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Finally, Google Maps Option For Real Estate Pros

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Note from the editor: Please welcome AG’s newest writer, Marty Martin who is well respected in the SEO/SEM industry and is accomplished most notably in his work with higher education, government and business clients. Marty shares our sentiment of being the “anti-consultant” in an environment where everyone’s a “guru” or a “ninja” and his passion is evident in all of his writing. Marty is a licensed agent but has for many years been devoted to the advocacy of businesses as he helps to implement cost effective SEO/SEM strategies. Please welcome him in comments.

Search marketing is more than just SEO

CompassFirst of all, as a local real estate agent, if you don’t know about the Google Local Business Center, you owe it to yourself to get in there and figure it out.

In a nut shell, when potential customers are searching Google Maps for something like “real estate” or “homes for sale” when viewing their town, neighborhood, etc. you can have your agent profile, name, address, website, address, phone number and more all show up in a handy pop-up. For free. (And honestly, what real estate agent’s heart doesn’t leap at free advertising?)

So what’s new?

Prior to the last week, only businesses with fixed locations were able to add a listing to the Local Business Center, so as an agent, you had to either use your broker’s address (and compete with all the other agents at that location) or use your home address (which is kind of awkward if someone comes driving through your neighborhood looking for a business at your home).

Enter “Service Areas”.

Roanoke, Virginia - 30 mile radiusNow, for us service industry pros, we can select a physical business location or even better, a circular service area from a center point (think city center plus a 30 mile radius) or a list of cities or zip codes. Brilliant.

Now more customers can find you

By picking one location and creating a service area or adding a list of zip codes or cities served, your Google listing is not restricted to showing up based on one physical location. The end result for you should be your listing showing up in more local map searches. And if you throw your website into the listing, some more exposure there as well.

Other features for the uninitiated

With Google Local Business Center, you can also add coupons to your listing (examples might be a free credit review, free home inspection, free title insurance policy … be creative to catch the users eye).

You can also add to your free business listing:

  • Up to 5 videos
  • Operating hours
  • Service area(s)
  • Payment options (not really applicable to agents)
  • Up to 10 photos or images (why would you add your portrait and logo?)
  • And other “Additional Details” (this is a good place to add some key words ;o)

Get started: Add your own free business listing.  Folks, this is so easy a caveman could do it.

One small thing to watch out for

Some folks have reported a problem with Google merging multiple business records of businesses using the same location and updating the same day. So if you’re using your broker’s address, you might want to wait a few weeks until Google irons out this small wrinkle. (or just switch to your home address).

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Marty Martin is an accomplished SEM/SEO anti-consultant with a broad range of experience working for a wide variety of clientele including colleges and universities, regional and state tourism, government and business. An advocate for business, Marty works hard to share accurate information in a world suddenly overrun with "social media consultants."

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano

    March 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Marty – Welcome to AgentGenius. First post out of the gate and it’s a winner. I wasn’t aware of the service area part. I’ll have to try and get over there tonight and get this done!

  2. Erion Shehaj

    March 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Welcome Marty! I have been using Google LBC for about 3 years now and I love it. But didn’t know about the service area option – thanks for sharing.

    Something tells me this was a great addition…

  3. RealEstate_Mktg

    March 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Welcome aboard, Marty! This is a great tool. I’m planning on passing your post on to all of our agents so they can cash in on this great tip.

  4. Heather Jacobson

    March 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Great article Marty! And of course I tweeted it! 😀

  5. Michael Bertoldi

    March 26, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Welcome Marty! Nice post. About to dive into this topic. Thanks for dropping knowledge.

  6. Karen Goodman

    March 26, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I’ve gotten a lot of website traffic in the last year from my Local Business Directory listing,but I didn’t have any idea about the service area or that I could upload videos. I just tweaked my listing, uploading pictures and videos, and changing my old address location to a service area.

    I also think it would make a big difference to have some positive reviews on the listing, so I shot over to Facebook and sent a message to about 15 former clients, asking them to go leave a review on my services. If they actually do, then I’ll also link to the reviews on my website Client Reviews page.

    Thanks for pointing out how I could ramp this up!

  7. Joe Loomer

    March 26, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Welcome to the party Marty!

    The Local Business Center increased our business over the last year – mainly by targetting the long tail folks who searched for our city and “real estate agents” or “companies.”

    The merging issue you pointed out is true, and if more than one agent at your firm is doing this, you’ll want to play around with the wording and the keywords to make sure Google doesn’t bundle you all up and mix website names and links.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  8. Benjamin Bach

    March 26, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Great stuff Marty, Thanks!
    Welcome to AG 🙂

  9. Marty Martin

    March 26, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Hello folks,

    Thanks for the welcome and the positive comments; I plan to bring you more great gems like this in the coming weeks so stay tuned! Sometimes even the things we know can surprise us with new features!

  10. Kelley

    March 26, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for this very informative post. I’m going to give it a “retweet”!

  11. Jeremy Hart

    March 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Good to have you here, Marty, and particularly nice to have someone from the RNR on AgentGenius!

    • Marty Martin

      March 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks Jeremy (or should I call you #2?)! It’s a great crowd to be associated with for sure.

      I love what you-all are doing on CB’s website with video, etc. Met your broker and relocation director at #rkeunwind last week, nice folks!

  12. Abbotsford Real estate

    March 26, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks for the information, I wasn’t aware that you could do this.

