Phone Calls from Mobile Search to Top 73 Billion in 2018

In 2018, mobile search results will generate over 73 billion calls to businesses, according to BIA/Kelsey’s latest mobile local media forecast. This means a more than doubling of the 30 billion calls from mobile search in 2013 and marks a huge opportunity for businesses – but also a necessity to get ready.

BIA Kelsey Local Phone Calls from Search

In a report titled “Phone Calls: The New Currency of the Smartphone Era,” BIA/Kelsey researchers explore methods of capitalizing on call monetization and the value of phone calls as a lead form for paying advertisers.

Phone calls have become increasingly important as call analytics have become more sophisticated, allowing local businesses to better measure call quality and take strategic insights away from phone activity. In fact, SMBs recently indicated to BIA/Kelsey in another survey that phone calls are their most valuable source of incoming leads.

“We’re still early in the evolution of monetizing incoming phone leads. And it will be a major force in the multi-headed beast that we all call ‘local,’” said Michael Boland, report author, senior analyst and VP of content, BIA/Kelsey.

“Calls have always been highly valued by small businesses and now the notion of calls as currency has accelerated in the smartphone era, where search has fused with the phone. Businesses that get in front of consumers with the right messaging and calls to action, like mobile click-to-call, can drive high-quality leads and achieve high return on ad spend. Tech and media companies that can help them get there are likewise well positioned.”

Marketers should look into options like Google AdWords click-to-call ad extensions to make it easier for consumers to get in touch. The extension adds a clickable phone number to ads that appear on smartphones. Clearly, consumers are indicating this is a preferred method of contact and any barriers to connecting should be removed where possible.

Each year in the U.S., advertisers spend approximately $64.6 billion across media on localized ads to generate calls to their business.

The full Phone Calls: The New Currency of the Smartphone Era report is available to download from the BIA/Kelsey website.

Tumblr Sponsored Posts Now Showing Across Yahoo Network

Tumblr Sponsored Posts, a native advertising format available on the microblogging platform, are now being promoted across the Yahoo network, as well.

Though not entirely unexpected given that Yahoo purchased Tumblr last year, it’s good news for advertisers using Tumblr. Their ads now have access to both the Tumblr and Yahoo networks, with a combined 800 million average monthly visitors.

Tumblr Sponsored Posts are now integrated with and offered through Yahoo Gemini, the company’s mobile search and native advertising marketplace.

Yahoo Gemini integrates Tumblr Sponsored Posts

Consumers will still be able to take action on the ads by clicking through, liking, reblogging and following. However, their ads will also appear across the Yahoo network in content streams, on article pages, in image galleries and digital magazines – all across desktop and mobile.

We’ve always believed in the power of creative brand storytelling, and data shows that advertising is more memorable and impactful when it is as good as the content around it,” wrote Mike Kerns, senior VP of homepage & verticals at Yahoo.

Yahoo is already claiming early successes in increased unaided brand awareness, brand consideration and tagline recognition with limited testing of the integration of Yahoo and Tumblr.

Yelp Adds Direct Messaging to Local Business Listings

Yelp has just announced a new messaging feature for businesses using the local marketing platform. Now, customers can message business owners directly from the company’s Yelp listing.

Business owners will receive an email when they get a message from a visitor to their Yelp profile and can respond directly from the email. The owner can also set an average response time, which will be displayed to consumers as they leave their message.

Yelp adds direct messaging for local business owners

While some customers prefer to pick up the phone, others would much rather communicate via a keyboard, so this feature adds one more way to reach out to businesses, while giving business owners another opportunity to close the loop and receive even more leads,” wrote a Yelp product manager in the official announcement.

Business owners who do not want to take advantage of Yelp’s messaging feature can simply disable it from within the admin dashboard.

To date, there are over 57 million local business reviews spanning 27 countries on Yelp.

