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Google Changed Reviews – Again!

It never seems to end, does it? Nowadays, I feel like Google changes things just to keep us on our toes and see who will respond. Almost like when the bad guy in an old cowboy movie shoots at the other guy’s feet to make him “dance.”
Well, I’ll tell you what’s happened and what you can do about it. Read on!

They Took Away My REVIEWS!

A recent development in the world of Google Reviews is that from time to time they will do an “audit” of what’s been posted on your account. What does that mean? Well, you might see a dozen or so of your precious 5-star reviews drop off the list over the course of a few days.
I know what you’re thinking – “That’s not fair! They’re MY reviews! I worked hard for them!” You’re absolutely right. BUT, from time to time, “The Google giveth, and The Google taketh away.” They will go comb through your reviews and remove any that seem to be less legitimately worded or may reflect a conflict of interest.

Another Theory

It’s possible that some of your reviews are getting flagged by competitors, which can cause Google to go through and take a closer look at them. But if a competitor is worried enough to be taking the time to do so, that’s probably a good thing for you!

What You Should Do

If it were me seeing some of my reviews disappear for a while, I would take a step back from actively requesting them or promoting them – at least on Google. This could be a great opportunity for you to try to get more Facebook or Yelp reviews. If you’re promoting them with customers, you can even tell them that Google is being funny at the moment and you’d love it if they’d help you build up your reputation on the other sites.

Reviews on Desktop vs. Mobile:

Another recent change to Google Reviews is that you can no-longer just have one link that works for mobile & desktop (at least, not that I’ve been able to find). Instead of just doing the method I describe here, I’d recommend doing two of them.

Here’s what you have to do:

The desktop method works the same as it always has, but the link you get from a computer will only work on a computer to take customers where they need to simply type the review.

To create a link that works on mobile, you’ll have to collect the link on a mobile device. What that means is that you need to follow this process.

1) Search for your franchise by name in your mobile web browser (Usually Safari for iPhones or Chrome for Android devices). It may be helpful to also type the city you’re located in.

2) When you see your Google listing, tap on “Reviews”. This is where things get different for iPhone vs Android.

iPhone: Tap the “Share” icon at the bottom of your screen. It looks like a box with an upward arrow coming out of it. On the resulting menu, select “Copy”. Then go to your e-mail app and paste that link into an email to yourself. Once you have that link, you can follow the process I linked above on your computer to create your mobile link.

Android: When you’re looking at the Reviews screen for your listing, tap the address bar at the top of your screen. With the LONG web address highlighted (probably in blue), hold your finger on the link and select “Copy” from the menu. Then go to your e-mail app and paste that link into an email to yourself. Once you have that link, you can follow the process I linked above on your computer to create your mobile link.

3) When you create the link on Bitly like I show you in the linked post above, make sure you notate which link is for desktop and which one is for mobile. You could just add an extra “m” to the end of it so you know. Or you could do something like “http://bit.ly/NoUTChemDryMobile.

Big Takeaway:

Online Reviews are going to continue to be an integral part of your business success, but you may have to adjust as the process shifts.

  1. Don’t freak out if your Google Reviews disappear. Focus on Facebook or Yelp until things settle out.
  2. Make sure you get your desktop version of your Google Reviews link.
  3. Follow the steps to create a mobile link that you can send to customers via text message.
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Understanding E-mail Marketing Metrics

Understanding E-mail Marketing Metrics

3 Key Metrics

It was recently pointed out to me that some of our franchises doing e-mail marketing may not necessarily know how to make heads or tails of the results they’re seeing. Let’s talk about the 3 Key Metrics of e-mail marketing you should care most about:

  1. Open Rate
  2. Click Rate
  3. Unsubscribe Rate

Open Rate

Open rate is simply the number of times your e-mail was opened on a device (be it desktop, tablet, or mobile) divided the number of total recipients you sent to. A good benchmark for open rate in our industry is about 30%.

The best way to impact your open rate is by spending time crafting a great Subject Line. Unless your customer is expecting your e-mail, this is the first glimpse they’ll have at what your e-mail is about and they’ll decide whether or not to open it within 2-3 seconds. To get tips on writing great subject lines, check out my article here.

