Businesses Find Opportunities to Fundraise, Connect Through Local Platforms

Consumers say they want to help the local businesses in their communities, and many are buying gift cards and launching GoFundMe campaigns to help their favorite restaurants, retailers, and brewpubs avoid going out of business. But restaurants and other essential businesses that remain open still need a way to let customers know how they’re selling their products and services, and how they can place orders without showing up in person.

The neighborhood social networking app Nextdoor is one of a number of platforms working on ways to ease that burden. Yelp, Facebook, and Patch are joining the fight.

The Upside of Being Down: How to Market Your Small Business During Coronavirus

Studies show that eliminating advertising during tough times can lead to a decrease in sales. Business owners may view marketing as a discretionary cost and forgo it because they are bringing in less. But consumer and advertising spend are significant drivers of revenue, even in the midst of a downturn.    

Coming out of the Great Recession of the late 2000s, marketers learned a valuable lesson: Going dark can have long-term consequences. Instead, business owners should adjust their marketing approach to reach audiences in thoughtful new ways. Here are some tips.

5 Curbside Pickup Solutions for Retailers to Use During Covid-19

Curbside pickup isn’t just a win from a public health perspective; it also gives stores an additional lifeline as they look for ways to sell products without violating physical distancing guidelines. What’s more, the trend may stick, bringing additional retailers into the process and boosting customer adoption even after social distancing subsides.

These are five technology companies offering platforms and tools that retailers can use to implement curbside pickup during the Covid-19 crisis.

Location Weekly: Unacast, Krowdthink, Inpixon Tackle Coronavirus

In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers Unacast releasing a “Social Distancing Dashboard” to share how Americans are complying, Inpixon offering LBS tech to help hospitals with COVID-19, McDonald’s separating its Golden Arches in Brazil, and Yelp offering $25M in free ads to bars and restaurants. The show also features Geoff Revill, the co-founder and CEO of LBMA member company Krowdthink, who discusses the use of Community Krowd to assist the UK Home Office in the coronavirus crisis.

Local Businesses Lean Heavily on Digital Tools During Covid-19

Digital platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Yelp, and Twitter have never been more important for local businesses. With 80% of customers saying they are scaling down their restaurant visits now, restaurants are in uncharted territory. Local businesses in every industry are being forced to adapt their marketing strategies on the fly and use digital channels like Google and Yelp to keep people updated on their status.

Restaurants that were previously hesitant to use delivery services are now jumping on the bandwagon, and apps like DoorDash, Instacart, and UberEats are seeing a surge in businesses using their platforms. Smaller restaurants, retailers, and other local businesses are also beginning to accept more orders through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Larger organizations are managing an influx of customer service calls using chatbots on these same platforms.

Coronavirus and Mobile Advertising: CPMs, Sensitivity, Geographic Comparisons

The Covid-19 crisis is a challenging time for all industries, but for mobile marketers it poses a paradoxical challenge. On the one hand, people are on their phones and engaging with media as much as ever. On the other hand, the economic downturn is putting a strain on marketing budgets, employees are working from home, and messaging during a public health crisis requires unusual sensitivity.

Brian Bowman, CEO of social marketing and user acquisition firm Customer Acquisition, provided Street Fight his takes on the current state of the mobile ad market, where it’s headed in the coming weeks, and how advertisers can approach their work with consideration for the difficulty of these times.

Street Fight’s April Theme: Local Commerce in the Time of Coronavirus

We’ll devote coverage this month to the virus’ continued outbreak and its effect on local business. Of course, the airwaves and ether are already filled with pandemic coverage, and we won’t look to compete with that. Rather, we’ll be writing specifically about the crisis’ impact on local commerce, marketing, and related subjects.

In fact, we’ve already gotten started. Our March theme of reputation management barely got off the ground before we and many of our contributors came to the realization that it didn’t really feel right to talk about anything other than Covid-19. Don’t worry, we’ll give reputation management an encore performance later in the year.

This Startup Is Helping Local Stores ID Customers During COVID-19

Chatbots are helping resolve customer service issues when businesses are closed and call centers are slammed, but brick-and-mortar stores are still struggling to adapt to an online-only business format. Pure play ecommerce outlets have spent years developing systems to manage transactions and verify customer identities, but most retailers on Main Street are accustomed to seeing shoppers in person and visually checking IDs.

A San Francisco-based startup called Persona is offering to help those local businesses adapt by giving away its online ID verification service for free during the COVID-19 crisis.

7 Delivery Apps Keeping Restaurants, Grocers Afloat During COVID-19

Dozens of states have banned dine-in service at restaurants, and nearly as many are requiring retailers to close up shop in a bid to slow down the coronavirus outbreak. As local businesses deal with the enormous financial implications that come with closing down to customers, many are trying out delivery services for the very first time.

For restaurants and other local businesses interested in offering their products via on-demand delivery, here are seven delivery platforms with which local businesses can partner during the Covid-19 crisis.

