The Hidden Danger of Tracking Phone Numbers

 

Image courtesy of 800response.com

 

Many businesses, in their attempts to monitor their advertising, have signed up with a company that provides them with a phone number in an attempt to track efficacy. Tracking advertising is a sound advisement, as small businesses with a limited ad budget then have the ability to spend that budget more wisely. However, tracking your advertising efficacy through a dedicated phone line can be very detrimental for a plethora of reasons:

 

Online Ranking

Local listings on all major search engines rely on many factors when ranking businesses in search results. One of the most important factors is the consistency of your “NAP” (Name, Address, Phone number) factors. Having multiple numbers listed as your main phone number breeds mass confusion on the search engines. Many of the companies who issue tracking phone numbers will share the information and change your number on one or more listing site, such as Google, Yellow Pages, Bing, and more. Some of these sites will even consider the second phone number to be a second location or another business altogether, and will create multiple listings for your business. As a result, the search and directory sites feel less confident that your information is accurate and are less likely to recommend you as a top listing.

 

Number Recycling

Several of the companies that sell tracking numbers reuse old phone numbers. It is very difficult to wipe incorrect information off of the internet, and on listing sites, these phone numbers may still be attached to other businesses’ pages. This not only will be a little annoying for you when someone calls looking for the wrong business, but it confuses search engines even more and can even result in your page being deleted entirely.

 

False Data

Let’s say you have been assigned a number to track your Yellow Pages online listing. When this number is subsequently pulled to Google and dozens of other sites, is this actually tracking your Yellow Pages listing at all? The truth is that you have little control of where these numbers actually go and trying to track specific sites through a phone number is ineffectual. This incorrect information defeats the entire purpose of having a tracking number in the first place, not to mention causing your customers and/or patients more confusion than necessary.

 

Cancellation 

In the event that you no longer wish to use these tracking phone numbers that are now dispersed all across the internet, who will change the number back? Completely fixing this issue typically requires a large amount of time and resources, as the company who you are no longer working with is not going to do this for free. This often leaves businesses at a loss of what to do about the frequency of their phones rining steadily declining as the number ceases to function, yet is still propagated around the web.

 

Alternatives

At this point you have probably come to the conclusion that tracking numbers are bad- but are there better ways to track advertising? Some of the best methods include various methods of asking your clients how they found you and charting that information wisely. We provide our clients with multiple avenues, including but not limited to a web greeter, comment cards, and/or Google Analytics to track advertising.

 

Whenever considering any type of online marketing, it is important to look at and consider any long-term effects a decision may have, no matter how great the opportunity may seem on paper. If you are approached with a proposal for advertising, whether it involves Yellow Pages, TV, Radio, or online mediums, please request a free ad evaluation from your NEXT! Ad Agency account manager. Your account manager will look into the opportunity, speak with the salesperson involved, and will report back to you with a comprehensive overview of the program and its positives and negatives.

The Future of Email

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As technology and connectivity continue to grow, it seems that almost everyone you bump into these days has a smart phone, which provides users full time access to their email. There are now more opportunities than ever to deliver relevant content to your customers through engaging email interaction. The mobile revolution has certainly changed the face of email communications.

A recent White Paper released by Lyris Inc. points out several key factors to consider when building your email campaigns, which we summarize below.

The Mobile Revolution – Now, we have to understand that our audiences can be in any number of places when they receive messages, and are likely not spending concerted time in the evenings or during the day in front of a desk. They’re looking at small screens, using only a single finger or thumb to input information or engage with calls-to-action by creating a sense of urgency or including unambiguous wording like “click here to call” or “checkout”.

The Changing Inbox – Priority Inbox or VIP Inbox: Gmail has the Priority Inbox, which gives some messages VIP treatment over others. This idea of filtering happening at the inbox is significant, whether by the ISP through the algorithms that they have or through rules that the actual user puts in place. If you’re not relevant in your marketing, if you’re not delivering the right message at the right time, you simply won’t get to the inbox.

The Social Inbox – (Twitter, Facebook email, messaging etc.) We tend to assume that an email address equals one person, and by sending a message, you’re sending to an individual. The advent of a social inbox, where collaboration for multiple parties happens within an inbox environment, shatters that assumption and begs the question…How do we personalize messages that might be read by multiple people?

