The final quarter of any year is an exciting time for online marketers. Many online marketing and advertising services launch new features around this time, since business owners will be able to use the new features during their holiday marketing campaigns. With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, Google has announced several new features that can help business owners using Google’s free services, as well as something new for those running online ads.
Last week, Google announced that they were changing Google Maps so users could follow (i.e. subscribe) to businesses they discover on the Google Maps apps, directly from the app. The feature is rolling out now, so it may already ready on a user’s phone. In the blog post, Google described the new feature by saying, “… just search for that coffee shop you love or that clothing store you’ve been meaning to pop into and tap the ‘Follow’ button. Once you’ve followed places, news from them—like events, offers and other updates—will appear in the For you tab.”
This feature will first be made available in the United States and other locations and will expand to other countries over the next few months. At the time of the announcement, the feature is only available on Google Maps for Android. Though it wasn’t stated, it is likely that these features will come to iOS, and possibly the desktop version of Google Maps, in the near future.
Besides helping current businesses, Google is adding a feature that will help businesses who are first establishing themselves in a new area. Google Map users who want to be in the know about all the new places opening around town will be able to find soon-to-open locations in Google Maps and mobile search. The opening date for locations will be listed in orange.
Business locations that are opening in the future can create a free Google My Business profile that will appear to people up to three months before the scheduled opening day. This can be extremely useful for letting trendsetters know ahead of time about a new business opening. Being able to better establish an online presence before the actual opening of a business can help new locations hit the ground running. The feature is rolling out over the next few weeks, so be sure to create a Google My Business profile to take advantage of the new features.
During an event for SEO and PPC marketers, Google announced that updating several features to Google Ads in the near future that could increase the ROI for small and local businesses. Google will be rolling out two new updates, email forwarding and automatic reply, to their Click to Message ads.
According to those present at the event, “With email forwarding, texts that users send from click-to-message ads can now be delivered via email. That means advertisers will no longer need to provide a phone number in order to use message extensions Advertisers will also be able to set up automatic replies to respond to users immediately with preset messages. You could let users know you received their message and when they should expect a response, for example.”
Google is also updating tools to help local and small businesses quantify the value they receive from Google services. Store Visits data will be rolling out in Google Analytics to all eligible advertisers in the coming weeks after being used in beta tests earlier this year.
Store visits measurements are estimated based on anonymized location data from users that have Location History enabled in their Google accounts. Businesses that use the store visits data will be able to use that data in conjunction with Google’s other online analytics tools. Data-driven attribution and Smart Bidding, which includes Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, and Enhanced CPC, will become available to all advertisers with access to store visits data in their accounts in the near future. .
With the holiday season fast approaching, business owners and marketers who think these tools and updates can be helpful to their business should incorporate them into their marketing plans as soon as possible. Keep in mind that this is a phased roll-out so if it the features aren’t available for a particular account at first, it should receive the updates within a month.
For more recent news about Google updates, read this article about Google’s plan to add product listings to Google My Business accounts.