Jeremy LaDuque to be on Franchise Today Show

On January 17th, ElementsLocal’s Jeremy LaDuque will be on Franchise Today online’s radio show.

“Franchise Today is hosted by Paul Segreto, President and CEO at Franchise Foundry. Paul’s unique perspective and extensive industry experience provides the foundation for relevant discussions about franchising and franchise best practices. Weekly guests include some of the brightest minds in the franchise world, with specific expertise and experience within various areas of franchising. Other features include Franchise News, as reported by the leading franchise publications, the IFA Corner, news and events from the International Franchise Association, and “Are You Kidding Me?”, eye-opening and thought-provoking insight into the comical, and sometimes illogical side of franchising. Franchise Today airs LIVE every Thursday at 11 AM CT / 12 PM ET with archived segments available on-demand.”

Early next year, Franchise Today will have a four part series called Promoting Your Brand. Jeremy will be on Thursday January 17th discussing local marketing, and local websites, etc.

Other guests will include:

  • Steve Greenbaum of PostNet discussing his Undercover Boss experience.
  • Sherri Fishman of Fishman PR
  • Sandy Lechner of SproutLoud

 

Please visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/franchisetodayshow  and tune in for this informative series.

 

 

Working with Google+: “We Currently Do Not Support the Location”

Google – In local search land, there is a giant pressing issue that has been plaguing a sub sect of clients. So much in fact, that it has become a worthwhile topic to discuss. Google+ Local Listings are disappearing, only to be replaced by “We Currently Do Not Support Your Location”.

As painstaking as it is to wait patiently during the Google Client Services mandated 4-6 week waiting period, there is little else to do in order to move forward and get the listing corrected.

It looks like the problem has been compounded with the recent move from Google Places to Google+ Local. The biggest issue is the large volume of the opportunity costs that are tied to the local organic search and more importantly- paid search. Additionally, reviews are being wiped out, local search listings are being removed and profiles can go back and forth into pending.

Below are some options to help restore your listing if it has been removed or isn’t being “supported” by Google+ Local anymore.

There could be a few reasons why this may be happening:

  • As a result of multiple identical listings in an account
  • As a result of multiple owners for one listing
  • As a result of showing the location when against Google policies

 

If the above situations do not pertain to your business, it is time to take matters into your own hands.

  1. Submit a formal complaint to Google through this link. It could take anywhere from one week to one month, but this is the best place to start.
  2. If there has been no response from Google after a few weeks, it might be time to delete your old listing and start fresh with a new one.
  3. Perform what is called a “Null Edit” or “Null Submit” and display the update on your Place page. Click here for instructions. (This step works best for listing that has disappeared or is under review)

 

Though this process can be frustrating, (even for the most seasoned of local search marketers), it is important to keep in mind that you are not alone. Due to the latest Google search updates paired with the migration to Google+ Local, the instances of profiles that go missing have been accumulating.  Luckily, between Google Support and these steps, you will be on the right track to getting your listing correct again.

The New Face of Google Reviews

Are you one of the many businesses that have seen your reviews disappear from your Google+ Local page?  We know this is causing great concern among business owners, as customer reviews are key to bringing in new business and a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors.

What is Google up to?

Google is trying to purify their reviews to stop spammers from posting fake reviews (think of Google acting like Yelp).  In this purification process, legitimate reviews from real clients are being removed.  We are not sure what criteria are being used to keep or pull reviews.  ElementsLocal has conducted research from our client base.  Those reviews that are posted from IP addresses closer to the business address seem to be “sticking.”  This is not true in all cases.  It would seem that Google might be seeing reviews as truly “local.”  Some of the blogs we’ve read suggest reviews seem to be sticking if the reviewer has a public presence on their Google+ account and are using tags (keywords) within the review themselves.

Google Employee Stephan S has posted Places Forum post to report, “missing” reviews confirming that Google has started to remove reviews:

“As mentioned in this forum previously, we’re currently experiencing an issue that is preventing us from showing some reviews on Place pages. We’re working to correct this issue as soon as possible, and apologize for the inconvenience and frustration this has caused some of you.
However, please remember that there are various reasons why reviews may not appear. We’re continuing to do our best to ensure that the reviews in our system are legitimate and high-quality. To protect both business owners and customers, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews, and with the revised review policies we released a few months ago we have taken a stronger stance against spam and other forms of abuse. So while some of you are seeing fewer reviews because of the aforementioned error, many of you are experiencing removed reviews because they have been removed by our systems.  We acknowledge that sometimes our algorithms may flag and remove legitimate reviews in our effort to combat abuse, but believe that overall, these measures are helping to ensure that the reviews appearing on Place pages are authentic, relevant and useful.”

What does this mean for the future?

Business owners need to be prepared for some of their reviews to disappear.  It also means that a plan needs to be implemented to gain high quality reviews from local clients.

New research suggests that 72% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from friends*.  Here are some other interesting finds:
+ 16% of consumers said they used the Internet every week to find local businesses (vs. 9% in 2010)
+27% of consumers regularly use online reviews to determine which local business to use (vs. 22% in 2010)
+5% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews (vs.58% in 2010)
+52% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if they have positive reviews

*Source: Local Consumer Review Survey 2012.