Don’t get left behind!  Do yourself a favor and begin to build an email acquisition program. While it may not seem so important today, we guarantee it will help your client satisfaction rate as well as your bottom line to climb in the days and years to come. For our Next clients, please continue to use your client interface system and talk with your Account Manager for more information about the benefits of email acquisition!

-Bob Neufeglise, Account Manager

image courtesy of thetechstuff.com

10 Tips for Responding to a Negative Online Review

Unfortunately for business owners, human behavior has shown that people are far more likely to post an online review when they have had a negative experience, as opposed to doing so when they have had an extremely positive one. Even if your customer service is exemplary, you are always at risk of receiving a negative review. If you do get one, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you respond to it correctly.

Depending on the review website, you will have the option to respond both publicly (for all future visitors to see) and privately (directly to the client who posted the review). When given the opportunity, I would recommend that you respond privately in almost all scenarios. When responding publicly you’ll need to be a little more selective. Some negative reviews do not warrant a response, or are very difficult to respond to in general. If you decide a response is warranted, here are a few keys to consider when writing your response:

  1. Know your audience: Your audience is future viewers and potential clients, not the unhappy patron that wrote the review!

  1. Respond quickly: This will show that you are on top of things, and that your business’ reputation matters to you.

  2. Never go on the offensive: Take a step back, approach the review objectively and write a sincere reply with a cool head. If it turns into an online argument your reputation could be damaged even further.

  3. Thank them for their feedback: Take it as constructive criticism, and let everyone know that you are always striving to improve your customer service.

  4. Be apologetic: Remember the customer is always right, especially in the eyes of customers that read the review in the future.

  5. Accept responsibility: Most consumers want to know that you are willing to take ownership and react to their complaints. Future viewers will almost certainly appreciate that you have acknowledged the problem.

  6. Learn from the review: Let them know how you will improve based on their comments. Also, make sure you can uphold any promises you make.

  7. Let future customers know how to avoid similar problems in the future: Give future clients a way to avoid that situation, and a way to contact you personally (if possible).

  8. Keep it short and sweet: Don’t write a book here folks, future customers will be overwhelmed and less likely to read it.

  9. Don’t ignore the negative review, it wont go away on its own: Addressing the situation may not be the easiest course of action, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

 If you are a Next Ad Agency client, remember you are not alone in this. You have an account management team that is trained in responding to negative reviews. We have a lot of experience in lessening the impact of negative reviews, and helping you craft a response that will accomplish all of the points outlined above. We also will check the review for “terms of use violations” to see if we can suggest its removal all together. Most importantly, we facilitate and promote the positive reviews that tell the real side of the story, and show how most people perceive your business!

Tom Doran

Account Manager

Next Ad Agency

Google+ Is Here To Stay!

As most of you have heard (and of course for those who haven’t) Google+ is the next big thing for businesses. It’s currently estimated that Google+ has roughly 250 million users. While many of us who signed up a year ago for the beta test decided not to use the latest trend, Google+ has launched local pages for each of the 80 million businesses around the globe. That being said, it’s in everyone’s best interest to better understand the interworkings of this new found beast.

To start Google+ is a very simple and positive way for businesses to stay socially connected. It allows your business peers in your inner circles to see what your business has been doing over a period of time. It’s also a great tool for increasing your referral database. By connecting with businesses in their circles it allows access to their networks, increasing your network tenfold.

Many people have started comparing Google+ to Facebook. While they have some definite similarities in their ability to connect business to business, there are a few things that are separating Google apart from Facebook. First, Google is still a place for reputation. Facebook has never been a company that has allowed consumers to write reviews on local businesses. They also do not care whether or not the business is legitimate. Any persons or business can create a Facebook business page with limited auditing by the powers of Facebook. Google+ is the complete opposite. Google still continues to allow reviews to be posted to their pages, however, now restricting who can post. Those who can post reviews must also have a Google+ accounts, in turn forcing those 250 million users to use their account. In order for a business to have a Google+ account they must also have legitimate information for Google to accept their business page.

