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Quality Content = Quality Leads

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Oldest Son, Ben, with the days catch


Working Unqualified Leads, Oh Goody!

I’ve had some interesting conversations this past week with several fairly successful RE bloggers. In each situation, these individuals have had prior experience pulling in contacts through traditional static websites, as well as working ‘paid’ leads provided by search/listing aggregators.

Now most of us have had the wonderfully thrilling experience of working ‘raw’ unqualified leads. You keep telling yourself that eventually one of them HAS to evolve into a real ‘live’ lead. It’s the ole’ “1-in-100 Rule.” You know, the eternal hope that someone somewhere is actually going to DO something at some point; like buy or sell a home; as in create badly needed revenue, aka ‘commission,’ aka ‘income!’

Content vs. Contact: Is there a Correlation?

Well, in talking to these accomplished writers, a very interesting and exciting common thread began to surface…..

As they began to blog consistently, generating good, locally relevant, quality content, – the quality of their leads improved,….dramatically!

They were discovering that the people who were responding to their articles, by comments, and eventually through contact e-mails, were highly-qualified, motivated consumers. For the most part, they knew what they wanted, and articulated their needs quite thoroughly. And, as a result of many times ‘lurking’ and digesting their blogging ‘good stuff,’ a sense of virtual trust and respect had been formed/developed. Reading consumers had learned to value their opinions and listen to their expert counsel.

Now, we all realize that you have to start-out with a blogsite platform that has been well-constructed and optimized, chock full of good, relevant key search terms. It may help your site to rank well, and attract readers. But what gets them to stay, and eventually ‘ACT?”

W H A T – S A Y – YOU?

What have YOUR experiences been? Have you noticed a decided change/improvement in the level of lead quality as a result of posting good quality content to your blog(s). Do you see the correlation of quality content to quality leads?

(The picture is of my oldest son, Ben, along with our days catch of Dungeness Crab from out on Hood Canal)

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Matt Thomson

    May 31, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Absolutely, Rich! I did Housevalues for a while, I’ve done referral services, I’ve been suckered by “guaranteed leads” and none of them were successful at all.
    When I began my community blog, focusing on Gig Harbor and touching on real estate, I’ve closed 3 deals since October from out of state clients who landed on my blog, and I have 4 more waiting for their homes to sell elsewhere before they come here.
    You meet folks who are really looking for info on an area, not just cruising home search sites looking at prices.

  2. Brian Brady

    May 31, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Rich:

    The best thing about good content is that it is a perpetual sales person for you. If you are writing lots of good content, in 2-4 years you’ll have enough stuff to “sell” any prospect. The result? Prospective customers who are already sold by the time they call OR people who subscribe to or give permission for more information from you.

    The content serves as the qualifying funnel. People will read everything you write until they come to one of two conclusions:

    1- They don’t want you- they click away
    2- They NEED you- and they call.

  3. Mike Farmer

    May 31, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Content is king, seo is prince, plain old hit and miss traffic that goes to billboard site is pauper.

  4. Frank Jewett

    May 31, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Rich, I wish you could post helpful advice like this at ActiveRain without igniting a firestorm of “free speech” protests. I’ve spoken to a local agent who gets several hits per month from just one post about a local candy store. Most of the hits he’s getting are local. His blog is generating revenue.

  5. Barry Cunningham

    May 31, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Rich, Like Frank says above…too bad you can’t post this on AR. But what if you did? Would this be advocating that they get their own blogs? I could not even imagine what you might have to go through.

    Yes, you are correct, but what exactly is “good content”? That would be a great follow up to see what everyone defines as great content. Seriously…really wondering about that one as only the local person I would guess would know what would work on their blog.

  6. Rich Jacobson

    May 31, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Frank: I post about this on AR all the time!

    I will be coming back later tonight to respond to comments. Gotta run out and sell something right now!…

  7. Mike Farmer

    May 31, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I think good content is useful information about real estate in the area you serve, or useful information about the area in general. If I am looking to buy out of town and I find a blog that consistently updates with useful real estate information about the area, then I will save that blog to go back to and will begin considering the author as my agent. I would appreciate information that gives me a better understanding of where I’m moving — the market trend, the neighborhoods, the feel of the town, the school systems, etc.

