When I asked my editor, Emily Refermat, to please secure me a press pass for the Street Fight Summit in Los Angeles, I can only imagine what she was thinking.
The Street Fight Summit actually featured nine hours of non-stop presentations by leading names in the world of digital marketing, from Google, eBay, Yelp, Go Daddy and numerous less known, but highly innovative players in this fast-moving field.
While there was plenty of interest in marketing to consumers (B2C), I repeatedly redirected the experts to talk about business targeted (B2B) digital marketing opportunities and trends, lessons that could be learned by operators and suppliers in the convenience services industry. There was plenty to learn.
Google is Key
“Google My Business – formerly known as Google Places – can be as important as the home page of your website,” said Martin Scholtz, SVP of Uberall, a leading digital marketing company in Europe, now expanding in North America. “It provides all the information a buyer needs. Who is offering the service, do they serve my area, do I trust them and what is their phone number?” said Scholtz. With the overwhelming majority of search activity being done on smartphones, Scholtz points out that it is much easier for a prospect to touch a button and make a call, rather than try to dig through a website for contact information.
Google dominates search, by a longshot. That is why Google My Business is such an important part of search advertising. It is also free to set up and free when someone clicks on it. Google My Business is the best value pertaining to search engine advertising. Every digital marketing expert agreed.
Once you establish your Google My Business profile, Google will gather every bit of data it can find on the Internet about your company, including reviews, bringing it all to the Google My Business page. “It puts a mirror on the digital soul of a brand,” said Mike Blumenthal, Co-Founder of Get Five Stars, who is a firm believer that those who capitalize on the Google My Business opportunity, will enjoy a huge competitive advantage.
“Your Google My Business page is on Google’s site, but you can massage it by contributing content,” said Blumenthal. “This is your brand. Why not have great pictures, why not have lots of good reviews?” Scholtz adds that Google My Business is becoming the leading stopping point before a purchase or inquiry occurs. That goes for B2B as well.
Blumenthal warns that Google will ultimately start your Google My Business profile, with or without you. They will fill it up with what they find on Facebook and Yelp. If you as a business choose to engage, Google welcomes you. You can add your own photos. “You can have an influence over what is on Google My Business,” said Blumenthal, “but you have to play and know the rules of the game.”
Was Scholtz surprised to learn that most convenience service companies have done little or nothing with their Google My Business profile? Not really. Scholtz says said that most businesses have not bothered to claim their business page on Google My Business. He says that while we can talk about
many highly advanced digital marketing solutions, the first step for business people is simple. “Claim your business on Google My Business – then maintain it properly,” he said.
Pay Per Click
David Card is Research Director of Street Fight Daily, the online publication that runs the Street Fight Summit. According to Card, paying for performance is still the dominant trend in search advertising and Google AdWords continues to rule the space. MSN, Yahoo and other search engines are minor players by comparison. He also agrees with the prevalent opinion in digital marketing - that in the B2B world, search engine optimization (SEO) that does not rely on pay per click to some extent, is not making the most of search opportunities.
The consensus opinion on pay per click: In B2B, pay per click is effective, but expensive. Prices could actually be dropping in 2018 because of increased competition from Facebook and the huge impact of Google My Business, which actually reduces paid clicks.
Targeting with Facebook
When it comes to targeted advertising, Facebook is a serious marketing tool, featuring a do it yourself advertising platform, allowing you to select your targets (like office managers, facility managers and operations managers). Just select the business Facebook post or ad that you would like to boost, choose your demographic profile, establish your budget and fire away.
Ben Fisher, Co-Founder of Steady Demand, has a better way. “You give me a list of your client’s e-mail addresses and I will usually find 70% of them on Facebook. Then, we target them directly. We also use their demographic profile to identify more targets for you, up to 1 million for every hundred e-mail addresses that we start with.”
In a wild twist on targeted advertising, Fisher can identify all of the users who “Like” the Facebook pages of your competitors and target them with your advertising. Of course, your competition could be doing that to your company right now. It pays to be aggressive in the world of B2B digital marketing.
Anyone who spends time on social media knows that video, usually in the form of talking heads (unfortunately) is becoming more common. Personally, when I see a talking head video, I move on.
In e-mail marketing, on websites, on social media, video is everywhere – but does it work?
David Card said video for training and for explaining a complex product is a fine idea, but with the limited time that a business buyer has to evaluate a product or service, he questions the value of video as a marketing tool in the B2B world. “It’s not the most efficient way consume information,” he added.
Text is Next
Texting directly with clients is on the cusp of a huge breakthrough, according to Blumenthal. The problem is, businesses will be deluged with messaging from multiple sources – LinkedIn, Facebook, your smartphone, Google and soon, Apple. While messaging is a great way to connect with clients, especially Millennials, Blumenthal said that it will result in a tidal wave of communication, almost unmanageable, certainly a challenge, but one that must be met.
“If a customer wants to connect and they call, you will pick up the phone. If that communication comes in the form of an SMS, you better be there to respond,” he said.
Why Digital Marketing?
Why is it so critical to focus on digital marketing? Now that the Millennials are managers and owners of companies, they are expecting instant gratification and instant response. “They grew up digital,” said Card. “You have to keep that in mind with your marketing.”
The digital marketing world extends way beyond Google AdWords. One thing I do know after the Street Fight Summit: There are numerous companies in the digital marketing world (I interviewed many) with technology platforms in place that can have a significant impact on the growth of your business, for a very low cost.
If you are interested in learning more, I will be happy to assist and to point you in the right direction, at no cost. E-mail me at [email protected]