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The Ultimate Guide for Taking Full Control of Your Google Business Profile and NMX

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The Ultimate Guide for Taking Full Control of Your Google Business Profile and NMX

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Ready for a deep dive into 40+ common features found on Google Business Profiles (GBPs) and the New Merchant Experience (NMX)? Here we go!

You may feel daunted by the fact that GBPs are major assets you rent from rather than owning because Google has always taken a crowdsourced approach to vital information that represents your company. You may also be disgruntled right now because you had gotten used to managing your listings in the historic Google Business Profile Manager dashboard, like this:

And now Google has ousted you from the familiar dashboard and tossed you into the chilly, unfamiliar pool of in-SERP listings management which we’re calling the New Merchant Experience and which looks like this:

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You might rightly remark that major change was the last thing you needed right now as a local business owner or marketer. But, deep down, you know you’re going to have to get the hang of this sometime, and this column is here to help you with that. After all, with estimates as high as 70% – 80% of local business leads happening right within Google’s interface, you can’t ignore GBP. Instead, you’ve got to learn to control every bit of it that you can. This article will take you through the most common features of these listings, explain what you can and can’t control on them, and teach you how to manage controllable features in the NMX.

If, after reading this cheat sheet, you find you just can’t stand the clutter of trying to manage your listings via the NMX amid the crowded organic SERPs, remember that listings management software like Moz Local still offers the niceties of a clean, organized dashboard for those who require a quieter workspace.

Core features on most Google Business Profiles and NMX interfaces

There is significant variation of Google Business Profile and NMX features based on business industry and category. For example, hotel listings have elements that aren’t included in listings for plumbers or grocery stores. Google is continually experimenting with new features while demoting others. This section will cover some of the commonest elements available to most businesses.

Before we look at our graphic and key, it will help you to know that you can access the New Merchant Experience by searching within Google’s organic SERPs for the name of your business, or the name of your business + its city, or for the phrase “my business” while logged into your Google account.

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1. See Photos

When clicked on, this takes the user to both owner and user-generated photos in a set. Photos significantly impact CTR. Photos must be monitored for spam. You can also upload videos to your photos section, but try to post more than 2 videos so that you’ll get a separate mobile video subtab. It’s also important to know that previous versions of Google’s local product offered an analytical feature called “Photo Insights” but this no longer exists in the NMX.

Controllable?

Partly — photos are both an owner and crowdsourced element.

Where to control?

By clicking on the “Add Photo” link in the listing or the NMX, you will be taken to the following wizard for uploading different types of photos.

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If you wish to view all your photos for the purpose of identifying user-uploaded spam, click on the image, itself, in the listing, rather than the “add photos” link, and you will be taken to the interface where you can both see and flag photos.

2. Maps

When clicked on, this takes the user to the Maps-based listing accompanied by map with pin. Be sure your map marker is correctly placed.

Controllable?

Partly — owner can correct misplaced map marker, but users can submit placement edits, too.

Where to control?

If your map pin is in the wrong place, click on the “Edit Profile” link in the new interface, then click the “Location” tab at the top of the “Business Information” pop-up, then click on the map.

3. See Outside

When clicked on, this takes the public to an interactive Google Street View visual of the business. When you are logged in, clicking on the feature takes you to this interface for uploading your own exterior imagery:

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Controllable?

Partly — the owner can upload their own exterior shots, but cannot control StreetView. You can flag issues.

Where to control?

Click on the “see outside” section of the Google Business Profile to upload photos.

4. Business name

This must reflect the real-world name of the business and be formatted according to Google’s guidelines. If you’re marketing a service area business like a plumbing franchise without storefronts, your name should match what appears on your website.

Controllable?

Yes — the business owner provides, though the public can suggest edits to this feature.

Where to control?

In the NMX, click the Edit Profile link and mouse over your name in this popup to edit it in the About section:

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5. Website

This link takes you to whichever page of your website you’ve designated as the Google Business Profile landing page.

Controllable?

Yes — owner provides, though the public can edit.

Where to control?

In the NMX, click the Edit Profile link and mouse over your name in this popup to edit it in the Location section:

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6. Directions

This link takes you to the maps-based driving directions from the user’s location to the place of business.

