[News] Microsoft Links Daily Deals to Credit Cards

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

[Daily Deals News] Microsoft Pilots Program Linking Daily Deals to Credit Cards

News Source: GeekWire

Microsoft launched a pilot program this week on its Bing Offers site that connects daily deals directly to a user’s credit card. The goal is to eliminate the “friction” caused by requiring users to show or print a coupon when redeeming a daily deal at a business.

This program stems from Microsoft’s participation in the CardLinx Association, a new industry group that aims to create standards for connecting daily deals with consumers’ payment cards.

Microsoft says of the program: “When you use your card to make a qualified purchase at a participating local business, […] you are immediately notified about your savings, and you will receive the discounts directly on your card statement.”

Key Takeaway: Getting consumers to convert on daily deals may become easier without the hurdle of having to show a coupon. But the higher volume of conversions may require businesses to rethink their discount strategy to prevent undercutting profits. 

[POS News] GroupOn Updates Breadcrumb POS App to Include CRM Features

News Source: StreetFight 

On Wednesday, GroupOn released updates to its Breadcrumb point-of-sale (POS) app to include Customer Resource Management (CRM) capabilities such as storing a customer’s contact information and purchase history.

This new functionality allows businesses to connect payment and transaction data to a traditional customer list used for email marketing and other communications. For each card transaction, a new customer record is created; cash transactions aren’t automatically tracked, but can be manually assigned to a customer record post-sale.

Key Takeaway: If you use Breadcrumb as your POS system, this is a huge win for your business. Not only will this integration allow you to connect with customers after their initial purchase, but it will also provide the information you need to develop highly personalized communications, offers, and rewards. GroupOn is one of the frontrunners with this type of integration, but other POS systems are sure to follow suit. 

[Location App News] Foursquare Rolls out Push Recommendations for iPhone App

News Source: CNET

On Thursday, Foursquare began rolling out updates to its iPhone app to automatically push recommendations for nearby things to eat, see, and do.

The feature, which Foursquare refers to as “real-time recommendations,” works in the background on a user’s smartphone, tracking the device’s movements to estimate location. The app then sends a push notification when it finds a location-based bit of information to share.

The majority of Foursquare users on Android already have this functionality, which began to roll out in August.

Key Takeaway: If your business isn’t on Foursquare yet, or if your information is out of date, now is the time to log on and take control of your listing. Real-time recommendations will increase your business’s exposure to Foursquare users in your area.

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

Building a Mobile Website? Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Creating and maintaining a mobile website is an essential part of marketing your business in today’s mobile-centric world. But not all mobile sites are created equal.
Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when building your business’s mobile website:

1. An Unprofessional or Dated Design

You may be tempted to cut costs by using a less experienced designer or not refreshing your design on a regular basis. But nothing will turn viewers away faster than a page that looks bad. Invest in a good designer and make sure to periodically refresh your styling to stay current.

2. Slow Page Loads

Mobile users have a very low tolerance for slow performance. Make sure that your site doesn’t contain any unnecessary content or features that will negatively impact load time.

2. Complex Navigation

On a smaller phone or tablet screen, simplicity is essential for a good user experience. Make sure your navigation is organized, streamlined, and easy to use so that viewers can get where they want to go.

3. Too Much Content

Likewise, cramming too much content on a page requires tedious scrolling and careful reading—the last thing a mobile user wants. Keep your pages readable by providing just the basics. If you’re working with a responsive site, consider breaking up larger chunks of content into separate pages to improve your readers’ mobile experience.

4. A Confusing Conversion Pathway

If you’re an online retailer, your ultimate goal is for site visitors make a purchase. But if your mobile e-commerce pathway is confusing, difficult to navigate, or involves too many steps, people may abandon your site. Keep the checkout process as simple as possible to capitalize on mobile customers’ tendency to make a quick purchase decision.

The Bottom Line

Invest in a well-built, visually appealing site and keep things simple, and your business will be ready for mobile primetime.

5 Reasons Your Business Should be Present on Mobile

Last week, you learned how mobile search can help you connect with new customers. But you may still be feeling skeptical about the value of mobile. After all, it’s no small commitment to manage your business listings, maintain a mobile-friendly site, and create marketing campaigns with mobile in mind.
So why should you set aside the time, money, and resources needed to invest in mobile? Here are 5 compelling reasons:

1. 55% of All Adult Smartphone Owners Surf the Web on Mobile

At the end of 2011, 93.1 million consumers owned a smartphone. If over half of them perform online searches on their mobile device, that’s an audience of more than 51 million potential customers—definitely worth going after.

2. 77% of Mobile Searches Happen at Home or Work

People are increasingly likely to research local businesses on mobile, even if there’s a PC available. And on-the-go searches are a growing part of the mobile search equation. Having up-to-date listings and a mobile-friendly website will ensure than potential customers can find you wherever they happen to be, whenever they happen to be looking. 

