[Infographic] Fun in the Sun with Online Menu Search

Summer may seem a long way off, but in the restaurant world, businesses are already gearing up for this hot dining season.
At SinglePlatform, we collect some really interesting data on what consumers are searching for and viewing when it comes to online menus. This original infographic provides some interesting insights into diner behaviors online. For example, did you know?:

  • Seafood is the #1 cuisine-related search term
  • San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, Chicago, and Charlotte are the cities that searched for food most often
  • Pricier restaurants have more menu views online
  • Tablet users spend more time perusing a single menu than desktop viewers
  • August 23rd was the summer date with the most menu views last year

Check out the infographic in full below, and learn how you can get your

business’s menu online

 with SinglePlatform.

SinglePlatform Menu Data Infographic

How a New Jersey Salon Found a Better Marketing Solution

With so many places for consumers to find information online, small businesses have never had more opportunities to be discovered by their next great customer.
This has opened some important new doors for business owners like Gary Talvacchio, owner of D’Nicole Salon & Spa.

“In our industry, the marketing end is extremely important,” explains Gary, who opened his New Jersey salon in 2006. “In the past, we were making costly investments in print advertising and really weren’t seeing the return we were looking for. With the way things are today, we can get our name out there in a much more effective way.”

But in addition to the incredible opportunity for growth that comes with having your business information available on review sites like Yelp or being found on search engines like Google or Bing, there are also challenges that come along with it.

“The time commitment has really been the biggest hurdle for us,” says Gary. “As a business owner, I don’t have the time to log into all these different platforms trying to update our information in all these different places.”

Finding a Platform That Works

In August, Gary discovered SinglePlatform from Constant Contact.

“What I really liked about it was that I could go to one place and do all of my updates,” Gary explains. “Rather than having to log into one place to update my website and another place to keep all of our different listings up-to-date, we could do it all from one location.”

Gary worked with a success manager from SinglePlatform to identify the top places that his target audience might already be finding information about his business online. He was then able to upload his entire list of services into SinglePlatform and have that information distributed across the SinglePlatform publisher network of search engines, review sites, and mobile apps.

He was also able to add his list of services to his own website as well.

“For us, it’s a better way to get our name out there,” says Gary. “When we make a change or update our services, that information is updated in many different places. It lets us stay consistent.”

One Platform, Multiple Benefits

In addition to helping D’Nicole Salon & Spa provide consistent business information on their own website and across publishers like Yelp, YellowPages, Google, and Foursquare, Gary says that SinglePlatform has allowed him to expand his marketing efforts in ways he never expected.

“We’ve really been able to open up our activity on social media as well. We have our menu of services right on our page and can also post announcements which saves us a ton of time,” explains Gary. “People aren’t just coming to our salon because they saw a big ad in the paper, they’re coming because someone told them about us. When we have people commenting and sharing our stuff on Facebook, we’re able to introduce our business to even more customers.”

For those customers who are searching for D’Nicole Salon & Spa on their mobile, Gary says that SinglePlatform has provided a much-needed solution for his business.

“When people land on our website on mobile, they’re directed to a page that displays our information in a way that’s easy for people to view it,” Gary explains. “If they have any questions or want to book an appointment, they can just click a button and the phone dials, which is important for our business.”

A Marketing Solution That Works

As D’Nicole Salon & Spa enters its sixth year in business, Gary says that he is optimistic about what lies ahead in 2014.

“Whether people are looking on search engines, or Facebook, or on their phones, we’re able to get our name out there using SinglePlatform,” Gary explains.

Interested in trying SinglePlatform from Constant Contact for your small business? Visit SinglePlatform.com to learn more.

How to Generate Great Online Reviews

As a small business owner, you know from firsthand experience and industry research that customer reviews are one of the most important ways to generate new leads. 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and positive reviews have a real impact on where consumers choose to spend their time and money.
The great news is that, while you can’t directly participate in the review process, there are a number of things you can do to facilitate online reviews for your business. These 3 simple steps will help get you started.

1. Ask People to Review Your Business

Even your most loyal customers are likely to forget to write you an online review unless you give them explicit direction to do so. Make it a habit to ask for reviews at various times during a customer’s lifecycle. A few ideas include:

  • Ask for a review after a purchase
  • Prompt readers to review after downloading a piece of content
  • Include links to your review properties in your email signature
  • Send a dedicated email campaign encouraging reviews

2. Give People a Place to Review Your Business

All the reminders in the world won’t generate reviews if it’s difficult for customers to find an outlet to provide them. Make sure to claim your listings on review sites and social media channels so that you can direct patrons to accurate pages for your business. You can also create a review board on your website, which gives you more control over what content gets posted and how it looks.

