QR Codes Are Making A Comeback in 2021

QR Codes Are Making A Comeback in 2021

Ever heard of QR codes?

Unless you work in the marketing industry, chances are you’ve probably only heard of them occasionally.

A QR code is essentially an enhanced version of the average barcode. However, they can hold roughly 350 times the amount of information that could be stored on a typical one dimensional barcode. 

QR codes saw a sharp increase in popularity when they were first introduced, but then started steadily declining in popularity when they were not widely adopted by Apple and Samsung smart phone manufacturers.

In addition, WiFi technology had made serving in-store advertising easier, which pushed QR codes further down the “must have” list.

During the month of June 2011, 14 million American mobile users scanned a QR code or a barcode. Some 58% of those users scanned a QR or barcode from their homes, while 39% scanned from retail stores; 53% of the 14 million users were men between the ages of 18 and 34.

QR code usage decreased to 9.76 million in 2018 but is expected to grow to a total of 15 million households by the end of 2021. This is largely due to the newer smart phones adopting the technology “natively”, meaning, you don’t need to download a third party app, it’s built right into the phone camera.

The pandemic also created a huge need for QR codes with contactless shopping and delivery. I t also created a need for communicating information without touching an item others had touched, too. This meant developing a way to communicate lots of information quickly without touch. Rather than reinvent the wheel, marketers and computer techs realized the power of QR codes to do exactly what is needed.

The humble QR code stepped in to provide a succinct way to communicate information and complete transactions. A business can provide a QR code for customers to scan that lets them instantly register for delivery programs, loyalty programs, etc. It provides a method of completing contact-free retail purchases via mobile wallet. According to Juniper Research, by 2025 about 2.2 billion people will use QR codes for payments. That’s nearly one-third of smartphone users – 29 percent.

What is a QR code?

The term QR code refers to a Quick Response (QR) code. A smartphone can read this two-dimensional code using its camera. This lets retailers place these codes in store windows or at checkout stands or on the aisles of a store to provide consumers with a way of quickly scanning to obtain more information.

Consumers can also create QR codes using the retailer’s website or an app. These codes can contain the information from a coupon, gift certificate, or online order number. By displaying their cell phone at the register, the sales representative can scan the item using the register wand. Neither party needs to touch, and the entire transaction can occur through a clear plexiglass sneeze guard.

Which country has the largest QR code adoption?

Asia, specifically China, uses QR codes most frequently. It has also seen the greatest adoption of e-wallets such as WeChat and AlliPay. In 2019, almost half of the point-of-sale payments in that country used QR codes, a total of 48 percent.

Plaid and PayPal have introduced a QR code option. This lets users of those two worldwide payment services use the technology to accept or make payments.

According to a 2019 Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey, 91 percent of Australians own a smartphone. Only ten percent of those use QR payments though, says a Roy Morgan report from the same year. Australia’s mature market with widespread NFC and a massive 900,000 point of sale (POS) devices make it easy for the country’s residents to make contactless payments. In 2019, most of the country’s purchases were contactless – 83 percent. Since its populace would likely immediately adopt a QR code option, its federal government plans a national plan it will implement in 2021.

New Zealand joined the fray in 2020 when the Union Pay International (UPI) system it uses introduced a consumer payments QR code program. Australian retailers can also use the UPI system. Its competitor, Azupay, and the regional NSW government partnered to offer QR code payments.

QR Codes = Simplicity and Usefulness

As part of a payments system, the simple technology has grown quickly due to its easy adoptability and adaptability. It requires no extra hardware since the user’s smartphone can scan the code to complete the transaction. This use of existing hardware also makes the QR code more convenient. Although a tiny two-dimensional picture, a single code holds lots of information. Its data capacity is such that it communicate payment, identity, and loyalty.

Some older phones require a separate app. Newer smartphones come ready to scan though. They use built-in software. This means any customer with a smartphone can install the app needed to read the codes which are also free.

Its only two drawbacks include risk of fraud since a customer could scan a fake code which results in them completing a phone call they’re charged for or otherwise losing money and privacy issues. The customer may not immediately understand what information the QR code accesses or uses.

QR as a Marketing Tool

The QR code offers an opportunity for retailers to market their products or business more effectively. Because it can quickly communicate information, the codes provide a useful mechanism with many uses including:

  • Restaurants: communicating the entire menu through a code to eliminate hands-on menus. The restaurants’ website or app also enables touchless, contactless ordering.
  • Hotels: provide contactless check-ins, room service menus and ordering mechanisms, lighting and air conditioning controls.
  • Museums and art galleries: provide visitor maps and guides.
  • Medical facilities: communicate health education materials.

Other ways to use the QR code include as an advertising tool. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram require a square photo or graphic.

When you create an ad on Facebook, it warns you not to use text. The reason for this is because ads with lots of text simply don’t perform that well. Using a QR code lets you embed the code in the center of the graphic, and this enables you to put all a large amount of text in the page which the QR code sends the visitor to.

You can communicate all the information you need in that one QR code.

Your one sentence headline can be concise and direct, while the QR code carries all of the extra information. Users can like your post and scan the QR code to gain access to more information. This lets you embed a paragraph on a code so you can provide users with details instead of the bare minimum.

Similarly, you use QR codes to sell products. A customer only needs to scan the code to order the product. You can set up an entire store on any platform even if it does not offer an e-commerce option or interface with a store environment like Etsy.

In Conclusion

QR codes can help you accept orders, take payments, advertise products, offer coupons, communicate information. You can create a QR code that houses your entire menu or sells a t-shirt.

Provide a QR code on a poster to link to a website with further information. Gyms can use them to educate consumers on how to use each piece of equipment or use them so patrons can check in on each apparatus.

