Google My Business Messaging Guide for Veterinary Practices

Since July of 2017, Google has been rolling out a new feature called, Google My Business Messaging. Leading experts have been reporting that the platform started rolling out back in July and the program itself was in a beta/pilot program since November of 2016.

What is Google My Business Messaging?

The messaging feature for Google My Business is very similar to Yelp’s messaging feature. It allows users to be able contact the business directly by messaging the business, which provides some flexibility if users don’t want to call.

Like Yelp, the feature tells users the typical response time for messages which can help push the potential patients to send a quick message before they come in.

What Does It Look Like?

When users search for your business what they will see is a message option. This will show up next to the Call, Directions and Website icons that were always there.


When the business starts to respond to more messages and get enough data to have an average response time, users will then be able to see a gray bar at the bottom signifying the average response time.

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How Does Google My Business Messaging Work?

Google My Business works by connecting the platform with a phone number. You can use it with your normal SMS application on your phone. You can also use it with Allo or App Preview Messages.

To be completely honest I have no idea what App Preview Messages is and it seems like many people in the community have no idea either. So my recommendation is to stick with your normal SMS application.

Messages are sent to the phone number registered and you can respond messages there as well.

You can also set an automatic welcome message for users when they message you.

Google-My-Business-Messaging

Only Occurs With Mobile Branded Search

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Through our tests, the feature is not readily available for Desktop and only on Mobile.

The option for messaging still only shows up when users look for your business/brand. What this means is that when users type in queries like “veterinarians”, the feature will not show on the search page.

However, if the user finds your Google My Business page, they then can access the feature.

The feature only shows up on the search page if the user is looking for your practice specifically.

Messaging Potential Patients

Managing messages is fairly easy. It’s the same as texting your friends or family. Below you can see a simulation of a test we did with the system.

gmb-messaging-from-business

As you can see, the conversation starts with Google notifying you that a customer is inquiring. Then on the left side with the Purple Icon is the business and on the right is the consumer.

For the basis of the test, I used the Google app Allo. I have it because my family uses it as our group chat. However, documentation shows that users can also use their generic SMS application.

Editing the Phone Number for Messaging

Now I have some good news and bad news. The good news is you can use any number for Google Messaging. That means you are not tied down to the business number or you can assign the number to the receptionist.

Here’s the bad news: You can only assign one number to the messaging platform.

That’s right.

The messages can only go to one number which causes many operational issues. In an ideal world, different individuals could have access to the system and monitor messages.

For now, there doesn’t seem to be a fix, but we’ll keep this page updated if anything changes.

Using Messaging on Desktop

Google My Business messaging seems to be strictly on Mobile, however, there is one alternative. If you use the app, Google Allo, you can use the system on Desktop.

By using the web app, Google Allo, your messages will be available through your browser. Then you can monitor your messages through the computer, which is a little bit more organized and easier to organize.

Here’s what it looks like from the desktop side

allo-on-computer

As you can see, with a side panel of messages and the actual messages on the right side, managing the messages is much easier.

How to Get Started with Google My Business Messaging

Not everyone has access to the feature just yet. You’ll have to log into your Google My Business account and if you have access your dashboard should like below:

signing-up-for-gmb-messaging

You’ll notice that you can see messaging both on the left panel and on the main panel. If you don’t see it then it means that the feature has not been rolled out to you just yet.

If you click any of these, you will then be asked to fill in the phone number you’d like to use for messaging. Once you do so, Google will text you a verification code.

It’s a simple process that should take you less than 30 seconds.

Google Messaging Still Not Available for Everyone

Google has announced that it is rolling out the feature for every Google My Business. However, it seems like a very slow roll out with absolutely no patterns.

When checking verticals, experts say that it seems to be at random.

Even for our own agency, none of our veterinarians have the feature just yet. Which explains why we are using a taco caterer to demo the feature.

We encourage practices to check their Google My Business pages to see if they can activate the feature.

 

Marketing is Failing Often and Failing Fast

Recently I’ve been watching this show called Rick and Morty. If you don’t know what it is, it’s like Back to the Future mixed with Family Guy. I say that because the show airs on Adult Swim and is clearly not meant for children. There are two protagonists, a foul-mouthed, uncaring mad scientist grandfather by the name of Rick and an uncomfortably awkward, noble 14-year-old kid named Morty. Well just like Back to the Future, Rick and Morty often travel through space, interdimensional, and sometimes through time.

