I recently received two of the email newsletters from the Local Business Center that Google announced several days ago. The first was titled Update from your Google Local Business Center Account The Latest from your Google Local Business Center Account and included the newsletter plus the following July stats from one of the many businesses in my LBC account.
This Google effort at outreach to the businesses using the Local Business Center is a positive thing. It will, without being too cloying, drive businesses back to the LBC more frequently and help with their on-going education and understanding of the new reality of local listings.
Historically Google has treated smb’s with such a hands off approach and with so little feedback that there has been a growing discontent with Google’s aloofness that shows up frequently in the Help Forums. Google, in their effort to scale and automate local, has seemed less than empathetic to the business that has a problem with either the LBC, their listing or just a plain lack of understanding about this complex new reality that is local. This carelessness has been present in everything from their error messages, to bugs in the LBC, the help forums and on into a cavalier approach to bogus reviews.
This email communication is a positive first step in an outward facing marketing campaign. But it is just that, a first step and like all marketing is a monologue and not a dialogue. Google will need to refine everything from their error messages to the workings of the “cluster” to improve the smb Google Local experience. And in the end they will need to not just listen to smbs but actually talk to them if they don’t want to anger every Mom & Pop from here to Wasilla.