Reap the Benefits of Google Maps Before Others Crowd It

Analysts at Morgan Stanley feels that Google Maps will easily generate 1.5 billion dollar revenue by 2017. But how? Read on.

First, an interesting piece of statistics – according to Facebook Business, less than 10% customers in the US buy retail products from e-commerce sites. The rest 90% actually do it in brick-and-mortar shops after researching their wishlist products and services on their mobile phones. So if you have businesses like retail, grocery, telecommunications, restaurants or auto dealerships, location-based advertising is a must.

In other words, Google Maps will earn more and more revenue through ads placed on it. “In our view, Maps remains one of Google’s most under-monetized assets,” Morgan Stanley wrote in the note to investors.

How Google Maps Help You?

Tech Target defines Google Maps as a “Web-based service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world. In addition to conventional road maps, Google Maps offers aerial and satellite views of many places. In some cities, Google Maps offers street views comprising photographs taken from vehicles.”

Indeed, from a web-based mapping service developed and launched by Google in 2005, Google Maps has come a long way. It has revolutionised the world of digital maps and now it has more than one billion users.

Let’s check some of its key uses:

  • It is a route planner for drivers, bikers, walkers, and passengers of public transportation who want to travel from one specific location to another.
  • The API or Application Program Interface of Google Maps helps web site administrators install Google Maps into a proprietary site like a community service page, real-estate guide or location specific page.
  • Google Maps on Mobile helps drivers and motorists find locations through Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Google Street View helps users to view and navigate panoramic street view – both horizontal and vertical images of different cities around the world.
  • For astronomers, Google Maps provides images of the moon, Mars, sky and other heavenly bodies.

Why is Advertising on Google Maps Important for Your Business?

In a recent Google Performance Summit, Google revealed some interesting statistics that businesses should take notice of.

  • Around 90% of all global sales will happen in stores and not online.
  • Nearly a third of mobile searches are associated with location.
  • Location-related searches have been growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall in the past year.
  • Over a billion people now use Maps.
  • Consumers search 1.5 billion destinations every year on Google Maps.
  • Almost 84% of consumers opt for local searches.
  • Three out of every four people who search for something nearby end up visiting a store within 24 hours and 28% of those searches lead in a purchase.

What do all these data mean? If your business has a physical location and you want to grow, then it is necessary that you are visible on Google Maps. When people on the go browse for your products or services on their smartphones, they should find you. 

Promoted Pins

Google Maps will soon launch Promoted Pins — purple pins on map search results — that will pop up information on products or services if a user decides to tap them. It’s expected to be a major force in local SEO. For advertisers, this means driving more footfalls to physical stores, and for users, more options when they search for directions.

Promoted PIns on Google Maps

Promoted Pins on Google Maps

When someone types a destination into Google Maps, they’ll see the standard red pins that connect one location to another, complete with directions. Then, they’ll also see nearby local businesses highlighted in purple – with the company logos. The user then has the option to tap a purple pin to see more information on the business and products it sells.

Some Other Exciting Features to Look Out For in Google Maps

New local search ads: Advertisers can now use location extensions on their local search ads in AdWords on Google Maps for both desktop and mobile devices. These local ads include “Call” and “Directions” buttons and this way a vast number of potential consumers can be reached.

In-store promotions: There is another friendly in-store promotion feature – just below the logo on the map itself that will appear to the user as he is driving and navigation in and around the location. For instance, if you are near a Starbucks’ store, then you may see the Starbucks’ logo with the in-store promotion happening at that moment at that location – say, a $1-discount offer. When you tap on the logo, you will get to the business page at the bottom of your screen, displaying the at-the-moment offer. This feature has tremendous possibility to bring in more new customers.

Customizable business pages with Promoted Pins: If you use Promoted Pins (as mentioned above), then you can have customizable local business pages with all the basic information like address, phone number, operating hours and offers.

But What Ads Google Maps Will Show Users?