  8. Barry Cunningham

    May 31, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Mike..I knew the day would come. We actually agree on something. Many people subscribe to only writing about real estate but I also think people want to know a bit about the area. I think once they are on your blog you have a chance to sell the area and your knowledge of the area as well.

    So what if someone googles a restaurant review and is not interested in buying…once in a while that is bound to happen. Just keep writing. I think it would be so boring for a reader to just read about numbers and stuff all the time.

    So this time we agree.

  9. Sharon Simms

    May 31, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Agreed, it’s the content that matters. Years ago, in website infancy, I had a great looking website whose content was basically a bio and listings; and then I started a horrible looking site that had rick content. Guess which one brought business? the latter. Of course having both is better, but never forget the good content part.

  10. Komodo Dragon

    May 31, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    wow, thats quite a lot of crab legs there 😛

  11. Broker Bryant

    May 31, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Rich, The leads are better from blogging because not only does the consumer get to pick us based on what we write but we can also gear our writing towards the consumer we want to work with. For example, I wrote a few posts geared towards picking up some investors to add to my current data base. In one post I mapped out specifically what I was looking forward i.e. experienced investors with money who were not afraid to purchase sight unseen. I wrote this particular post about 2 weeks ago and have thus far added 6 solid investors to my data base. I also turned down several who didn’t meet my qualifications financially.

    So not only is it important to write about what we do it’s also important to write TO who we want to work with.

  12. Mike Farmer

    May 31, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    It was bound to happen, Barry.

  13. Frank Jewett

    May 31, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Rich, I know you post this message on AR. It always brings out the kooks waving flags, bibles, and souvenir copies of the Constitution claiming (for no sane reason) that you are trying to censor them. The platform has broken containment. I don’t think you will convince people to post in a way that enhances their personal business and the attractiveness of the entire platform, especially with the points system providing a fool’s gold incentive for writing “Dear Diary” posts and “Attaboy” comments.

    The key to the success of Localism 2.0 isn’t a better interface (though that would help – the California page still shows the Google earth map of northern Saskatchewan), but a clear and strong editorial direction that delivers quality content to local readers. It needs to be a meritocracy rather than a democracy, but it can’t be “self judging” because those types of systems will always be gamed. You really need an editor with no agenda and no friends who simply applies the standard to all submissions.

    You’ve already seen how a simple, obvious standard like “no stupid racist comments” can lead to personal attacks against yourself, Jonathan, and any other group that can be thrown under the bus. Imagine the firestorms if you didn’t feature certain people’s posts in their local markets, even though their posts were thinly veiled commercials, off-topic ruminations, or slapdash cut and pastes from the local papers with a couple of comments to sneak around the plagiarism issue. You’d get crucified.

    No offense to Teresa Boardman, but what she writes in her blog does not require tremendous writing skill. What it does require is thinking and writing in a very different manner. What differentiates her from the vast majority of bloggers is her understanding of what works and her ability to subjugate herself to that format. She doesn’t write the typical Realtor stream of self-importance. She’s already showing the way, so bloggers don’t need to solve the puzzle. They simply need to follow her solution.

    The question is how many people in an ego driven business can learn to put those egos aside and write for their target audience rather than writing to please themselves and their peers. So far the results have not been encouraging.

  14. Rich Jacobson

    June 1, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Frank – the individuals you make reference to are a very small minority of our platform, and they’re entitled to an opinion, just like all of our valued members, including you. From my vantage (and I probably have the most qualified view, other than Jonathan or Bob) our Network is far from losing any ‘containment.’ In fact, in some respects, it’s never been healthier. With nearly 90K members, there’s bound to be some ‘drama’ from time to time. We’ve actually been pretty fortunate, compared to other similar platforms.

    In my experience, there will always be those who ‘get it’ and those who don’t. You can talk to the ones who don’t get it until you’re blue in the face, and they still won’t get it. And typically, for the ones who do actually ‘get it,’ the points are an after-thought. Some of the old school marketing habits of RE professionals are so deeply ingrained, that it’s challenging to teach new tricks.

    As I have alluded to you on numerous occasions, while I tend to agree with your criticisms of our current edition of Localism, a completely revamped version is being released shortly. I will gladly welcome your critique after it’s debut.