Controllable?

No. This experience is created by Google. However, see earlier advice if you need to move your map pin.

7. Save

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When a user is logged into their Google account, clicking the “Save” button brings up the above pop-up, enabling them to store the business in their favorites or other areas like places they want to go or are planning to travel to.

Controllable?

No — Businesses do not control whether customers utilize the “Save” function.

8. Call

On mobile devices, clicking the “call” button automatically triggers a phone call to the business. On desktop, it brings up this popup asking the user to pick an app with which to start the call.

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Controllable?

No — beyond ensuring that your phone number is accurate, this is not an area controlled by the business.

9. Star Rating

Google uses a simple mathematical average to calculate the overall rating of a business on the basis of all the star ratings reviewers have given the business. The star rating is considered the #1 review factor that customers use to differentiate one local business from another.

Controllable?

No — businesses cannot directly control or alter the star ratings they receive. Providing excellent customer experiences is the best way to earn the kind of reputation that results in a high Google Business Profile star rating.

10. Review Count

This is a simple count of the total number of Google-based reviews the business has received. Surveys indicate that consumers can become suspicious when any local business has either too few or too many reviews compared to its competitors. When clicked on, the review count takes the user to the main review overlay, which we will cover in full below.

Controllable?

No — the business cannot directly alter the count of its reviews, but can implement a review acquisition program to increase its total number of reviews over time.

11. Editorial Summary

This is one of the more diverse elements of the GBP. In our initial example, a common format is shown of Google taking the primary category and combining it with location information, like this, near the top of the listing:

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However, other iterations may also be considered editorial summaries, including this example which cites a third party like Wikipedia and may appear further down in the listing:

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And there is at least one other version that may appear within the reviews section of the listing, specifically cite Google as the originator of the summary, like this:

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The nomenclature for these elements is loose, and Google may well have unique internal names for all three instances.

Controllable?

Partly — in the case where the primary category is included in the summary along with location information, the business is contributing the information that yields that summary, and in the case of well-known entities that have control of a Wikipedia page, there would be some editorial control built into the source from which Google is deriving the description, but overall, it is Google who generates these summaries.

12. Further Directional Cues

This is a feature which only appears on some Google Business Profiles. In this example, the user is being given information about the walking distance to nearby major local attractions with embedded links to those venues.

Controllable?

No, but do be sure your map pin is correctly located so that Google can easily identify whether your business is located near to local attractions.

13. Address

For brick-and-mortar businesses, this line must display a genuine, physical address that complies with Google’s extensive guidelines. For service area businesses that don’t serve customers at the company’s premises, Google wants the address to be hidden, and instead of showing a street address, an “area served” section like this will typically be shown:

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Controllable?

Yes — brick-and-mortar business owners provide their address, though the public can suggest edits to it. Google has a dedicated page of instructions regarding listing and editing addresses.

Where to control?

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From the NMX, click on “Edit Profile” and then the “Location” tab to edit your address. This is also where the toggle is located to hide or display your address.

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For service area businesses, the place to edit your information is also located in the “Location” tab of the NMX. You can add up to 20 locations describing your service area, but its overall boundaries shouldn’t extend beyond about 2 hours of driving time.

14. Hours of operation

One of the key ways in which Google Business Profiles provide customer service is via the presence of accurate hours of operation. Be sure yours are kept up-to-date at all times, so no customer is inconvenienced by arriving at your premises to be greeted by a “closed” sign.

Controllable?

Yes — businesses add their hours, though the public can edit them. Businesses can also set special hours for holidays.

Where to control?

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From the NMX, click on “Edit Profile” and then the “hours” tab to edit your information. You will also find a feature there for adding further special hours:

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15. Phone

You can add a primary phone numbers and additional phone numbers to your listing. Google prefers that you use a local phone number rather than a call center helpline whenever possible, and they want your listed number to be in the direct control of your business. Your number can be either a landline or cell phone number, and it’s a best practice to be sure that whatever number you list is answered by staff who say the name of the business when they pick up. It’s not a good practice to have more than one business share the same phone number. For example, if you own both a Christmas tree farm and a woodworking studio on the same property and are listing each business separately, each business should have it’s own phone number. Premium-rate telephone numbers that charge callers high rates aren’t allowed.

