With local businesses spending over $20 billion on marketing each year, Google is hopeful that the recently announced small-business services will help them capture some of the highly-profitable market share. As early as next month, Google is expected to begin promoting new services that will help local businesses make better marketing decisions. Google is expected to encourage local businesses to use the following Google products and make businesses aware of recent changes:
Google+ – Last week, over 80 million Google Place pages were automatically converted to Google+ Local pages. This transition has allowed Google to add a “Local” tab to Google+, integrate a circles filter for reviews, add Zagat reviews, and integrate Google+ pages across all of the Google properties.
AdWords Express – Google is expected to highlight the ease of setup and encourage local businesses to try out this advertising platform. Although AdWords Express makes it easy for local businesses to set up PPC ad campaigns in as little as five minutes, some small businesses have complained that advertising funds were mismanaged and that the program is ineffective.
Punchd – This product, which Google acquired last year, allows customers to replace traditional customer loyalty punch cards with a user-friendly app. At the point-of-sale, the consumer simply scans a QR code and the application tracks purchases and notifies the customer of available awards. In addition to providing consumers with rewards, the program provides merchants with valuable data regarding their loyalty program and customer engagement.
TalkBin – Google is going to offer businesses a new service that allows customers to text message store managers anonymously with compliments and complaints. Since the feedback is instantaneous, management can address problems in real-time.
In addition to the above services, Google is also expected to suggest that local businesses include Google Wallet and Google Offers in their marketing plan.
Jeff Huber, Google’s Senior Vice President of Commerce and Local, said the following of the new local marketing push:
“Helping local business is a big part of our focus at Google, whether it is connecting shoppers with the right store nearby or helping merchants attract and retain customers. In local, our vision is not a one-size-fits-all product, but a range of flexible solutions that make the Web work for all local businesses.”