Reviews continued to be a dominant theme in 2011. Ted Paff is the owner of CustomerLobby.com, a solution to help local businesses to get, manage and publish customer reviews. He is more familiar than most with all of the realities of SMBs and reviews as he lives and breathes them every day of his business life and most of the rest of his day as well. I know for a fact that he loses sleep pondering the many review related issues that affect him and his clients.
Here are a few topics and related articles that influenced my thinking in 2011 with respect to local business marketing and Google:
- Google+: This post highlighted how it has the potential to meaningfullychange search.
- Reputation Marketing: This is a broad trend but I found this article about the Zero Moment of Truth thought provoking. Among other things, it means that customer reviews and other 3rd party content is more critical. As we have seen for a while, consumers are willing to pay more to companies with great reputations.
- Social Media: While it is true that social media has lots of potential impacts, data is slowly coming to light that social media: (i) may not be what most SMBs want it to be, (ii) that a company’s Facebook Fans aren’t really paying attention to them just because they “like” them and that (iii) search may be the right thing to focus on.
- Google Reviews: I was very aware that Google removed 3rd party reviews from its Place Pages. I was however surprised that Google reviews are not clicked on as often as 3rd party reviews.
- Negative Reviews: Negative customer reviews matter and it only takes a few negative reviews to have a significant impact. I continue to believe that most negativereviews can be marketing gold if handled correctly.
- Deals: So far, “Deals” are not a great deal for local businesses. For better or worse, Groupon is thebellwetherof the deals industry and 82% of a their customers are unsatisfied with the results. In addition to not being happy, SMBs reputations were hurt by running a deal.