Controllable? Yes — the business lists their numbers, but the public can suggest edits to them.

Where to control?

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In the NMX, click “Edit Profile” and then “Contact” to see and edit your phone numbers. Related to this, the NMX also has a button labeled “Call”. When clicked on, this button will ask you if you want to enable Google’s call history feature, which you can read more about here:

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16. Further Location Information

In our example, Google is providing additional location information. Some listings will have a province or county listed in this area. Others will have a different special feature called “located in” that can appear when a business or department is contained within another entity, like the parts department inside an automotive dealership:

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Controllable?

Partly — the information about your province or county relates to the physical address you provide, but the separate “located in” feature can only be edited via Google Maps. If you wish to edit this feature, find your listing on Google Maps, click the “suggest an edit” button, and look for the “located within” area of the editor:

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17. Suggest an edit

This function is available to any member of the public who wishes to suggest an edit to the listing. For example, an individual can let Google know they think your address, or hours of operation, or phone number is wrong.

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Controllable?

No. Unfortunately, the suggest an edit feature is a cause of confusion and stress for many local business owners who have no control over whether or not members of the public suggest edits to listings. The difficulty of the scenario is summed up well by this Diamond Product Expert in Google’s help forum:

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18. Own this business?

If you see this link on a listing, you either haven’t claimed the listing in question or are not logged into the account you used to claim the listing. Claiming a listing is the terminology for verifying with Google that you are authorized to take control of the management of a listing for a specific business. If, however, you are logged in properly and have already claimed the listing, you should see this link, instead:

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Controllable?

Yes — you can claim listings you have the authority to represent and once you have claimed them, you can use the edit link to be taken to the NMX to edit your listing at any time.

19. Products

You can greatly enhance your listing by adding products to it representing key offerings in your inventory. These can be physical products, like retail goods, digital products, like software, or intangible products, like home services. You can add a price, description, buttons, and links for more information.

Controllable?

Yes — you can add products.

Where to control?

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In the NMX, click “Edit Products” then click, “Add product” to be taken to the product editor.

20. Questions & Answers

Businesses are permitted to use this feature to upload questions they commonly receive and answer them. The public can also ask questions and answer the queries others have submitted. It’s important to continuously monitor this area of the GBP to be sure that questions from the public are receiving timely, authoritative answers from your brand, rather than random answers from the public which may or may not accurately reflect the business.

Controllable?

Partly — you can ask and answer questions but the public can also both ask and answer.

Where to control?

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To add and answer questions, click the “Q&A” link in the NMX and you’ll be taken to this interface where you can either ask or answer questions.

21. Reviews

Reviews and owner responses are some of the key features that turn a static local business listing into an interactive two-way medium. For deep insight into the best strategies for review management, read The Impact of Local Business Reviews on Consumer Behavior | SEO Industry Report, but in brief, reviews are the main online seat of local business reputation, they influence local search rankings, and ratings, review text, and owner responses all have significant impacts on customer journeys. To avoid reputation damage and litigation, all review management practices must align with platform guidelines, like Google’s content guidelines, as well as the laws, like FTC guidelines, governing your country.

Controllable?

Partly — you can request reviews and respond to reviews, but you cannot control whether customers leave you reviews and you are not permitted to review your own business or incentives others to do so. Fraudulent reviews can be reported to Google in hopes of removal.

Where to control?

The NMX has several different menu items related to reviews, including “read reviews” and “ask for reviews”. Clicking on the former will take you to the entire review overlay, with “reply” functionality so that you can respond to each review or rating you receive:

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Clicking on the latter will take you to a popup that generates a handy link to your review profile, with prompts to share that link via vehicles like email, WhatsApp or Facebook:

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22. Updates (formerly known as Google Posts)

This feature is like a microblogging function located directly within your Google Business profile. It enables you to post new content to your listing on a regular business.

Controllable?

Yes, most business types (with some exceptions) can write updates.

Where to control?