All the above features are great from advertisers’ point of view. However, there could be hundreds of stores near your location but only a few precious ad spots. How does Google know which listing is the most relevant to the searcher? Google says it is using a “variety” of signals, including:

  • Query context
  • Location
  • Search/browsing history
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Time of day
  • Demographics

So essentially, what Google Maps is doing is similar to the ad serving used on the Google Display Network. These search business ads appear on both the desktop and mobile versions of Google Maps. On mobile devices, there is the added advantage of features like as Call or Directions which make it more convenient for customers to reach you.

In this context it is to be noted that just recently, Google has introduced a new update to Google Maps in its new version 4.24 on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch where users are provided with new useful features, including the ability to order food from your favourite restaurants. This is not available for all locations at present but if your location is supported, when you look for a food joint or take-away within the app, you will now view a new “Place an Order” option in the details of the location. Clicking on the button will lead you to the website of the food delivery service provider.

How Do You Then Ensure Your Ads on Google Maps?

Location Extensions in AdWords: If you run AdWords campaigns, enable location extensions. They will allow you to enter business hours, Google reviews, and phone numbers to your listings. These will be critical when an ad is displayed in Google Maps. You’ll need to enable location extensions at the account level and also set locational bids.

‘Google My Business’: Enter your business in ‘Google My Business’. Doing this establishes your business’ formal existence and public identity with Google. Even if you’re a “virtual business” with no physical address, you should establish a presence here; if you do have a physical location, or multiple physical locations, Google provides a “dashboard” that makes editing and adding content very easy.

Add content to your business listing: If you don’t, Maps users searching for your business will see a “default” image – usually sourced from Google Street View – that doesn’t always paint a flattering picture. Seize the opportunity to provide images that drive people to your enterprise – not away from it.

Conclusion

Remember, Google searches guide consumers to 1.5 billion destinations every year. So the bottomline question: if you have a location-based business, is it “on Google Maps?” Make sure it is, because maps-oriented user interfaces are becoming as important as the traditional hierarchical list-oriented interfaces (such as SERPs) we’ve grown used to in the past 20 years.

How to market your startup without spending anything: a guide for beginners

According to Y Combinator, an American seed accelerator for startups, on average, the success rate of startups is as low as 0.4%. Such staggering data is indeed scary, which renders all the more important to market your idea effectively.

However, marketing in general is a revenue-guzzling activity; more so if you are a startup or new in business.

So below, we have listed some marketing ideas that don’t eye your pocket or at worst, are extremely easy on it!

1. Social Media

Without a doubt, the best way to market your business is through effective content in different social media platforms. Be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or any other social media platform, good content is always liked and shared. This increases your audience and potential customer base.

It is great if you can create original content which sometimes, may get viral. Nothing beats the importance of viral content in branding your business to a wide audience.

But remember, you need to be consistent and regular in your social media activities. Try to have at least one post in your chosen social media platforms.

BLog-1

If you find it not practical to create original content every time, you may like to share content on general information or updates about your industry.

Of all social media platforms, Twitter has gained much prominence. With clever and consistent strategy, Twitter can be a great way to brand your business and drive sales. Create a Twitter account for your startup and tweet relevant information related to your business, at least once daily. In fact, it is better if you can tweet every two-three hours.

Remember, your tweets should not be only about sales; there should be generic interesting tit-bits about your industry as well. Retweet important tweets. Actively reply to your tweets and engage with people.

Apart from the free marketing, you may try the paid ads options available in different social media platforms. But first we suggest, be effectively active through the free mode.

2. Blogging

In today’s digital world, content is king. And in that context, an effective way to promote your business is by having a blog.

Post relevant and innovative topics regularly in your blog. Update it with the latest industry news.

Try to make your blog a complete media hub. Have audio and video files, podcasts, webcasts and if feasible, webinars as well.

Blogging

If any content goes viral, you will reach a huge online audience. In general, interesting videos go viral easily.

But remember, such innovative content can go waste if you don’t promote it effectively through social media. So promote your blog posts through different social media platforms.

Through your blog, engage with your readers actively and develop a community. This helps immensely in branding your business.

An interesting offshoot of blogging is that it improves the SEO of your website. Since your blog is linked to your website, more people coming to your blog effectively means more traffic to your website.

Essentially, blog can build trust for your business and position you as an industry expert. The more you can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge about your business domain, the more will people try your product or service.

