Are You Doing It Yourself or Doing Yourself In?

February 26th, 2015 By Kelsey Brown

pacman

Quick and easy do-it-yourself (or DIY) projects are awesome. Not only do you end up with something useful and unique at the end, you also get lasting experience out of crafting that something from start to finish.

One example to try for fun? Coding with Codepen. Their site explains what the tool does best: ”It is an HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code editor for your browser with instant previews of the code you see and write”.

The real draw of Codepen is its instant gratification and validation. You type some lines of code or copy and paste example language from a tutorial like this (which I recommend for first-time explorers) into a fresh dashboard called a “New Pen”, and your banner, button, animation, or whatever else you want to test appears below.

Or just check out great projects shared by other users and see every piece of complex code that makes it run. I recommend this Pacman animation if you’re reading this on a break.

When to Avoid Doing It All Yourself

Answer: When you have zero spare time AND there’s a provable solution made just for you.

Customer Lobby recently released a customer communication product that’s easy to use and custom-designed for each business. Our new feature gets local businesses provable ROI and provides updated reports to continuously improve their marketing.

Get in touch with us for a quick demo customized for your business.

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It’s Time to Give Apple Maps a Second Chance

February 19th, 2015 By Kelsey Smith

We recently posted about Google MapMaker, but what about adding your business to Apple Maps? Apple Maps debuted in 2012 to less than stellar reviews and quickly became the butt of many jokes and Internet memes (personally, I like the one below). Apple, however, has been working quietly at improving the feature and released Apple Maps Connect a few months ago. The product was recently released in several markets outside of the United States.

apple maps development team

Apple Maps Connect is a free service that allows local businesses to quickly update and add their business information to Apple Maps. These listings will then appear on both the desktop and mobile version of Apple Maps.

Like most Apple products, Apple Maps Connect has a sleek, modern design and is fairly simple to use. To get started you log in with your Apple ID (the same one you use for iTunes or the App store), and search their database for your business. You’ll then receive an automated call from Apple to verify that you’re are the business owner or an authorized representative. This call will provide you with a code that you’ll enter to be able create a new listing or to update the following:

  • Phone Number
  • Address
  • Map Location (you can drop a pin on a map where your business is located)
  • Place Status (i.e. is the business open or closed down)
  • Categories (you can select 3 categories and a sub-category for each. You can also suggest categories.)
  • Open Hours
  • Business website
  • Yelp page
  • Facebook page
  • Twitter page

Unfortunately, there seems to be some bugs and the verification call may not always work the first time, resulting in a wait time between attempts. Luckily, it seems Justin Mosebach and Mike Blumenthal have found a hack for this problem.

Apple is also working on indoor mapping (which works with iBeacon), but you’ll have to meet some restricting qualifications to be eligible for this feature now.

As always, it’s important to make sure your business’s information is correct in Apple’s database, and that it appears the same there as it does in all of your other Web listings.

Updating or adding your business to Apple Maps will help increase your Web presence and provide another place for prospective customers to find you.

 

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Opportunity Isn’t Polite Enough to Knock

February 5th, 2015 By Kelsey Brown

Yesterday, one of my coworkers sparked a discussion on powerful inspirational quotes. Today, I have this line displayed on my desk:

“Opportunity does not knock. It presents itself when you break down the door.”

Who originally said these words? Well, it depends on which website you choose to click in the Google search. Yep, the same idea is attributed to wildly different “original” speakers when you look it up.

Similarly, pinpoint origins of big ideas that few people saw coming (or many underestimated) can be and often are overlooked down the line.

That’s why innovation is vital. Even once you have a totally unique idea for your business – which is a huge challenge in itself – you risk leaning on one idea so much that you eventually fall behind while new competitors have pre-broken ground to soften their entry into the market.

Latest Door Broken Down by Customer Lobby

Customer Lobby supports thousands of local businesses by helping them collect more reviews and get more business. Customer reviews and reputation management solutions as unbeatable online marketing assets aren’t going away anytime soon, and we’re going to continue to lead the industry.

While we continue to provide support here, we have added new features to help local businesses get more after the sale with more repeat revenue from past customers.

Stay tuned, and get in touch today to see what trackable predictive advertising to your top customers will do for your business. Call us, no knocking required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From: Comcast, To: Mr. %$!#@ Customer

January 29th, 2015 By Kelsey Brown

What happened in the office did not stay in the office in this latest case of Comcast customer “service”.

