December 4, 2012
Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law commissioned me to help them understand how consumers find specialty lawyers. Their goal was to appropriately allocate their marketing dollars in a realistic way between the many choices. Do consumers go to Facebook? How important was their website? What role do reviews play?
To that end, we created a Google Survey as to how consumers might find a specialty lawyer and what things would they look for while online in their search.
We surveyed 1500 consumers with 3 questions as to how they go about the process of choosing a lawyer. Moses & Rooth’s conclusions about the consumer lawyer survey can be viewed here. And the Google data, in its entirety, as to how consumers find lawyers is available here. I would encourage you to view the Google data and create some faceted views of the data to understand the differences in responses due to age, urban density, geography & income.
The weighted sample size included ~1200 respondents and the results were judged to be accurate within ~+3/-3 survey points. The Google Survey produces “a close approximation to a random sample of the US Internet population and results that are as accurate as probability based panels”.
The three questions asked moved from the general to the more specific:
- When you need to find a specialty lawyer how would you start your search?
- If you search for a specialty lawyer on the internet what is most important to you?
- If you searched for a specialty lawyer on Google, what would do you first?
The results of the survey are telling. Here are some top level take aways:
- Word of mouth from clients is critically important
- Search engines are the most likely source for new clients
- Facebook offers little value in finding new clients
- The print Yellow Pages, while not as likely to be used as the search engines, still have some life in the legal industry. This is particularly true in the MidWest and amongst older clients
- Google reviews are 3x more likely to influence a decision than Yelp (question 2)
- A website and online reviews play a critical role once the consumer makes it to Google (question 3).
In a broad sense I think we will find similar responses across a number of industries. It is likely that for many local industry types that the print YP impact might be less important but that the overall results will likely generally hold true. Here’s hoping I get the chance to survey additional industries.
To view the complete the survey data go here. The data is structured so that you can view the results by age group, income and population density. There are some interesting differences that warrant explorations.
If I were a lawyer and saw these results I would:
- Make sure that I am gathering my client’s emails and staying in touch
- Invest in local search and possibly Adwords
- Go out a buy some great bourbon for those lawyers that consistently refer me business
- If I chose to invest in any other marketing, be sure to put in place measurement tools to evaluate and periodically review the investments.
CNET writes that Chrome has gained a foothold in mobile but is a no show on the iPhone. Its not hard to understand why most users don’t give it a try but I went so far as to install it on my iPhone was forced to remove it. Not only did it not do what I hired my mobile browser to do – or rather what Apple taught me a mobile browser should do- which is to allow me to easily share web content, it inserted itself into Google products at inappropriate times and places. I was continually and inadvertently opening it from within Plus even when I didn’t want to.
I actually use and like the Google+ app on my iPhone with but one caveat – it doesn’t allow sharing to any other communication service; not Twitter, not Facebook, not Texting and not even email. What is social content for but for sharing? I read a lot and Google+ , Twitter and my feeds (I am probably the lone user of Google’s Currents iPhone app) have become a primary source for discovering interesting content. I share this reading with my wife via email, via text to my kids, to my peers via Twitter, etc. etc.
You get the picture. I share it. As should be done with social content. But the Google+ app only allows me to share a story to my Google+ circles. That is unless I open the content in Safari and then share it from there. Thus the sharing workflow on my iPhone was to find an article in Google+, open it in Safari where I might read it now or later and then share it from Safari to anyone and everyone that I thought would find it interesting.
The was until I installed the iPhone Chrome app. It inserted itself in the Google+ app front and center just above Safari link. I would have left Chrome on my phone for research purposes and the occasional use but I kept inadvertently opening it when I wanted to open Safari. Even that would not have been a problem except… Chrome, like Google+, supports no social sharing.
I find Google+ to be a useful and valuable addition to my phone. It sits on the limited real estate of my front screen. Yet it, like Chrome, manages to disrespect a fundamental core feature set of the iPhone. I often wonder how it is that Google, with such brilliant engineers, programmers and (now yes) designers manages to get it wrong.
Was it a business decision to limit sharing to Google only products? Or was it just an oversight?
November 29, 2012
Google Local is a veritable train wreck for business listing management. The Dashboard is in a state of non functioning disrepair, the + Page path to listing management is full of bugs. The current business types supported by the feature set in the +Page environment is extremely limited. The rules for business listings in MapMaker differ from the rules for Places/+Local/Pages and bots there often run amok with listing data. Factor in the technical difficulties of legitimate listings going into “We currently do not support this location” purgatory and being lost for months on end AND the bevy of old issues like merges and duplicates and the wreck starts to take on epic proportions.
