Small Business Saturday

By Kevin Chu, Analyst at the Marchex Institute and Leslie Ihnot, Product Marketing Manager, Local Leads 

Small businesses are core to us at Marchex. We support hundreds of thousands of SMBs by placing ads online and on mobile that get new customers to pick up the phone and call a business directly.

Open Sign

We understand that running a small business is a lot of work – to say the least. You’re your own boss, which is great, but that means everything is on you. Dedicating time to marketing can often fall to the bottom of the priority list.

In honor of Small Business Saturday, we wanted to offer SMBs some practical advice on how to attract and retain new customers over the phone. Given the pervasiveness of mobile nowadays, phone calls are extremely effective at converting prospects into customers.  In fact, according to a recent study by Google, 47% of mobile searchers say that if a business does NOT have a phone number associated with their results, they will likely explore other brands.

Here are 5 Tips for SMBs on How Phone Calls Can Grow New Sales:

  1. Technology brings customers closer. Click-to-call on mobile phones is becoming widely available and consumers love this feature. In fact, 70% of mobile searchers in the Google study reported using the “call button” from their phones. With essentially no barrier for customers to connect to you (or your competitor) on the mobile phone, make sure your business is easily found online, and specifically optimize for mobile devices.
  2. Remember that calls convert. Our data found calls are 10X more likely to convert compared to pay per click programs. For certain categories, calls can be up to 20X more efficient.
  3. Phones are emotive devices. A phone conversation is very personal, and often forms the customer’s first impression of your business. By being courteous and friendly, you can create a lasting relationship over the phone.
  4. Answer your phone. Consumers are searching for your business on a variety of online apps, websites and search engines. We know that up to 30% of calls placed to small businesses can go unanswered, and often callers do not leave a message, meaning  many valuable prospects are hanging up and calling elsewhere before the advertiser gets a chance to make an impression. Putting adequate time and resources into answering the phone can prove extremely beneficial over the long run.
  5. Demand performance advertising. We know how important every dollar is for your small business. Therefore, we encourage you to seek advertising solutions that guarantee performance with demonstrable return on investment. This way, you can rest assured that your marketing dollars are working towards growing your business.

KC Headshot Leslie headshot-Kevin & Leslie

 

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Posted in Local Advertising, Performance Advertising

A Recruiter’s Rules for Interviewing

By Vanessa Ihnot, Recruiter 

I have been recruiting for business positions at Marchex for two years, and I see many interesting candidates come through our hiring process. It’s exciting to be part of the mobile ad tech space, one of the fastest-growing industries today. Being in this field means we attract a lot of qualified, experienced candidates with excellent backgrounds.

But as a recruiter, I witness these same qualified candidates fumble great job opportunities – and it’s because of simple missteps during the interview process.

Below are a few insider tips for those looking to get an extra edge in the game. This is not ground-breaking information, but you’d be surprised at how often candidates overlook the basics.

recruiter blog

1.       Do your research. Study the company before the phone screen, and know the general pulse of the market. It is helpful to get an idea of who the interviewer is too, and LinkedIn is an easy way to learn about an interviewer’s role and background. Research also helps guide interviews effectively – you can spend time learning unpublished details about the opportunity instead of catching up on the Company 101. Most companies will make it easy for you to do this step. Many of the candidates I see have researched Marchex not only on our website, but on social channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Glassdoor.

2.       Define what you are looking for. Be prepared to tell the recruiter why you are interested in this particular role, and how your specific experience relates. “Gaining industry experience” and “career growth” are not sufficient answers. Dig deeper. Take the time to list out what types of work you enjoy and what specific goals you have for your next role. All this will come in handy even if you are not asked the questions directly.

3.       Be forthcoming and honest. Your resume should reflect your actual work experience. Remember that if you get the job you will be held accountable. If you have never looked at SQL, don’t position yourself as an SQL expert. Also, let the recruiter know early in the process if something will come up on your reference check, or if you do not have experience in a required area. Self-awareness and honesty go a long way.

