Local Listings Information—Where Does It Come From?

Over the past few years, the way consumers find and choose restaurants, spas, contractors, stores, and entertainment has evolved dramatically. No longer are people turning to print magazines, local guides, and newspapers to find information about businesses—they’re performing online searches. Ensuring that your business appears in local search results is a crucial marketing effort. Not only do you want your business listed, you also want your business information to be complete and accurate everywhere consumers are looking.

However, this is easier said that done. You may have already researched your online listings and found a variety of misinformation on different sites and apps. And you may be wondering where, exactly, these publishers get their local listings information from.

While each publisher has its own methods for gathering and validating data, the 6 main sources are:

1. Consumers

Some sites and apps allow users to add information about a business, regardless of whether or not they’re affiliated with the business.

2. Business direct claims/submissions

This is when someone directly affiliated with the business provides information to publishers.

3. Listing management services

These services (such as SinglePlatform) help small businesses manage their listings across multiple publishers from a single location.

4. Data aggregators

This source compiles business listing information from multiple channels such as public records, surveys, utilities, merchants, agencies, and web-mining efforts.

5. Vertical-specific providers

This source gathers and sells category-specific business information to others.

6. Scraping

Some publishers use scripts to extract or “scrape” business information from websites.

With all of these sources providing publishers with information, the task of reclaiming your local listings may seem daunting. But never fear. Our latest publication, “The Mechanics of Local Listings,” will walk you through the steps you should take to make sure your business has a cohesive presence across all local search sites and apps. Download the free eBook today.

4 Ways to Encourage Mobile Check-ins at Your Business

Getting people to check-in at your business on Foursquare, Facebook, and other location apps is a great way to get free exposure on social channels. But although local check-ins require very little effort, some customers require additional motivation to pull out their smartphones.
Here are 4 easy ways to encourage mobile check-ins:

1. Post Reminders

Sometimes, a simple reminder is all that’s required. Strategically place signs around your establishment with check-in information; you can even use QR codes to take visitors right to a specific check-in screen.

2. Plan a Unique Giveaway

If a simple reminder isn’t enough to spur customers to action, a unique incentive often can be. Reward check-ins with a free item, upgraded service, or other perk to get your visitors excited about sharing on social.

3. Offer Special Discounts

A one-time giveaway can encourage initial check-ins, but ongoing benefits will keep your visitors engaged long-term. A more structured loyalty program for customers who check in on a regular basis can also help boost your social buzz.

4. Use Check-ins for Charity

Not all incentives need to be in service of personal gain. Partnering with a charity can have a positive impact on your company’s reputation and also help spread the word about your business. You can donate a fixed amount per check-in, or offer your products or services to a charity for free. Customers will feel good about helping you serve the community—and you’ll feel good about the extra social media exposure.

The Bottom Line

Check-ins are an easy way to increase brand awareness and foster loyalty from your customers. With a few simple motivators, your customers will go from lukewarm to fired-up about checking in at your business.

[News] Google Introduces Maps Engine Pro

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Search Engine News] Google Introduces Maps Engine Pro to Help Small Businesses Visualize Customer Data

News Source: TechCrunch

On Monday, Google introduced Maps Engine Pro, a new utility that allows small businesses to use Google’s location tools to create maps out of proprietary data uploaded as a spreadsheet.

The tool is designed to help small business owners visualize and filter location-based data to help make better decisions about staffing, regional services, customer engagement, and other business practices.

For example, Pure Fix Cycles, a pilot tester for the program, used Maps Engine Pro to visualize the locations of East-Coast customer service calls. The program allowed them to determine which location would be the best to send a customer to based on proximity, inventory, and other factors.

Maps Engine Pro is currently available on desktop and Android mobile devices.

Key Takeaway: Google has spent a lot of time and effort building out robust map features for consumers and enterprises, but this is its first utility built specifically with small businesses in mind. If your business collects location data, this tool will be a huge help in identifying trends in and drawing conclusions from your data sets.

[Location App News] Foursquare Revamps Website, Highlights Nearby Hot Spots, Offers and Tips From Friends

News Source: The Next Web

Foursquare has focused on revamping its mobile apps for the past few releases. This week, the location-based social network rolled out extensive updates to its desktop site, Foursquare.com.