Any time you need to graphically communicate lots of info at once, leverage a QR code. They’re not just for e-books anymore.

While they did wane in use for a little while, once people could not enter stores, they made a comeback.

Whether you use a tablet, smartphone, or a computer, you can create, obtain, or access a QR code. This makes it simpler for all sizes of businesses to utilize this technology and improve their sales, tracking, and customer service.

QR STUFF

If you’re searching for a free QR code generator, I evaluated and compared several tonight, and found this one to be best for my needs: https://www.qrstuff.com

100% Ad Free QR Codes

QR Stuff has QR codes that are guaranteed 100% ad-free, even for free users, so you can get on with promoting your product without someone else’s brand getting in the way.

I used this QR code generator successfully for my pest control Brezden Pest Control. They needed a QR code added on a few of their products so that technicians in the field could quickly pull up ingredient lists and instructions.

Here is QR Stuff FAQ:

Can I use the website as a free user?

Yes. You can create fully functional QR codes anonymously as a free user with no need to sign up or open an account. No sign-up = no email address harvesting = no spam from us 🙂

Also, unlike some others, our free QR codes aren’t crippleware that stop working 14 days later. Our free QR codes aren’t time-limited in any way, don’t expire, and are ad-free.

What’s the subscription fee for?

The subscription fee charged relates to providing time-based subscription access to the extended feature set of the website for the period of the subscription purchased.

Opening an account is required for paid subscribers in order to co-ordinate the functionality of your account and to allocate the QR codes you create to your account history (but still no spam!).

No component of the subscription fee relates to purchasing the QR codes themselves.

Will my QR codes “expire”?

No. The QR codes (and any underlying short URL’s) created by both free users and paid subscribers are permanent and will continue to function indefinitely, however temporary scan limits may apply as outlined below.

Can I use your QR codes commercially?

Yes. There are no restrictions on commercial use however temporary scan limits may apply as outlined below.

Are there any limits on use?

The short answer is Yes, but the reality is that the vast majority of users won’t be affected by them. These limits only apply to dynamic QR codes that use our (optional) URL shortener – QR codes that do not use our URL shortener (static QR codes) have no scan limits.

Free Users: While there are no limits on the number QR codes you can create as either a free or paid user, a limit of 50 scans per month is applied to each QR code created by free users. This monthly scan limit presently affects less than 0.001% of the QR codes in our system so it will not impact the overwhelming majority of users. If you anticipate that your QR code will be scanned more than 50 times per month, you should probably consider a paid subscription.

Current Full Paid Subscribers: There are no pre-set scan limits for QR codes associated with current (paid-up) full subscriber account.

Expired Full Paid Subscribers: A 50 scan/month limit is applied to QR codes associated with expired paid subscriber accounts. This scan limit for expired subscribers is a “per QR code” limit and is only applied to the individual QR codes that exceed the monthly 50 scan limit, and does not affect any other QR codes associated with the expired subscriber account. The scan limit is re-set at the start of each calendar month.

At our discretion a temporary Fair Use monthly scan limit may be applied to unusually high scan-volume QR codes (>30,000 scans/month) belonging to current paid subscribers. This Fair Use Policy limit is intended to ensure that the scan activity of a minority of users doesn’t adversely impact optimal platform performance for all users.

Don’t worry – current subscribers will be contacted well in advance if any of their QR codes are approaching a Fair Use threshhold so that we can work out a solution with them.

Collectively, these measures will only affect about 1 in every 10,000 users – the other 9,999 won’t even know that any limits exist 🙂

And just to reiterate – these limits only apply to dynamic QR codes (the QR codes that use our optional URL shortener). All other QR codes are unlimited.

What do I do if my QR codes are scan-limited?

Expired full subscribers simply need to renew their subscription and the scan limit status of their account will be automatically reset from expired to current.

Free users who upgrade to a full paid account (1 month or longer) can contact us to have the QR codes they created as free user moved to their subscriber account which will remove the 50 scans/month limit from them. This is a complimentary service for up to 10 QR codes.

Are your QR codes ad-free?

Yes. Both our free and paid QR codes are guaranteed 100% ad-free. If you see an ad after scanning one of our QR codes, the QR code scanning app that you’re using put it there.

Is a license required to create QR codes?

No. The QR code is clearly defined and published as an open ISO standard. Denso Wave owns the patent rights on the QR code creation process, and the methods used to encode and create them, but has chosen not to exercise those rights. The term “QR code” itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.

The answer to the following questions is always “No”

  • Can I add a QR code to my account that I created somewhere else?
  • Can I get analytics from you for a QR code that I created somewhere else?
  • Can I have a free trial subscription?
  • I’m making my own QR code website. Can you tell me how you did everything on yours?

Google Local Services Ads: 7 Tips & 3 Mistakes

Google Local Services Ads: 7 Tips & 3 Mistakes

Google Local Service ads empower small businesses to advertise on Google and receive leads directly from potential customers. Google Local Service ads appear on the top of the SERP’s – or search engine results page – when people search for services within your area.

By interacting with the ads, they will be able to see a list of all of the participating local services that are associated with the entered keywords. It’s a powerful way to onboard local customers and garner trust from current clients.

Why You Would Want To Invest in Google Local Service Ads

Cost-effectiveness. Unlike other ad networks, participants of Google Local Service ads will only have to pay per lead, instead of per click with the lead pricing varying largely depending on your location, and the type of industry or niche you cater to. 

Businesses that participate with Google Local Service ads will be “Google Guaranteed.” This badge not only helps with your reputation, but it also indicates a dedication to customer service that is further backed by the search engine giant. As more customers become savvy as to where they spend their money, this Google Guarantee badge can be a significant differentiator between your business and competitors.

