But it was never intended specifically for local service based business.
That’s not the case with Google Local Service Ads. It’s designed especially for local businesses. Let’s talk about it – and about the Google Guarantee Badge.
Why is Local Search a Must?
Simply put, 75% of all local searches result in an in-store visit within 24 hours. This one statistic demonstrates the importance of local SEO. If you can attract a lead through a search, the odds are in your favor that the searcher will come to your business.
As Google focuses more on local SEO and searches, it’s natural that they’ve decided to offer searchers a way to verify local businesses. And that’s where Google Local Services comes in.
Google Local Services got its start as Google Home Services in 2015. It was originally a pilot program in the San Francisco market. It offered consumers some detailed and useful information about local businesses, including:
Once a business has passed Google’s screening, they’ll get a badge with a green checkmark next to it and the words “Google Guaranteed.” That’s a signal to potential leads that your business is trustworthy.
What Does the Google Guarantee Offer Consumers?
The Google Guarantee offers two things to consumers: peace of mind and financial protection. Here’s how it breaks down.
The first thing is that, as I mentioned before, the Google Guarantee tells potential leads that your business is licensed and insured and that your employees have passed a criminal background check. That’s essential in the home services industry.
The second thing the Google Guarantee offers is financial protection. Google will reimburse money paid for a job when the consumer is dissatisfied. There’s a lifetime cap of $2,000 and the service must be:
If one of your customers files a claim, Google will contact you to let you know. You’ll have a chance to work things out with your customer first. If that fails, Google will reach a verdict about how to handle the claim.
Where Do Google Local Services Ads Appear?
If you haven’t taken part of Google Local Service listings yet, you might be wondering “Why do I need to jump through hoops to complete Google’s screening process?
Well, there’s a couple really good reasons. Let’s discuss.
First, if you’re properly licensed and insured, the only other thing you need to do is get background checks for your employees. And frankly, if you’re sending your employees into people’s homes, that’s a good idea for every business.
Second, it’s all about the ad placement. Businesses that pass Google’s screening process get preferred placement on the SERP on both desktop and mobile devices.
On desktop, business with the Google Guarantee Badge appear in a box above both the traditional Google 3-pack and the regular organic search results. The display will list:
On mobile devices, the Google Local Services ads appear above the SERP, too. Typically, the top two results will appear along with the name, badge, rating, and a call button that mobile users can click to contact you directly.
How Does Google Local Service Ads Benefit You?
Most people who perform a Google search never get past the first page of search results. In other words, it’s incredibly important for local business to rank for search if they want to capture leads and grow their businesses.
Google Local Service Ads and the Google Guarantee Badge can help you do both. If you have good reviews, then your business will be front and center when people search your top local keywords.
Potential leads will know that your business has been guaranteed by Google. They can access reviews easily and be confident that you’re someone they can trust with whatever work they need.
Remember, in any sale process there’s a need to overcome buyer objections. One of the biggest objections when people are looking for home services is safety. They want to know that you’re reliable and that your employees can be trusted. The Google Guarantee Badge provides some peace of mind and takes the guesswork out of hiring you.
But here’s the best thing - While traditional ads operate on a pay-per-click basis, Local Service ads run on a pay-per-lead basis. That means you’re only charged for the leads you receive through your Local Service ad
And, compared to regular search ads, Local Service ads have a pretty simple setup. No keywords, research, or creative to manage.
Are There Any Downsides to Google Local Services?
I can’t say that there are any real negatives to qualifying for the Google Guarantee Badge, but FYI not every business can take part of this program. Google’s Local Service Ads cater to local service-based businesses in specific industries, such as locksmiths, plumbers, garage door professionals, electricians, and HVAC services. To find out if you can connect to your customers with Local Service Ads, first confirm your business type and location here.
So if you’ll jump through some hoops – Google’s Local Service Ads can give your business a big leg up on your competitors and drive more high quality leads to your business.
Google AdWords is dying whether you’re ready or not. This is the perfect time to embrace Google Local Services, go through the screening process, and get that coveted green checkmark next to your name – so if you own a local service based business - what are you waiting for?
