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.

gray-barHow 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-MessagingOnly Occurs With Mobile Branded Search

nomessagingoptionThrough 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 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, its 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 protagonist, 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, interdimensionally and sometimes through time.Continue reading

Follow the Narrative

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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.

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