Google Local Services Ads: 7 Tips & 3 Mistakes

Expanding your businesses reach beyond the traditional search ads. Google Local Service ads offers maximum exposure and visibility. 71% of online searchers interact with the first page of Google, with the majority only showing interest on the first page. Having a business at the top of the first page will create a traffic stream of quality visitors who are local and interested in your services.

7 Best Practices For Your Google Local Service Ads Campaign

Google Local Service Ads

1. Ensure that you are in the proper market. Currently, Google Local Service ads are only available to businesses within the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Within the United States, the local service ads cater to major cities as well as surrounding suburbs. Also, not all niches are eligible — Google has a list of industries that can participate in the Google Local Service ads program.

Google Local Service Ads

2. Become certified. Google requires all participating small businesses and service providers to complete a background check, with United States participants going through a self-service application via Pinkerton. To streamline the process, make sure that you have vital information at hand when applying to Google Local Service ads. These include the name of your business, accurate address and contact information, federal employer identification number, and the number of employees in your company. Each employee will have to pass a background check. For your Google Guarantee badge, you will need to provide additional information designating insurance and licensing information. 

Google Local Service Ads

3. Understanding what constitutes a “valid lead.” Since you are only charged for valid leads, you generate a more predictable return of investment. However, for the uninitiated, it may be confusing as to what factors Google uses to determine validity. These factors include text messages or emails from potential customers, voicemails, phone calls, and text messages, phone calls, or emails you made in response to missed calls. 

Google Local Service Ads

4. Creating Your Local Services Ad – doing it right the first time. The settings you choose when you create a profile will act as your targeting data, making it imperative that you provide accurate information. Include your business hours, specific service areas, job types, as well as your weekly budget. Keywords for Google Local Service ads are a bit different from AdWords. Keywords relevant to ad categories will trigger the ads. However,  those keywords need to include modifiers like “New York City cleaning services” or “electrician near me”. The good news is that you do not need to bid for keywords anymore — the ads are automatically triggered based on thousands of search terms at any given moment.

Google Local Service Ads

5. Be aware of what contributes to your ranking. As a small business owner, you must be aware of indicators to ensure that your ads are effective and cost-effective. The first is the vicinity your business has to the searcher. While this is relatively out of your control, make sure that you specify which areas you are servicing to initiate quality leads. Google will also prioritize small businesses with a higher review score. Generate customer reviews by incorporating it into your early advertising strategy. On the Google Local Service ads panel, you can ask customers for a review, giving you the option to personalize the sent message. Custom emails will encourage reviews from your past clients.

Google Local Service Ads

6. Your Google Local Service ads work with Google Home. Google is beginning to roll out Google’s Local Search ads that will connect to those who use Google Home to inquire about potential service providers in the area. Google Assistant will now provide Google Home users with a few nearby options. To increase your chance of Google Home recommending your service, you want to continuously collect reviews, provide top-tier service, and be highly responsive to inquiries. Google has shown a preference for active users.

Google Local Service Ads

7. Visit and revisit your inbound call structure. Whether you will be charged is largely dependent on your lead call time and habits. You do not want inbound calls to be riddled with unrelated questions and inquiries — this is a waste of time for your business, and you will be charged after a certain time on the phone.

To ensure that you do not experience time wasters, ask the right questions to find as much information as quickly as possible. Lead them to a specific goal, informing the caller what the next steps are going to be. Then once you have piqued their interest, quickly gather details like their contact information and inquire when you can call them back to confirm information and then thank them for their time.

Learn the 3 biggest mistakes to avoid when setting up Google Local Ads:

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter to be automatically re-directed to the 3 mistakes page.

Join 35,000+ business owners and get actionable website marketing advice delivered to your inbox.


Which of these tips will you put into practice?

Comment and share below!

How To Build Your Email List

Email is sometimes seen as a lonely outcast in the online marketing world, sometimes even a joke. It just keeps plodding on behind the scenes whiles its flashier cousins get all the attention. Yet savvy marketers know that email is just as powerful now as it has always been, and deploy it as an integral part of their online strategy.

Email is the perfect way to promote your products and services, distribute interesting content, and stay in touch with prospects and customers. Carefully targeted, automated “drip” campaigns that provide information without becoming spam can take your business from an interesting idea to a possible partner in the recipient’s mind.

Here are some eye-popping email statistics to give you a better perspective:

  • The number of email users continues to grow: Statista reports that there were over 4 billion email users worldwide in 2020. This number is expected to grow to almost 4.6 billion by 2025.
  • Emails get opened: In 2020 email benchmarks for all industries included an average open rate of 18.0%, an average click-through rate of 2.6%, and an average click-to-open rate of 14.1%.
  • They influence purchase decisions: According to consumer research, 59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.
  • Emails get results: Even in 2019, the ROI on email marketing campaigns was over $40! How does that compare to direct mail or your other online efforts?
Email List Building Tactics

Why do people unsubscribe?

Why am I starting this blog with “how to keep your list” instead of “how to build your list”? Because keeping your list is probably the most effective way to “build your list”.

It’s similar to the age old money principle; “It’s much easier to make money, that it is to keep it.”

So how do we keep our email list subscribers from opting out?

To answer that question, let’s examine sending frequency.

Research firm Marketing Sherpa surveyed the opinions of 2,000 Americans about what frequency they think is optimal for newsletters. The diagram above shows how the survey participants answered the question:

“How often would you like to receive newsletters (coupons, promotions) from the companies you’re subscribed with?”

Too frequent mailings are a sure way to lose subscribers. Your subscribers may unsubscribe simply because the emails they receive overload their inboxes. Just look at the huge selection of email customization tools that demonstrate the need for users to manage and reduce the number of emails they receive.

What is a normal unsubscribe rate?