3. Share Reviews With Potential Leads

Once you’ve built up a solid library of glowing reviews, put that content to use by sharing it with potential leads. There are countless ways to repurpose reviews for your business’s benefit, such as:

  • Compiling reviews into more formal case studies
  • Writing blog posts featuring comments or recommendations from users
  • Featuring reviews in your e-newsletters
  • Sharing quotes from reviews on your social media accounts

The Bottom Line

Although you can’t force customers to write great reviews for your small business, you can encourage your patrons to participate in the process, make it easy for them to share feedback, and use that feedback to generate new leads for your small business—all without spending too much time or effort.

[News] SMBs Spending More on Social Advertising in 2014

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

[Advertising News] SMBs Plan to Spend More on Social Media Advertising in 2014

News Source: BizReport

This week, Ad-ology released a new report indicating that 25% of small businesses already active on social media plan to spend more of their marketing budgets on social advertising in 2014.

The majority (80%) of socially-active SMBs also plan to spend the same or more on social marketing this year.

The same report also showed that 31% of SMBs don’t have a dedicated website for their business, and that only 30% who do have optimized their site for mobile viewers.

Key Takeaway: It’s no surprise that small businesses are investing in social. With several new social ad formats rolling out last year, there are more options than ever for social advertising, and campaigns are flexible for a wide range of marketing budgets. As social ads become more sophisticated, the ROI for SMBs is improving as well. Are you planning to invest in social advertising this year?

[Social Media News] Facebook Launches Trend Topics Feature on Web

News Source: TechCrunch

Last week, Facebook officially launched a redesigned Trending section on its web-based homepage for US users. The updated design shows a personalized list of trending keywords and a brief explanation of the news associated with them.

Clicking on links in this section will take users to a customized page with mentions by Friends, Pages, and public Posts.

Key Takeaway: This updated Trending feature falls in line with Facebook’s recent focus on highlighting high-quality news stories. If you’re posting about a trending topic on your business’s Facebook Page, you’ll have the chance to be included in the results page for that topic and gain more exposure for your business. This is just one more reason to be actively posting valuable, relevant content on Facebook. 

[Economy News] New Study Shows Brighter Future for Entrepreneurs

News Source: Business News Daily

A new study by the Kauffman Foundation indicates that starting a new business may be easier in 2014 than it has in the past few years:

  • Only 28% of respondents said that lack of access to credit was a setback to them when getting their business of the ground (versus 45% in 2012).
  • Small businesses appear to be creating more new jobs as well: Businesses employing 1 to 4 people increased from 25% in 2012 to 27% in 2013.
  • The number of small businesses with revenues exceeding $100,000 annually grew 4% between 2012 and 2013.

Key Takeaway: The economy has been tough on businesses of all sizes the past few years, but the climate is looking up in 2014, for both entrepreneurs who are looking to start a new business and current small business owners.

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

The Power of Customer Testimonials

There’s no better lead generation tool for your business than positive word-of-mouth feedback. At first glance, it may appear that there’s little in your control when it comes to what customers say about your products and services. However, there’s actually a lot you can do to facilitate and share positive feedback. In this article, we’ll discuss why customer testimonials are important, how you can obtain them, and how you can use them to generate leads.
Why Bother with Customer Testimonials?

Consumers are much more inclined to believe feedback from other customers than from a business itself. A recent study found that 79% of consumers trust online feedback as much as personal recommendations, and 73% of consumers are influenced by customer feedback when it comes to trusting a business. Anything you can do to facilitate testimonials and use them in your marketing will help generate new leads.

How Do You Obtain Testimonials?

Customer testimonials can come from both unsolicited and solicited sources:

  • Unsolicited sources include social media comments, emails or calls from customers, and quotes from online reviews
  • Solicited sources include customer surveys, testimonial contests, case studies, and in-store comment boxes (the original, analog way of obtaining customer feedback)

Soliciting feedback can happen in your store, in emails you send to customers, on your social media channels, or as part of the checkout process. Think about what makes sense for your customers and the type of feedback you want to obtain before putting a plan into action.

How Can You Use Testimonials to Generate Leads?

Once you’ve gotten positive customer feedback, what should you do with it? Share it! Consumers are much more likely to become leads if they hear that other people have had great experiences with your business.