The site can now:

  • Detect a user’s location
  • Highlight exclusive nearby offers and deals
  • Highlight relevant locations based on the user’s local time
  • Serve up tips and highlights for any destination a user searches for

These changes will make Foursquare site much more useful to consumers searching for local businesses at home or at work on a laptop or desktop.

Key Takeaway: Foursquare has invested serious resources to improve both their mobile and desktop experiences-which is great news for businesses on the platform. Make sure your Foursquare profile is up to date and as complete as possible (note: including your full menu of products or services is a must). Also encourage your customers to check in and leave tips so that Foursquare has plenty of material to serve up to local consumers.

[Social Media News] LinkedIn Launches New Mobile Apps for Intro, iPad, and Pulse

News Source: Tech News World

LinkedIn rolled out new mobile apps this week to improve customization, reach, and productivity:

  • A new iPad app includes enhanced search, job listings, and productivity features.
  • Pulse, LinkedIn’s news service app, also relaunched with new personalization and productivity features.

Key Takeaway: These new apps make it easier than ever to share and view personal and company profiles on mobile. Make sure your personal LinkedIn Profile is current, and if you don’t already have a Company Page, consider setting one up so that viewers can find and follow your business.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know!

Creative Halloween Marketing Ideas for Your Business

Holidays present a great opportunity to connect with new customers, and Halloween is no exception. Costumes and candy galore make for an occasion worth celebrating. But sometimes, turning your enthusiasm into a business promotion can be a challenge.
Our SinglePlatform clients have come up with some creative ways to tap into the Halloween spirit for their businesses. Here are a few ways to bewitch customers during the upcoming holiday:

Do Something for Kids

Parents are always looking for fun, safe, local events around Halloween. Some of our clients have offered pumpkin painting, caramel apple dipping, and trick-or-treating for kids at their establishments; others have offered a free item or discount for kids who come in costume. Now that’s something the whole family can get excited about!

Host a Costume Party

Kids may be the main focus of Halloween, but adults also like to dress up and do the Monster Mash. Several of our businesses have thrown costume parties for their customers, offering prizes (in one case, $1000 cash!) for the best costume of the night.

Provide Live Entertainment

If costumes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate. Live bands, DJs, dancing, even torch throwers and stilt walkers—all have featured in our clients’ festivities.

Offer Special Items

Our restaurant clients have offered a variety of themed drinks and dishes featuring seasonal flavors like pumpkin and apple. Specials can also be themed around Halloween-related colors, themes, and services.

Spread the Word

Once you’ve nailed down your plans, make sure to promote them on your listings pages, website, and social media channels. SinglePlatform makes it easy to publish announcements about seasonal events and product offerings across multiple sites and apps, or you can do it manually.

However you decide to celebrate, we hope you have a spooktacular time!

[News] Foursquare Makes Ad Tool Public

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Location App News] Foursquare Opens Its Ad Platform to Small Businesses

Source: Fast Company

Foursquare announced this week that its ad tool is now open to 1.5 million merchants after months of testing. The tool allows businesses to target relevant customers, set a monthly budget for ad spend, and track ad performance. Ads can feature a special offer or highlight popular user tips.

Analytics will track clicks and check-ins / redemptions, providing businesses with a clear correlation between ad dollars spent and dollars earned in sales. Businesses can choose to spend as much or as little as they like to run campaigns; the preliminary average spend appears to be between $200-500 a month.

Key Takeaway: Running ads on a location-based app like Foursquare could help you convert more foot traffic into paying customers for a very modest up-front investment. And if you already have great tips for your location on Foursquare, running an ad can help you share positive word-of-mouth feedback with additional consumers. 

[Social Media News] Twitter Adds Tweet Scheduling, DMs from All Followers

Sources: AllTwitter, Business Insider

Twitter launched several product updates this week, two of which are especially helpful for businesses and brands:

  1. You can now schedule Tweets, including Tweets with photos, up to a year in advance using the Twitter ad interface.
  2. Anyone who follows your Twitter account can now send you a direct message (DM) without you having to follow their account as well.

While many social media management services already provide Tweet scheduling capabilities, this is the first time users have been able to schedule posts from Twitter itself. Scheduling Tweets with photos is something altogether new—and exciting, considering that Tweets with photos are 94% more likely to be shared than text-only Tweets.