  13. rob | atlanta homes

    March 27, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Nice post. Good info. Well written and useful.

  14. Roscoe Property Management

    April 2, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    This is my first read on Agent Genius, and I will be back. I found out about this little Google gem last week by accident. This is very helpful for us as we are a property management company that in some areas have multiple properties on one the same road. 🙂

    Another bonus is that you (Agent Genius) are from Austin also! Keep up the good work!

  15. anthonys indianapolis homes for sale

    April 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I wasn’t aware of the option for video uploads. This sounds like a service that should be taken advantage of before way too many people start using it and it loses its value for any one user.

  16. ohalloran

    May 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Marty–This is awesome. Absolutely love the radius part and have updated all of my info. Thanks so much!

    • Marty Martin

      May 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      You’re welcome; happy you found it helpful!

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Business Marketing

What skills do marketers need to survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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data science marketing ai

When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

This story was first published in October 2018.

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Business Marketing

How ecommerce brands can increase sales, even on tiny purchases

(MARKETING) These tips and tricks are prime ways to boost the dollar amount spent at checkout and close more deals — even on the tiny purchases!

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online sales

There are many marketing techniques aimed at acquiring new customers. Makes sense, right? More customers, more money. But how do you increase sales with your existing customer base? The Average Order Value (AOV) = Total Revenue/# of Transactions. This number is important because it indicates how much each customer is buying. Here are some ways to increase your AOV:

First, it’s crucial to appeal to human nature. People like things for free. So, by setting a minimum to receive free delivery, buyers are more likely to continue browsing and eventually buying, in order to avoid the shipping fee. While we all know that spending $50 when I only meant to spend $37 isn’t ideal, but I’d rather pay $50 for two products, than $43 for one and shipping. It feels like a better value.

Over half of customers will discontinue their transaction when they found out there are additional costs. MORE THAN HALF. Don’t surprise people the wrong way — we don’t like it.

Second, have you ever been to Costco? Ever left Costco with exactly the amount of food you needed? No, of course, you haven’t. The concept of buying in bulk appeals to our sense of value. Oranges are $1.09 per pound but buy a 10 lb. bag and get it for $8.50. Next thing you know, you’re feeding your child’s soccer team as well as the opponents. Offering a discount on package deals and large quantities at least gets your customers thinking about purchasing more.

We all rationalize the need for a good deal. My roommate used to buy two 12-packs of the giant muffins because “They were on sale.” A discount on a package might entice someone who was looking for a little more variety but was hesitant at first.

Next, recommending products is a great way for customers to lay eyes on new things. Not everyone is a browser — some people go straight to a specific section. By using information from previous purchases and browsing history, showing related, best-selling, or recommended products is an awesome way to generate more clicks and potentially increase sales.

Finally, help us lazy people by including a gift-wrapping option at checkout so that people buying remotely for others out of town can send things directly. In order to wrap, they would have to send to themselves, wrap, then send again or deliver to the receiver. The former sounds like it’s worth $6.99 to me!

In conclusion, there are always ways to boost sales with your existing, loyal, customers. If buyers are only purchasing one thing at a time, reflect on why this is. Perhaps a few sweeteners or additional opportunities could lead to long-term growth. Remember human nature and happy selling!

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Business Marketing

A more environmentally sensitive Pantone color of the year

(MARKETING) Why is Pantone’s coral color causing a ruckus? Marketing is just marketing, right? Maybe not…

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pantone unofficial color of 2020

Every year Pantone declares the Color of the Year and for 2019, the institute declared Living Coral to be the “it” shade calling it “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” And it totally is. Imagine bright red orange swimming in a sea of crystal blue water.

Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman even goes so far as saying it that Living Coral was what “consumers craved” and that it incites “human interaction and social connection” which might be a stretch. It is just a color after all.

However, some found this messaging to be anything but convivial and well, off-color.

Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, partners at Jack and Huei, a Melbourne-based design agency, took umbrage with this decision and for good reason.

Their native Australia has front-row seats to the dying of the Great Barrier Reef and for them, coral is anything but lively. If anything, it’s on life support.

To call attention to the tone-deaf decision, the duo preemptively christened Bleached Coral as the Color of the Year 2020.

Touche.

The duo furthered their burn, saying, “It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.”

Oof, way to pull back the curtain, guys.

As much of a buzzkill as this pair might be, they’re not wrong, and they bring up the larger question of social responsibility in marketing.

But it’s just marketing, right?

Wrong. The very root of marketing is aspirational. We see ads for luxury cars, we imagine ourselves behind the wheel and believe that maybe we can get there. We see beauty products that promise flawless ageless skin and maybe we decide to take better care of our skin. We see Living Coral and we’re blinded to the reality that the coral just might be a thing of the past.

Yes, Pantone’s Color of the Year is one of those fun end-of-year things we in marketing get excited about, but when you’re living in a world where climate change is our reality and we see it in unnatural weather patterns and the dying off of one of our greatest natural treasures, it’s time to take pause. We can do better.

These days it’s hard to please everybody. Try as we might to make everything for everyone, if we’re going to attempt to talk about a unifying the human race through color, we sure as hell shouldn’t choose a color that reminds us all that our environment is in rough shape and it’s largely humanity’s fault. Bleached Coral isn’t the color we need, but right now, it’s the color we deserve.

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