A few ideas for sharing testimonials include:

  • Featuring customer quotes on social media
  • Incorporating testimonials in your marketing emails
  • Using feedback in your print or online advertising (with permission, of course)
  • Including a quote carousel or testimonial section on your company’s website
  • Posting customer quotes in your store on a quote board or wall

Once you start getting a regular flow of customer feedback, be sure that you have communication channels in place to share it with prospective leads.

The Bottom Line

Testimonials, whether from close friends or strangers online, are a powerful lead generation tool for small businesses. If you’re not already using testimonials to get new customers in the door, make sure you incorporate this into your business marketing efforts for 2014.

[News] Constant Contact Launches Small Business Innovation Loft

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

[Incubator News] Constant Contact Launches Small Business Innovation Loft

On Tuesday, Constant Contact launched the Small Business Innovation Loft (SMB InnoLoft), the home of a new program designed to support entrepreneurs as they solve problems for small businesses through the development of new products, features, and services.

Startups selected for the program will have incubator space at Constant Contact’s Massachusetts headquarters for 4 months. Additionally, program participants will receive financial resources, mentorship, and access to small businesses who have opted in to provide feedback on new offerings.

SMB InnoLoft is accepting submissions through March 31 for the inaugural class of startups. The program is scheduled to begin in summer 2014.

Key Takeaway: This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to get the mentoring, financial backing, and insider access they need to grow their business. If you’re an early-stage startup or entrepreneur that supports small businesses, you can apply for the program here.

[Social Media News] Facebook Acquires Link-Sharing App Branch

On Monday, link-sharing service Branch announced their acquisition by Facebook. Branch developers will become part of a new “Conversations” team at Facebook with the goal of helping users “connect around their interests.”

Branch currently offers two services: Branch, a web-based link-sharing service that provides a platform for users to discuss a piece of content and share that discussion anywhere on the web, and Potluck, an iPhone app that provides bite-sized news clips you can discuss within the app.

Key Takeaway: This acquisition falls in line with Facebook’s recent changes to its News Feed to serve up more relevant, news-oriented posts to users. All signs point to the continued importance of sharing high-quality, interesting content with your followers on social media, especially on Facebook. Make sure that the content you curate for your audience is meaningful—and if you haven’t been creating your own newsworthy content on a company blog, you may want to start in 2014.

[Restaurant News] 70% of Chain Restaurant Patrons Won’t Try New Menu Items

New research from the NPD Group released this week revealed that, at chain restaurants, 70% of surveyed consumers tend to order menu items they’ve ordered before, rather than trying something new.

Consumers indicated that they would be willing to try new items based on their appearance, price, and healthfulness.

The survey also suggested that consumers would branch out and order a new menu item if it falls under the same category as their regular orders, or an item that’s a regular fixture on a restaurant’s menu.

Key Takeaway: If you want to get your customers to branch out and try new things, make sure to give them as much information as possible about new items: photos, descriptions, health information, and pricing. Also be sure to categorize new menu items appropriately, which may increase the likelihood of experimentation.

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

Local Search: 6 Types of Data to Include in Your Local Listings

Local search is one of the best ways to generate leads. A quality local search presence starts with taking control of your business listings and providing the key points of data that consumers are looking for as they make purchase decisions.
The type of information you can provide varies by publisher, but you should make sure to include these 6 types of data in all your local listings to ensure that your online presence is cohesive and consistent.

1. Business Name, Address, Phone Number, and Hours

Make sure you enter this information exactly the same way across all sites and apps to avoid duplicate entries (e.g. don’t submit Joe’s Towing to one site and Joe’s Towing, Inc. on another). This can cause a less than optimal experience for consumers who may be looking at your listings in multiple places.

2. Service Area

If you have a business that doesn’t have a physical street address, or one that offers deliveries to a specific region, you’ll want to include your service area.

3. Business Categories

Select relevant business categories, as these are the keywords consumers will use to locate a specific business, product, or service. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant that serves pizza and subs, you might choose the categories Restaurant, Pizza, Subs, and Italian.

4. Your Business Description

Provide a concise description of your business that includes the city and state you service.

5. Relevant Keywords

Use keywords whenever possible so that local consumers can find the information they need. This provides a positive experience for the consumer.

6. Rich Content and Links

In addition to your basic information, you can also include rich content such as photos, menus, product and service lists, videos, special offers, and more. Additionally, you can provide links to your company website, social media accounts, and directions to help people find you online and in person.

The Bottom Line

Providing cohesive, detailed information about your business on listings sites and apps will ensure that consumers can find you when they perform a local search, which means more leads for your business.

Want to learn more about how you can use local listings to benefit your small business? Download our free eBook, The Mechanics of Local Listings today.