FORGOT YOUR DETAILS?

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Despite social distancing, many customers want to support your business. Is it still open? If so, have hours or services changed? And how are you keeping everyone safe?

Updating your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the easiest—and fastest—ways to answer these and other questions. Here are three updates you should consider making immediately.

 

Join us Thursday, April 9th at 2pm to learn how to get the most out of CallRail in this changing business landscape.

 

1. Update Hours of Operation or Set “Temporarily Closed” Status

If you’re still open, have your hours of operation changed? Are you offering alternative products or services? Perhaps you’re a restaurant that is now only offering takeout from 4pm-8pm Wednesday through Saturday. Or maybe you’re a hardware store that has begun offering curbside order pickup. If so, update your listing so your customers know what to expect.

If you’re not open at all, mark your business “temporarily closed.” This will help ensure customers aren’t visiting your business only to find out you’re not open.

The good news: Google has confirmed that temporary closure won’t impact your search ranking.

 

Here’s what it looks like:

 

2. Add Service Updates to your Business Name, Description and Posts

To prevent keyword stuffing, GMB typically prohibits businesses from including any other text with their exact business name. However, Google has temporarily relaxed those rules to allow businesses to add qualifiers like “Delivery Only” or “Temporarily Closed.” To prevent rejection, stick to modifiers that describe modifications to business operations (resist the temptation to include promotional keywords).

Update your business description to provide details about altered services. If you’re offering takeout, consultations over web meetings or have new procedures to minimize contact, this is a great place to communicate those changes.

Featured in SERPs and Maps for seven days, local posts are also great ways to keep customers updated. If you’re encouraging customers to purchase gift cards, for example, you can create a local post with a link directing them to the purchase. When customers see recent posts, they’re confident that the information they’re seeing throughout the business listing is accurate.

Google has created a new “COVID-19 update” post option that will feature prominently in listings. Use them to communicate new hours of operation, safety procedures, hygiene practices and or to submit support requests.

 

 

If you use GMB Posts to create Events to show in your listing, make sure to edit or delete events that are postponed or cancelled, or be sure to indicate if they are still happening but on a remote basis.

Limit updates to your business name, description and temporary closed status—don’t add. It is not recommended to add those qualifiers to your business address. Google has indicated that qualifiers don’t belong there and adding them will probably only increase processing delays.

 

3. Update Google Ads Location Extensions

Google Ads only syncs information from GMB for location extensions at the time they’re created, so ongoing edits to your GMB listing are not reflected in the location extension. If you mark your business as temporarily closed but you’re still running location extensions, those ads will show your business is open.

The solution: pause location extensions until you’ve re-opened. On the other hand, if you’re still open but have updated your business information (like your phone number) delete then re-add your location extensions in Google Ads.

 

Everyday GMB Support: Expect Delays

With businesses affected by (or helping mitigate) COVID-19 disruptions taking priority, routine GMB edits are currently subject to significant delays. How long?

At CallRail, we’re seeing near-instant phone number edits take several days or longer to post. And although star reviews are still available, other updates—like new reviews, review replies and Q&A—have been paused for all businesses. In the short term, if you’re waiting on key business edits to publish, new posts should be visible immediately and may be a good fallback.

Regardless, this reprioritization should be a relief for verified business with temporary hours, closures or services to communicate to their customers.

 

Important Notes about Google My Business integration with CallRail

If you’re activating CallRail’s GMB integration for the first time, please note that due to the temporary measures Google has in place, it may take several days for your listing to reflect an updated phone number. Please be patient, and periodically check your GMB listing for updates.

If you’d like to pause or close your CallRail account, or disable the tracking number used in your listing, first manually remove your tracking number from your GMB listing and replace it with your business number. If possible, it is best to wait for the listing change to process before making changes in your CallRail account. If your CallRail account is not active, calls to your listed tracking number will not connect to your business.

If you have further questions about your call tracking number that’s connected to your Google my Business profile, please reach out to our support team via email at support@callrail.com or submit a ticket.

 

The post Staying Connected while Social Distancing: 3 Google My Business Updates You Should Make Today appeared first on CallRail.