While many businesses have really started to use Facebook, one reason for businesses to start using Google+ is for the sheer volumes of traffic Google has at its finger tips. More than 1 billion people use Google’s search engine each month. It’s a no brainer to realize that inevitably by having a Google+ place, you would be subjected to tapping into that traffic. Any current consumer with a Google+ place can also recommend your business by simply placing a +1 to your business or by adding your business to their circles. Also, if anytime someone writes a positive review about your business, it’s not just those people searching you out who are going to see that reviews, it’s also every person within that individual’s circle that will see the business they recommend and what they have said about you. Each business then has the ability to be seen by more people than ever before.

Though, I would never suggest businesses getting away from Facebook I think it is every business’ best interest to start tapping in to Googles “next best thing.” According to the opening chapter of Why I Love Google+: “Ask yourself if you want to enhance and expand the number of people who share your passions. If the answer is no, stick with Twitter and Facebook until Google+ reaches the critical mass. Or, you may decide you need multiple services: Twitter for perspectives, Facebook for people, and Google+ for passions. That’s OK too.” Whichever social network you chose to make your priority, Google+ plus is here to stay, and I would suggest making it at the top of your list because realistically Google is the number one search engine and this opportunity is going to give you the best of both worlds, reputation reviews and social networking.

Image courtesy of http://www.plus.google.com

Going The Extra Yard

This week, we’ll talk about a particular kind of marketing, yard signs. It’s no mystery that retail and service providers, regardless of their advertising budget, have to advertise their business in order to generate new customers and ultimately create new revenue to succeed. With advertising budgets being at an all time low due to a tough economy, business owners have to look for low cost advertising solutions, and doing so with yard signs is a great solution. They can be effective advertising options for contractors, real estate companies, lawn care services, landscapers, and other service providers and small businesses that service customers at home. The great thing about lawn signs is they help deliver the message and information in a non-threatening and effective way. With lawn signs, you are reaching a customer at a moment when they are feeling least defensive. Whether casually out on the front porch sipping a drink, or out for a stroll with their loved one, seeing a lawn sign has just the right rate of absorption to make its way into their subconscious and settle in until they need you. When people feel relaxed, they are most open to new impressions. This effective medium of advertising doesn’t have to cost you a bundle and will likely give you more return on investment than other expensive advertising. However, you can’t expect to receive new clients by randomly sticking a sign in yards across town. There must be a strategy and system in place to benefit from this type of advertising.

To paint the picture… imagine taking a walk down a beautiful suburban street, lined with oak trees on a warm and breezy night. You are with your loved one, pushing that fancy stroller and child that was born just a few weeks earlier. As you walk down the sidewalk talking about how each others days were, you come across a yard sign planted in a beautiful and recently manicured lawn that’s bold in color, and a sign advertising Joe’s Landscaping and Lawn Care. You quickly think to yourself as you continue walking down the street, “That’s a nice looking yard.”

At this point, you are thinking that the yard sign in that story was effective in attaining new business, which isn’t entirely true. Yes, it may work now and then to place a yard sign at a job you just completed. However, studies have shown that it takes at least three times of someone seeing your advertisement to remember your business. Therefore, how do we effectively get your name out there for people to see and remember you when there are multiple businesses doing the same thing? The answer is to ‘strategically flood the market’. As previously mentioned, one can’t expect to receive new business every time you place a sign in the yard of a client you just performed work for. You must flood the market with your business name to instill into their mind that you are the business of choice.

In order to do this, we suggest the following when it comes to lawn advertising: Approach all of your previously satisfied clients-whether its 10 people or 1,000 people, offering them a chance for their name to be in a raffle to win a prize in exchange for 1-3 months of sign placement in their lawn. The prize can be anything from a gift card to a favorite local restaurant to a year’s worth of free services. You will find that past clients will be happy to help you out with your advertising, especially if you tie something tangible to it. Conservatively speaking, if even 25% of your past clients want to participate in the raffle, that’s 250 signs that will be flooding the market at the same time!