And let’s face it: sometimes we have ideas for content but lack the expertise to execute them. Nobody’s good at everything, right?
The solution is – drum roll, please – NOT DOING EVERYTHING YOURSELF.
I’m talking here about content collaboration.
Maybe you’ve never collaborated on a piece of content before and the notion sounds scary. I get it.
But what if a little bit of teamwork and collaboration is just what you need to make your content sing? What if collaboration could increase your engagement, attract more leads, and bump your profits?
It can. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Content Collaboration?
So, what is content collaboration? How does it work?
Simply stated, content collaboration is what happens when more than one person – could be two, could be 10 or more – work together on a piece of content.
The benefit of collaborating on content is that it allows you to bring together people with different experiences, training, and skills to contribute what they know to the finished piece. When it’s done well, content collaboration can help you:
Where to Find Collaborators
I’m willing to bet that collaboration sounds good to you now. That makes the next question where to find potential collaborators and how to choose the best ones to help you with your content.
Let’s start with the where. There are a few options:
Content Collaboration Ideas to Try
Not all content is ideal for collaboration. Here are 10 ideas you may want to consider as you undertake your first content collaboration.
If your business is local and you haven’t focused on local SEO, then the chances are good that you’re falling behind your competitors without realizing it.
All SEO is not created equal. National SEO – which focuses non-location based keywords – is useful for big corporations. But for small businesses, local SEO is where it’s at.
What are the differences? What do you need to know to make the most of local SEO? Let’s talk about it.
The Big Picture Similarities
Local and national SEO have a lot in common.
For example, both types of SEO have the goal of improving a website’s ranking on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP.) The pages with the highest ranks get the lion’s share of traffic, which means they also get more conversions and more sales.
Some general techniques apply to all SEO, regardless of the target audience. I’m talking about:
National Keywords vs. Local Keywords
The biggest difference between local and national SEO is the keywords you’ll use. National businesses can use general keywords because they’re big enough to benefit from doing so. When customers buy online or can find your business at their local mall, you don’t need to worry too much about locational keywords.
Local businesses do need to worry about locational keywords. They help local customers – the ones most likely to frequent your business – find you online.
Depending on your business, you may choose to use words that incorporate the name of your state, city, or neighborhood. Let’s look at a hypothetical business to see how this strategy might play out.
The business is a bakery located in the North End neighborhood in Boston. Here are a few local keywords that might be useful:
Choosing the right local keywords also helps you with Google. When someone in the area searches “best North end bakery,” Google will return results based on the GPS on the searcher’s phone or device.
In other words, local keywords help Google include your business in local searches, making it more likely that people in your area will learn about your business.
The Benefits of Local SEO
Local SEO offers some significant benefits to small and medium-sized companies. A small company is unlikely to be able to compete with a large national brand. They won’t have the budget or the reach to do so.
Here are some of the key benefits of local SEO as I see them:
Tips to Perfect Your Local SEO
What’s the best way to perfect your local SEO? Fortunately, it’s not that hard to do. Here’s what I suggest:
If you want to attract local customers, you need local SEO. It’s as simple as that. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to focus on identifying the local keywords and strategies that will have local customers flocking to your door.
But that doesn’t mean that you can afford to ignore it.
And if it’s been a while since you revamped your email marketing strategies, it’s time to wake up and smell the lead generation coffee.
The good news is it’s great coffee.
Here are five blends – okay, strategies – to help you kick your lead generation into high gear.
Some marketers want to hang on to a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to lead generation. They’ve got a lead magnet that’s been working for them – at least to a point – and they don’t want to try anything new.
But here’s the thing about that. Not every potential lead arrives at your site for the same reason. Some may have been drawn by a specific piece of content. Others might be looking for a service – or a product – to solve a problem they’ve been having.
My point? It’s far more effective to target people with an offer that’s tailored to their interests. Someone who comes to your site because of an authority blog post is highly likely to respond to a lead magnet that is related to the post.
That’s simple, but I’m always amazed at how many people don’t understand it. Dive into some audience research, tailor your lead magnets based on what you find, and watch your subscriptions soar.
#2: Use Pop-ups
I can hear you now. Your brain is screeching at me.