There is no official percentage benchmark for the unsubscribing norm. It depends on each mailing campaign and the industry. That said, below is a table of industry averages which you might find interesting:

Email List Open Rates and Industry Averages

According to the Campaign Monitor research, the average unsubscribe rate in 2019 was about 0.17%. From 1000 letters sent – 1-2 people unsubscribe.

As long as the number of unsubscribes does not exceed 0.5%, everything is pretty normal. If your base is 200 subscribers, then with each submission at least one of them will unsubscribe. It’s sad, but true.

Segment your email list to lower unsubscribes.

The best way to lower the number of unsubscribes from your mailings is to segment your database. There are many different ways to do this:

  • which links are clicked when they receive your email;
  • which online resources are used (e-books, webinars, etc.);
  • whether they participate in online events or not (webinars, for example);
  • how often your emails are opened (frequency of interaction);
  • where subscribers live;
  • income level, psychographic data, etc.

The statistics prove the reliability of email marketing, but their effectiveness relies on the quality of your email list. Careful attention needs to be paid to adding addresses to your list, updating them as needed, sending quality content and promptly responding to unsubscribe requests.

Let’s talk about building your email list.

Probably the best way to build your email list is with a “give to get” opt in strategy.

Offer potential customers a white paper, or an infographic, in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter list. Their email goes into your database automatically, and generates a series of welcome, thank you, or content updates.

Most people jealously guard their email address because they don’t want to get on some type of “spam” list. But they do want to get worthwhile information and offers from companies that match their interests. So what can you offer that makes your company look good, and still adds value to your prospective customer?

Email List Building Tactics

Below are several creative ways you might consider building your list:

  1. Add an email opt-in form to your website: This one is simple – just ask your website visitors to subscribe to your monthly online newsletters. Once they sign-up, be sure to only send relevant, interesting content that meets their needs, though, or they might unsubscribe quickly. Make sure this offer is repeated on every page your visitors might access from their online search results.
  2. Use pop-ups: These are quick hits that grab a user’s attention as they begin to surf your site. Have a headline that promises something, offer a discount, or have a limited time offer. Make it very simple to fill in the email and leave it at that.
  3. Ask on social media: There are many creative ways to get emails from people on social media. “Give to get” email opt-in strategies are a common way to build an email list using social media. You can offer a PDF or white paper in exchange for an email address. You can use Facebook, or do a call-to-action Tweet or post on Instagram.
  4. Check-out process: If you offer ecommerce services, you can always ask for an email address during the checkout process. Most people don’t think twice about providing an email to a company they trusted enough to make a purchase.
  5. Insider Tips: Put together a one page sheet of special tips that apply to your product or service, and offer it in exchange for an email address.
  6. White Paper: A white paper is a deep dive into a topic of particular interest. If you own a computer store for example, a good white paper might look at various computer setups to achieve maximum office efficiency. The white paper seeks to take a complex matter and break it down with expert advice and research. It provides useful information that can help solve a particular problem, and maybe even motivate the reader to work further with your company.
  7. E-book: This is a more in-depth study of a particular topic. It might come in handy for analyzing many sides of a particular issue or product offering.
  8. Special Access: Offer to let prospects on your email list have sneak previews of new products or upcoming sales and promotions. Have a limited sale period that is available only to this list before you open it to everyone.
  9. Helpful Audio or Video: Is there one topic that you are always explaining to customers? You can reproduce your answer in the form of an audio or video file, and offer that as the email address incentive.
  10. Surveys: Ask someone to provide answers to a few questions about your product or service. Offer to provide results if they give you their email address.
Email List Building Tactics

Case Studies on Building Email Lists

  • Buffer, the marketing software firm, shared its strategies to double email signups in 30 days. They added eight more ways to their existing tactic, to make it ridiculously easy to sign-up for the list. Options now include slideup form, blog homepage email capture, HelloBar, sidebar ad, postscript CTA, Twitter lead generation cards, Facebook newsletter signup, SlideShare, and Qzzr.
  • University of Alberta realized a 500% increase in subscribers simply by adding a chat window signup with Qualaroo. Even though their website page offered a newsletter preview, few visitors took the opportunity to actually sign-up. A pop-up chat window, however, noted their interest and provided a quick way to enter an email address.
  • Sol de Janeiro, a body care company, generated 25,000 new subscribers in under five months using a layered lead capture approach that began with an offer that triggered when a prospect appeared to be ending a website session.

Automate Your Email Automation

Create specific emails to respond to certain situations, and set up your system to send them out automatically. You might have emails already created to:

  • Accompany the white paper or other information you are sending.
  • Follow-up on information that was sent
  • Welcome a new customer
  • Connect with someone you haven’t heard from lately
  • Send out to those with an abandoned cart
  • Celebrate milestone occasions

Use productivity tools like Constant Contact, Mailchimp or Cloud HQ to automatically schedule emails, update your database, respond to unsubscribe requests, and handle your automatic reply needs.

Start Building Your Email List Today

When you are building your email list, think about the emotions you want readers to feel. Try to put yourself in their position to see what would make you give someone your email address, and build from there.

Do you have a coveted email opt in strategy that’s worked for you in the past? Well don’t keep it a secret, that’s no fun! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

How To Capture Emails From Restaurant Customers

You know you need to market your restaurant.

After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, your restaurant likely struggling to stay in business.

>> Sometimes a bit of humor helps in times like these.

Across the country, businesses closed temporarily. Now, as the country re-opens, you probably want to leverage every available marketing technology and strategy to herd as many customers as the law will allow you to into your doors.

To get more people into your restaurant and keep them coming back, you need to market your restaurant. One unique method of doing that is email marketing.

This method is unique for restaurants because it is a challenge to obtain an email address while the customer sits in your café. They have their mobile phone with them and in the relaxed environment of a meal out, rarely will they want to stop their meal to load your website on a browser. You might get their cell phone number pretty easily, but emails present a challenge.

