Excited about new updates to the Google My Business App but worried about the autonomy it provides your clients? Ben Fisher is here to show you how the new features can be used to build and showcase the value of local marketing.
Update: As of July 2022, the Google My Business App has been discontinued.
When Google My Business (GMB) launched in 2014, Google rolled out an unprecedented way of managing your Business Profile (which was, at the time, called Business Listing): along with the GMB dashboard they also released a mobile version of the app on Android as well. There was not a lot to it, initially: just a homepage, info page, and Insights page.
According to Google “Every month, Google connects people to businesses nearby more than 9 billion times, including over 1 billion phone calls and 3 billion direction requests to stores.” The GMB App was built for SMBs to easily manage their online business profiles with Google so they can do what they do best: run their businesses!
Needless to say, a lot has changed in Google My Business, and therefore the Google My Business App, in the last few years. The latest version brings a host of new features and really ties everything GMB together. Get your clients to download it in Google Play or the App Store if they haven’t already.
It’s at this point worth noting that Google has made it clear that the GMB App is intended for use by the business owner. It’s done this by ensuring that accounts that have access to an Agency Dashboard cannot have access to the GMB App. So use the suggestions below to both encourage your clients’ use of the GMB App and reap the rewards of more visible ROI!
When you land in the new GMB App, you are presented with the home tab. Everything you want to see at a glance is here.
So what’s new in Google My Business App v3.0?
- A simplified ‘Post’ button that allows business owners to add photos, as well as to use Google My Business Posts to create events, update special enticing offers and share deals or any other additional information onto its business profile. The really cool part about the new ‘Post’ button is that this is a new icon that can have expanded features in the future, which suggests more posting types are in the works. While this is a handy feature, the most successful Posts tend not to be written on the go and are instead formulated and designed as part of a wider marketing and promotions plan.
- A dedicated ‘Customer’ tab that allows businesses to see who follows their profile and keep track of messages from those who have messaged them from Maps, as well as to reply to reviews. Now that your clients can easily see who is following their Business Profile, they can have more confidence in the visibility of their GMB Posts, as each Post appears in the consumer’s “For You” section of the mobile maps app (and I predict these Posts will roll out to more Google surfaces in time). In the future, we could even see functionality here to manage bookings like a CRM.
- Almost any business information edit you could do via business.google.com can be done on mobile now. From within the profile tab, businesses can manage all their edits in real-time, across Search and Maps. From something as simple as the Google Business Profile business description to services offered. Although this does make updating a Google My Business profile pretty easy, you should make sure you educate your clients on the dangers of updating the profile themselves. Remind them that accidentally editing fields can force re-verification or lead to a listing suspension.
- There is also a free website creator that can build entrepreneurs a functioning business website within a few minutes. As has been mentioned on this site before, it’s definitely still worth your clients investing in a fully-functioned and well-branded local business website.
Note: There has been speculation that the GMB 3.0 app is signifying that Google is making another social play with GMB. I think this as far from the truth as possible. Yes, there is a ‘Follow’ feature, but this is a one way follow and used to push a message, not get a message shared out to a broader audience that can comment and share or like.
At the end of the business day, Google My Business has matured from a simple place to update your business profile on Google into a single source where agencies and SMBs can also handle reputation management and customer engagement. As we have seen GMB and Maps evolve at a rapid pace in the last year I think we will continue to see a doubling down of efforts from Google to prove a return to your clients, which will make your job as an agency indispensable!
The Introduction of the Customer Tab
The new ‘Customers’ tab allows your clients to see all reviews that they have received on Google. Additionally, there is a followers sub tab, where you and your clients can see who is following the brand. This is still an early feature but one I predict Google is going to invest further in.
As I mentioned above, you can’t follow users back, but what is nice about this is you can tell your client that they should encourage customers to follow their business profile on Google Maps so that clients can see specials or offers via Google My Business Posts.
What about Google My Business Messaging?
This will be the year of messaging for Google My Business. It is very easy to implement for your clients, and perfect for the millennial generation. I can see messages getting more mature, potentially even tying into the booking feature one day.
Just think about how easy it is to for a user to simply message your client, ask a few questions via Maps or text and then ask for an appointment. It is a frictionless environment that, again, keeps the user in a Google surface.
At the end of the day, it’s also a fantastic way to show value/ROI to your clients.
In this example of messaging you see both ways of getting messages. The old text-based way and the new app-based way.
Google Messages started rolling out testing of messages in November of 2016, and in July of 2017 it was officially launched.
The launch of messaging allowed a business to enter a cell phone number and get a text message from a user that visit their GMB profile on mobile. Recently, there has been a small change to the message tab in the web-based version of Google My Business and this change coincided with the GMB Mobile App 3.0. If you did not enable messaging before, now you are prompted to download the GMB Mobile App!
What this means is that your clients will now have an easy way to get to all their clients’ chats, versus having to look through tons of text messages.
The other nice aspect to the latest version of Google My Business is that there are more real-time notifications of new reviews and messages to drag you back into the app. Google wants you to spend time on your profile, so they are naturally going to provide valuable things for you to see and do. I predict we will see even more of this in 2019. I also predict that you will start to get notifications about how your posts and profile are doing.
What do you make of the Google My Business app? Is it putting too much power in the hands of your clients or are you happy for them to have a way to see the ROI of your work more visibly? I’d be interested to hear what you think in the comments below.