“At the very least you have to recognize your day-to-day experiences both discovering and interacting with small businesses are wildly different from customers in rural markets,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly chat.
“It’s incredible to me that given all of Google’s focus on new local products that they are still getting some of the basics wrong,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “People who rely on Google more and more to find local businesses need to know that the fundamental metric of the business quality, reviews, is fair and well policed.”
“I think some local managers in corporations are getting pushback as to why their local traffic is falling, and if it is why should they maintain local pages? What is hard to explain is that those pages DO feed Google,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “But these locations need to be not just well structured, but easily found and crawled by Google, not hidden behind some opaque code.”
If it’s possible to distill the 30 million small business owners in the U.S. into a single persona, Marc Reisner strikes our columnists as a great candidate: “Marc has been disillusioned by past performance and that poor performance has understandably tarred the entire industry with the same brush.”
“I’m not convinced small businesses without a full-time in-house marketer really care about analytics,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their bi-weekly chat. “They certainly don’t have the time or expertise to dive in each week and change their marketing or customer service behavior based on what a dashboard is telling them.”
Where should small businesses be spending their money (or energy) right now to maximize their digital investment? Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm say it all starts with a website and listings management, and includes a variety of services like email newsletters, reviews management, and even Facebook ads.
“The flow of dollars from businesses of all sizes has clearly been away from lower-performance niche platforms into boosted Facebook posts,” writes David Mihm. “We can debate the value of that activity, but relative to the questionable/delayed/opaque performance of so many digital ad products, Facebook seems to have found a sweet spot.”
Some new data has given us some “big time insight” into how Google is using authoritative local sites to inform local search rankings, says David Mihm. Mike Blumenthal agrees, saying that the prominence of local review pages and appears to be “transferring prominence directly to the local entity in a way that is totally independent of links.”
“Google rolling out integrated hardware and software is a big change,” Mike Blumenthal says to David Mihm. “They have tried their hand at manufacturing many times and failed, but this feels more strategic. Clearly their AI assistant effort is central and it seems that AI is table stakes for the coming battles.”
“I see [Apple’s] messaging platform as the third leg of mobile (joining the web and apps) that we need in place for the transition to non-traditional interfaces like voice,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “Apple is building out a stable of ‘body’ computers with the Watch and now the AirPods that can provide an interface to the web.”