 How can you capture your restaurant customers’ email addresses?

A few options exist for collecting email addresses. When we say “automatically,” we do not mean illicitly. Collecting email addresses always requires an ask. You can ask online or offline. Here are a few ideas for getting the important information surrounding the “@”.

Place an empty fishbowl next to the cash register.

Label the bowl as a collector spot for business cards. If you want to encourage many business cards, offer to draw for a free lunch once per week. You will only be out the cost of one meal, but you will encourage many business cards to get dumped into the bowl. At the end of each week, draw the card that wins and contact that person with their gift certificate. Then, empty the bowl and enter all of the names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers into a database or Excel spreadsheet. Post the name of the week’s winner on the front of the bowl, so people can see why they would want to drop their business card into the bowl. When your winner comes in, take a picture of them dining and post it, too. This could be your first email newsletter.

Ask your customers to text their email addresses.

Customers more freely share their email addresses when sitting at their computer, but pretty rarely have a computer with them when dining out. Some restaurants have had luck asking customers to text their email addresses to the establishment. For example, Elephant Bar set up a short code of 73757 to make it quicker to dial them. Customers can text their shortcode with the word “rewards” followed by their email address to join their rewards program. This method gets the restaurant two important pieces of data — the email address and the cell phone number.

Ask on your website via a reservations form.

You might doubt that restaurant patrons visit websites, but they do. You can encourage them to visit yours more often by offering specials or coupons that you only post there or by setting up an automated reservation system. The latter frees up your personnel from needing to answer the phones to make reservations. Patrons can visit the website to make reservations. You solve the problems of overbooking and bad handwriting, too. The reservation system only offers as many tables as you have, and you can set the reservation times. Your form prompts the patron for their email address to send a confirmation email. You can also offer to send a reminder of the reservation on the day of the meal.

Collect emails from your Facebook page.

Set up a Facebook page and advertise it using the quite reasonably priced Facebook ads. Offer an app for ordering through the Facebook page and prompt your visitors to share their email. You can send a confirmation of the order immediately and use the email in perpetuity, or until they opt out. Once you build your email list, you can improve your ad reach by using custom audiences.

Use a website email collector form.

Regardless of all the fancy stuff, you do with apps and reservation systems, you also need the straightforward method of a simple form. Using a company like JotForm lets you easily set up a responsive design form that collects just the customers’ names and email addresses. You can handily serve this up when customers visit you by offering free Wi-Fi.

Use ZenReach to serve an ad featuring the email collector form.

Programs like ZenReach let you market via WiFi. When a customer enters your Wi-Fi zone and signs on, you get the opportunity to serve them a sign-on page. Request their email address as part of the sign-on or ask for it as “payment” for using the free Wi-Fi. You can also use ZenReach to serve ads and capture leads using an email prompt. This program uses your Wi-Fi and the consumer’s device ID similar to the way a website uses a cookie. When the customer returns to your restaurant and signs on again, ZenReach recognizes them.

Using Your New Email List

Building your list just gets you started. Once you have it put together, you also need to use it. Put it to good use by sending a once per week newsletter that offers helpful content. You might include a recipe or contest news. Featuring biographies on your staff lets customers get to know the chef, bartender, servers, etc. You can personalize your ads and promotions via email, too. While radio, TV, and even direct mail cost money, you can put together an email list for free and use it for the same zero cost.

Remember to segment your email marketing on top of personalizing the emails. Business diners have different needs than date night diners. Those who order online should get different offers than those who come in to dine.

Offer a coupon for something free on their birthday. Now that you have their emails, you can build a real professional relationship with your customers and that gets you valuable word of mouth advertising.

Promote Curbside Pickup In Your Local Inventory Ads

In today’s rapidly changing environment, people are looking for real-time updates when it comes to store information and product availability. Searches for “in-stock” grew more than 70 percent globally from the week of March 28 to April 4, as consumers sought to avoid ecommerce shipping delays. We’re here to help you connect local shoppers with the products they need quickly, and promote your safer fulfillment options, like in-store and curbside pickup.

Using local inventory ads, retailers can show users that the products they are searching for are available for nearby store pickup. Now, you can indicate if you offer curbside pickup, right in your local inventory ads. This feature is available in the countries where local inventory ads have launched: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the U.S.

Petco is using the curbside pickup badge to highlight contactless pickup availability on essential products like pet food and supplies that are available nearby for same-day or next-day pickup. “As a trusted partner in caring for the overall health and wellness of pets, we’re committed to ensuring pet parents have the essential products they need during this time,” said Jay Altschuler, Petco Vice President of Media Transformation. “To make shopping easier and safer for both pet parents and our own employees, we’ve proudly made a number of changes including launching curbside pickup at most Petco stores nationwide.”

The local inventory ads curbside pickup badge is currently in beta and available to advertisers who have completed the onboarding for store pickup. Reach out to your account team if you’re interested in including curbside pickup in your ads, or complete this form.

If you aren’t running local inventory ads, you can still let customers know whether your store offers pickup, delivery, or curbside pickup. Using Google My Business, you can add or edit attributes to your Business Profile that appear on Search and Maps. This is available globally.

Source: Official Google Webmasters Blog

Get Your Campaigns Ready To Reach The Always-On Deal Seeker

Marketers recognize Black Friday and Cyber Monday as major shopping holidays to prepare for. But did you know that only 18 percent of shoppers consolidate their holiday shopping to these days? 

Consumers are on the lookout for deals year-round—about 60 percent say that finding a great deal is what they enjoy most about shopping. So whether you’re gearing up for July 4th in the U.S., Bastille Day in France, or back-to-school shopping around the world, check out new tools coming soon to help you highlight in-store promotions, factor seasonal sales into your bidding strategy, and reach in-market consumers this season and beyond.