The problems are compounded by Google’s
unclear complete lack of guidance as to whether the Dashboard or the social local management environment is the future of their local interface. This adds a level of uncertainty for businesses small and large as to how to proceed with effective listing management. Should a business commit to the new G+ Page local environment? Is this Dashboard being phased out or is it just undergoing a renovation? There are “indications” that both products will exist going forward. Yet Google, rather than laying out a road map so businesses can plan in an intelligent manner, plays 3 card monte with press statements and or makes public utterances that lack clarity.
Has Google Local fallen prey to a failure of management or management turnover?
Is Local under funded?
Is it under focused?
Is it too complicated?
Is the project so big (and incredible) that its gestation period is longer than that of an elephant?
Did the Local team get side tracked by the forced march to social?
Has the strategy of release early and iterate often failed because Google local has forgotten the iterate part?
Are we just seeing a failure of execution?
Who knows. Google is not saying. The problem is that businesses need to plan, they need to keep moving forward on their marketing and unfortunately, for many, Google Local is a key component of that plan.
Here is how I see the situation and my recommendations for the next 60 days as to how a business should proceed given the many, many vagaries of the current situation and why I am suggesting that for most business the best tactic for now is to just sit tight in the old Dashboard and wait:
November 28, 2012
Googler Jade has posted a tip at the Google for Business forums with resources for solving the issues that might crop up if you are doing a merge (hat tip to Linda Buquet for highlighting this). My recommendation: DO NOT MERGE YET. Wait for Google to fully flesh our their product line and feature sets so you can make an informed decision.
Here is Jade’s post:
Issues with merging the local business/place page in Google+ and the local Google+ page (with reviews)?
Wondering whether you should attempt the merge/verification? Read this post first. More information and FAQ on the original announcement post.
- Help! My social local Google+ page (that I made in the local business/place category) has been verified but doesn’t seem to have merged with the correct reviews.
- Submit these pages to be merged as duplicates here, selecting, “There is a duplicate listing that I would like to have removed.”
- The social local Google+ page I made is stuck in verification and still says “In progress” after over a week.
- A handful of pages appear seem to be stuck in verification, and we’re working on getting them out. Sit tight!
- The PIN I received isn’t working.
- Make sure your business location is findable on Google Maps. Go into http://maps.google.com and type in the exact text you have as your address on the page. Make sure Maps can find your location without needing to go through any “Did you mean…?” links.
- Make sure no information on the page is set to “Private.”
- Don’t change any info on your page in between requesting the PIN and entering the PIN.
- Request a new PIN if possible.
- If you can’t request a new PIN, contact support via the Google+ verification troubleshooter.
Mike Dudas of Google just tweeted that Google has acquired Incentive Targeting to power highly targeted manufacturer and private label coupon programs. He noted that “Incentive Targeting..[does] for retail couponing what Google [does] for online advertising: make simple, relevant, measurable, & effective”
It would appear that the acquisition is for both talent and IP. And as Greg Sterling points out strategic. The company website notes that their “patent-pending technology allows non-technical marketing executives to design sophisticated, relevant promotions—and measure ROI in real time—directly over the Internet”. The product is interesting because it will deliver the coupon either via cell phone & social networks or via traditional methods of print and register receipt AND closes the loop for easy redemption and tracking.
It is an intriguing acquisition in a number of ways. It obviously puts Google directly into the coupon business. In the past they have never committed to couponing in any significant way and it had been said that Larry Page in fact had a disdain for coupons. Their past behaviors have certainly reflected a certain schizoid, on again off again approach to coupons.
This product, while currently serving large chains and manufacturers, could readily scale down to a single merchant and fit into the SMB dashboard/integrated marketing portal that is rumored to be in the works. Imagine a single location grocery store or our local 30 location chain being able to have an advertising person easily issue coupons across media & track the results in real time. It sounds like a winner to me. It could obviously move beyond groceries as well.
Now lets hope that it sees the light of day sooner than Google’s last local purchases of PunchD and TalkBin.
November 27, 2012
There has been a persistent bug in G+ Local’s (mis)handling of international phone numbers that Barry pointed out in his blog today. This problem has been on-going for a number of months and Google is aware of the issue.
However I found the irony of these two posts showing together in my G+ stream too rich to not note. As I pointed out in another post that in Google Local:
Google’s policy of release early and iterate often and innovate often, leads to more than its fair share of bugs particularly when they forget the iterate often part.
November 26, 2012
There has a been a persistent, infrequent bug in the management of merged Google+ Pages for local where the owner of the page is unable to access the management of the page and receives a 500 Error from Google. Google knows about the bug but has been unable to quash it as of yet.
Kaleh, a Top Contributor in the Google for Business forum with lots of experience on the Plus side of the house had this to suggest.
Another option to try (based upon a report in a Google+ Discuss Forum topic) is accessing the following modified version of the URL:
The other user’s situation is very different from yours, but I find it interesting that he can perform most management tasks when he has the /b/ in the URL, but can’t even see the page through the page management interface.
