and coupons. While it’s hard to imagine Facebook not eventually taking the stronghold over this market, for now, Foursquare and Gowalla still have a large user-base and serve much of the market. Thus, when offering social coupons, I’d advise not leaving any of the big location-based advertisers out in your marketing strategy.
Although the location “check-ins” is becoming mainstream as a social network feature, the adoption rate of these platforms has been very slow in smaller cities. Thus, if you are a small business owner outside of the top media markets in the US, then take the opportunity to standout from your competitors, offering innovative deals and services to your community. Promotion tip: Consumers are searching for deals and coupons in a variety of ways online, and many people using location-based networks are enticed by small discounts and freebies.
Daily Deals – King Groupon
In 2010, Groupon, a localized deal-of-the-day website, rapidly caught the attention of the SEO Boy team (our latest Groupon purchase pits us against each other for a day of paintball). Quite frankly, Groupon seems poised to improve its market share throughout 2011 becoming a very profitable tech giant by the end of the year.
Today, if you want to be a featured in a large media market on the daily deal juggernaut, it most likely takes weeks if not months of waiting. However, Groupon is currently expanding its city-based deals across the nation, so if you are a small business owner, be on the lookout for when Groupon enters your city. Other alternative deal-of-the-day options include LivingSocial, Tippr, BuyWithMe, and even Yelp.
Although a featured deal may cause a rush of branding, publicity, and ROI for your business, setting up a shop in the recently released Groupon Merchant Center is probably the best alternative option to this wait. Allowing for just a few days to verify your company, signing up for the Groupon Merchant Center gives you instant control over the timing and restrictions of deals and promotions. Furthermore, Groupon users can choose to “follow” your merchant store and opt-in to notifications about your latest product deals. If Groupon and the Groupon Merchant Center is not a part of your social strategy in 2011, you will be missing out on a very big opportunity.
I hope this post gives you some new ideas for focusing a search and social media strategy on local deals and promotions. Let us know if you have any plans for location-based marketing in 2011.
Until next time, best of luck in the New Year!