John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.
John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Kim Spalding. She is the Product Leader and General Manager, Ads for Small Business and Emerging Markets at Google. So, Kim, thanks for joining me.
Kim Spalding: Oh, thank you, John. Glad to be here.
John Jantsch: So, you know, LinkedIn tells me you’ve been at Google for about four years. Here’s the key question I need to know. How long did it take you to stop calling it Ad Words?
Kim Spalding: Hopefully I won’t do it on this call.
John Jantsch: I’m the same way. It’s very hard for me to not write that, but we’re getting there.
John Jantsch: So, you know, we talked about you being in ads for small business, and that’s one of the tools that Google offers for small business, but there’s just an array of them. Probably, in some ways, many of them are missed by small businesses. If wonder if, maybe, you could touch on a couple of your favorite tools that you think small businesses maybe should be more aware than they are? I lovingly refer to it as the Googleverse. What are some of the tools that you think might be a little under the radar?
Kim Spalding: Yeah, you got it. You know, our mission is to help small to medium businesses get online and grow. You know, as you know, small businesses are the backbone of our local economies. I love knowing that every time I spend $1 on a small business in my local, in my town or in my city, that 67 cents of that dollar stays local, which is really cool.
Kim Spalding: However, we see that so many small businesses, you know, don’t have all the digital tools that they need to reach customers. 51% of small businesses in the US don’t have a website, which means that when users try to come and find them online, they miss the opportunity to connect.
Kim Spalding: So, one of the first things I wanted to mention was a new site that we launched in June of this year, called Google for Small Business. You know, Google for Small Business is an easy and streamlined way for businesses to find the solutions they need. You enter a couple of easy pieces of information about your business, like the type of products and services you offer, and your goals, and the website produces a step-by-step plan that’s customized for you. That’s just a really easy and great way to get started, and get a sense of what are the first easy steps you can take to take advantage of Google and the Internet to grow your business.
John Jantsch: So, what are some examples of things that it would suggest? If it doesn’t find a Google My Business page for you, or something, that might be one of the suggestions?
Kim Spalding: That’s exactly right. You know, my wish is that 100% of businesses in the US would have a website, and would claim their free listing on Google My Business. It’s a completely free tool, it’s really simple and easy to use, and it allows you to claim and really tailor your listing on Google Search and Google Maps.
Kim Spalding: Google My Business tool is definitely something I want every small business to either claim their listing if they haven’t done that yet, or if they have, really make your profile your own. Upload more pictures, respond to reviews, make sure all your unique products and services are captured there. Post offers, right? All of those things make your listing really come to life, and grab customers when they find you online.
John Jantsch: Well, I’ve been doing this long enough that I was urging Google Places, which was the first local directory. Then, moved to Google Plus. Now, we’re really all in on Google My Business. I’ve been saying for a while, it seems like Google is serious about this one. That this is here to stay, and that, you know, it seems like almost weekly some new feature, or now you can do Click to Call and text, and schedule appointments, and get quotes. I have been all in on telling people just what you just said, not only claim it, but go in there and look at all the things that you can actually do there.
John Jantsch: In addition to the insights, the data, search terms, zip codes that people are asking for directions. When you really get under the hood, it’s a treasure trove of information.
Kim Spalding: That is totally right. You can even see what kinds of searches are most likely to trigger your business, which gives you really useful information about what kinds of customers are interested in you, and what they’re searching for, which is really great.
John Jantsch: Okay. Now that I just gave you this ad for Google My Business, I’m going to give you one pushback that I hear. It does appear that there’s a move by Google to place a search farther away from our website. In other words, now, if I find you on maps listing, I have to click a button to go to another page, to then get the website. Or, maybe even through the Featured snippets, I don’t even have to leave the SERPs to find the information that I’m looking for. Talk to me a little bit about that, because that’s a frustration with some small business owners. They’ve invested all this in their website, and it feels more like Google is just taking the data, but keeping people in the SERPs.