Citing Sources in Brand Journalism: How to Avoid Bad Link Penalties

Citing sources in brand journalism.Bill Hartzer at Globe Runner SEO has shared the story of an interesting manual penalty experienced by one of his clients who used HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to source an interview for their blog. It seems they fell on the wrong side of Google’s sword with three specific links pointing to their website; two from Help a Reporter Out and one from a media outlet that picked up the press release.

The argument for “these links are natural” is that the business owner was being quoted for an article. If you’re using HARO or other outreach tools and services to get exposure, this is your ideal outcome: you are used as a source for a story. Increasingly, that story is going to be printed on a blog or brand publication – you have a far greater chance of being selected by a smaller publication than mainstream media.

The argument against the links being natural, it seems, is that you used a service to connect with someone who then linked to your website and therefore are actively building links. This is being compared to the My Blog Guest debacle – which isn’t the issue at all.

If you want to either a) be a publisher, as many businesses do, and source quotes using outreach methods like HARO or PR agencies, or b) market yourself as a source for stories in the hopes of being cited as an authority or topic expert, here’s how you can avoid the long arm of Google.

Citing Sources for Brand Publishers

Brands are becoming publishers, yet as I said last year in an SES presentation, you don’t just wake up one day with a new career as a publisher. Publishing is a real “thing;” it’s a profession and it takes time to learn the nuances of the industry. If you want your team to act as journalists, they need to understand the basic tenets of mainstream media and journalism.

In this case, when citing an interviewed source, you don’t need to link to the website of the person you’re quoting.

If you are citing material they’ve already published, you should link to that material to give them credit for the work they’ve created. However, if you get a quote in person, over the phone or via email, there is no need to link to the person quoted. In fact, it’s unnatural if you do – you’re linking to a webpage (like a homepage) lacking material relevant to the quote.

People give links away for all kinds of misguided reasons and gratitude is one of the worst. You’re not actually doing the person any favors with a bad link as thanks for their participation in your story. If they’re asking for a link, they either don’t understand what I’ve explained above or are actively link building. Just say no, the exposure from appearing in your story is thank you enough.

Becoming a Source for Stories

You’re a business owner or manager and want to get your company’s name in the news. When done right, it’s a fantastic tactic for generating exposure and establishing topic authority.

If you’re a source for a story, tell the reporter or publisher not to link to your website.

Mainstream media probably won’t link anyway, but brand journalists (for the reasons mentioned above) may not know any better and could think that’s just what they’re supposed to do. The only real exception where it makes sense and is natural is where there’s something on your website – a report, a chart, a piece of research – that they’re mentioning in their article. In that case, it’s good user experience to offer that access to the information being discussed.

And for the love of everything linky, don’t demand a link in exchange for your statement.

And the verdict is…

Google doesn’t have a hate on for people who use HARO. This latest example of a manual action for unnatural links is just a reminder that so long as links are a currency exchanged between publishers and sources, businesses and publications, you have to toe the line. If the link doesn’t improve user experience or cite a source in the way journalists properly reference information, it doesn’t belong in a brand publication.

Image courtesy of sxc.hu

Avoid the Small Business Marketing Scams that Cost Companies Millions

Prevent small business fraud and protect your business.Small businesses are a tempting target for scammers. By nature, small business owners and entrepreneurs are often pressed for time and many lack the resources to thoroughly investigate or fight fraud.

Just how great is the risk? According to the Federal Trade Commission, marketplace scams were responsible for depleting the U.S. economy of over 1.4 billion dollars in 2012, the first year that it received over 1 million marketplace fraud complaints. Even though the FTC has taken steps to reduce the risk to small businesses and occasionally shuts down a scam operation, it seems many more are just waiting in the wings for an opportunity to pounce.  [Read more...]

SMBs Spend $6,800 a Year on Online Ads – But Where?

Only a third of small to mid-sized businesses buy online ads, spending an average of $6,800 of their annual marketing budget on banner ads, PPC (paid search) and paid social advertising. Which platforms and ad types are they choosing to invest in?

SCORE, a nonprofit organization that helps small businesses launch and grow, has released an infographic illustrating findings from their recent study into SMB online advertising spend, performance and audience insights.

Among them: [Read more...]