“WHAT? People hate pop-ups! And what about pop-up blockers? It’ll never work!”
I get it. But here’s the thing: pop-ups are effective. In fact, they can be HUGELY effective if you use them in the right way.
What I mean by that is that a generic pop-up that interrupts someone while they’re reading the first paragraph of your killer blog post is only going to be irritating – and probably ignored.
A pop-up that appears as the reader approaches the end of your blog post is a different story. So is a pop-up that’s triggered when the user hits the back button or tries to close the window.
Why? Because these are triggered by behaviors.
Research shows that using an exit pop-up can boost conversions by as much as 1375%! That’s a crazy number – and if you know anything about conversions, you know that it’s beyond impressive.
The moral here is that you shouldn’t rule out pop-ups. The right kind – at the right time – can reduce your bounce rate and help you get more subscriptions than ever before.
#3: Maximize the Value of Your Lead Magnet(s)
We’ve already talked about lead magnets, but there’s another angle I want to mention. The best lead magnets are those that:
The main point here is that a user should see your lead magnet and experience immediate FOMO (that fear of missing out). You want them to NEED it – so much so that they’ll fork over their email address to get it.
#4: Choose the Right Lead Capture
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. And there’s more than one way to capture a lead.
Sure, you could go with the old tried and true web form. But think about your audience. Is that the BEST way?
If your regular methods aren’t garnering the options they once were, here are a few alternatives to consider:
#5: Eliminate Friction
Subscribing to your list should be easy. REALLY easy.
You probably know that there’s research that shows that every additional field added to an opt-in form decreases the conversion rate. For example, dropping the number of fields from five to four can increase your conversion rate by 50%.
You should ask yourself:
Email marketing is an ideal way to nurture leads and convince them to take the next step and buy your product or service. The five tips I’ve mentioned here can help you pull your lead generation out of stagnation – and into a brand new world of profits.
But, the good news is that it doesn’t need to be that way. When your business gets stuck and stops growing, there are things that you probably aren’t doing that you can do to kick things back into high gear.
Ready to get things going again? Here are some of the most common things that cause business to stagnate.
You Don’t Have an Email List
This one’s a biggie for me – so much so that one of the first questions I ask new clients is:
Do you have an email list?
I’m always amazed when people don’t. It’s so easy to do and email marketing earns great returns. There’s really no excuse for skipping email marketing as a method of growing your business.
And, here’s the thing. It is very easy to build a list. All you need to do is come up with a lead magnet that’s designed to appeal to your target audience. It could be a short report or eBook, a cheat sheet, a tip sheet, a value-packed video, or even a template.
Then, you create a landing page around your cheat sheet, advertise it, and boom! You’ve got an email list.
Once your email list is up and running, you can use it to nurture your leads and turn them into paying customers.
You’re Dialing in Your Marketing Strategy
Let’s face it – most small business owners don’t have a ton of time for marketing. They might set aside an hour or two to deal with it each week, but it’s often the first thing to get pushed aside when time is tight.
I get why that is, but it’s a mistake. A big one. Why? Because marketing is one of the best ways to engage with your existing customers and attract new ones.
If it’s been a while since you revamped your marketing strategy, here are some tips to help you get back on track.
You Don’t Have a Referral Program
If you’re not asking your existing customers for referrals, you’re making a big mistake. Referrals are a great way to attract new customers. They’re free (or pretty close to it) and they allow you to turn your valued customers into ambassadors for your brand.
It doesn’t take much to create a successful referral program. You’ll want to start by deciding how to incentivize referrals. Your customers are more likely to help you out if there’s something in it for them. It could be a free product, a discount on your services, or even a cash incentive. Figure out what’s most likely to appeal to them.
Then, you’ll need to tell your customers about the referral program. If you have employees, get them involved. Make sure every one of your existing customers knows about the program. Then, when you get new referrals, make sure to deliver your incentives immediately.
Your Brand Messaging isn’t Consistent
What do people think of first when they hear your brand name? If you’re not sure what the answer to that question is, it’s a sign that your brand messaging is falling short of the mark.
Consistent brand messaging is one of the cornerstones of great marketing and business growth. If your brand message is diluted, then it’s time to tighten it up.