    Teresa is one of the better examples of how things can be done right. She is true to herself and genuinely ‘reader-centric.’ The beauty of blogging, in my humble opinion, is that, while there are obviously certain proven methods to success, one size doesn’t fit all. Each of us ultimately must determine what works best for our own business models in our individual markets. To thine own blog be true!

    Ah, the Ego-Driven RE professional! Fortunately, they appear to be a dying race. Web 2.0 has raised the bar and placed the focus solely on engaging today’s consumer with quality content. If enough of us preach THAT gospel, perhaps we can effect positive change!

  15. Bill Lublin

    June 1, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Rich – Nice legs (on the Crab I mean) I really think this is a way deep post – Finding a voice is not the easiest thing to do in any creative endeavor.

    I have to disagree with Fank and agree with you about Teresa – I think she has a very rich voice in her blog which speaks to her audience. To me writing skill is not about how much you say but how well you speak to your chosen audience </b? (though you wouldn’t think that from the length of my posts or my comments – I’m just not as good as Teresa)

    I do disagree when you say, ‘”Ah, the Ego-Driven RE professional! Fortunately, they appear to be a dying race.”,/i> I think blogging is by its nature (at least in the real estate world) self-promoting and I think very ego driven – But I agree that the effective bloggers are smart enough to get their ego strokes from . “engaging today’s consumer with quality content”

    BTW, Good looking son – I assume that those kind of good looks skip a generation in your family as it does in mine

  16. Bill Lublin

    June 1, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Look at me messing up my html You forget to close one thing 🙁

  17. Eric Blackwell

    June 1, 2008 at 7:03 am

    A BIG amen to Broker Bryant:

    “So not only is it important to write about what we do it’s also important to write TO who we want to work with.”

    It is about targeting your audience, being authentic and exploiting, errr…dominating a niche. When you do that, you will get QUALITY leads. Much of today’s online REALTOR time is spent talking inside baseball and I think we need to push to more consumer focused content–NARROWLY focused IMO as well.

    Eric

  18. Missy Caulk

    June 1, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Rich, of course blogging brings the quality of leads up. But, it takes time. Yes, I agree with you that the content and consistency brings people back to read more and begin a level of trust. Using an analytics program, I use getclicky lets you know what the consumers are searching for and you can start to see a pattern in their searches.

    I think you know that I am an advocate of my pay per click campaign. If not for it, I would not have had to add 2 more buyer agents to follow up potential customers.

    In a soft Michigan market, all my buyer agents are busy with buyers who found us at my search site. Marketing is all about testing and increasing what works, and dumping what brings no results.

    Blogging and PPC is both working for us.

  19. Eric Blackwell

    June 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

    @Missy- Spot on IMO. The key is it takes investment of time…or money…or both. Time to craft a quality site and good content…and then either time or money to market it. (folks often forget that piece of it).

    “I think you know that I am an advocate of my pay per click campaign. If not for it, I would not have had to add 2 more buyer agents to follow up potential customers.”

    Congratulations and well earned. You’ve invested and it is paying off.

  20. Missy Caulk

    June 1, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Eric, I know some people perish the thought, but it works for me in a huge ROI. I will share my numbers at the end of the year. Open houses don’t work for me or in Ann Arbor. That’s ok, I respect people in area’s where they do work.

  21. ines

    June 1, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    I’m going to go a step further and tell you that we have the ability, with our blogs to focus on the type of business we want. If you want to work short sales and foreclosures, write about that – if you want to focus on historic homes, write about them.

    Writing about your expertise and showing what value you can bring to the transaction is what gets me quality leads. And Rich, once those people do call me, they are ready to go, so definitely better qualified leads from blogging.

  22. Frank Jewett

    June 1, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Bill, I don’t see how you praising Teresa is disagreeing with me. I’m sorry if my praise wasn’t effusive enough, but I think it is important for other brokers and agents to recognize that what makes her so effective is the way she writes to her audience rather than her writing ability. You don’t need to be the next J.K. Rowling or Kurt Vonnegut to write an outstanding blog. The most important skill is being able to write for your audience rather than for yourself. Unfortunately that skill is so rare that Teresa does stand apart from the crowd, but it’s not because she’s a literary titan, as I’m sure she would admit.