Consumers are placing a greater emphasis on online reviews and are placing more confidence in them.

If you do not have a strategy for online reviews, make sure to sign up to our next webinar on August 15th on Integrating Your Online Reviews With Your Local Online Presence.

Google Has New Way to Connect Your Blog Posts to Your Personal Brand

Google has a new way to connect your blog posts to your personal brand. By going into your blog and making some simple changes you can have each post point to an author page on your blog, which in turn you can link to the author’s Google+ page.

This is a huge opportunity because Google has more trust in articles that are written by unique authenticated authors. The more articles tied to your Google+ account and the more people who recommend your articles through Google+, the more weight your articles will carry when it comes to ranking your articles in Google’s search results.

On your end, here is how to authenticate your authorship on any blog you contribute to:

  • Log into your Google+ account
  • Click on the circle with a head in it at the top to get to your profile page
  • Click on the “Edit Profile” button
  • In the right hand sidebar click on “Contributor To” button
  • Add a custom link to your blog
  • Click “Save”
  • Click “Done editing” at the top of the profile

The following then has to be added to your blog. You may need your tech folks to do this part:

  • Create an author page on your blog if you do not already have one (author.php)
  • At the bottom of each post put in an author tag that will point to that author’s page (<?php the_author_posts_link(); ?></p>)
  • On the author page you will need to link to that author’s Google+ profile page with the following tag in the link (rel=”me”)

That’s it!

Localizing key to Conversion rate Optimization for Franchises

Here are a few simple ways you can optimize your Franchise websites for lead optimization. Read on to also see our 8 Point Checklist For LOCALIZING your Franchise/Franchisee’s Websites.

Have a Locally Optimized Website

Having a website that is optimized for local exposure gives your local franchises ‘credibility’ with the search engines.  The franchisee will be seen as a local business and can enhance their authority as a local professional and expert and boost website conversion.

Keep Your Website Updated

Having up to date news and content on each Franchisee website, including local ‘Grass  Roots’ news and information, is important to convey ‘freshness’ with search engines.

Put What the Consumer Wants Upfront

Put information about your services and products upfront. Also, make your join pages easy to get to! Front page access is best.  Give them this information upfront; don’t make them dig around your site looking for it. Your website visitors have a need – i.e. the service you provide - and the sooner you demonstrate that you can satisfy that need, the better. Continue reading

Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, MySpace YouTube, and Reddit – Is It Something You Should Consider to Share Your Franchises Brand Image?

Pinterest is a new(er) social media site that could very well help you get the desired “local” exposure as well as engagement for your franchise.  Read on to see how companies like Lands’ End to Facebook are using Pinterest to their advantage.

Pinterest is a new, innovative and exciting site that allows its users to ‘Pin’ images from anywhere online. It has quickly become a large social community of people who like to view the world through imagery.  Pinterest is built upon SHARING.  Sharing personally built life categories with personally built content.

The best thing about Pinterest is the ability to get personal with others. For a business that could be showing and demonstrating their products and services to customers in a whole new way. This is a great platform to establish franchisees local presence through the personal ‘boards’ in Pinterest.

One of the biggest advantages to Pinterest is the demographic that has made the site so popular. The site caters to a female audience (reportedly nearing 70 percent), most of whom are under the age of 45. This much sought after demographic can play a key part in the purchasing decisions of the average American household and your bottom line.

How can your franchise brand use an image sharing website?

Whether you sell something that’s exciting, seemingly uninteresting or especially offer a unique service that’s hard to understand Pinterest will make it exciting and simple to understand through imagery. W a bit of creativity and research you’re bound to find a way to use the new platform.  Especially if you use Pinterest to invite your customers into your personal franchise business or local franchise life.

Here are some creative ways to establish your brand locally with Pinterest

Hold a Contest

One creative way to utilize Pinterest is to hold a contest. Lands’ End recently held a contest they coined: “Pin It to Win It”. Participants were encouraged to browse the Lands’ End site, create pins of items they liked and the most creative and stylish entries won prizes. This kind of contest can engage your audience and also gets them to your site, browsing your products and linking to them!

A hair and beauty franchise could give a demonstration on quick hair styles or hold a contest as such while a food and beverage franchise could hold a local photo at the location contest. Again, creativity and making the contest unique with a local twist would be advantageous.

Conduct Market Research

Have plans to revamp services or products in 2012?  Why not test out new products or even your upcoming ad campaign on Pinterest?

Other brands have started using Pinterest as a platform to conduct market research or test product launches. In a recent Mashable post, one creative suggestion was to use Pinterest as sort of a social online focus group to see first-hand reactions, on a platform not as inundated as Facebook.

Feature Customers

One way to appeal to this demographic is to play to their vanity. Feature customers on your Pins, especially if you have a clothing boutique or store. “Customer A paired these shoes, belt and top to create this stylish winter cocktail party look!”. Showcase customer purchases that exemplify their style or pin photos of products that go well together and that customer X recommends.