Heat up in-store sales with new Local campaign features

Before they’re heading to the store, local shoppers are hunting for deals: searches for “on sale near me” have grown by 250 percent since 2017. 

With Local campaigns, you can dedicate your entire campaign to offline sales and complement other channels like TV or print that also help deliver foot traffic to your business during important promotions. In fact, in recent global studies with 10 advertisers, we found that Local campaigns helped brands drive a median five times greater incremental return-on-ad-spend from their business locations. 

We have new features coming for Local campaigns to make it available to more advertisers and improve how you manage your locations and creatives. In the next few weeks, you’ll be able to set up your Local campaigns to drive calls to your business locations—even if you don’t have store visits measurement. By expanding Local campaigns to optimize for calls, more advertisers will now be able to access it and highlight what makes their stores unique across Google Search, Maps, YouTube and more.

Starting today, you can also create location groups to make it easier to promote a subset of business locations. For instance, if you’re selling special back-to-school product bundles at certain locations, use location groups to tailor your budget and messaging to this offer. Finally, asset reporting has started rolling out to give you better insight into creative performance. See what kinds of messaging and assets work best and use these learnings to improve your current and future creatives. 

Sanborns, a leading department store in Latin America, is one brand using Local campaigns to drive results during key promotions.

We’re excited to work with Google’s new technology to help us grow our business. For Father’s Day in Mexico and for a major sale we ran at the end of May, we used Local campaigns to make our in-store offers more prominent. It’s amazing how we can get exposure with customers at the right time, and this helped us drive a 10x increase in store visits during these promotions year-over-year. 

– Grupo Sanborns’ marketing team

Put your in-store promotions front and center in local inventory ads

We’re also making it easier for retailers to highlight in-store promotions for specific products through Shopping ads. Today, retailers have connected over 2 billion offers to physical store locations globally using local inventory ads. Now, you can add a promotion to your local inventory ads. Call out in-store offers like “20% off” or “buy one get one free” for inventory you have in stock and drive more nearby deal-hunters to your physical locations.

We’re rolling this out in the U.S. and Australia, with more countries coming soon. If you’re a retailer interested in participating, request to join the allowlist here

Improve Smart Bidding performance by factoring in seasonal sales

Smart Bidding automatically optimizes your bids for every auction to help improve your return on investment. And while it factors in seasonality as a signal, we know there are key moments for your business—like during a big sale—when you can anticipate changes in conversion rates well in advance. For these occasions, we’ve introduced seasonality adjustments. 

Let’s say you’re running a promotion for grills as people get ready for their summer cookouts. Based on past promotions, you predict seeing a 50 percent increase in conversion rates during your sale. Use seasonality adjustments to let Smart Bidding know to expect and prepare for this conversion rate increase, and help our systems ramp up performance more quickly. 

Reach shoppers in the market for your products

In-market audiences for Search help advertisers drive more conversions by reaching qualified shoppers who are actively considering products or services to buy. These are aggregated and anonymized groups of consumers who’ve recently demonstrated an intent to purchase. This gives you a great opportunity to help your business stand out with compelling offers or deals when people are making their final decisions about what to buy.

We’ve recently rolled out more in-market segments across popular categories like beauty, sports, education and real estate. This includes over thirty new categories for retail, just in time for your seasonal sales.

No matter what season you’re ramping up for around the globe, we hope these new products set you up for success!

Source: Official Google Webmasters Blog

Top 10 WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Top 10 WordPress Themes for Restaurants

It’s not enough to just serve great food these days, every restaurant needs an engaging website to be noticed. Customers like to check out menus, read reviews and have the option of booking a table online before they visit. Luckily, you don’t need to be a design pro to create beautiful, user-friendly restaurant web designs, as there are plenty of great WordPress themes that will do the job for you. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 options.

Top 10 WordPress Themes for Restaurants

  • Sage
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Not sure how you want your website to look? Then Sage is a great option for you as there are over 40 demo sites to choose from covering everything from Seafood, Vegan and Thai to Bakery, Brewery or Tea House designs. Once you’ve selected a demo you can use the theme options panel to easily customize the design to suit your restaurant.

Top Sage Features

  • Four free ad-ons
  • Ability to set up an online shop with WooCommerce
  • Drag-and-drop menu builder
  • Six-month customer support and one-click install

Price – $59

More info/download Sage

  • Food Truck
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

This is the ideal theme for street vendors, food truck owners or small food businesses. Food Truck incorporates simple page and menu builders and is easy to tweak, including nearly 90 custom shortcodes, 10 widgets and over 600 Google Fonts. However, this theme’s key selling point is its truck locator map, which allows customers to find you easily.

Top Food Truck Features

  • Truck locator map
  • Events listings
  • E-commerce capabilities
  • Six-month customer support and one-click install

Price – $59

More info/download Food Truck

  • Resca
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Resca is one of the top restaurant website themes and looks great on all devices. Choose from one of the demo sites and make it your own by selecting from hundreds of colors, skins, fonts and icon options. Resca’s star attraction is its events calendar which will keep your customers in the know.

Top Resca Features

  • Events calendar and countdown clock
  • OpenTable reservation and booking
  • Ability to set up an online shop with WooCommerce
  • Six-month customer support and one-click install

Price – $59

More info/download Resca

  • Tavern
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Tavern is one of the most popular WordPress themes for pubs and restaurants. It includes well-known plug-ins like Revolution Slider, Essential Grid and Visual Composer, all of which allow you to create any site layout. You can drag and drop pre-built features to customize your design and improve the user experience with a reservation/booking system and online shop.