Your open rate is a great indicator of how interesting your subject line makes your e-mail appear. If your open rate is in the 10-20% range, you have some work to do.

Click-Through Rate

Another great metric to watch is your Click-Through Rate. This is another simple formula of how many clicks your e-mail generated divided by the number of unique opens (meaning, it ignores when someone opens it multiple times and only counts the first time). HOWEVER, sometimes an e-mail service provider will calculate your click rate based on number of recipients rather than opens. I don’t like that method.

It’s not unusual to see a click-through rate of 20% or higher if your e-mail is pretty solid. The key thing to remember here is that CTR indicates action being taken by your customer. You should never mail them without aiming for some sort of activity. Usually that means you’re trying to solicit a phone call, but you could also aim to have them watch a video, fill out a form, or forward to a friend.

Another key is to give your customers a taste of what you’re offering and entice them to click and learn more. That means you don’t spill all the details in your e-mail. Simply allude to how awesome your offer or content is. Something like “During our Winter White sale, we’re offering discounts of up to 60% OFF our cleaning services! Call now for your free estimate.” Admit it. You’d probably call if you got an e-mail with that kind of offer.

Unsubscribe Rate

Now, the unpleasant one. No business owner likes it when a customer unsubscribes. Your unsubscribe rate on e-mail campaigns is the number of unique recipients who clicked on “Unsubscribe” divided by your total recipients. Usually, your “unsub” rate should be under 2%.

Here are some things to remember:

It’s unavoidable. Every now and then, you’re going to get someone that decides they don’t want to hear from you anymore. It could be because they’ve moved and your e-mails are no longer relevant to them (even though you’re super cool). Just remind yourself that you’re not going to please everyone. You might step over the line every now and then and make someone decide they don’t want an e-mail anymore. That’s okay.

You can avoid a high unsub rate by keeping your content helpful and relevant. If you’re always pushing sales or specials, you’re probably going to see a higher rate. BUT, if you sprinkle in a helpful tip every now and then making no mention of promotions, you may be surprised at how well you do.

Big Takeaway:

There are more metrics that you can pay attention to in e-mail marketing, but I would place less emphasis on them. The big 3 are:

  1. Open Rate – impacted most by the quality of your subject line.
  2. Click-Through Rate – every e-mail should be focused on action.
  3. Unsubscribe Rate – you’ll lose a few here and there. Just make sure you’re being useful and you’ll be fine.

If you’d like help putting together an e-mail campaign or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

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Clean For Their Health, Darn It!

Clean For Their Health

It’s that time of year again. Seems like everyone is getting sick. All kinds of bugs being passed around. And, since my life revolves around Chem-Dry, I got to thinking about what our franchises could do to capitalize on the plight of their ailing consumers. Here we go!

Look for Sick-O’s

No, not in the traditional meaning of the term. Target specific words that would indicate a customer’s need to avoid illness. Often, those searches are made out of an immediate need. So, when Mrs. Jones types “cleaning vomit from carpet”, “cleaning after the flu” or “keeping my family healthy during the winter” (or something along those lines), you show up waving a banner telling them that you can remove 89% of airborne bacteria from their home, offering a healthier cold & flu season!

Go Tell It On the Mountain

Okay, maybe I’ve been listening to too much Christmas music already, but every single one of your past customers should know what you’re offering this winter. Mail them. E-mail them. Text them. Call them. Do whatever, but they need to hear from you. Not only that, think about this: would you throw in half-priced (or even free!) sanitizer for a long-time customer in order to fill your schedule in January? I would!
Your messaging to your customers should be so prolific that it’s as if you’re shouting from the rooftops!