Review Generation and Management Platforms for Healthcare

In healthcare marketing, it all comes down to the patients. Adding patient reviews to a healthcare organization’s website can improve its ranking in the Google algorithm, particularly when those reviews are filled with relevant keywords. Just as importantly, though, patient reviews have a positive impact on the way other people view medical websites. Practice websites with user-generated content, including reviews, score higher in reliability, expertise, and professionalism.

Here are six examples of review generation and management platforms aimed squarely at healthcare organizations.

Street Fight’s March Theme: Word of Mouth

One of the oldest and still most influential drivers of local commerce is word of mouth. Though that’s sustained at a high level, the delivery vessel for local chatter has evolved. Social channels like Facebook and Yelp now shape the reputations of brick-and-mortar businesses, not to mention the kingmaker authority of Google.

This month, we will delve into the latest trends and insights driving reputation management, taking Word of Mouth as our theme.

The Pitfalls and Opportunities of Screen-Free Customer Service

One vertical that has been able to integrate voice into customer service in a meaningful way is retail. National retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and REI Co-op have created skills or teamed up with technology providers to connect with customers through voice-controlled assistants. Some retailers are accepting orders via voice, and others are doling out product information and reviews. What the most successful of these companies have in common is a defined strategy and plans to measure ROI.

Leveraging Voice: A Path for Brand Marketers

It’s important that companies can see who their customers are and what transactions are associated with each customer via voice assistants. This sort of knowledge is necessary for brands to make the channel a valuable part of an overarching loyalty strategy.

Given that voice is currently owned by just a few select companies, it’s important for brands to figure out how they will leverage voice differently from company to company or device to device. Will retail brands keep the same strategy with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, or will they find unique ways to take advantage of these platforms across differences?

What Does Customer Experience Mean in a Voice-First World?

The trend of moving customer experience beyond the screen has been dubbed “conversational customer care.” It’s still unclear just how many channels are included under this umbrella or how the future of conversational customer care will look. Brands that are dealing with demanding customers can’t afford to sit back and wait for this to play out. Screen-free customer experiences could be the future. They could be just a single touchpoint in the broader context of customer experience strategy. Or, they could just be a passing fad.

But the chances that voice-first customer experiences are a fad seem to be shrinking.

5 Ways to Reduce Errors in Voice Ordering

Restaurant chains like Wingstop, Domino’s, Panera, and Round Table have created their own skills to make it easier for people to place orders through voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. But before voice ordering can truly disrupt the restaurant industry, restaurants have to find ways to reduce the friction and eliminate the kinds of errors that lead to the wrong orders being delivered.

Here’s how some of the country’s top restaurant chains are overcoming the challenges associated with voice ordering and developing more frictionless customer experiences.

How B2B Companies Can Survive in a Clickless Search Ecosystem

The dawn of the clickless world might raise alarms for B2Bs companies, and that’s fair. This trend will likely pose a challenge for companies that rely heavily on Google for new business leads — especially small businesses that generate a majority of leads from search traffic. 

However, the clickless world also presents an opportunity for B2B brands to streamline their online presence. In this new ecosystem, B2B brands can generate awareness and encourage customers to contact their business even before a customer actually sees their website. 

Charting the Rise of Conversational AI

Conversational AI is a broad term used to describe technologies that automate conversations and personalize customer experiences. With the right systems in place, brands are able to understand, process, and actually respond to voice inputs in a natural way. While voice assistants, chatbots, and messaging services like WhatsApp, Kik, and Facebook Messenger can all be harnessed in a conversational AI strategy, virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are the most popular tools adopted by brand marketers today.

How the Rise of Unbranded Search Upends Restaurant, Retail, and Grocery Strategy

Fueled by the growth of mobile and set to rocket even further north in coming years thanks to voice, unbranded searches like “burgers near me” or “Thai food” are growing as fast as 113% year over year, according to a fresh study by multi-location marketing firm MomentFeed. Unbranded search grew about 30% from 2016 to ’17 and 56% the following year before doubling pace in 2018-19, suggesting the slope of this trend’s adoption could get even steeper in coming years.

Voice Tech Could Transform Loyalty Programs. Here’s How

Within the hospitality industry, a growing number of hotels are using voice technology to improve personalization with experiences like virtual concierges. Virtual concierges use voice technology to personalize a guest’s stay by offering experiences based on past behavior. For example, virtual concierges can adjust thermostats or place room service orders based on a traveler’s previous preferences. When hotels and other hospitality brands take action based on the insights gathered about guests through their loyalty programs, they improve the overall guest experience.

But brands in a number of industries are exploring loyalty use cases for voice.

Using Smartwatches to Join Marketing’s Vanguard

Spending on wearables is predicted to hit $52 billion this year, according to forecasts from the research firm Gartner, and spending on smartwatches specifically is expected to increase by 24%. Smartwatches represent the merging of physical and virtual worlds, and they provide marketers with a direct line for reaching consumers.

Here are five examples of how tech-savvy brands can put smartwatches to work and develop better strategies to take full advantage of the new opportunities that exist for reaching consumers through these wearable devices.