The news and photographic evidence broke yesterday about a Comcast customer named Ricardo Brown in Spokane, Washington who received his bill and a salutation I can’t write here without the comic book censorship above. (Classic hint: Hold your tongue and say “apple”.)

Getting a bill is never fun, and this one added insult to injury in a blunder not too far off the heels of the company’s last bad PR event. Rather than add more negativity to this unfortunate story, we can visit customer service lessons that stem from it like last time.

1) Don’t bulldoze your customers.

Ricardo’s wife, Lisa, says she had tried to cancel the cable part of her service and was met with refusal and a transfer to a “retention specialist”, who then pushed her toward an even tighter contract. When she saw the…um…alteration the company made on her husband’s name she said, ”I was never rude. It could have been that person was upset because I didn’t take the offer.”

Customer Lobby has found that the majority of revenue for local service businesses comes from repeat customers, not brand new ones. When keeping customers happy is your lifeblood, it’s not a good idea to alienate them with poor communication and give them stories like Lisa’s to share online.

2) Take the high road, because you’re a pro.

Clearly, someone at Comcast let a personal grudge translate into professional damage. What was probably a very quick edit has now landed that employee’s employer on the “bad business practices” list again.

The occasional negative customer experience is inevitable for ANY business, just like losing customers occasionally can’t be 100% avoided. But your online reputation and your revenue don’t have to suffer from these problems, and there are measurable solutions. Just like responding well to a negative review is a great solution for your reputation (remember, we’ll help you write the perfect response), responding professionally to your customers’ concerns has a lot more measurable staying power than burning the bridge.

 

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High-Conversion Content in Just 15 Seconds? It’s Not Impossible. Join Us!

January 22nd, 2015 By Kelsey Brown

We loved the turnout at last week’s presentation, ”Asking Customers for Reviews: Why, When, and How,” and invite you to join us next week for our third broadcast:

“How To Make Your Business Remarkable in 15 Seconds”

talking


Free Broadcast
Thursday, January 29th
11:00am-11:15am PST
Hosted by Kelsey Brown, Marketing Manager

Fact: Most online traffic bounces off a page after 15 seconds.

Proof: Plenty of research.

Additional Proof: Think of the last time you really read online (no skimming!).

 

How do you project high-conversion messages about your business when you only have your audience for 15 seconds?

You can’t make a first impression twice, so join us for just 15 minutes of your day to find out about:

  • Hitting all the right notes with your Web audience.
  • Answering “Who am I and what can I provide?” for your visitors.
  • Real local businesses who are using design to draw customers.
  • Exceptions to the 15 seconds rule and why they’re special.

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Google MapMaker: How It Can Help Your Business

January 15th, 2015 By Kelsey Smith

We already know that it’s important to keep business information consistent across the Internet. In fact, inconsistent information can not only confuse your prospective customers, but it can also negatively affect your ranking in search engine results. In addition to the directories your business is listed on, you should also make sure that customers are able to find you and up-to-date information on Google Maps.

logo-map-maker

 

NAP, It’s Important

First things first, it’s important to verify that your business’s information is correct wherever it is listed.  The most important thing to check is your company name, address and phone number (also known as NAP for those who like acronyms or sleep-related terms). This information is like your company’s fingerprint, it’s a unique identifier that helps Google and other search engines recognize your business and it helps potential customers find you.

Inconsistencies in your information are problematic for several reasons. A major one is that having conflicting information is bad for search engine optimization (SEO). Conflicting information can also hinder review syndication.

 

What is MapMaker and How Can It Help Local Businesses

Google’s MapMaker allows people to become cartographers and use their local knowledge to update Google maps by adding and editing locations around the world. It provides access to correct errors you may find, add missing points of interest and add details to existing content

To confirm user contributions are accurate, each edit will be reviewed. After the additions are approved, the edits will appear in Google Maps within minutes—dramatically speeding up the time it takes for online maps to reflect the often-changing physical world.

These user updates help determine whether your business is listed correctly in Google, and how visible your business is in Google+ Local search results.

To see if your Google Maps information is accurate, perform a search of your business’s address and look at the map results to see where your business shows up. Is the pin dropped in the right location? Is the content and NAP that appear accurate? In addition to being able to edit this information, you can also add extra details, like hours of operation, if your business is located in a shopping center or if there’s a parking lot available.