3. Guest Blogging

In simple words, guest blogging is about link building. Or in other words, bringing traffic from different websites to your site.

However, according to a recent post by Matt Cutts from Google Webspam team, guest blogging is no longer valuable to drive traffic. The reason is that Google has found the practice spamming.

But remember, if your content is original and you choose good websites, guest blogging can still be used to drive quality traffic to your site. The practice is still used by many businesses.

BLog-3

Do research sites that are related to your business and have high traffic as well. Offer to guest blog for them.

Join guest blogging communities like MyBlogGuest to interact with other bloggers in your industry, find more useful guest blogging opportunities and in general, get information and updates about your industry.

4. Question-and-Answer Websites and Internet Marketing Forums

There is a worldwide community online who interacts with each other in different question-and-answer sites (Yahoo! Answers, Answers.com, Askville, Quoraspring.me, Answerbag, All Experts, etc) and marketing forums. The Internet is full of marketing forums of every conceivable business or product.

We suggest you do a Google search and research question-and-answer sites and forums that have most of your target audience.

Q&A

In question-and-answer sites, answer questions related to your business and industry and post your own doubts as well. While in marketing forums, join the threads or create your own thread.

Be regular in the sites and forums and interact actively. You should try to become a reliable source of industry information and create a good list of followers, both in the question-and-answer sites and marketing forums.

5. Post Ads in Free Sites

There are many websites which allows you to post ads for free like Craigslist, MerchantCircle.com,  Local.com, Gumtree, etc.

Explore such websites for your business.

Post-Ads

6. Host High-Profile Interviews, Live Chats or Twitter Parties

Can you manage an interview with a prominent personality in your industry? If yes, then you can have it in your blog. Traffic for such searches is high; so it can be a good way to bring users’ notice to your business.

Media

Decide on an interesting topic related to your business or industry and start a Twitter party. Or, you can have  a live chat discussion where users can consult with experts.

Either way, the whole idea is to engage the audience with each other, while at the same time build trust for your brand.

7. Free Offers, Discounts and Coupons

It is always a good business strategy to give free trials or ‘try before you buy’ offers, discounts or coupons to your audience. So if feasible with your business plan, then do it for a limited period.

offers

In the process, you will collect the contact details of many potential buyers. Even if the users’ opt out of your product or service after the discounts or free trials, you can pitch them later.

8. Press Media Exposure

Do press releases and try to find some space in the media. Nothing is more relevant for effective branding than a good press for your product or service.

Live-chat

9. Contests and Local Events

Try to associate with local events where you can display your product or service and generate public buzz.

Alternatively, you can hold different contests, both offline and online, and offer the winners discounts or coupons to use your product or service.

events

Either way, the motive is to bring the audience closer to your business.

10. Customer Feedback Loop

Essentially, customer feedback loop refers to the gathering of feedback from different sections of the targeted audience through various means, and then using the information to better the products/services offered.

Providing excellent customer service is an excellent marketing strategy to spread news about your business by word-of-mouth and customer testimonials.

feedback

Interact with customers at every opportunity in your website. Have interactive chat and on-site survey feedback on select pages like category or sale.  Promptly respond to any user who has interacted with you.

On-site survey feedback, for both fresh leads and existing customers, should contain only relevant questions and should not take more than 2 minutes to complete.

Don’t shy away from negative feedback. It is even more important to interact with such aggrieved customers. If feasible, try to compensate them.

If customers don’t participate in your on-site survey feedback, proactively encourage them to give you their reviews or testimonials for your products or services. This will help you to plug the loopholes in your business, if any, and enhance the customer experience.

Note, according to a report by McKinsey, 20-50% of all purchasing decisions are driven by testimonials.

So select some of the positive feedback and include them in your testimonials page. Try to include photos of the customers who gave you the positive feedback. You may add a couple of bad reviews as well. This will add to the credibility of the good testimonials.

Conclusion

For a startup with limited resources, it is a challenge to work on your business and marketing simultaneously. We suggest you use some or all the ideas mentioned above to popularise your business effectively.

Do you think there are more ways to market a startup? Let’s start a discussion!

First published: YourStory, Oct 2014