Naturally, the typical plot arises. Rick and Morty go to these different timelines with the knowledge that could alter the past and future. Of course, it starts to make you think about yourself. If there were five words you could say to the past version of yourself, what would you say? Marketing is a big aspect of my life and I spend most of my days trying to learn more and more. However, whenever you are committed to something you will also become insecure. It’s normal. When I got to thinking about what I could tell myself when I was  in my early days starting this career, I’d tell myself,

“Embrace failure. It’s going to happen and the more you do it the better you will become.”

The sentiment of this message is actually quite common and popular now. You’ll find it uttered by most entrepreneurs who are interviewed about their success. I can’t tell you how many times I heard it when I was going to school, sitting through all the different guest speakers who came to campus. What I think isn’t conveyed though is the degree of failure. When you say the word failure, you often think of a big fat red F on an elementary school test. Then you start to think of inferiority and lack of worth. It then seeps internally as you worry about whether or not you as a person are a failure. All the goals that you had set, how many did you not attain?

Well, pull yourself out of that. You are, not a failure.

What you need to realize is that when people talk about failure, it doesn’t mean catastrophic, end of the world failure. It means little mistakes and hiccups that occur on the road. Maybe its sending an email to the wrong person, saying the wrong thing 8at the wrong time in a meeting. Yes, catastrophic failures will occur as well, but the little ones also teach you a lot. You have to make sure that you are mindful and asking yourself about these little mistakes and failures. How can you adjust, what can you do better, what did the other party do to cause you to commit that mistake?

I’ve blogged about it so much, but I think this topic helps round out a common message I’ve given to those who are conducting marketing campaigns. Stop trying to be perfect. You cannot anticipate all the road bumps, angry customers, and mistimed execution. All you can do is get started and when little obstacles trip you up, get up, take a note and keep going. Digital Marketing is failing often and failing fast.

Follow the Narrative

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I was driving into work today and ESPN was discussing a rather interesting topic. Many of their reporters are also their broadcasters or radio personalities. What was being discussed was the viability of UFC and if the sport needed its stars more than the stars needed the league. It was brought up that many reporters who write about certain sports will tend to follow narratives. They gravitate towards certain players’ rise or journey or in Football ‘s case, they discuss the tradition and hardship of the city.

It got me to thinking. Many of these sporting leagues thrive under the stories they tell or how they handle their marketing. As an avid fan of the NBA, I can tell you that the league definitely follows individual stars rather than a team itself. Now I can’t say which method is better or not, but all I can say is that in the NBA’s case, the route they picked for themselves worked. They used a style of following individuals that fans can relate to. The figures that make people feel inspired or just awestruck. That’s why sometimes you’ll hear on broadcasts, they talk about some players being marketable or not.

Marketing isn’t About the Product. It’s About the Receiver.

This all reminded me of a topic that I learned back in school and when I was in college trying to read as many marketing articles as I could find. Marketing needs to revolve around things people can relate to. Marketing isn’t about the product or the service, what it is about is how it can benefit the customer, how it will make them have a better life. It can make them feel happier, sexier, confident, and so on.

When it comes to digital marketing for your business, discussing the attributes of a product is great. At the end of the day, you need to be sharing what sets your product apart from the competing ones in the market. To do that though doesn’t mean you just talk about the competitive advantage itself. You need to translate it into what kind of benefit it will bring to the customer’s life. Translate success.

Write that narrative. People love stories and many people love their own story. Make sure that your product or business can be a part of their story and that your product can do that for them.

 

 

90% of It is Being Present

While I was still in college, I was at an entrepreneurial conference that was held for university students. It was called CEO and it was all about inspiring students to really go at that start-up life. I remember at one of these sessions I was listening to a senior discuss what had helped him be successful. He had started a college start-up that helped men deliver gifts to their girlfriends. I know right, a college senior WOULD create a business like that.30

Anyways, one of the things that he mentioned to us was the concept of being present. He said that 90% of it is being there. It’s so easy to stay in bed and make up every different excuse not to go somewhere. The real success though is making that effort to leave your door and be present. Its been some years since I heard those words, but man has they rung true. Especially in Digital Marketing.