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By: Bianca Buliga, Senior Marketing Manager

Hector Ocasio and Jason Hanny are the co-founders of Pet Connect, a pet-focused technology company that provides digital solutions to connect modern-day pet parents with small-market pet businesses while forming the world’s first marketplace for the pet industry. By modernizing the pet parent experience, they are helping to reduce the staggering statistics around pet euthanasia.

Pet Connect

As the Pet Connect team starts preparing for Virtual Demo Day on Tuesday, April 14th, the SEED SPOT team sat down with Hector and Jason to learn more about this venture’s journey:

What inspired you to start your venture?
The vision for Pet Connect stems from a pet emergency that occurred while I was traveling with my wife and dog, Mason. Mason became violently ill on the road and due to an incorrect listing in Google, we struggled to locate an emergency pet hospital. We thought he was going to die on the side of the road. Through the help of a friend, we were able to locate a hospital that saved Mason’s life, but I vowed that this would never happen to me again. I went looking for existing solutions and that led me to the overall problem.

What did you hope to gain by applying to SEED SPOT’s Impact Accelerator program?
Access to a mentor network that could help us combine our social impact message with our business plan to ensure that we are not only a passion project but a fully functional tech company with a path to profitability.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned during the Impact Accelerator?
The importance of community and how impactful one good mentor can be.

What does the future hold for your venture?
Every waterfall begins with a single drop of water. We just need to keep the drops falling in. We just signed our third customer (independent groomer) to our new business line for groomers. We just got the approval on a 26-store veterinary chain to pilot our solution for their enterprise. Once completed, this will help us add 80,000 vet practices to our sales channel. We have partnerships in place with 12 of the largest consumer pet shows in the industry. We will be providing them with tech solutions this year, which will put us in a position to access their combined community of 500,000 pet parents. We have completed our first advertising case study. We sent over 2200 clicks to one of our early partners and they converted 17% of that traffic into their acquisition funnel. If we can just get some capital injected into the company to start knocking out our milestones, we’ll be able to add some needed talent in marketing, onboarding, and sales that can help us accelerate this momentum.

What is one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs just beginning their journey?
Doubt is your greatest enemy. Community kills doubt. Surround yourself with people that understand your pain and can provide you with steadfast examples of how to keep moving forward.

Pet Connect

Good luck to Hector and Jason as they gear up to compete at DC Virtual Demo Day on Tuesday, April 14th. To hear them pitch to an online audience for the opportunity to win cash prizes, please RSVP HERE.

The post Meet the DC Impact Accelerator Ventures: Pet Connect™ appeared first on SEED SPOT.

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By: Bianca Buliga, Senior Marketing Manager

Darren Smith and Austin Auclair are on a mission to promote and preserve historic areas and independent merchants. Traipse provides a platform for local tourism and business development organizations to engage residents and visitors in a way that bolsters local economies and promotes locally-owned businesses alongside historic and cultural assets.

As a new offering in that menu of tools, Traipse is building My Local Token, a Main Street payment platform that replaces plastic gift cards, introduces a flexible loyalty program for local businesses, reduces merchant transaction fees, promotes a “shop local” mentality, and improves customer engagement, all at once.

Traipse

As the Trapise team starts preparing for Virtual Demo Day on Tuesday, April 14th, the SEED SPOT team sat down with Darren and Austin to learn more about this venture’s journey:

What inspired you to start your venture?
My Local Token was born when a city in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley approached us looking for a digital replacement to their antiquated plastic gift card program, which is meant to promote the shops in their historic downtown. As we discussed their needs and began speaking with other clients about what we were working on, the unbridled enthusiasm we received in response to the project made us realize that we had just discovered a large, untapped opportunity.

What did you hope to gain by applying to SEED SPOT’s Impact Accelerator program?
We had a lot of pieces already in place to start talking about and developing the My Local Token product, but we saw the SEED SPOT Impact Accelerator program as a way to help focus our efforts, refine our messaging, and to actually cross the finish line.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned during the Impact Accelerator?
When launching a new business, you don’t know what you don’t know. Being in the SEED SPOT Impact Accelerator program helped us figure out what we were missing in order to bring our idea to fruition.

What does the future hold for your venture?
Launching the My Local Token product and helping local-scale economies grow and prosper.

