The Value of Local Business Profiles for Marketing Your Business
Many search engines now offer advertising and exposure opportunities in the format of online directories, phone listings, mapping, and reviews. In most cases these listings are free, are generated by a mapping process and offer searchers a chance to view company information, post and read customer reviews, comments and other data about the company. In too many cases, businesses do not take advantage of these free listings and do not respond to any negative comments posted on their local profiles. These local business profiles offer increased exposure, selling opportunities and mobile marketing platforms that were previously unheard of until just a few years ago. Savvy business operators need to avail themselves of this marketing opportunity and be both informed and proactive with their local business presence. These business directories also serve as search engines for many web users and being active in promoting your business requires careful attention to these directories for optimal ranking potential.
Online review sites are multiple and varied across the web. From those which create specific business profiles and links to web sites like Manta and Merchant Circle, consumers are making increased use of these to search for products and services in a competitive atmosphere. These business information sources typical rank well for major search terms and demand transparency from each and every company listed. The main value of these sites is increasing visibility, appearing on more searches, and a rise in page rank if profiles are set up correctly.
Another major feature of these review sites is their use in mobile marketing strategies. The dramatic increase in smartphones and the statistics that demonstrate consumer’s use of them surrounding purchasing decisions make active use of review sites and constant interface with them essential. Consumers use several review sites to make a decision on contacting a merchant or travelling to a restaurant. Diners will use criteria such as cuisine, recommendations, discounts and specials and travel time when making their choice of venue. They will also order online to speed up the process and avoid waiting time. Speed is important and being found first and seen in the best possible light makes a huge difference with the success or failure of a business with walk-in traffic.
Making the effort to utilize these review sites and maintain an engaging presence for consumers is a necessary part of digital advertising. Involving employees with marketing efforts, especially mobile-based, is important for staying competitive. Fast responses to comments or questions posted online can be handled by trained employees. Staff awareness and training on including mobile inquiries and orders will increase sales opportunities. Marketing is everyone's job, more so with mobile.
It is far too common to see a review site with no company-made notations or "if this is your business" on it. This typically means that the business owner has not claimed their directory listing. Today's business owner should be aware of the opportunities now available with owning each review site connected to their business. They should also be aware of the damage an unnoticed negative review can do. Monitoring review sites is a major part of using them. Like social media, another element in mobile marketing, negative comments can go viral and reversing the tide can be time-consuming and costly. Monitoring a company image online now includes keeping track of social media platforms, reviews left by consumers and continually updating all of a company’s local profiles. Having a regular monthly schedule devoted to reviewing all online company information or news is necessary for sustaining a positive business presence.
Merchant Circle, Google+, Bing, and the growing host of review sites are valuable tools for marketing. Business owners must be aware of the cascading damage negative comments can do and be ready to respond in an upbeat and positive manner when negative critiques appear. Being proactive and creative with review sites and local profiles can be a profitable marketing tool for any business in a local marketplace.
Author: Craig Hayes
Publisher: Scribble Creative Group, LLC.