In the local space, 2016 brought both consolidation and renewal. Major players like Yodle, ReachLocal and Constant Contact were acquired, while other companies experimented with innovations in bots and AI, VR/AR and a new generation of voice search. Here’s a look back at the top Street Fight stories (at least in terms of traffic) this year.
1. Making Sense of Google’s Changes that Just Blew Up Online Ads for Local Businesses
Todd Bairstow, February 29th: There’s really no way to overstate what a massive change Google’s ad reconfiguring is for everyone in the SEM industry. But it’s going to have a more profound — and even devastating — effect on locally-oriented businesses who had relied on Adwords as a key marketing tool.
2. Google Finally Reveals How to Improve Your Local Ranking
Damian Rollison, April 5th: Google has significantly updated its help page on the topic of local ranking to include, for the first time, specific common-sense guidelines showing businesses how they can increase the likelihood that online searchers will find them in Google Maps on desktop and mobile.
3. 6 Ways That Local Merchants Are Using Pokémon Go to Drive Business
Stephanie Miles, July 12th: With interest in the augmented reality game reaching a fever pitch, savvy local merchants and national retailers were using social media and targeted rewards to lure in Pokémon Go players and turn them into paying customers. Here are six examples of ways that merchants are doing just that.
4. Case Study: Bakery Takes Digital Approach to Local Marketing
Stephanie Miles, February 2nd: Like many local merchants, Heather Zidell has seen the number of customers finding her business through Yelp climb over the years. She decided to take the leap into paid advertising on the platform as a way to ensure that her bakery was being listed ahead of competitors.
5. Lessons Learned in the Email Marketing Wars About ‘Selling to SMBs’
Eric Groves, March 3rd: Constant Contact’s recent announcement that it would be acquired by EIG, got me reflecting on the past 15 years and how much the industry’s evolution has taught me about what it takes to effectively sell to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
6. Lesson From Yodle’s Acquisition: Scaling SMB Performance Marketing Isn’t So Easy
Mark Sullivan, February 15th: While the acquisition is likely welcome news for Yodle’s backers and Web.com’s shareholders, the resounding message for SMB performance marketing vendors is one of caution. The real problem facing large performance marketing vendors like Yodle is that of customer retention.
7. Good Uncle’s Cerilli: ‘We Could Change the Face of Franchising’
Annie Melton, March 1st: If Wiley Cerilli’s new venture has its way, geography won’t be as limiting a factor in determining who has access to gourmet food and celebrated dishes from famous chefs. The company, which recently raised $2.2 million, will launch this fall in smaller cities and towns, linking local populations to big-city food via a mobile app and delivery service.
8. At Hearst Newspapers, a New Digital Strategy to End ‘Flying Blind’
Tom Grubisich, November 3rd: Just how far local newspapers have to go to plant their flag commandingly in the fiercely competitive world of digital is summed up in a revealing story told by Robertson (Rob) Barrett, the new digital chief at Hearst Newspapers, who says that editors just don’t have information about the interests of the people in their market.
9. Yelp Extends Online Booking Capabilities With New Platform Partners
Stephanie Miles, June 6th: Yelp took another step in its expansion into the online booking arena, with the announcement that it would be adding five new platform partners to its roster: Whittl, TicketNetwork, delivery.com for laundry, Peek and foodjunky.
10. How Brands Are Using Chatbots to Improve the Customer Experience
Stephanie Miles, November 29th: Although automated messaging has been around for years, today’s chatbots combine machine learning with artificial intelligence to create enhanced user experiences. Chatbots are also giving brands a chance to flex their creative muscles, utilizing technology in innovative ways.