What is one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs just beginning their journey?
It’s easy to become too focused on small, but easy-to-accomplish tasks in launching your business. Don’t shy away from checking off the bigger, scarier items on your to-do list.

Traipse

Good luck to Darren and Austin as they gear up to compete at DC Virtual Demo Day on Tuesday, April 14th. To hear them pitch to an online audience for the opportunity to win cash prizes, please RSVP HERE.

The post Meet the DC Impact Accelerator Ventures: Traipse appeared first on SEED SPOT.

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On average, car buyers spend an average of 13 hours, 55 minutes researching and shopping for a vehicle, according to a Cox Automotive study. And most of that time isn’t spent at the dealership — the same study found that 61% of those hours and minutes are spent online.

Years ago, “online” meant visiting the dealer’s or automaker’s website. Today, it more likely means third-party information sites such as Cars.com or Kelley Blue Book, as well as social media. Car shoppers want to know everything about a car they are considering — plus they value what others are saying about the car, which is why they’ve turned to social channels for key info.

The shift toward social media demands car dealerships be more active on the channels that their personas love — but it also presents a way to expand your marketing efforts and captivate leads on their home turf. And if you don’t give prospects the info they want, someone else will.

 

The importance of social media for car dealerships

Car dealerships face competition from online sellers that provide everything a buyer needs to know about every car in stock. Today, someone can purchase a vehicle without ever setting foot on the lot — they’ll conduct their research, compare options, and even pay online, with their only interaction with the dealership coming when they show up to take possession of the keys and the car.

Even with people buying from traditional dealerships, the digital age has permanently changed the game. As already alluded to, many buyers conduct all their research on a particular car or brand online and visit the dealership simply to buy. Although that consumer behavior still results in a sale, it decreases the number of people coming to browse, or who are undecided, or who are close to a decision but need a nudge toward making the purchase.

Newspapers were once a stalwart in dealerships’ marketing campaigns, but fewer people read newspapers, and the Saturday or Sunday automotive section has mostly disappeared in all but the major markets. Television advertising remains an option, but with more people — especially millennials and the emerging Generation Z — preferring to stream content, reach has become an issue.

Dealership websites once were viewed as a way to engage consumers, but that’s not even a given anymore. Although blogs and other updatable content can keep your site fresh, in the automotive space, when someone is thinking about buying a car, they tend to first look to sources other than a dealership’s URL for information. They might eventually get to your website … or they might click on another dealer whose website came up on a search. In other words, a nice website is no guarantee of attracting and enthralling visitors.

In this new marketing environment, dealerships must expand their strategies to connect with the modern consumer. Social media offers this connection. Through paid social, people see ads on the channels they frequent. And through the dealership’s own pages and handles, leads not only are exposed to the brand and news but also can interact and build a relationship that pays off down the road.

 

The benefits of great campaigns

Social media has long passed just being a novelty for consumers. People rely on social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for product and sales information. An active social strategy is more than just keeping up — the opportunities are practically endless to reach new leads, draw people to your dealership, and increase sales. Among the benefits:

  • Mobility: In 2020, 3.8 billion people use social media, according to We Are Social, and 91% of social media users access channels through smartphones and other mobile devices, per Lyfe Marketing. For car dealerships, this mobility means that prospects may consume your social content anywhere, at any time, and also allows for connections to occur while leads are out and about — for example, a Facebook ad touting a weekend sale may spur a Saturday shopper to stop by the lot.
  • Access: As already stated, consumers may not think to directly visit a dealership’s website but may take notice of an ad during a YouTube video or a post on their Twitter feeds. Social media campaigns open up your marketing to a segment of prospects who don’t have you on their radar.
  • Data: Accurately tracking the effectiveness of traditional marketing channels has always been a challenge — do you really know if the lead who just walked in saw a newspaper ad, heard about you on the radio, or randomly just drove by? Social media campaigns are measurable from start to finish, proving effectiveness (or a lack thereof) and informing strategy.
  • A human touch: Dealership websites, though important, still remind the visitor that salespeople await, which for some leads is a turnoff. Social media posts create a more personal, lower-pressure engagement that makes people feel like part of the process rather than a target.
  • Sharing: Social media facilitates users sharing content with others — and if that content is connected to you (say, a video you post of a family getting the keys to a new minivan on your lot), leads and customers are contributing to expanding your reach.