Your Best Advertisers

Along the same lines, why not turn your customers into the best advertising you can do? Ask them to share with their neighbors! Their neighbors can get the same great prices and you get the benefit of a new customer. Again, would you sacrifice some margin in order to fill your schedule while there’s snow on the ground?
Maybe consider a postcard with a tear-away section that Mrs. Jones can pass to Mrs. Smith to get her to call when her little Jimmy gets sick (because we know how those bugs go from house to house).
Big Takeaway:
You’re part of a brand that totes “Drier. Cleaner. Healthier.” as its tagline. You should stand out against the competition during the cold & flu season as the healthier option.
  1. In search advertising, focus on the healthy message. Find people who are searching for very specific help.
  2. Shout your message from the rooftops to anyone who will listen – especially your past customers.
  3. Get your best customers to share your specialty when their friends and family get sick. Everyone wins!
If you’d like help putting together a campaign for this cold/flu season, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.
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Don’t Let the Slow Season Slow You Down

Adobe Spark (30)

You probably feel like you’re running around like a crazy turkey (sorry, I couldn’t help the Thanksgiving pun). But the craziness will end soon, and then the REAL work begins!

It’s Go Time!

For many of you, whether you like it or not, the colder part of the year is upon us. As much as you’d like to check out and just go skiing for 4 months (my dream), now is the time to double-down and prepare for the new year.

Look back over this year and think about what your goals were. How are you doing comparatively? Ahead? Behind? Right on track?

What about marketing? What did you want to try out this year that you never got around to? Here are my recommendations for things that should be on your radar for this winter.

Slow Season Recommendations:

Google My Business Posts: These free additions to your public Google listing are free and get you more real estate on the search results page when you make relevant posts and specials.

Doing PPC Right: Pay-Per-Click is a very lucrative opportunity for most markets in the country – and it’s grossly underutilized by our franchise network. You should take a look at starting an appropriately budgeted campaign.

Getting Online Reviews: Online reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should absolutely be a priority for you in 2018 – especially with the anticipated advent of Google Local Services Ads. (The link will take you to the Gateway login page. Click on the Learning portal, and then on Webinars. This one is entitled “Getting More Google Reviews – the Quick, Easy, and CHEAP Way”.)

Social Media: Facebook can be a HUGE time sucker (just ask my wife), but it can also be an incredibly useful tool for your business to get more exposure. Take advantage of features that are inexpensively available to you.

Big Takeaway:

This is a great opportunity for you go get ahead of your business for the year. Don’t let it get away from you!

Have questions about what you should work on or want to get some input? You can click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

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An Update on Google Local Services Ads

Adobe Spark (28)The Latest from Google Local Services

Some of you may remember a while back I mentioned the advent of a new project from Google called “Home Services Ads”. While there’s always something new coming from the wonderland of Googledom, everything about the program tells me that these ads will be a game-changer for businesses within the home services industry.

They are Google-backed promotion for service companies that get top-of-the-page exposure with a little seal showing that Google has reviewed the business and given their “approval” (which I think will add a lot of value in the eyes of most consumers).

Now, this poses an opportunity for Chem-Dry franchise owners. Here’s why:

Here’s What We Know

Lots of this information is still forthcoming, and since Google isn’t running ads for the carpet-cleaning industry (yet), we don’t have a lot of insider info. But here’s what you can expect according to my research.

Pay-Per-Lead (Not Pay-Per-Click):

Google is running this program in such a way that you pay for the lead you get rather than the click. Meaning, that you don’t pay unless the person who made the search makes some sort of effort to get in touch with you. Usually, this will mean a phone call from a mobile device, but it could also mean sending you a message, or filling out a form. In order to charge you, Google’s going to have to determine that the customer “converted” in some way. In other words, they called, messaged, etc.

Physical Location:

As far as we know, Google is going to require some sort of verification of your physical business location. Even as a service area business (they use the acronym “SAB”), they will require that you have a publicly listed location with signage that you can verify either via video chat or with street view on Google Maps. This may pose a challenge for many of you, because many Chem-Dry’s will operate out of their homes and choose not to disclose their actual location. The address you list cannot be a hired mailbox or UPS store. It has to be somewhere that people could physically drive (or walk) to in order to contact you. So, you may want to consider showing your physical location anyway because this, I think, will be the single biggest hurdle to participation on a large scale. However, I think the change will be worthwhile.