4.       During the interview:

a.       Make eye contact and offer a firm hand shake.
b.      Use examples when answering questions. Be specific.
c.       Ask questions. Make sure to get a feel for the company culture and what it takes to succeed in a role, but go a step beyond. What is the business model? Where is the company going? Have at least one question prepared for every interviewer that is unique to their position. Questions not only reflect your research and experience, but also deepen your understanding of the role and whether it is a good fit for you. Always remember – YOU are interviewing the company just like they are interviewing you.

5.       Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Get a business card with every interviewer, or ask the recruiter for everyone’s contact information. Whether you get offered the role or not, a thoughtful follow-up email (or card for extra credit!) can go a long way and make a lasting impression. Even if you are not hired the first time, you may be a fit in the future. Ending on a strong note can create new opportunities.

6.       Be patient.  This one might be a little selfish.  But keep in mind that recruiters are busy people too, and that sometimes they are wrangling information internally.  As fast as both you and the recruiter want to go, sometimes there are things out of your control, and out of the recruiter’s control.  So please be patient.  And keep following up!

Recruiters love talking to great candidates and want to help you present yourself in your best light; they want your experience and initiative to shine. By remembering and doing even these simple things, you are allowing your hiring manager and team to better appreciate why YOU are the one for the job.

VI Headshot  -Vanessa

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Posted in Uncategorized

Twitter #toolbox

By Lauren Walker, Associate Social Media Specialist

Before I try to tell you what you don’t know about Twitter, let’s lay out what I think most of us get—Twitter is a social media platform. Twitter connects friends with friends and businesses with consumers. Twitter is a networking tool.

I recently attended Social Media Strategies Summit in San Francisco. At Marchex we use a variety of platforms to provide solutions for businesses that need consumer phone calls for new sales. Marchex has dramatically increased its social media presence this year, and it’s been my job to use these new channels to grow interest and conversation about our products and technology.

This conference was especially exciting for me because I was there to learn how to do my job at Marchex better, and I came ready to scrape everything I could out of the experience. In my current position I have learned a lot about how to use Twitter for Marchex, but leveraging what I know in a new way at the conference allowed me to come back to Seattle with organized information and takeaways to share with my team. My point: you should go to conferences to listen and learn, but utilizing tools like Twitter will make it easier to interact and bring something back.

So check this out, Twitter combines many of the tools you’d want to have handy at a conference in one digital pocket-sized package.

A business card

A Twitter handle (or a LinkedIn profile) is the new business card. Business cards may not be extinct yet, but I have a pile still stuffed in the pocket of my suitcase that I haven’t needed to reference because of Twitter. I also ran out of my own business cards, but gave out my Twitter handle as an easy way to get in touch with me.

A notepad

Tweet during the show. At many shows you will be encouraged to tweet using a certain hashtag, tweet for incentives, or use twitter to give direct feedback to presenters. But beyond that Twitter is excellent for documenting important points. I took a TON of notes at this show, but I also made sure to put down my pen to tweet. Now that I am back in the office, I can look quickly through my Twitter feed to find what was really resonating with me at the time. It’s like I already went through my pages of notes and highlighted what I really wanted to remember.

SMSS NametagA name tag

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to catch the name typed onto the square sheet that is stuck into the laminated pocket attached to the too long lanyard around each person’s neck you meet. But follow them on Twitter and put a name to a face quickly. And you can go back later to reference.

Twitter Convo

A filing cabinet

What I love about the Twitter community is you will rarely tweet at a presenter or conference attendee without getting a response. I asked a few presenters for links to their slide deck, or resources they mentioned. These may be accessible later in a long list materials made available by the conference organizers, but I had access to the slides I wanted almost immediately by asking for them on Twitter.  Additionally I took a few twit pics of the slides that I valued, and now all of the resources I truly wanted to bring back are on my Twitter timeline.