Top Tavern Features

  • Translation feature
  • OpenTable reservation and booking
  • Ability to set up an online shop with WooCommerce
  • Six-month customer support

Price- $59

More info/download Tavern

  • Luigi
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

If you’re in the fine dining sector or run a high-end eatery such as an Italian Bistro, then Luigi is the classy restaurant theme for you. The theme boasts a Hero Block feature which allows for full-width images and customizable titles, text and fancy call-to-actions. Luigi also has an online table reservation system, event organizer and GoodReviews plug-in so customers can let everyone know how great your food is.

Top Luigi Features

  • GoodReviews plug-in to display customer reviews and ratings
  • Event organizer
  • Reservation booking system
  • Classy, image-heavy design

Price – $79

More info/download Luigi

  • LaCuisine
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

LaCuisine is a clean, ultra-responsive theme suitable for any type of eatery. Start with one of their stylish demo sites and edit to suit your style with the hundreds of fonts, colors and layout options. LaCuisine’s key features include sharp, retina-ready graphics and an engaging menu builder which allows diners to click on dishes and leave a review or pre-order them.

Top LaCuisine Features

  • Engaging menu builder which enables diners to leave reviews
  • Restaurant Reservations plug-in
  • Ability to set up an online shop with WooCommerce
  • Six-month customer support

Price – $59

More info/download LaCuisine

  • Nuvo
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

This is an extremely visual theme that offers unlimited color, layout and sidebar options. Nuvo will help you create a site full of Parallex full-screen images and video backgrounds; you can also choose from a huge range of animations and typography. Nuvo is easy to personalize and works well for restaurants, cafes and bistros, however, the theme does looks better on larger devices.

Top Nuvo Features

  • Stunning, image-heavy design
  • Event management section
  • Restaurant booking capability
  • Six-month customer support

Price – $53

More info/download Nuvo

  • Dalton
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Dalton is a multi-purpose, corporate theme that works well for restaurants as well as other types of businesses. It has six unique homepage designs to start with and over 55 customizable page builder elements, as well as stunning Parallex and retina-ready visuals. This theme uses the Slider Revolution plug-in for smooth scrolling, perfect for websites with lots of images.

Top Dalton Features

  • Image-friendly
  • Integrated with WooCommerce to create online shops
  • Highly customizable with extensive theme options
  • Six-month customer support and one-click install

Price – $59

More info/download Dalton

  • Piquant
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Piquant offers a simple, bold design and six homepage styles. There are customizable menus, clever call-to-action buttons and awesome image galleries. The stand-out feature of Piquant is its blog function which has six different post templates, so if you’re serious about engaging with your customers and updating them on new dishes and events, this is a great theme to choose.

Top Piquant Features

  • Blog function with post templates
  • Reservation and booking system
  • Compatible with WooCommerce to sell products online
  • Six-month customer support

Price – $59

More info/download Piquant

  • Rosa
WordPress Themes for Restaurants

Rosa is great for restaurants, cafes and bakeries and is a popular bar website theme. If you want to focus on high-end images Rosa is a great choice as you can create stunning galleries, Parallex visual effects and video.  The theme also has handy booking and e-commerce capabilities.

Top Rosa Features

  • Ideal for image-heavy sites
  • Reservation and booking system
  • E-commerce capability
  • Six-month customer support

Price – $59

More info/download Rosa

Investing in a top restaurant theme for your website is one of the smartest moves you can make. Rather than battling with web coding, save time and hassle by choosing a ready-made theme and simply modify it to reflect your restaurant’s unique personality. Don’t forget to make use of your theme’s special features to improve user experience, including table booking, e-store, and online review plug-ins. Build a stunning menu and pack your site full of enticing food images and your restaurant will be buzzing in no time!

6 Marketing Strategies To Drive Thanksgiving Sales

6 Marketing Strategies To Drive Thanksgiving Sales

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the cornucopia of online marketing options available today. The truth is that a well thought-out and carefully implemented online marketing plan can open a business to a new stream of prospective customers, drive leads to a website and motivate increased sales. With that in mind, here are six search marketing strategies to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  1. Event Marketing: Whether your business is holding a holiday sale or sponsoring a major conference, there is no better way to attract attention than online event marketing. Target a potential audience online and get them excited about your event.
  2. Local Search: If your business caters to a particular geographic area, use local search strategies to become the big fish in your small pond. When customers in your target area search for a business or services similar to yours, your company should be at the top of their results.
  3. SEO Marketing: Search engine optimization (SEO) studies how search engines rank their results and implements strategies to maximize exposure through this means. SEO marketing encompasses blogs, newsletters, website copy and design, and social media to drive higher rankings and awareness.
  4. WordPress CMS: Efficiently manage your online content using WordPress CMS (Content Management System), which offers one convenient location for organizing web pages, blog content, and search marketing. WordPress Plugins allow you to easily extend the features and functionality of your blog or website. Thousands of customization options allow you to improve your search engine optimization, develop a client portal for private information, and add display features such as widgets or navigation bars.
  5. Google Marketing: There are many ways to use Google’s SEO tools to increase your online visibility. Your business can run Google ads which are only shown to people who are searching for exactly what your company offers. It’s a great way to get big budget results with small budget costs.
  6. Social Media: All of your prospects and customers are already using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms every day. Your company can utilize social media marketing to engage with them every time they are online and become part of the conversation.

Your online marketing plan needs to take advantage of the most effective marketing tactics, and know which to gracefully avoid. Contact Search Engine Pros at 800-605-4988 and find out how wecan help your business compete more effectively online.

Happy Thanksgiving from Search Engine Pros!

Thanksgiving Marketing Tips

Santa Barbara Marketing Made Easy

Santa Barbara marketing firm with 100’s of testimonials…

If you are looking for Santa Barbara marketing services, Search Engine Pros are a local Santa Barbara marketing agency that helps local businesses generate awareness for their products and services.  This article submits a few reasons why it is critical to start marketing your Santa Barbara, Ca web site.