Let’s start with some of the most common ways that a brand message gets diluted:
You Aren’t Using Social Media to Your Advantage
How are you using social media? If you’re not regularly getting leads from social media, then you’re probably not using it to your best advantage.
Your social media posts should be engaging and shareable. That means that you can’t simply post a sales pitch and call it a day. Your social media content must be:
It’s time to get unstuck…
If your business isn’t growing, it’s your job to find out what’s holding you back. The five strategies here can get you back on track – and get a stream of new customers headed your way!
Here are 9 marketing tools that you aren’t using yet, but should be.
Meltwater is a tool that lets you accomplish several marketing goals at once. With it, you can:
#2: Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a tool that Google created to help businesses keep track of the latest information that’s relevant to your brand. You can log in to Google Alerts using your Google ID or Gmail address. Then, you can set up alerts as you choose.
Here are some of the things you can do with Google Alerts:
Canva is one of my favorite content creation tools. They offer an impressive collection of things to help you create memorable social media posts, including:
#4: Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights is a tool that Facebook provides to its business customers. It offers marketers an impressive collection of analytics and statistics that can help you fine-tune your Facebook ads. Some of the information you’ll get includes:
#5: Your Social Plan
Your Social Plan is a social media scheduling tool that allows you to schedule your posts easily across multiple platforms. They also provide new monthly content, including:
There’s not a free trial but it’s one of the most affordable options on the market. You can get more information here.
As its name suggests, AdEspresso is like a shot of caffeine for your advertising strategy. They have a huge gallery of advertising examples you can browse online. (As of this writing, the gallery was being updated, but they also offer free eBooks with sample ads. You can find them here.)
They have tools to help you create, manage, and analyze your ads. They also have a great blog and other educational material to help you perfect your ads and grow your business. You can get a 14-day free trial. After that, they have multiple tiers available, which you can learn about here.
Promo is a video creation tool that even people with no video production experience can use to create professional-looking videos to post on their websites or social media. Users get access to:
SpyFu is an espionage tool for marketing. Using it, you can track your competitors marketing activity, including:
#9: Hemingway App
Hemingway App is an editing tool that can help you improve the quality of your written social media posts and ads. When you plug text into the app, it will highlight it to show ways of improving it. For example, it targets:
Your tools are waiting…
The tools I’ve mentioned here are my very favorite marketing assistants. You may not use all of them, but I encourage you to check them out and add a few to your toolbox.
For example, if you run a fitness group, you might want to have “Motivation Mondays”. On Mondays, post a short Live video of yourself hitting the gym or demonstrating proper form on gym equipment. On Tuesdays, your theme might be Transformation Tuesday. Invite your members to share old pictures of their bodies before they became fit.
Keep in mind that while daily posts like the ones above can be awesome, they also have the potential to get old over time. Stay in tune with your group and when a meme stops getting engagement, try something new instead.
Interview Your Members
Another way to drive engagement in your group is to highlight your members. Pick one member a week and do a mini interview with them in your group. You can use a service like BeLive.TV to do this seamlessly with Facebook Live.
Choose to feature members that will inspire your group. For example, if your group is in the personal finance niche, then you may want to interview a member that just paid off a huge amount of debt or a member who just bought their first home. Ask fun questions during the interview and look to deliver some value, too.
Be sure new members are participating soon after joining. You can do this by welcoming the new member. Be sure to tag them in the post so they see it. In your welcome post challenge the new member to make an introduction.
Unless your group is focused on business or leadership topics, your new members won’t be posting long bios. So ask them a question related to your industry. For example, if you run a knitting group, ask new members, “How did you get started knitting? What do you do with most of your knitted creations?”
Guess what that means?
The free wi-fi you offer your customers is also – drum roll, please – a terrific marketing opportunity. Handle it right, and you can use that connection to build your list, gather information about your customers, and even improve your customer service. Here’s how.
What is Wi-Fi Marketing?
Wi-fi marketing is simply marketing that’s targeted to a customer’s mobile device. When you make your wi-fi available to customers, you can begin collecting information about them even before they get access.