San FranA scrap book

You’re on a trip, take pictures! Document your food, or the sights, or the new friends you meet. It’s fun to relive your experience (educational and otherwise!) by scrolling through your feed later. You can see other attendee’s highlights by searching the conference hashtag. Maybe you want to share this with your family or co-workers? It’s all there.

Already a Twitter advocate? I’d love to hear how YOU leverage Twitter in the comments below.

headshotsmile

-Lauren

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Posted in Social Media

Surviving the Booth

8 Tips to Putting on a Successful Conference Sponsorship

By Kara Smith, Marketing Coordinator

Booth duty is a complex task. You have to be social, professional,  extremely polite and overly friendly –    even in the face of strange situations.

And trust me, when you work behind the scenes on the conference circuit, you see a lot of strange situations. Take, for instance, the man who sat at our booth during a recent event with a napkin over a bleeding finger. We (politely, of course) had to ask him to leave.

I’ve come to the conclusion that these random acts of weirdness are part of the gig and can’t get in the way of what you’re ultimately there for – building mindshare, connecting with prospects and creating energy behind your brand.

MermaidBooth

One of the more interesting booths Kara encountered at a recent Leads Con event in Las Vegas.

As Marchex’s Marketing Coordinator, it’s my job to plan the event calendar, budget and overall execution of sponsorships/speakerships.

I am also a road warrior. I help run the booth at whatever conference we are sponsoring, wherever that may be. This means I get the rare perspective of looking under the hood to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned each conference is as unique and as different as a human fingerprint, but all share common elements.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts  I’ve put together on corporate event planning and how to thrive behind the booth:

DO

  • Smile. Be approachable and engaged in conversations.
  • Pair speakerships with sponsorships. This works especially well when you have people at the company who are  great at presenting and  luckily we have a few of these talented individuals. The speakership/sponsorship combo gives your brand the most coverage and gets attendees interested in your products, which ultimately leads to more meaningful connections.
  • Enlist a couple skilled sales reps to run the booth with you at certain times during the conference (networking breaks are the most valuable). Sales teams have an immense understanding of products and are able to go more in-depth with potential clients.
  • Attend happy hours and social events sponsored by the conference. These are crucial to networking. You can’t be an introvert in this job.
  • Bring  unique and useful swag. These little freebies hook the wanderers in the exhibit hall and get your brand out on unique items that people will see every day (if you choose the right type of swag). This year, Marchex handed out iPhone car chargers and they were a huge hit.

DON’T

  • Read or text excessively at the booth. This is very off-putting and makes you look uninterested in the conference and people around you.
  • Ignore people who stop by your booth. Try to include every person who comes by in a conversation about what his/her job is. That will help you determine whether this person could be a good sales leads for your team.
  • Leave your booth empty. It looks unprofessional. It’s important to be there even if most people are attending a session. There are always a handful of people who choose to explore the hall during slower hours, and specifically want to learn more about  the exhibitors.

The moral of the story is: Be present. Be engaged. Be excited about the story you’re telling.

I’m always looking at new ways for Marchex to get the most mileage out of conferences. After a little over a year and half in this position, I’m happy to say that we are making huge strides in our event strategy. We look forward to what 2014 will bring for us!

Kara Headshot -Kara

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Posted in Lists, Travel

Multi-Screen Marketing

By Chen Zhao, Principal Analyst & Senior Manager

The multi-screen, multi-device world is not only changing what “customer experience” means, but also making the job of marketing managers more challenging.  It is increasingly important for businesses, large or small, to use data and analytics to provide better customer experience across various marketing channels and ultimately tie channel investment to actual business outcomes.

Today, November 6th, the Digital Analytics Association will be hosting its 2013 Symposium at the Microsoft conference center in Redmond WA.  This year, the symposium’s theme is “Creating Great Customer Experience With Analytics.”