It’s a good idea to perform Google searches of your business anyway, to make sure your online reputation is fair and accurate (if you don’t like what you see, here’s how we can help).

There is also an Edit/Report button in MapMaker, where you can request a listing be changed by providing an explanation as to why certain information is incorrect and any valuable information supporting your claims, though be advised Google can reject your appeal.

Updating your business location with accurate detail on Google MapMaker will help your customers to find you, and will give you an edge during map location searches. MapMaker also feeds data to Google My Business.

Note: Google has several YouTube Videos and a FAQ to help users navigate and make edits with MapMaker.

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3 Internet Marketing Takeaways from BrightLocal’s Latest SMB Survey

January 9th, 2015 By Kelsey Brown

BrightLocal just released results from its survey, “SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2014″. Like this study on the increasing importance of online customer reviews, BrightLocal’s recent research (in which 736 SMBs participated) provides plenty of remarkable stats. This time, on the ways small to medium-sized businesses use online marketing, and how they prioritize their strategies when trying to engage customers.

The survey is worth checking out in full, but I’ll review my top takeaways for SMBs, by SMBs:

 

1) 75% Consider Internet Marketing “Effective” or “Very Effective” at Boosting Business

When surveyed, a whopping 75% of the 736 small businesses included said that promoting themselves to online prospects is a sure way to attract new customers (32% in the “very effective” group and 43% in the “effective” group).

This is up from 68% in 2013, and correlates with the trend we’re seeing over and over: The online evolution of “word of mouth” referrals.

 

2) Google+ and Google My Business Confuse Some SMBs

20% of the businesses surveyed said they understand these platforms are significant, but find them difficult to comprehend. 17% said they find it annoying trying to keep up with Google’s numerous tweaks.

We first covered Google’s new small business product here, and got granular with a series of instructional videos Google released here. With many SMBs finding it impossible to use Google+ and Google My Business smoothly, it makes even more sense to release a “how-to” series like this.

Huge note: Platforms that are confusing to business owners are often just as confusing to their customers. Additionally, Google+ and others like Yelp and Angie’s List require account sign-ins for customers who want to write reviews.

Streamlining the online review process on the business owners’ end AND their happy customers’ end is what we do.

 

3) 70% of SMBs Spend Less than $500/Month on Online Marketing

My first reaction to this? “As it should be!” SMBs should focus on quality Internet marketing – like turning their best customers into their best promoters – instead of falling in the “higher cost, higher value” trap. It’s interesting to note that this is the same group who said Internet marketing is effective or very effective at generating new business for them.

Note: Getting online content that performs across several sites, drives traffic, pulls in new customers, and keeps current customers coming back doesn’t cost nearly this much. In fact, it doesn’t cost anything in a full trial.

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Reviews + Solutions = Resolutions, and We’re Launching a Series to Celebrate

January 5th, 2015 By Kelsey Brown

Make 2015 your year with more customers and a better online reputation for your business. We’re kicking off a webinar series to help get you there.

webinar blog banner

Each week, we’ll cover topics that will help you master capturing new customers online. Join us!

Upcoming webinars, starting this Thursday, January 8 at 11:00am-11:30am PST. Click the link to register.

  1. How to Turn Bad Reviews into Great Content (Thursday, January 8th)
  2. Asking Customers for Reviews: Why, When, and How (Thursday, January 15th)
  3. How to Make Your Business Remarkable in 15 Seconds (Thursday, January 29th)

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Content Trends: Video Marketing in 2015 and What It Means for Local Businesses

December 18th, 2014 By Kelsey Brown

A picture is worth a thousand words, so how much are moving pictures worth?

Recent articles like this one from MarketingProfs claim videos will be worth quite a bit as engaging marketing content in the coming year. They argue that the Web video format will trump traditional media like static photos or (*gasp*) written word.

We’ve addressed today’s average online attention span before (and pointed out review content is a very clear exception). I’d argue it continues to dwindle down as online visitors feel increasingly ho-hum about the immense amount of information being pushed their way.

I think the articles have a point: Videos are pearls in a growing sea of content. So, as we move into a new year with new marketing content popping up in front of visitors all the time, videos will likely matter more.