Grow your web presence. One campaign at a time.

1. Over 81% of consumers are now making purchasing decisions online. What that means to small businesses marketing Santa Barbara, Ca web sites is that this work is no longer optional. It’s critical to find someone you can trust to help with online target marketing.

2. Higher traffic levels means more phone calls. More phone calls means more sales. More sales means more love and happiness. Well not exactly but you get the point. End result? A bigger bottom line and more revenue for your company. That’s what online target marketing is all about. Marketing Santa Barbara, Ca web sites is crucial in today’s fast moving e-business climate.

3. Marketing Santa Barbara, Ca web sites is an excellent idea because of the potential for recouping dollars spent on building traffic. Web marketing and seo are a long term investment. What is the first thing an investor considers when buying a web site? The traffic levels!

Santa Barbara Web Marketing Team Testimonials
Santa Barbara Web Marketing Team Testimonials

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The SEO’s mission is to organize the client’s information and make it robotically accessible and profitable.

SEO is broken into two distinct buckets: “on page” factors and “off page” factors. On page factors include such items as: a website’s crawl-ability, internal linking, keyword selection and placement, meta tags, etc. Off page factors (which are far more important) include building link popularity (inbound links) into your website. There are over 250 factors that determine whether your website will rank on high on Google.

Marketing Santa Barbara, CA web sites via article marketing is likely to be one of the best strategies you can pursue. Article marketing is often referred to as educational marketing. If you have been looking into web site marketing, Santa Barbara, Ca – Search Engine Pros can help.

content strategy

How to Get the Most Out of the Internet Marketing Maze

The way companies market their products and services has changed over the last decade. To keep up with competitors in your industry, you need to figure out how to use cost-effective online marketing methods.

To someone who is just looking at online marketing for the first time, it may appear to be an overwhelming and confusing maze. There are plenty of wrong turns you can make, many  of which lead to a scary place with your online marketing strategy. The good news is that the Internet marketing maze is something you can perfect over time.

Here are some simple ways to maximize your Internet marketing strategy. The Internet marketing campaign tips below will help build your online presence.

Consider the Bigger Picture

As you start to build your online marketing approach, it’s very important that you consider the bigger picture and your extended plans. This is vital because your entire online presence needs to be cohesive and symmetrical. If you lack cohesiveness between different parts of your online presence, you’ll have a very difficult time trying to maximize your efforts.

 

Keep in mind that to truly dominate the Internet marketing maze, you’ll want to gear your approach in a way that will accommodate Google search engine algorithms. In being search engine optimized, otherwise known as SEO, with Google, you’ll greatly increase the likelihood of your customers and prospective clients coming across your online networks.

So how does the bigger picture and SEO come together? It’s quite simple.

SEO is measured through a variety of factors. Some of the most important elements include:

» Keywords placed throughout the website

» The name of the website

» Name, address and phone number of the business

» Social media accounts

» How polished the website coding is

When you consider all of these factors, you can see why it’s very important that you avoid switching around the name of your business. The more that you consider the bigger picture and plan for the future, the easier of a time you’ll have when it comes to navigating through the Internet marketing maze.

See what others doing

See What Others Are Doing

Another great way to find out what you should do for your Internet marketing campaign is to look to others and see what they’re doing. This will work if you have competition in your niche market that is successfully implementing its own Internet marketing campaign.

Some of your competitors’ online marketing techniques to observe include:

» How their website looks and is presented

» Which online resources they use, ie. FacebookTwitter, blog, etc.

» How they interact with their clients online

By seeing what works for your competition, you can narrow down the efforts that you effectively put in place for your own marketing approach. There is no time to waste when it comes to being a small business, so learning from the mistakes of your competition will help increase the likelihood of success.

Tailor Your Approach to Your Market

Keep in mind that every company is different. Even though it’s a great idea for you to look at your competition to see what they’re doing, that doesn’t mean  this should be something that you settle on. In other words, you may need to tailor your online networking approach to more directly market your clientele.

A prime example of this can be seen between two shoe companies. While both companies may borrow ideas from one another for most of their marketing techniques, the approach may change for Company A if they sell flip-flops, whereas Company B sells winter snow boots.

Another reason that you’ll want to tailor your approach for your specific market is because it will keep you and your audience more interested. Although you might come across, and want to share, a picture of a cute cat that has been shared a million times online, that doesn’t mean it’s something that your target market will take interest in. That’s why the companies that are most effective with the Internet marketing maze know exactly what it is that their audience wants to see. If you can do this, too, then you’ll notice much better results.

Track your results

Track Your Results

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make with their online marketing includes the failure to observe and track results. Some businesses will just put their market approach in place and assume that things will work. Even some companies that find success will fail to realize that they can change other parts of their approach to try to maximize things in the best way possible. The truth is that you will need to observe your efforts and track your results throughout the lifetime of your online marketing approach.

Change as necessary

Change As Necessary

As you track your results, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t for your online marketing campaign. For the things that work, consider keeping them in place to get the most results possible. However, you’ll want to change things that do not work in hopes of making them better. The more effective that you are with tweaking your system, the higher probability it is that you’ll have an inclusive Internet marketing approach that is successful.

If you’ve heard that marketing online is difficult, you aren’t totally off. But while it may be difficult to navigate your way through what seems like a hopeless maze, stay confident that there are certainly ways to be successful with enough hard work and effort. By following the tips mentioned here, you’ll be able to successfully start your approach at online marketing.

— Taylor Reaume is an e-Business coach and founder of Search Engine Pros. He can be contacted at taylor@thesearchenginepros.com, or 1.800.605.4988. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1 2