Kim Spalding: It’s interesting, because we actually find that oftentimes that benefits small businesses. I mean, you know, having exactly the right information in exactly the right place in your website, and making sure it’s mobile and fast loading is not always consistent across our smallest businesses. So, making sure the information that users need is right there, and well structured, and easy to get to, and consistent helps users engage with businesses faster, which actually tends to benefits small businesses.
John Jantsch: All right. Let’s talk about advertising. Do you see, because I’m guessing you plug into what’s going on, and all of the information you’re able to hone from your initiatives, do you see some definite small business trends when it comes to advertising? I guess, I’m really not necessarily talking about things they’re doing, I’m probably talking about things they’re doing that are working.
Kim Spalding: Yes. I mean, the first trend, which I know you talk about a lot that we see from small businesses, is they’re just really busy. I know this from my personal experiences as a small business owner. There’s just never enough time to learn and do everything that I needed to do. We hear that small business owners are really, really busy. At the same time, we hear the number one challenge that small businesses face is finding new customers. Those are the two things that we hear most consistently, which is why we spend so much time working on our Smart campaign solutions for small businesses, trying to make that product just as simple and easy to use as we possibly can. So that small business owners can quickly get ads up and running, and get the best of Google with a lot of ease.
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John Jantsch: Well, let me ask you a question, then. How do you balance, sometimes, the need to make it easy with, I think sometimes, doing that causes you to create some compromises in making it the most useful? What I mean by that is, you know, I manage a lot of … Our agency manages a lot of campaigns for small businesses, and when you really get in there and customize, and tweak them, and test them to the enth degree, a lot of times you make changes that certainly wouldn’t be the default settings. Obviously, in your need to make it easy, you have to have as many click here, click here. So, how do you balance that, knowing that sometimes ease is a compromise?
Kim Spalding: The way we think about it is that, the simpler we can make the setup, the faster we can get you into doing the work that only you can do. Like what you just described, right? Making sure that you’ve uploaded your very best pictures, continuing to work on your creative so that … I used to run a winery. I needed to make sure that my winery comes to life with the best phrases, and giving Google Ads a bunch of different phrases so we can test and optimize.
Kim Spalding: Then, helping you look at, hey, here’s the search phrases you searched on. Let us know if there’s any of these that you don’t feel like you’re as relevant to your business, so we can optimize those.
Kim Spalding: I feel if we make things easy, we can actually help you more quickly get to those key things, which is making sure the creatives are great, the use of your products are coming forward, and making sure that all of the phrases and keywords are tuned.
John Jantsch: Talk to me a little about Local Service Ads. Certainly, they seem to be picking up steam from Google’s end. How are you finding the usefulness of that ad unit?
John Jantsch: Maybe I should describe it a little bit. Or, maybe I should let you describe it a little bit? But I know that more and more people, more and more industries, more and more geography, the local service ad is becoming a prominent ad unit. Certainly, from a real estate standpoint on the search screen. Is there a future pronouncement about how far we’re going to go with that?
Kim Spalding: You know, Local Service Ads is a product that we designed specifically for some of our local service verticals, like home services. Like, if you need a plumber, or a locksmith, or a house cleaner, that we felt like had some specific … Both the users who are looking for those services, and the businesses that are trying to grow those businesses had some specific needs. It’s a structured ad unit that sits at the top of search. A lot of users notice right away that there’s a Google guarantee, which helps users have confidence, and quickly reach out to, and book a lot of small businesses online. Which, we really like how well that helps businesses convert, users convert with new businesses.
Kim Spalding: Yeah, so Local Services has grown. We’ve actually seen, you know, 5X the number of businesses sign up. You know, I’m originally from Dallas, and one of the businesses on Local Services is called Gmaids, which, of course, we like. We talk about things that start with G a lot here at Google. You know, it’s just a nice example of a local business in Dallas that has been able to use Local Services to really help grow their business and reach new customers.
John Jantsch: Do you see … I mean, this is a question for a lot of people in a lot of industries. Do you see the expansion of Local Services into pretty much anything? You know, retail, flower shop. Do you see it going beyond what has been, today, mostly the home services?
Kim Spalding: We’re always testing verticals. Really more focused on service businesses, businesses that come to your home, or your business, or provide a really specific service. Those businesses tend to be very small, very small in nature, so a really structured ad unit is useful, both to users and businesses, and really focuses on phone calls, messaging, booking. Getting right into those direct connections between consumers and businesses.