If you have experienced this bug let me know whether this work around solves the problem.
Actively engaging your customers in the review process and management of that process has its own sets of concerns. This is particularly true if you are too focused on certain areas of the process rather than others.
Take this simple quiz to see what your Review Management Stress levels are and to measure where you are on the Review Management Stress Scale (RMSS):
Did your reviews get reduced by more than 20% of the total by the new Google review filters?
Are you asking questions like: Why is this happening to me? Doesn’t Google care?
Did (or does) your listing have 100% or more reviews than your nearest competitor on Google?
Does your “More Reviews” section on Google show less than four review sites?
Do your clients often complain that their reviews are not showing at Google?
Have you thought: I should focus my review efforts on Yelp instead?
Are you handing users an iPad or directing them to an onsite workstation?
Are you sending out more than 20 emails a week requesting reviews at Google?
Are your following up only with happy customers and not every customer to ask them to leave reviews?
Scoring. Add 1 point for each yes answer.
What your score means… (more…)
November 21, 2012
Nokia, with the help of Navteq, is a seasoned mapping company. Arguably they are in the top tier of digital mapping. Their new product, Nokia HERE Maps for the iPhone, should show Apple what good mapping is all about. It doesn’t. In fact basic interface issues prevent the product from being a serious contender in the iPhone navigation market. Apple can now proudly say that there is a mapping product for the iPhone that sucks more than theirs.
Visuals: When I read reviews online about it being blurry, slow, ugly and lacking turn by turn, I couldn’t believe that Nokia would put out an inferior product. Now is the time to strike while Apple is still recovering from their Maps fiasco and come out with a great product. I thought Apple fan boys were just ranting. I particularly could not understand a map that was blurry. But sure enough the maps are totally fuzzy, hard to read and annoying. The ONLY thing clear on the map was the “here” brand name. And as Andrew Shotland pointed out even that can be confusing in the context of a map.
Basic Interface Screw Ups: My first search was for 1 Riverside NY, NY. A search that both Apple Maps and Google Maps understands. Apparently Nokia HERE does not understand common abbreviations like NY for New York. When searching for NY it turned up a foreign airport who knows where. When I searched on SF, CA it turned up Santa Fe, New Mexico. Forcing users to type out every word on an iPhone is a big hurdle from the get go and not understanding common naming short cuts is a deal breaker.
Kludgey Interface: Generally the interface for anything other than basic directions is confusing. Certain tasks like looking up nearby business are totally opaque and often non functional. I searched for nearby Grocery stores and was shown a department store.
Business Listing Quality: As far as I can tell other than certain categories like food, entertainment and shopping these are missing altogether.
Routing: I do not live in a big city so my tests typically reflect testing a product’s familiarity with back roads and short cuts. I figure if the product can get these back country roads correct far away from urban centers then the chance of getting the more important stuff right is far higher. Apple and Google both gave me a choice of routes although Apple gave the better choices and in its current iteration, a better way to select the route. HERE offered no such options and offered no alternative routing. It was their route or the highway so to speak.
Things Nokia HERE Has: It does offer public transportation routes which Apple does not. For me that is not enough to get by the egregious interface issues. They also offer the option to save a map for offline use, although the many warnings and caveats were discouraging. A map can take up to 13 mbytes of storage.
Bottom Line: Don’t waste your time or bandwidth to download the product unless it is for a case study in the decline of Nokia as a force in the mobile world.
Some additional screen shots comparing Apple Maps & HERE Maps output (click to see images at full resolution): (more…)
November 16, 2012
Updated 5:00 pm
Eagle eyed Matt Gregory alerted me to the fact that the Google for Business Dashboard (and apparently the G+ Page for local as well) that a business can now indicate that they are open for 24 hours and it will display correctly on the G+ Local page. This is a feature that has long been requested in the forums.
To have your hours show as open 24 hours in either the Dashboard or the Plus Page management area indicate an opening and closing time of 12 a.m.
Google has yet to fully clarify who is eligible for using this feature and whether a physical presence is required. It would seem that brick and mortar shops that have a physical presence would clearly be eligible as would service area businesses that hide their address and make house calls 24 hours a day. Beyond that it gets murkier. Would a lawyer that has a call center answer for them qualify? Would a bricks and mortar shop that is willing to come in on an appointment basis if called?
I asked Google to clarify their policy as to who was eligible to use this 24 hour designation. Their response:
The hours on the listing need to be the hours that location is directly contactable–meaning if calls are routed to a call center after-hours, only the call center listing should be shown as open during those hours. If a service-area business located at the business owner’s residence is willing to receive calls and go to customers’ locations 24hours/day, it is welcome to list its hours as such.