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Click the “add update” link in the NMX and you’ll be shown three types of posts you can write: updates, offers, and events. The first lets you add an image, a description, and a linked button and will stay live for six months before being archived. The second includes all these fields, plus a date range setting for the period in which your offer is live, and additional informational fields to further explain the terms of your offer. The third type includes fields for information like when your event starts and ends. Some listings may also feature discontinued post types.

23. People Also Search For

This is one of those areas that makes it clear that local business rent space from Google rather than owning it. Chances are, if you owned your Google Business Profile, you wouldn’t feature your competitors on it, but this is just what Google does.

Controllable?

No — you have no control over which competitors Google shows in this section of your listing.

Additional GBP and NMX Features

Some business categories have unique Google Business Profile features or elements we haven’t yet covered. The New Merchant Experience also includes some other functions we’ve yet to explore. Let’s dive back in!

Categories

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Categories may be the most important feature that you control when it comes to the search phrases you want to rank for, and categories also determine many of the fields you’ll have in your Google Business profile. Your primary category may appear on its own near the top of your GBP, but it also may appear as part of your editorial summary. In order to see all of your categories live, you have to head over to Google Maps. There, by using a Chrome extension like GMBSpy, you can see all the categories both you and your competitors are using.

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Controllable? Yes — businesses can choose primary and secondary categories.

Where to control? Click on “Edit Profile” in the NMX and edit your categories under the “About” tab.

Attributes

This is an experimental area of GBPs to which Google is always adding so that both businesses and the public can further define the characteristics of the business. Attributes can include information about who owns the business, or amenities, such as whether a building has gender-neutral restrooms, or protocols, such as whether an appointment is required to visit a business, or layout information, such as the presence of wheelchair-accessible entrances.

Controllable? Partly — businesses can add a great many attributes by clicking the “Business Information” tab in the NMX and then going to the “More” section. However, Google also crowdsources attributes from the public.

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Description

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Local businesses can write a 750 character description of themselves.

Price Summary

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Some business listings display a pricing overview of 1-4 dollar signs.

Controllable?

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Controllable?

Unknown – Google asks reviewers to evaluate the prices they’ve paid at businesses, as seen above. There has been past debate over whether the prices published by local businesses on their digital menus influence these attributes, but Diamond Product Expert Ben Fisher has confirmed with Google that these elements stem entirely from UGC.

Menu links

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Google offers a variety of menu options for businesses. Food and drink businesses have a standard menu that can link to a page on their website or a third-party platform, and menus can be created within Google itself, including menus with photos added to them. Additionally, some businesses can create service menus in Google.

Controllable?

Yes — where relevant, businesses can create or link to menus of goods and services.

Where to control?

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With thanks to Damian Rollison, logged in owners of food and drink establishments should see edit menu links in the NMX, as shown above.

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Businesses offering a menu of services can edit them under the “Edit Services” link in the NMX, including adding custom services.

Booking

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Businesses can feature several different booking and appointment functions on their listings, powered by a provider. For example, this instance on the listing of a dental practice stems from ZocDoc:

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Controllable? Yes, relevant businesses can add booking and appointment features.

Where to control?

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With thanks to Petra Kraft for the screenshot, applicable businesses should see a booking button in the NMX, as shown above. Businesses wishing to enable booking and appointment features must follow these instructions and can learn more about the Reserve With Google system here. Also pictured here is the “Waitlists” function tied to the Reserve with Google program for managing queues of potential diners.

See what’s in store

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The See What’s In Store feature shows up on the Google Business Profiles of companies that have integrated the Pointy device into their point of sales system.

Controllable? Yes, if you are in the US, UK, CA, IE, or AU, have an appropriate point of sales system, and vend items with standard barcodes, you can apply to become part of this program.

Where to control? Google’s documentation states that, depending on how you signed up to be part of their See What’s in Store program, you will either be managing your inventory directly via Pointy or within your Google Business Profile.

Order online

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Some GBPs may feature an order online button . When clicked on, it brings up a list comprised of the brand as well as third-party services that facilitate taking digital payments in exchange for goods that can then be picked up or delivered.