Once you have their information and they’re online with you, you can target them with ads, including both general ads and offers tailored specifically to their behavior when they’re in your store.
As you might expect, wi-fi marketing is best suited to businesses with a physical location. If you own a restaurant, bar, club, or retail store – or any other business where customers come to see you regularly – you can benefit from using wi-fi marketing.
Using Wi-Fi Marketing to Build Your List
Do you have an email list? Granting customers access to your wi-fi is a great way to build your list.
You could open up your wi-fi without gathering information about your customers, but why would you? Most people will be willing to give up their email address to get some free wi-fi. You can tether your wi-fi login to a simple opt-in box that asks for the customers email address and first name.
Once you’ve got their email addresses, you can use them to send promotions and relevant content that will help turn them from one-time visitors into loyal customers.
Another option, if you’re using SMS marketing (or want to) is to ask customers for their mobile number instead of (or in addition to) their email address. A word of caution, though – I’ve told you before that adding one extra field to a form can decrease your conversion rate. My advice is to pick either an email address or a mobile number and go from there.
Wi-Fi Marketing Ideas to Try
Building your list is only the start of what you can do with wi-fi marketing. Here are some other ideas that you may want to consider.
Collect Customer Analytics
Having access to your customers’ mobile devices means that you can collect a huge amount of data about them without any fuss. Wi-fi marketing allows you to collect:
Social Wi-Fi Marketing
Another option is to allow customers to log in to your wi-fi using their social accounts. You’ve seen this on lots of sites, I bet. Many customers will choose the convenience of logging in with an existing account over creating a new one.
You might wonder about this one. After all, it doesn’t allow you to collect email addresses or mobile numbers. Is it really worthwhile?
I’d say it depends. If your social media game is strong – and it should be! – then you can use your wi-fi login as a way of encouraging people to follow your social media accounts.
When people follow you on Facebook and Twitter, you get access to both demographic information and their personal interests. That data can help you do a better job of targeting them with marketing and offers.
Wi-fi marketing offers you the ability to provide relevant and useful information about your business and products directly to your customers.
A lot of products have a learning curve. Whether you’re introducing a new product or offering up ideas of ways to use an existing one, your wi-fi marketing can help you prime your customers to buy from you.
It’s also a way of engaging with your customers on an ongoing basis. People like to feel connected to the brands they use. You can do that in a way that doesn’t seem pushy by giving people access to your wi-fi connection.
Think of it as wireless lead nurturing. Every person who walks into your business could turn into a long-term customer. Wi-fi marketing can help you move them down that road.
Provide Customer Service
In an ideal world, every customer would be thrilled with you and they’d buy from you for the rest of their lives.
But we don’t live in an ideal world. You know that.
Wireless marketing can allow you to follow up with customers after they leave your business and gather information about their experience. For example, you could send them a survey to complete. Or, you could simply touch base with a quick email or text.
Either way, you’re letting them know that you care about them and their experience – and that you’re willing to do what’s necessary to turn them into loyal customers.
When people visit your business regularly, it’s a good idea to reward them. With wi-fi marketing, rewarding them is easy.
Because you can track who accesses your wi-fi, you’ll be aware of when a customer visits you more than once, buys something, or makes multiple purchases.
You can use that information to target them with a thank you email or text that includes a coupon for their next visit or an exclusive offer based on their buying behavior.
This kind of direct marketing is hugely effective because it makes each customer feel valued. It’s a great way to turn a one-time buyer into a loyal customer.
Wi-Fi isn’t just for you…
You can use it to connect with customers, gather valuable data about them, and give them incentives to buy from you again… and again.
All the tools you need to grow, in one place, for absolutely free! Sign me up!
You joined a group around a common interest and you wanted to discuss it with other people. But instead, all you’re getting is a string of lame ads.
Avoid Spamming Your Members
Don’t make the mistake of doing this to your Facebook group. You may feel that because members joined they must be interested in your products or services. But that’s rarely the case. Most members join Facebook groups looking for community. They want to find people that love the same things they love.
So, how do you avoid becoming a walking advertisement in your own Facebook group? Simply share valuable content. Give your members actionable tips they can implement today. Post a link to a news article that affects your niche.