Now remember that same picture I painted earlier with the family walking through the neighborhood and seeing the single yard sign? Imagine the same story, but with your yard sign strategically spaced and placed house after house throughout the entire neighborhood. Which scenario do you think is going to have a stronger impact? Obviously the second one is going to be the most effective.. That family will certainly remember you and instinctively believe you are the person of choice in your field. With a little preparation and persistence you can turn your typical low budget yard advertising into a advertising campaign with a high return on investment.

Written by Account Manager – Chase Beatty

Image courtesy of http://www.signspecialist.com

Pinterest is Heading for the top!

Recently rated at#3, Pinterest is the next big social mediaitwebsite. Not far behind Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is grabbing the attention of a lot of new viewers.

As a refresher, Pinterest is an organizing board of all the things you find interesting throughout the web. When you see something you like, you’re able to re-pin to your page of boards. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, design their homes, find recipes and shop the web. Best of all, you’re able to see other peoples pinboards for ideas and inspirations. Searching on Pinterest is a great way to organize what interests you and share it with the online world.

If you didn’t know what Pinterest was or if you should join, my suggestion would be, it’s time to jump on the band wagon. Not only for your own personal interests is Pinterest a great website, but now businesses are noticing that this is the newest media sensation to hit the internet.

Even better, recently brought to the media worlds attention is Pinterest becoming partners with Vimeo, a video-sharing website. So when you see a video about the new, high speed, super charged Corvette that Chevy just released, you canpin iton your board before the world is even aware of it.It’s all about being ahead of the game.

Think to yourself, as a business owner what ways are people finding out about your business. In today’s world it’s all about the internet and the next big website people are interested in. As a business owner if people are able topina photo of what your business sells and it comes back to your website, the word will spread. Resulting in more followers and revenue. So why not take it to the next step and post a video about your business so your customers can visually see what your all about.

In todays world it’s all about what’s next and how am I going to tell people about it. Keeping up with it all is the one thing, but being aware of what’s going to come, is the key to being a successful web savvy business owner.

So, my suggest for everyone is to sign up for Pinterest and start “pinningwhat interests you:)

Account Manager

Lauren DeMinco

Lauren DeMinco

Pin Board- Example

(i.e Image courtesy of (www.pinterest.com)

The Time is Now!

 Opinions regarding Facebook’s new Timeline feature have been widely divisive, but like it or not- it is here to stay, and automatic changeovers from the old profile setup to the new are taking place en masse. We’ve already discussed how Facebook can be beneficial for your business, and since this is the new Facebook, it’s best to learn to work with it, rather than resist the change. I am personally very excited about Timeline, as it has some GREAT benefits for individual, small, and large businesses alike.

One of the biggest benefits of Timeline is the potential for branding. There are new opportunities to make the page yours, both in graphics, and content. The cover photo allows a great deal of creative freedom, and the content you post is still limited only by your imagination. The key here is consistency- when using Facebook, be careful about the image you’re projecting. You’ll want to be sure that the image your business is projecting on Facebook is in line with the branding you’ve established through other marketing venues.

Another important feature- it is now possible to weight the importance of a post and “stick” it to the top of your feed. Gone are the days of having to re-post content because people posted content over top of yours. If you like to post special promotions on your Facebook page, this is big news for you!

The best advice we can give to Timeline beginners is to dive in and have fun with it! Start by entering the “Founded on” date which you began your business, and post a picture of the opening. A ribbon cutting, shaking hands with your first customer, a photo of grandpa in his truck… anything that shows the character of your business. Then work forward to today- Facebook builds your company’s brand through personality. If you are a family-owned construction company where Dad personally stops by every job, what better way to build that image then with posts and pictures the show it? If you’re a dentist that hinges your reputation on customer service, then be sure to convey that through your posts and promotions. If you are a “Green” company, accentuate your use of green resources, and ask others to join the cause, perhaps challenge them to utilize green initiatives!

For more information on:

  • Setting up Milestones and how to use them.
  • Highlighting and Pinning
  • Maximizing the effectiveness of the “About” section

Please click: http://allfacebook.com/facebook-timeline-brand_b84732

http://www.facebook.com/about/pages is the official Facebook site for the Timeline transition and offers great examples of companies who have transitioned from the old to new profiles well.

-Paul Owens, Account Manager

(Image Courtesy of Mashable)

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