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Controllable? Partly — business owners can opt into this, but there has been considerable controversy over the years about whether third-party providers in the delivery business are more of a bane or blessing to local brands, and whether or not its right for Google to promote these types of services on GBPs.

Reviews from the web

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This features a rating summary and links to relevant third-party review sources, determined by Google.

Controllable?

Partly — owners can’t dictate which 3rd parties Google chooses, but they can work to build up positive reviews on featured sources.

Profiles

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Google business profiles can feature icon-based links to major social media sites where the company has established a presence.

Controllable? No — there is no field in the NMX for adding your social media profiles, but best practice advice is to be sure they are featured on your website so that Google can easily associate them with the business.

Popular times

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This Google Business Profile information is drawn from users who have opted into Google Location History. It’s meant to help users plan visits. It’s conceivable that this could be utilized as a ranking factor.

Controllable?

No.

Chat/Messaging

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This feature enables customers to leave messages for businesses and receive responses.

Controllable? Yes — businesses can choose to opt into this.

Where to control? Google’s branding of this feature is messy. In the NMX it is labeled Messages, but when opting into the program, you will be shown a popup asking if you want to turn on “chat”, and customers will see buttons labeled “chat”. You can read more about this feature here.

Performance

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The performance tab in the NMX takes you to the analytics data historically known as Insights. This is where Google reports on how the public is interacting with your listing.

Controllable? No — apart from changing the date ranges in this interface, this is not data you can edit.

Advertise

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This link in the NMX takes you to where you can sign up to run paid advertising.

Controllable: Yes — local businesses can opt into Google Ads.

Admission

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Some attractions feature admissions information on the Google Business Profile, with price comparisons for tickets.

Controllable? Not directly, though attractions can be sure pricing information is clear on their websites. This is a controversial feature, because Google states the following:

“Tickets are ranked based on several factors, but mainly by price. Official tickets are given preference in the ranking. Ticket suppliers don’t pay Google to appear in these search results and can’t pay to influence their ranking. Prices are based on standard adult entry and may vary depending on the specific ticket types, dates or eligibility for other discounts. Displayed currencies may differ from the currencies used to purchase tickets.

However, as can be seen in my above example of the GBP of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, the official website of the attraction is being outranked in the Admissions results by an entity that is not official and is also more expensive, contrary to Google’s statement of how this feature should work.

Experiences

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Some Google Business Profiles may included nearby experiences. This screenshot is also from the GBP of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, and is displaying other things to do in Golden Gate Park.

Controllable? No — this information is provided by Google, not the business owner.

Opening date

It has been some time since I have seen an opening date featured on a GBP, though I frequently spot them in local pack results, but businesses do have the ability to tell Google the month and year in which they were founded.

Controllable? Yes — businesses can provide this information.

Where to control?

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In the NMX, click on “Edit Profile” and then click on “Contact” to find the field for adding your founding date.

Lodging listings

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Hotel profiles are unique to the point of being almost a different style of Google listing. They feature many distinct elements including price comparison, environmental practices, availability-based booking, and other features.

Controllable?

Mostly — owners have a variety of features they can enable and manage, though Google pulls in many elements from third parties including the public.

Where to Control? Hospitality marketers should familiarize themselves with these guidelines from Google.

Summing it up

Hopefully, this guide will act as a trusty flotation device the next time you need to manage something in your Google Business Profile via the New Merchant Experience. What I’ve learned from writing it is that if you click around long enough in the NMX, you can find most things, with a few exceptions like those that have been noted by friends like Damian Rollison and the good folks over at BrightLocal and Online Ownership.

This column has covered what the main features are and where to control them, but if you’re ready to move on to making the most of each element, read the popular Beginner’s Guide to Google Business Profiles for optimization and marketing tips. If you want to understand where GBPs fit within the larger framework of local search marketing, read The Essential Local SEO Strategy Guide for nine chapters of free, expert advice. Or, if you feel you’d benefit from investing in a more guided experience, consider registering for our video-based Local SEO Certification. Google will just keep changing – that’s a guarantee! Our best strategy, then, is to embrace continuing education. With determination and knowledge, we can all swim these laps for the win!



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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

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MARKETING

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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MARKETING

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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