Reviews:

Google will be using the quantity and quality of your business reviews to calculate not only your display ranking (it’s not the only factor), but also the cost you pay for each lead. So make sure you’re getting reviews!!

Background Checks:

Another cool aspect (but not really a problem for many franchise owners) will be how Google runs their security and background checks on businesses. If they’re going to put their stamp of approval on your business, you can bet that they’re not going to do it casually. Google plans on conducting background checks on anyone that will be stepping foot inside a customer’s home at any time. They will be conducting the background checks with their own agency, but you can expect that to take place in order to participate in the program. This will help to keep low-performing competition out of the running.

What You Can Do

I think Google has been pretty careful in vetting this program. Right now, their plan is to roll this out to at least 30 major metro areas by the end of this year. So far, they’ve been focused primarily on west coast cities like Seattle, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, etc. However, I’d expect them to be coming to places like Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Nashville, Detroit, Las Vegas, and others. (*Note: These are not confirmed locations, but my estimate of where they’ll be heading next).

Since carpet cleaning is not a service they’re catering to (yet), one of the best things you can do if you’re interested in helping us get Chem-Dry into this service is to click the button below and fill out your business information, making a request for Carpet Cleaning to be added and getting your name on the list for admission into the program.

Tell Google I Want In

Once you’ve done that, make sure you’re getting reviews! Even if you’re not planning on participating, or it won’t be immediately available in your area, the more (good reviews) the better!

Big Takeaway:

Google Local Services ads could be an absolute game changer. Do your best to be up to speed and ready for them.

  1. Fill out the form and get your name on the list.
  2. Start collecting reviews on Google.
  3. Keep any eye out for more news coming soon!

If you’d like help click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

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Look at the BIG Picture (Leveraging the Network Part 3)

Look at the Big Picture 2Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been discussing a question from Amy Diamond Ray, of Johnson County Chem-Dry that I think is worth addressing in the Digital Minute. She said (in part),

“Can you put out some information on how franchises can help other franchises using social media networking? …What helps most, as far as improving my google ratings while also improving the ratings of my fellow zees? Links? How and where is the best place, or way, to create Links with other sites within our chemdry family? Tags? Does it do any good to tag another franchise in my posts? Or In my comments? 

“I see that Links and link structure are important, but can you explain where and how to get those links on a level that the franchises can understand? It seems we have a large base of franchise business sites that should be able to really help each other if they understood better just how to do that.

“I want to know what I can do on Facebook? On Instagram? Twitter? Google+/GMB? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Blogger? Tumblr? If I hashtag another franchise in the comments, does it help them at all?”

The first week, we discussed how being a part of the network is a great advantage that you should use. Last week, we talked about linking carefully. This week, we cover Part 3:

1) You’re part of a network. USE IT.

2) “Think before you link.”

3) Look at the big picture.

Here we go!

Look at the BIG Picture

One of the things I love most about digital marketing (and often becomes the bane of many business owner’s lives) is how you can look at it on so many different levels. You can get very granular with it, or you can zoom out to see how it all plays together.

Here’s what I would say about managing your presence on all these different platforms. Look at it like you’d look at a Thanksgiving dinner spread. You could get caught up in whether the mashed potatoes have enough salt and cream in them, or if the pumpkin pie was made with fresh or canned pumpkin. But, in the long run, it won’t have THAT much bearing on whether or not the meal is a success. What really matters is that all the “required” elements are in place and the end goal of feeding those present is achieved.

In the big picture, as long as you and your fellow franchisees are putting forth efforts to have their tables full (having as much presence as they can manage), you’re all going to benefit.

Big Takeaway:

There are great advantages to being part of a branded franchise network. Use strategic partnerships with other franchisees to grow your business. Remember the following principles:

  1. You’re part of a network. Don’t waste it. USE IT.
  2. Think before you link. Use links to and from your business that will help build your credibility online.
  3. Look at the BIG picture when it comes to online presence and social media. Don’t get too granular.

If you’d like help figuring out what you can do better, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.