3. 75% of Mobile Searches Trigger Follow-up Actions

The majority of consumers who perform a search on mobile will go on to take further action, whether it’s calling a retailer, visiting a store, making a purchase, or sharing information about a business. If people can find you easily on mobile, they’ll be highly motivated to engage with you.

4. 63% of Mobile Searchers Act within 1 hour of Initial Search

Not only do a high percentage of mobile searchers follow up with businesses—they also do so quickly. And the more quickly consumers take action, the more likely they are to follow through, which is great news for your business.

5. 55% of Mobile Conversions Occur within 1 hour of Initial Search

Consumers who find your business on mobile are primed to make a purchase shortly after they discover you. 81% of mobile conversions happen within 5 hours of search; of that segment, 55% occur within an hour.

The Bottom Line

Mobile is an important mode of search for consumers, helping them find and act on information quickly. With the number of mobile web users growing each year, it’s worth the investment to make sure your business is putting its best foot forward in the mobile space.

[News] Facebook Graph Search Expansion

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

[Social Media News] Facebook Graph Search Expands to Include Check-ins, Captions, and More

News Source: CNET

Facebook’s Graph Search is the platform’s natural-language search engine. On Monday, Facebook expanded its Graph Search functionality, allowing users to search within check-ins, status updates, photo captions, and comments.

This update is currently available only to a limited number of users on desktop devices, but will roll out to all desktop users over the coming weeks.

Previously, Graph Search would return results only for people, places, photos, and interests.

The Takeaway: This is great news for your business. If your customers are checking in at your establishment, writing comments on your Page, or mentioning your business in a status update, this content is now searchable—which means that more people will be able to find you via Facebook search. Encourage your customers to interact with you on social media to maximize your exposure.

[Location App News] Foursquare and Other Companies’ Request for Government Data Transparency Rejected

News Sources: TechCrunch, SocialTimes

In June, a number of major media companies, including Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, filed a motion requesting the right to publish more information about government data requests. This week, the Center for Democracy and Technology sent a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of this motion.

The letter was signed by an additional 10 tech startups, including check-in app Foursquare, cloud computing app Twillio, and Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. These companies expressed support for two pieces of legislation in Congress designed to improve data transparency. Both acts “clarify that companies have the right to publish basic statistics about the government demands for user data that they receive.”

U.S. Department of Justice officially stated this week that it would not allow companies to disclose the number of requests for user information made by the government under its surveillance program.

The Takeaway: Businesses will continue to lack insight into what data the government is requesting from major tech companies.

[Social Media News] Bing Adds Pinterest to Image Search Results

News Source: Search Engine Land

If image search is important to your business, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Bing is now including Pinterest boards in its image search results.

The boards show up on the far right of Bing’s image search results page. The board name and image count are displayed, along with the Pinterest user’s account name.

Clicking on a Pinterest board result leads to another page that shows almost the entire set of images from the Pinterest board, starting with a visible link to visit the board itself on Pinterest.

Results are displayed from Pinterest users with a wide range of follower counts.

The Takeaway: If your business isn’t on Pinterest, now’s the time to join. The images you share of your products and services will be visible both on Pinterest’s network and to search engine users on Bing. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase your offerings to potential customers online.

Looking for New Customers? They’re Looking for You on Mobile

Whether you’re a smartphone junkie glued to your screen 24/7 or a reluctant cellphone user, the reality is that mobile devices are an essential part of 21st-century life. But are you taking advantage of this fact in marketing your small business?

SinglePlatform’s newest brief, “How Mobile Search Can Help You Find Your Next Great Customer,” highlights the importance of being present in the mobile space. A few key takeaways include:

Consumers Are Using Mobile Search to Make Decisions

According to current research, 75% of mobile searches are conducted to get real-time, location-based information, and 45% of mobile searches are goal-oriented. Consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to make decisions about which businesses to visit and which products to buy.

How can you capitalize on this widespread shift toward mobile search? Make sure your information is available and up-to-date on mobile.

Accurate, Detailed Business Listings Are a Must

The first step is to take control of your listings on search engines, map services, online directories, social media, and mobile apps. You can find and update your listings manually, or partner with a company like SinglePlatform to mange all your listings in one place.

Mobile-Friendly Websites and Apps Can Help You Secure Business

The second step is to invest in a mobile-friendly website or app for your business. There’s nothing more frustrating for a potential customer than visiting a site that’s hard to navigate and view. Check your current site to make sure you can easily get to (and read) key information such as store hours, location, and product listings. And if you don’t have a mobile site—consider investing in one.

Mobile Services Trigger Quick Actions

Customers who find businesses on mobile act quickly. Within an hour of search, 56% call a business, 54% make a purchase, and 51% visit a store. You don’t want to miss out on this kind of customer engagement.

The Bottom Line

If you’re investing in your business’s mobile presence, you’re already on the path to success for reaching new customers. If you’re not, there’s no better time than the present to get started.

Want more information on how to make the most of mobile search for your business? Download the full brief now.