  23. Frank Jewett

    June 1, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Rich, one size doesn’t fit all, but “Realtor stream of me” only appeals to the author and a handful of peers. When I speak of breaking containment, I’m speaking of the notion that no topic is off-topic. I don’t see you ever getting that genie back in the box. We can disagree on that being a bad thing.

    As for the ego driven professionals, I saw them this morning at the grocery store. They’ve all bought license plate sized placards on shopping carts so they can display their out-of-date pictures. Yeah, I choose accountants, dentists, doctors, and other professional consultants off shopping carts. Right! 🙂

  24. Eric Blackwell

    June 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    @Missy– I agree totally. I will be writing a post on the BHB shortly about marketing channels (and search engine optimization isn’t the only way!). Ken Smith said in another post somewhere here that if you are seeing a positive ROI, no reason to stop that approach…spot on IMO.

    @Ines- You are exactly right IMO. We have about 20 bloggers in our office. Here’s the kicker–to get in, you HAVE to be focused on a niche other than someone else–. We have someone doing investments, someone else doing first time homebuyers, another doing new homes, another doing the Louisville Medical school and dental school…and then there’s the husband and wife team who are KILLING it with a blog about Kentucky Horse Farms… That way everyone works together and supports each others efforts. Really like the look of your blog BTW.

  25. Jeff Belonger

    June 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Rich,

    I couldn’t agree more with your statements. I remember when I first started getting a few leads from blogging, that they didn’t pan out. I think I was like 1 for 8. Since then, after blogging for a longer time, more quality, and directed at a specific type of buyer, I have received about 40 contacts/leads and I have been able to convert at least half of them. A few tried other avenues, but after the loan officer dropping the ball, 2 of them came back to me.

    Overall….. not only quality, but content that you focus on that is in your knowledge of expertise. I think so many people try to blog about stuff that they don’t know much about or if they are knowledgeable about something, that they don’t blog about it often. jeff

  26. Melina Tomson

    June 1, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I have only been seriously blogging since Dec 2007, and I have an AR and another blog. I have 4 signed buyer agency agreements from my blogging efforts and 5 people looking to move in the next 6-12 months who are currently “working” with me. Just from blogging…

    I am still a newbie at this, but went into it with the consumer in mind and both of my blogs are geared that way. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. What is great is that people immediately “click” with me since they pretty much know my opinions on things and so there was no “sale” on my buyer agency agreements. Not one buyer questioned my value…sign on the dotted line, please.

    People that don’t get this, aren’t going to get it. There is no point in arguing about it. I am a high tech agent that wants high tech clients. If you read my blog, then you are my kind of client. Everyone who has contacted my off one of my blogs, is still in contact with me. While I can’t imagine I will convert 100%, so far I’m on track to be pretty dang close. THAT is an efficient use of my time.

  27. ines

    June 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks Eric!

  28. Irina Netchaev

    June 1, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Rich, you’re killing me with that picture of crabs. You know how much I LOVE them! Cute son, btw, must take after mommy? 🙂

    The key to good quality leads in my opinion is consistency in writing, writing about the business that you want to attract and having a nice combination of real estate (70 to 80%) articles and community information (20 to 30%).

    My new blog has been launched 6 weeks ago and I have 2 solid buyers and 1 potential seller. Not bad for a beginner. 🙂

  29. Barry Cunningham

    June 1, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Melina I like your points.

    Missy..wondering why you need PPC if your blog is providing keyword covergae. Is your blog new? As we seed our real estate focused blog we are seeing both short tail and long tail appearances.

  30. Bill Lublin

    June 1, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Frank; I don’t want to debate with you on terms. The point I was trying to make was that by writing for audience Teresa was by definition a good writer. I wasn’t trying to make the point that she was writing at some specific level of competency, but that, by reaching her audience effectively, she was a good writer. Frankly, I think we would both agree that her great visual impact is her strength, and one I wish I could duplicate, but my comment was really about her having a good voice to reach her target audience – Not a criticism, just a different viewpoint.

    Barry; Could you explain to me the term “as we seed our real estate focused blog”? or help me out with some examples – I’m new to the process and I know you’ve been very effective in establishing a broad presence with your blogging and your radio show.

