A local approach to driving local business, with a worldwide platform.
For years, consumer finance services have relied on customers to consistently walk through the front door of physical locations. But the economic landscape of the past decade and, in particular, over the last few years has upended the status quo of how consumer behavior in general works. Ninety-two percent of online search traffic is conducted to research potential purchases, 46 percent of all searches have local intent, and searches for services “near me” have skyrocketed by 900 percent. As potential customers increasingly turn to digital channels to find products and services, it’s time for consumer finance companies to step-change their digital game to find the right customers.
Current consumer finance companies need to be present and as up-to-date online as possible to improve customer loyalty[amsive_tooltip term=”customer-loyalty”]. With the disruption of schedules by lockdowns, working at home becoming more prevalent, and most consumers changing their shopping behavior since early 2020, these companies can directly implement strategies to improve visibility when consumers need online answers. Perhaps nothing improves a local consumer finance company’s digital standing than what is known as a Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business.
Establishing a GBP Presence
In Google’s words, a GBP is “an easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To help customers find your business, and to tell them your story, you can verify your business and edit your business information.” Per Amsive Digital: “Google has clearly indicated, over and over again, how committed they are to enhancing the visibility of…Google My Business.”
It’s a small but monumental component of a business’s search engine[amsive_tooltip term=”search-engine”] presence. In fact, 64 percent percent of consumers have used GBP to find contact details for a business. Consumer finance decision-makers should care if their services are not showing up on local Google searches or Google Maps via GBPs because these avenues are one of the first places potential customers look for up-to-date information about specific locations. Failing to create, accurately fill out, or update a listing leaves customers frustrated, confused, and potentially second-guessing certain businesses.
Done correctly, GBPs offer a significant benefit to impression shares and business expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness — especially consumer finance services that are specifically dependent on traffic in their local areas. The problem is that not enough businesses take full advantage.
Here are five steps to take to optimize GBPs.
1. Establish Business Categories and Convenience Factors
Customers are nearly three times more likely to see your business as reputable and 70 percent more likely to actually visit a location if a GBP is complete and accurate. But everyone has to start somewhere. Start off with the various basic fields in the GBP format. These include:
- Phone Number
- Weekly Business Hours
Businesses can then choose up to 10 categories, which are the true foundation of the profile. Businesses should be specific and as accurate as possible without overdoing the descriptive details. The goal is to utilize the essential aspects of the business, not amenities. For example, a hair salon might choose a primary category as a hair salon, but they can choose 9 secondary categories if applicable, such as barbershop, beauty salon, hair extension technician, nail salon, hair removal service, and so on.
These building blocks allow Google to connect with consumer needs to make the business as convenient to find as possible.
2. Pinpoint the Right Attributes and Highlights
Once you’ve established your business’s primary categories, Google provides a list of factual attributes to elaborate. These are typically descriptors that customers would potentially seek, but also highlightable features of the business that customers would find informative.
- Does this business take online appointments?
- Do they offer wifi?
- Is the location wheelchair accessible?
- Do they require masks due to COVID-19 precautions?
- Do they have restrooms?
- What payment options do they accept?
These granular details increase the chance that a business will show up in more specific searches at the local level.
3. Maintain Accurate Q&As
Treat the question and answer section like a typical FAQ, but one that elaborates on the local conveniences of the business. Be sure to include answers to questions that would be the deciding factors to compel potential customers to choose your company.
For example, consumer finance services could include answers about application processes, basic loan approval details, and any common limitation questions customers would have about their services.
The section should be constantly monitored because it is ideally in flux. Not only can business owners set up each intuitive Q&A entry and upvote them to remain at the top of the section, but any user can ask a question or answer on a Google Business Profile as well.
4. Manage and Respond to Customer Reviews
Consumer finance services may assume they should sit back and hope that their clients and customers give them good reviews of their experiences. But much like Q&As, the user-generated review section is ideally constantly evolving.
Such an open-ended public platform may seem like a risk. But businesses can utilize the reviews section to build trust and credibility by actively responding to customer reviews, whether positive or negative. Google also considers a mix of positive and negative comments as a sign that a business is more trustworthy, so a good mix is key to ranking in searches via the GBP.
5. Cultivate an Ongoing Strategy
This isn’t just a set it and forget it situation. Be sure to keep all listings up-to-date and consistent across platforms and within a GBP to maximize the opportunity. The events of the past few years have catapulted GBPs into the marketing spotlight. Whereas before, seemingly minor details like business hours were relatively stable and predictable. Nowadays, that’s not always the case, given that public health orders, and opening and closings, are changing so rapidly. Consequently, consumer finance services have to immediately communicate any changes in working hours and health protocols to customers.
Like any comprehensive SEO[amsive_tooltip term=”search-engine-optimization”] strategy, tackling a GBP should be an ongoing process. Conveying accurate and top-quality information that simultaneously establishes legitimacy will connect potential customers to the best businesses that can provide for their needs.