“While [Facebook is] not yet anywhere near Google’s ability to generate leads, I have, over the past 6 months, started to see them surpassing Yelp in driving local key performance indicators on the pre-sale side,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm.
“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.”
“It seems like the agency business of the future — both large and boutique — will largely add value around integration of best-of-breed point solutions, which I don’t see many large entities like YP attempting to tackle yet,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal.
“Facebook has long been a force in post-sale retention and Messenger can really play a huge part as a CRM tool,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “I see it as the “real” social network… the one where folks communicate with those closest to them.”
“So many things are happening right on Google; clicks to call, driving directions, etc., and even more so than a website,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “For a business to do well there, things like photos, reviews (everywhere) and other visuals are becoming ever more important.”
“Each of these sites that Google trusts might calculate authority in a different way, but if Google can verify the relationship to the local entity, they can apply that authority to the ranking of the local listing,” writes Mike Blumenthal to David Mihm.
As voice search becomes more prevalent, Apple will “retain an advantage over Amazon in ‘on-the-go’ searches, since our phones are always with us,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal. “Unfortunately for Apple, people overwhelmingly conduct voice searches at home. “
Clearly Amazon is positioning itself in the sales funnel aggressively, Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “And unlike Google their presale efforts lead directly to sales that they control. ”
“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.”
“Last time we identified our essential digital bundle for small businesses,” says David Mihm to Mike Blumenthal. “This week I thought we might tackle how agencies and media companies might go about building and selling that bundle — and why there seem to be so few who are actually doing it.”
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.”
“Obviously Google still controls a fair bit of the searcher’s pre-purchase mindshare, and they obviously want to retain that role,” writes Mike Blumenthal. “They are also fighting like crazy to be relevant in a world where 50% (and growing) of users’ total digital media time is spent in Apps.”
“Google’s always had the disadvantage of being a more complex and opaque product than Facebook,” writes David Mihm, “but it feels like they’ve made almost zero progress on this front in the last eight years.”
“There are two paths for consultants or small agencies today,” writes David Mihm. “Either be a generalist who’s aware of all the major channels, and the kinds of businesses that are good fits for those channels, or develop an incredibly deep focus in a particular channel, and make a name for yourself as the go-to resource within that channel.”