Kim Spalding: Local Services charges for leads, which makes it nice. You don’t have to worry about, you know, what’s the value of a click or anything like that, it’s just a really clean and easy way to understand what value you’re getting from your ads.
John Jantsch: So, lets talk about Voice Search. That’s obviously become a growing area, you know, where somebody has got Alexa, or Siri, or something, and they say, blah, blah, blah, find me this, or how do I do that, and they get the answers. Do you see ad units somehow working their way into Voice Search?
Kim Spalding: For right now, we mostly see voice search coming into mobile phones, and our mobile search results coming back. There’s kind of a nice interplay between how the user expresses their input in voice, but often reading their responses on their phone in the traditional way.
John Jantsch: So, you’re saying that it would almost … On a mobile device, you’re just going to return as though they had typed that search in, so the ad units and everything will be there?
Kim Spalding: I think there’s a ton of innovation and change in this space, it’s really early days. We’re mostly focused on just making sure our mobile search results are really great, both from an ads and organic perspective.
John Jantsch: Right. So, I’ll ask it again, just because I’m really curious. Do you see a day, and you can speculate on this, you don’t have to tell me Google is doing this … Do you see a day when I go, “Hey, Alexa, what’s the closet hair salon?” And the first result of that is going to be an ad?
Kim Spalding: You know, I don’t work in that space directly, so I’m probably the best person to opine on the future of voice search, so I might hand it over to one of my colleagues to answer that question. We can follow up.
John Jantsch: Okay. I’ll let you off the hook, then. How important are agencies in Google’s ad product world? I mean, obviously they’re important because they bring a lot of clients and things, but how do you view agencies in building out dashboards, and products and things for them?
Kim Spalding: We think agencies are incredibly important. When I think specifically about small businesses, agencies are incredible partners, both to us, and to businesses.
Kim Spalding: While our team works really hard to make sure we’ve got really simple and easy to use products so that a small business of any size, with any level of digital savvy can hop and use them, at the same time we know that a lot of small businesses want to go to an agency and have a one-stop shop for digital marketing, which is great. One of the things that I find when talking to agencies, especially those that serve SMBs is, you know, they have some of the same needs that small businesses do, right? They’ve got a large portfolio of clients, and they want tools that are really powerful, and really simple and easy to use, so that they can focus their work to their clients on those same things. Make sure that they’ve got great creative, they’ve got offers that really bring their specific business to life, and their getting those creatives really well tailored.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I do think, speaking as one of the audience that I just addressed, I do think the more management tools, the better. So, being able to manage multiple Google My Business accounts, Google Search Console accounts, Ad Words accounts, Analytics accounts, that’s really, obviously, the key to not pulling your hair out as an agency.
Kim Spalding: Absolutely.
John Jantsch: So, what’s one … I’m going to give you an opportunity to introduce one awesome tutorial, or tool, or upcoming thing that you think we ought to know about, or be paying attention to from the world of Google.
Kim Spalding: Across the whole world of Google? Wow.
Kim Spalding: Well, I’ll just stay focused on small businesses. I think, you know, Google My Business continues to offer and introduce new features, so keep an eye out there. One of the new features that was added recently was the ability for users, consumers, to follow businesses and maps, which I think is really, really cool.
Kim Spalding: I go back to Google for Small Business. We’ve worked really hard to just put everything in one place. I hear over and over again, from small businesses who just say, “Look, there’s so much out there in the world of digital advertising, and even in the world of Google. Can you just put it all in one place, and give me a step-by-step guide?” We will continue to invest in that tool, to help more and more small businesses have a place to go, and it’s easy to get started, and take advantage of our tools to get online and grow their business.
John Jantsch: Yeah. We will, of course, have a link to Google for Small Business in the show notes.
John Jantsch: Kim, always great to hear what’s going on at Google. Appreciate you stopping by and sharing your insights. Hopefully, we’ll run into you someday out there on the road.
Kim Spalding: Look forward to it. Thanks, John.