Have you heard the news? Google just bought Zagat! It’s an undeniable signal that local marketing is becoming more and more important.

So why did Google buy Zagat? Simple, it’s a feature rich platform that includes reviews and group deals. More importantly, though, Zagat has a huge data set of reviews and already has a strong offline presence.

It’s clear that the acquisition is smart for Google, but what does it mean for your small business?

Table of Contents Local Marketing is Becoming More Relevant Reviews are Important: Convince Your Customers Integrating Offline and Online Marketing Next Steps..

Local Marketing is Becoming More Relevant

Reaching consumers that matter has always been a priority. Historically, it was difficult to reach these specific people online because businesses have always had to compete with global brands.

Previously, Google didn’t prioritize local searchers compared to other searches. Now, it’s able to identify and return local businesses for relevant search (example: searching for “plumbers in nyc”).

This means that business owners need to work to optimize their site and convey to Google what their businesses do and where they do it.

Businesses are able to reach local consumers with more accuracy, making local marketing and SEO more important than ever before.

Reviews are Important: Convince Your Customers

Before the acquisition of Zagat, Google has had and continues to leverage their Business Pages. These are pages you create for your local business that aggregates information and reviews from around the web.

The more reviews a business has, the higher the business ranks and the more visibility it has in search results.

With the addition of Zagat, reviews are now more important than ever before. Google has deeper access to Zagat reviews and data now. It also has the ability to tap into a community of people that actively review restaurants and places, further increasing their ability to leverage user reviews.

The value of a customer review has just increased, meaning businesses must invest more time and energy in convincing their customers to share their thoughts. Customer service, a good product, and employees that care are now even more important aspects of a business’ online strategy.

Integrating Offline and Online Marketing

Zagat’s power in the offline world translated well into the online world. Similarly, businesses now have to identify how they can convince offline users to interact with their businesses online.

It’s not as simple as it seems, having a customer go home (after interacting with your business) and go to your website or place page can be an obstacle. Finding simple ways to incentivize this action is important.

One simple strategy is including a call to action on all fliers, cards, and receipts, inviting users to visit your page and leave a review. The reminder is enough for some customers to go and write a review.

Next Steps…

Google’s acquisition of Zagat is following a trend of local consumers looking for local businesses; your strategy must mirror this trend.

Aside from including calls to action on marketing materials, find opportunities to make it easy for customers to leave reviews.

One way to do it is to invest in an iPad or two and create a review kiosk. Ask customers, that have had a good experience of interacting with an employee, to write a review on the spot. Most people won’t do it, but enough will to make the reviews start to add up.

credit: Bouncepad

Another way to build reviews is to just ask for it. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of closing every positive customer service conversation with, “We hope we’ve been able to help you solve your problem quickly. If you have a moment, we’d truly appreciate it if you can review our business on Zagat!”.

Similar to link building, soon you’ll be hearing about review building. This Zagat buyout has definitely signaled that Google will be taking reviews more seriously than ever before.

However you decide to increase the number of reviews your business has, it’s fairly clear that it’s going to be an important small business strategy. Definitely, start thinking about it right away…

Have you noticed that certain things have convinced customers to review your business more often than now? What are you doing to generate online reviews? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!