CL video

It is important to note that the articles are mostly geared toward B2B marketers, not small local businesses. However, I’m a big fan of gleaning business-boosting lessons from all points on the market spectrum. As a small business owner, you could certainly still learn from what we saw on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Just the same, you can try adding videos of your own to your business’s website to gauge visitor engagement and conversion value.

As I covered in the “How to Capture Your Online Audience” series (you can read parts 1, 2, and 3 here), small business owners don’t need to move mountains to create moving content. This is true with videos, too. Like having plenty of recommendations from real customers, posting a video starring a friendly professional from your company is great for making your prospects feel more connected to you than your competitor, before they even pick up the phone in their buying process.

If you do want to get a little fancier, without sacrificing ease, you can use apps like Hyperlapse. I’d recommend something like shooting a tour of your latest project and condensing it into a stimulating, short and sweet video to show off your business’s expertise.

All of this being said…

If producing videos to reach prospects still seems like more trouble than it’s worth, you can always rely on customer reviews as extremely valuable content with the power to drive up your customer conversion and retention rates.

You can update your website, your social media listings, and your business directory listings in one swoop with verified reviews to dominate search results and give your prospects a clear choice in the often murky waters of Web content.

Let us help. We have an expert ready to demonstrate in 10 minutes how reviews can impact your business. We also offer an all-included trial of our features so you can see for yourself.

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Facebook Reviews: How and Why to Take Advantage of This New Platform

December 11th, 2014 By Kelsey Smith

For a little over a year now, Facebook has quietly ventured into the online reviews world by allowing its 1.3 billion (and growing) active users to not only “like” a local business page, but to also give them a star rating on a scale of one to five. Businesses can use this new feature to get more reviews across the Web and as a tool for building their presence online.

Benefits of Getting Reviews on Facebook

Facebook reviews have some unique benefits for both businesses and users. For one, the site already has a massive user base, meaning it’s likely customers are already account holders. (Fun Fact: Active users spend, on average, 40 minutes a day on the site). And since so many are already familiar with using the social media site, it isn’t a big stretch to ask them for a star rating, especially since checking in and liking pages has become part of today’s social norm.

Once someone rates a business on Facebook, the social nature of the site will cause the review to appear in the News Feeds of others and can help other users discover a new business, leading to greater brand awareness for the company.

What to Do If You Get a Negative Review

Like any other review platform, however, there’s always the possibility of getting a negative review.

While negative reviews are inevitable, it’s important to manage them as quickly as possible. The ability for page administrators to comment on Facebook reviews is the application’s newest function.

We’ve written extensively about how to respond to negative reviews in the past, and those guidelines can also apply to Facebook reviews. A short and empathetic comment on a negative review owning the issue and describing how it has been resolved will not only appeal to the reviewer, but will earn you the  trust of prospective customers.

How to Enable Facebook Reviews

To enable Facebook reviews, which are currently only available to businesses with physical addresses, you’ll first have to make sure your business is categorized as a local business. To do this, click About under your business name and then select Page Info. One you’re listed as a local business, click to edit your address. You’ll see a box that, if checked, will display a map, check-ins, and star ratings on your business’s Facebook profile.

When reviewing a business on Facebook, users are only required to give the business a star rating. Writing any details about the experience is optional and the user can choose who sees it, thought the default setting is public. The average star rating is then displayed on the business’s Facebook page below the company’s name, though it’s worth noting only public ratings are factored into the overall rating.

Note: Facebook has a very comprehensive FAQ page regarding reviews.

How Customer Lobby Can Help

Facebook reviews can be a valuable asset to marketing your business and will help you reach a larger base of prospective customers.

To help you get reviews on this growing platform, we are unveiling a Smart Invitation for Facebook that will be available Friday, Dec. 12.

Like our Smart Invites for Google+, Yelp, and Angie’s List, the one for Facebook will help direct your customers to your business’s Facebook page by providing a direct link in every Email Invitation you send or when a customer clicks the Customer Lobby button on your website. This helps you get more reviews in more places.

Note: To enable Smart Invites, log into your Customer Lobby account and select Reviews, followed by Settings, then Invitation Settings. Or, you can call or email us to get them set up.

In Conclusion

Facebook reviews can provide a unique opportunity for businesses to interact with their customers, as well as provide another place to get reviews. The application gives local businesses another avenue for self-promotion and makes it even easier for customers to leave feedback, making it a valuable marketing tool.

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