Being Present in Marketing

In marketing, we are plagued with many problems. One of those things includes gaining someone’s attention. We often cannot get attention because we ask for it only when we need it. That isn’t the best recipe. It’s like when a door to door salesman comes to sell you something. They don’t know you, you don’t know them and they are there really only to sell you something. That is it.

Of course, sometimes this works. Especially when the salesman happens to offer something of incredible value that you may need at the time. However, when thousands of companies and millions of salesmen and marketers are vying for your attention, its harder to get that lucky.  It’s the same reason why major sportswear companies like Nike hire athletes to market their brand. It’s because as consumers, we trust those athlete’s decisions.

Here is whereas a business you need to learn to be present. You have to locate places where you can add value. Maybe it’s at a local Chamber of Commerce, an online forum or a social media chat. Here’s where that college senior’s advice ring true. You have to be present, which is 90% of the success. If you expect to go in guns blazing, trying to sell your product in forums and chats where people don’t know you, you are likely to get burned.

You need to put in the work before. Be present, put in that 90%. Go to those located targets earlier and don’t sell. Participate in the conversation and be present.

Get in the Habit of Looking for Collaboration

Collaboration is the word that we all heard as Freshman in college. You know, being in those common rooms or classes and being taught that if we all hold hands, we can change the world. Well however, naive you think that is or if you still believe it, there is definitely some business success that comes from collaboration.

Marketing Collaboration is a Great Way to Grow Your Audience

Collaboration leverages the power of Word of Mouth. Thousands and millions of companies are out there. Everyone is trying to be unique and stand out. Well as a business owner you are an equal player with your own expertise. There are other businesses who are experts in other areas. At the end of the day though, they are trying to grow their audience and customer base.

It can be as simple as a Internet hosting company working with a web design company on creating joint content. Of course, you’d like things to go just beyond a simple advertising relationship. What is best is if your the hosting company asked the web design company to step in and be a guest on their blog/podcast or seminar. Offer advice on what businesses should prepare for they build their site or what to avoid.

It’s that simple.

You Don’t Have to Look Too Far to See This Collaboration

Go through your albums and songs. Go look at how many of those songs are collaborated. I recently have been addicted to the new Kanye West album, The Life of Pablo. And no joke, he features over 10 artists on this album. Yet here’s where I want to quell initial fears. Collaboration is stopped by insecurity of a business to be shown up by how good other businesses are.

Now let’s go back to Mr. West. Saving any of your preconceived notions of the man, he is in the discussion for best rapper. There are other great peers, but he is in the discussion. Now, with someone as so concerned about himself,  you’d think he be guarded. But no, Kanye features a multitude of artists to help him create even better music.

Kanye is Kanye. We’re Talking About Business

Of course this may seem trivial. As if I’m citing tabloid trash, but I think we need to think of Kanye’s position. As an artist/rapper, he has a business to run as well. He is dealing with millions. At the launch of the album he tweeted out that he was $53 million in debt.

If you were $53 million in debt, you’d be in crisis mode. It’s not a laughing matter or just another tabloid article. Its a serious, financial situation to be in. Well note that for your business, take a page from Kanye and other artists.

Utilize the talents and expertise of others in your community. Their collaboration can enrich your content.

Collaboration Also Exposes New Audiences to You

When your helping other businesses with their marketing, you grow your expertise. When you walk up in their, the other business is telling their customers and audience that you are someone to trust. That you know what your talking about. That means the company has already done the hard work for you. They got the trust.

Now its your job to deliver. Offer great value. Teach great content. Then you will have gained some leads for your business.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect; Just Always Improve

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If Marketing Doesn’t Speak to You, It Doesn’t Mean Its Bad

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Organization is Key to Marketing

Failure in marketing isn’t about effort or creativity. Failure is lack of consistency. Consistency means the business staying committed to campaigns the whole way through. Excitement usually fades and people fall back into their old habits. Soon marketing is forgotten. Its like anything else really, diet or a fitness program. The way to get past this burnout or to stay consistent is to create organization.Continue reading

You Have to Find Your Market

A part of my time I spend at a co-working space down in Costa Mesa. While there I’d fielded questions from many start ups and small businesses. Something that comes up a lot is that the business knows who their target customer is. They know who they want to reach out to. Where people need help is in finding the audience.Continue reading