Focus on Serving
Business owners that spam their audience do it because they haven’t learned the value of serving their tribe. Instead of focusing on how they can create a great customer experience, they’re focused on how they can make that next dollar.
You can set yourself and your group apart by serving your tribe. Give your members special perks they can’t get anywhere else. For example, if your group is all about calligraphy, create a cheat sheet that covers what a beginner needs to know to get started.
Create a special report that highlights the best tools for newbie calligraphers. Include affiliate links where appropriate then share this resource with your Facebook group.
Protect Your Members
Nothing’s worse than a thriving Facebook group that’s been invaded by spammers. As a group creator, you need to personally vet every new member of your group. Only allow people who are genuinely interested in your niche to become a member.
Download my free 18 point checklist to help your group grow the right way! Let me know what you think of it and this post in the comments! I love hearing from you.
All you need is a mobile phone and a strategy – and we can help with the strategy part.
You may not know that Instagram has some very cool features that local businesses can use to connect with their existing customers and attract new ones. Here’s what you need to know.
Instagram Has Millions of Users, Insert Millions of people
Instagram isn’t as big as Facebook – but so what? As of 2018, there were more than 77 million active Instagram users in the United States, and one billion users worldwide.
That’s a lot of potential customers
And while you might be tempted to dismiss Instagram as being too young for your target audience, you should know that 35% of all adults in the United States have an Instagram account. Do you really want to ignore more than a third of all adults?
Of course, there are some businesses that are better suited to Instagram marketing than others. Service providers may not find the same value in Instagram as businesses that sell photographable products. But, if you have a product that people may want to buy online, then it’s worth it to give Instagram marketing a try.
In the past, the only way to sell products on Instagram was to include a link in your bio. Understandably, online retailers weren’t thrilled with that option. It required the user to click on a profile pic to be redirected to the bio, and then click again to be redirected to a sales page. Not ideal.
Now, that’s all changed. Instagram has recently added a Shoppable Posts option that allows small business to link directly to a sales page from a post. In other words, if you take a picture of one of your products, you can post it to Instagram and include a direct link to the product on your website.
Big change, right?
Here’s what you need to know to get going with Shoppable Posts.
First, as of the time I’m writing this, Shoppable Posts are only applicable to organic posts. That means you can’t promote a Shoppable Post. To get more traffic on your posts, you’ll need to make judicious use of hashtags to make sure that potential customers can find your content.
You’ll need to take some important steps before you can take advantage of Shoppable Posts. Here they are:
Once you’ve taken these steps, Instagram will review your account and if you meet them, you’ll be given access to Instagram Shopping features. You can expect the review to take several days, but in some cases it can take longer if your account requires additional review.
When you’re approved, you’ll receive a notification. At that time, you’ll be able to activate product tagging in your account settings.
Tips for Using Shoppable Posts
One of my favorite things about Shoppable Posts is that you can tag multiple products on each post. Here’s how it works.
On an individual photograph, you can tag up to five products. To do it, simply click on the product you want to tag. You’ll get a search box where you’ll need to enter the name of the product you want to tag. (The menu is linked to your Facebook product catalog.)
Once you’ve tagged all of your products, your post will be updated. People who view your photograph will see a link with the name of the product. When they click on it, they’ll be taken to your sales page where they can buy the product directly from you.
Even better, you can tag up to 20 products in a carousel. If you’ve got a new line of products that you want to feature, you can tag a bunch of them in one carousel.
One of the most important things you’ll need to do when you create a Shoppable Post is to choose the right hashtags. You can add up to 30 to each post. Make sure to include:
The final thing you need to know is that once you have posted nine Shoppable Posts, you’ll get a shopping icon that will show up on your bio. Your products will also be added to the Instagram Store, where users who are interested in shopping can view your products along with others that are available on Instagram.
As you can see, Shoppable Posts are easy to create once you go through the initial sign-up process. They’re a simple way to attract new customers.
What are you waiting for?
Head over to Instagram, create your business account, and get started on the verification process. Your products will be seen by a whole new audience – and you’ll be able to attract new customers, increase your sales and – most importantly – add to your profits!