Present Concepts in a New Way

Pinterest allows you to add contributors to your boards. Have a few team members put together a storyboard on Pinterest to present to a customer. Or co-Pin with a customer to create a board full of ideas for their next event or shopping spree.

If the product or idea is presented in a clean, simple and creative way using Pinterest it can stand a chance of being better received. Not only that, it allows you to creatively engage with customers and prospects can see too!

Put a Face to Your Franchise Brand

Personalizing and localizing your brand can be a hard thing to do with plain ol’ web copy. Use Pinterest to showcase your brand uniquely, what makes you different, what your brand stands for and use it as an opportunity to highlight your employees too. Putting a face to your brand is key to localizing your brand and easily done with Pinterest.

Promote Your Franchise Image Content

A franchise brand could start a board on  infographics.  Feature all of your image content in one place for easy access.

Infographics, product photos and your own photography can be featured. Do your research and see how other brands are using Pinterest to share their image content.

Pinterest can help a customer see the full picture of their needs before they even know they need it. Pin photos of activities in the area and how they relate to your franchise, landscape photos, photos of the local business and of course the staff. The possibilities really can be endless.

These are just a few of the creative ways your franchise brand can use Pinterest to spark interest and engage with customers. And to wet your palate for Pinterest even more, check out the announcement from Facebook – 60 new and exciting apps were unveiled including a Pinterest app.

A picture is worth a thousand words, in Pinterest’s case, an image could be the local exposure your franchise brand is needing to establish that local location to generate more leads.

Here is a great article on Pinterest’s popularity and it’s ability to drive traffic:  http://mashable.com/2012/02/01/pinterest-traffic-study/

Brought to you by ElementsLocal – the leader in branding your franchise locally.

IFA 2012 is on it’s way!

ElementsLocal is unveiling BrandLocal at IFA.  It’s exciting, it’s direct and to the point.  It is designed to escalate LEADS at the local level as well as establishing your National Franchise Brand as the locally legitimized business.  Visit www.ifaconference.com for up to date information on what is happening at IFA 2012 and to schedule a meeting with your ElementsLocal team.

Visit us in booth #724 to find out what all the excitement is about!

  1. Build LOCAL Content
  2. Deploy LOCAL Domain Names
  3. Link LOCAL Websites      Together
  4. Insure LOCAL Unique and Descriptive Titles, Headers and Descriptions are written for every page
  5. Create Regional Websites connecting your LOCAL websites together
  6. Send LOCAL Email Campaigns on a consistent basis
  7. Send LOCAL Promotions Via Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare/Yelp
  8. Use call/number tracking to capture your LOCAL phone leads as well as your form leads
  9. Measure your LOCAL goals using Google Analytics
  10. Test, test, test using Google Website Optimizer – Which LOCAL CTA gives the best conversion

All of this equals BrandLOCAL.  Visit BrandLocal.net for more information or call us at 805-547-1160 ext. 205


Google’s answer to the Facebook ‘Like” box: Google + Badges

Google+ Badges for brand pages, is a widget that lets Franchise brands promote their presence on Google’s social network.  Google+ Badges are similar in form and function to Facebook‘s Like Box social plugin.

The easily embeddable widget lets users either +1 a webpage or add that page to their Google+ circles. The widget also displays the faces of other users who have +1ed the webpage. It doesn’t have Facebook’s ability to display your friends’ faces first  though.

The launch of Google+ Badges coincides with Monday’s launch of Google+ Brand Pages, finally giving businesses the ability to create a presence on Google’s growing social network.

The Google+ Badge has a few other tricks. The Google+ badge also contains a snippet of code that connects your website to your Google+ page. And In addition to helping Google better index your Google+ page, this snippet will help you show more personal recommendations around the web by linking your +1’s on sites, your Google+ page, search and display ads.

Google also revealed that the badge is a requirement for inclusion in Google Direct Connect, a feature that makes it possible for users to find a Google+ Page from Google Search. Users type in the “+” operator, followed by the name of a brand participating in Direct Connect. The search result will lead users directly to the company’s Google+ brand page.

The widget was a necessary component for Google+, given the success of its Facebook counterpart. While it doesn’t have the same benefits  Facebook enjoys with Open Graph, the Google+ Badge gets the job done. Google still has a long, uphill battle to convince both brands and users that its social network is an ideal place to do business.

Stay tuned as ElementsLocal keeps track of the impact Google+ has on your Franchise Online Marketing.

Business strategies for your Franchise you should not ignore

Outside forces and new technologies dramatically affect what happens to your Franchise. You don’t have to respond on a whim, but keep your eyes wide open when major changes occur.

Here are some marketing and business trends that are important to Franchises:

The Cloud – Although social media and mobile get more buzz, the great change-maker for franchises comes from the cloud. Using Internet-based applications to run your business rather than locating those applications on your servers or hard drives sounds pretty liberating, doesn’t it?

Going to the cloud is transformative. You gain powerful functionality, you can spend more of your time on your business and less on your infrastructure.  Now that YOU are mobile, you can access your applications and data from virtually anywhere.  Having your customer contact management, email marketing and document storage is essential. Continue reading