Opening DMs to all followers has both positive and negative consequences. On the positive side, it means that customers can send you a private question or complaint rather than publically commenting in your feed. On the negative side, it also means that random people who follow you can spam you with unwanted messages.

Key Takeaway: If you’re not already active on Twitter, these improvements will make it easy to get started. Sharing engaging content and managing customer communications is now simpler than ever.

[Social Media News] Facebook Adds Review Button to Place Pages

Source: AllFacebook

Facebook is beginning to roll out Review buttons for Place Pages this week. The button appears in the top menu next to the Follow, Like, and Message buttons. When users click the Review button, they can rate and review the business.

Reviews are published on the Place Page, in the News Feed, and in the Ticker. They can also be used as the basis of right-column ads.

Key Takeaway: Recent changes to Facebook’s Graph Search are helping consumers find your business Page. Now consumers who find you are also able to write reviews directly on your Page. Make sure to assign someone to monitor your feedback on Facebook so that you can address any negative reviews or ratings. (Note: As with major review sites, you can’t hide or remove reviews from your Page once they’re posted.)

Mobile Marketing: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

With so much buzz about the importance of making your business visible on mobile, you may be tempted to put all of your marketing eggs into the mobile basket. While there are definite advantages to mobile marketing, there are also a number of pitfalls that can hinder the success of your campaigns.
Here are 4 basic mobile marketing mistakes to avoid:

1. Running a Mobile Campaign Without a Mobile-Friendly Website

If your campaign links back to your company website, you’re bound to lose out on conversions if your site isn’t optimized for mobile. Get your mobile site in shape before investing in related marketing.

2. Repurposing Existing Creative for Mobile Campaigns

Mobile ad units have a different set of design needs than other digital or print creatives. You may be tempted to modify existing marketing collateral to save costs on mobile campaigns—but it will cost you in the long run if a poorly-executed concept leads to diminished returns.

3. Failing to Provide Unique, Valuable Content

Is your mobile marketing campaign built around a special offer, discount, or piece of content not available elsewhere? If not, your audience may not be motivated to connect with you. Be creative: Consider how you can use the mobile channel to your best advantage. A high-value offering will contribute to high-value results.

4. Not Tying Discounts to In-Person Visits

Getting someone to visit your establishment is a big step, but it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll ultimately make a purchase. Encouraging onsite conversions with offers tied to check-ins on location-based apps or QR codes placed exclusively in your store can help you make sales and also generate social activity around your business—a definite win-win.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going to invest in mobile marketing, be sure to optimize your content and offers to make the most of the medium.

6 Ways to Enhance Your Online Business Listings

If you’ve researched, claimed, and updated your online business listings, you’ve taken a huge step toward engaging with potential customers. But even if your store hours, contact information, and menu are up to date, you can still do more to entice readers and educate them about the value of your business.
Here are six ways to supercharge your online listings:

1. Add Your Service Area

If your business delivers to or provides services in a limited area, make sure to include this in your listings to avoid frustrating potential customers who are outside your zone.

2. Include Specials and Promotions

Are you excited about a new product, service, or short-term offer? Chances are, your online readers will be, too. Adding specials and promotions to your listings can help you get additional customers in the door with minimal effort.

3. Post Photos of Your Store and Products

“A picture speaks a thousand words”—it may be a cliché, but it’s true. In today’s visually-oriented world, photos are a powerful way to represent your business and pique viewers’ interest.

4. Detail Parking and Public Transit Options

It might not seem important, but showing that your business is easy to get to may be the deciding factor for a potential customer. If they know they don’t have to hassle with street parking, or that your store is just a block from the nearest bus station, they may be more likely to come to you than one of your less-conveniently-located competitors.

5. Link to Your Social Media Accounts

A business listing is an important marketing tool, but it’s designed for short-term interaction. Encouraging visitors to connect with you on social media will keep the conversation going.

The Bottom Line

Today’s choosy consumers want as much information as possible before making a purchase decision. The more robust your online listings are, the better chance you’ll have of securing new business.

Did you know? SinglePlatform can help you make all of these listings enhancements with a single update! Learn more.