 

Social media strategies for car dealerships

Social media campaigns for car dealerships can be divided into two categories: organic and paid. Organic is simply posting content to your channels — videos, stories, updates, and anything else that will be visible on a follower’s feed or on your channel page when directly visited. Some strategies for this approach include:

  • Instagram Stories: Stories on Instagram — and, to a lesser extent, Facebook and YouTube — are a hot marketing trend. They are easy to create, and people are more likely to engage with them than other social media. Stories are perfect to introduce new vehicles in stock, give updates from sales and community engagement events, and simply keep a continual presence on subscribers’ apps.
  • Video: With so many car shoppers searching for vehicle information on YouTube and other channels, posting video on social media helps steer those people to your content and your brand for such information. YouTube is the obvious channel to feature videos, but Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter may also be used for shorter clips. For special events, consider live video to alert and entice followers to see what’s happening at your dealership — and hopefully come see for themselves.
  • Photos: The rise of Instagram with millennials and Generation Z confirms that simple photos can make an impact with car shoppers. Unlike Stories, which disappear in a day, pictures stay on Instagram and other channels as long as you want, so leads can visit your account and check out photos of vehicles they might be interested in.
  • Engaging followers: Not every social media post needs a sales motive behind it (even if, ultimately, there is one …). Conversations with your followers, highlights from community events, profiles of employees, that family of squirrels living in the tree outside your office — anything that appeals to prospects is a potential post. This will keep people interested in your business, and perhaps they’ll start sharing your content even when they aren’t in the market for a car.
  • Ask for reviews: Today’s online consumer takes reviews seriously. The more favorable comments they see about your dealership on social media (as well as review sites such as Google and Yelp), the more confident they’ll be in learning more about what you can do for them.
  • Facebook Marketplace: Dealerships are allowed to post used-car listings on Facebook Marketplace, thus opening their inventory to a vast pool of users, and also enabling direct chats with potential buyers.

Organic social media should follow a consistent schedule in order to be effective. Posting five posts one week and none the next becomes too unpredictable for followers. Of course, there might be some weeks in which you’ll be posting more than others — for example, during a year-end sale — but take care not to ignore your channels once the sale is over.

 

Paid social tips for car dealerships

Paid social buys sponsored content and ads that appear on the channels you know your audience is active on. It doesn’t require as much effort as posting organically to social media, but it does come with a cost-per-click (CPC) price. That shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent, because paid social can prove quite effective in reaching an audience that is ignoring traditional marketing channels — but it does mean the strategy should provide a good ROI.

Here are a few paid social strategies to consider for your dealership:

  • Appealing ads: Social media ads have just a few seconds to resonate with the viewer before being tuned out, closed, or skipped. Therefore, write ads with compelling, direct copy; use impactful visuals and photos; and get to your point quickly with video ads.
  • Place a pixel: Embed a Facebook pixel on your homepage so that when people visit your website, they’ll be retargeted with your paid ads on Facebook. Similarly, Google remarketing sends relevant ads to YouTube viewers based on their search engine and website behavior.
  • Choose channels wisely: Facebook placement settings let you customize where your ads will appear. Based on data and the kind of vehicles being sold — for example, Lincolns and Buicks could be a harder sell to millennials on Instagram — you should adjust your ads to where they will deliver the most clicks.

 

Finding the ROI

A 2018 Outsell survey found that car dealerships overspend on marketing initiatives without realizing a return on investment. Throwing more money into marketing isn’t necessarily the answer, but more effectively using your budget and measuring what’s working and delivering ROI definitely helps. Social media should be a big part of that effort, not only because how much you spend can be tailored to your goals and budget, but also because it’s where a big segment of potential leads is looking to connect with you.

That said, traditional marketing channels that have served dealerships well haven’t disappeared — and their effectiveness can be more accurately measured with call tracking and robust attribution reporting. Read our e-book, The Automotive Guide to Call Tracking, to learn more.

The post Social media strategies for car dealerships appeared first on CallRail.

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