    Irina – Congrats – you give a new writer hope with such rapid success. 🙂

  31. Missy Caulk

    June 1, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Barry, (sorry Rich no hijack intended.)

    I have been using PPC for 2 years in July, blogging since Dec 2006, didn’ t get the hang of blogging until April -May 2007. I get so many leads from my PPC campaign. My team of 6 Buyer Agents does great follow up and it works. I just don’t believe in putting all my eggs in one basket. No one else on my team blogs, yea, I’ve told them and encouraged them to.But, so far no interest.

    My blog was launched in November 2007 outside of AR. So yes it is new, but only a few leads from it, mostly from AR, referrals and SEO from that site.

    When and if my blog is able to bring me the amount of business that my PPC campaign gives me I will be thrilled to stop it. If you want to see my search site, email me off line and I’ll send you the link. IMO it is really “sticky”. Consumers return all the time.

  32. Barry Cunningham

    June 1, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Missy yes, I’d like to see that information and will email you. It is kind of confusing to me. We just launched our real estate estate site outside of our radio program and it’s kicking off serious leads. “Real” leads…I could not imagine also needing to do PPC but if you have found an angle I have not been aware of then hey…let me in.

  33. Eric Blackwell

    June 2, 2008 at 3:05 am

    Barry;

    Studies (don’t have them at my fingertips) have shown that SEO and PPC are two different realms. There are folks who will click on organic search results (quite a few) and then those who will click on paid results.

    As well, more than a few studies have shown that if you have a site with organic rankings for a keyword (a) and paid rankings for the same keyword (b) your traffic will actually be a+b+c. C= would be a little extra traffic you get from the synergistic effect of the two ads on the same page.

    Paid search is just a different marketing channel from organic search and as long as it is making a solid ROI, why not do both? One does not IMO take away from the other.

  34. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 2, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Obviously, content does make a difference. If your site is complete spammy garbage, then most persons are unlikely to stick around.

    But I also think personality makes a big point to consumers. You need to make a connection with them. Sharing of some of your personal thoughts/experiences rather than regurgitating the same ole stats/information that everyone else is saying, will appeal to persons. And the nice thing is – a lot of those persons that are attracted to your personality on your site, you’ll also likely be great friends with once you meet them.

  35. Matthew Rathbun

    June 2, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Rich… you know it’s coming…. “Great Post”!

    Really… I see why all of “us” would agree that blogging is better, especially since you can do it for free and still get good responses from it. I totally agree that “lead” services are junk and I’ve wasted a consider amount of time and effort on them, but I can’t deny that some agents who have mastered things such as Homegain and HouseValues are making a killing that I wasn’t able to.

    I think that blogging works because the agent is putting time, effort and focus into it. It’s now, it’s wow and it’s working. But let’s not forget that there are agents out there who are still door knocking, cocktailing and cold calling and for that very small minority it works.

    Likewise there are a number of agents “trying” blogging and are complete failures at it.

    I think that a successful approach is created through meeting the consumer where they are at the time as well as putting WORK into it. No matter what it is, good marketing required effort and dedication to task.

    (again, let me say – I never could get online lead generators to work, but I never went in with a dedication to it, because I hate the premise)

  36. Frank Jewett

    June 2, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Matthew, I think the reality is that there are very few agents who consistently do anything, but those who are consistent will get some level of return. I’ve had one door knocker in the past four years. He handed me a lame brag sheet with his picture on both sides. I looked him up. He’s doing well above average. Imagine if he was actually delivering something worthwhile, like market information.

    You’re right, there are agents having success with a variety of methods. The common thread is persistence. Where bloggers can easily fall down is by not promoting their blog. Even if your content is awesome, you need to get the word out to your target audience. People seem to think SEO will do that (especially those selling SEO services), but I think blogging should be tied to the “door knocking and cocktailing” you mentioned.

    On the subject of SEO, how many people click each link from 1 to n until they find what they are looking for? Me neither, which suggests that the title and the context in which the terms are found and displayed in the blurb is at least as important as rank. As search engines become more popular, readers will become more versed is filtering out lousy matches without ever clicking through.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
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  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
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“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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