Since I am representing Marchex on the “Multi-Channel Marketing Analytics” panel, I have the opportunity to share my points of view with fellow panelists from leading marketing and technology companies.  What I am hearing in the pre-symposium discussions is a consensus on the challenges around providing the right experience on different devices, and around measuring ROI.  Luckily, I know just the company and products (wink, wink) that can help address these challenges (Marchex!)

Should conversions be defined differently for different devices/channel interactions to optimize the customer experience? 

Increasingly, advertisers are realizing that when customers are using a smart phone, they want to, well, use it as a phone and make a call.  While consumers are more likely to browse and research on desktop and tablets, they often prefer to call a business rather than visit a website when they are searching on their smart phone.  Google Adwords rolled out “Click-to-call” on mobile search precisely for that reason.

One of Marchex’s clients, Cobalt, designs mobile websites for auto dealers with a call button featured prominently.  The example below (from Cobalt’s website) describes how Cobalt sees the scenario of consumers using mobile phones.

chen blog

Beyond customer experience, many advertisers themselves want phone calls because their business models rely on phone calls.  Nate Smith from Adobe gave an example of their client Enterprise Rent-a-Car, who wanted phone calls.  Phil Gross from Visual IQ said that their clients in the insurance vertical believed that “actual conversions happen with agents and call centers.”

The next most frequently asked question from advertisers is “What tools and solutions are available for marketers to measure and prioritize channel investments?”

The frustration expressed by the panelists is generally around lack of adequate measurement to help advertisers decide which channel converts customers better, in order to optimize media channel investments.  In particular, linking online marketing investment to offline conversion is an area of interest for a lot of advertisers.

Marchex is way ahead of the curve.  We do three things that help advertisers address these challenges for multi-channel advertisers:

  1. We deliver phone calls for marketing campaigns on mobile phones.
  2. We measure conversions in terms of phone calls and tie offline conversions to back to the online (or offline) media channels.
  3. We use Call DNA to go one step beyond phone calls and measure the quality of phone calls.

In fact, our recently published case study on Call DNA illustrated exactly how we generated channel performance insights for advertisers. You can find this case study on the Marchex Institute page.

I am looking forward to sharing our experience and knowledge, and having a lively discussion with other technology leaders in the multi-channel marketing measurement space – Adobe, Visual IQ, Adometry, BrightEdge and Microsoft.

chenz headshot

-Chen

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Posted in Marchex Institute

Tech Recruiting: Sparking an Authentic Connection

By Ted Bardusch, VP, Technology and Operations

Techfair banners

Last week a group of Marchex Engineers and Recruiters went to the UW CSE (Computer Science & Engineering) Affiliates Career Fair to talk with a truly outstanding set of promising students.   It’s held every year at about this time, and is open to those companies who are members of the UW CSE Industry Affiliates.

Being at this thing is inspiring. The energy, excitement, and brainpower in that atrium are palpable.  The UW CSE program is highly selective, so the students who do make it in have already gone through a very competitive process.

Some companies attend with their general and technical recruiters.  In my experience this is a big mistake. The students want to talk to people who’ve “been there, done that.” They want to interact with people who are just starting a career in software engineering, as well as people with decades of experience.

This year, we had 16 engineers attend the fair along with our recruiters, and it made all the difference. Why? Well, we engineers have our own language. And it’s critical to have “native speakers” at these fairs who can dialogue with engineering students, in that shared parlance, about what a company does.

Here’s one example. When the topic of why Marchex is moving to Scala came up, we responded: “A functional language with immutable methods and actors obviates the use of semaphores and mutexes in a massively multithreaded system.” (Still with me?) The end goal is to spark an authentic connection with a student, rather than simply hand over a sheet and say “These are the tools we use.”

We also see these fairs are also a big opportunity to showcase the upside of working at a technology company like Marchex. Something I always love to share is Marchex’s extensive use of Pair Programming. This is a style of coding in which programmers work side by side, alternating who’s typing and who’s watching, writing the tests and code together.

There is no faster way to learn, and no better way to pick up the professional’s tips and tricks.  For an intern or new graduate just starting in the industry, Pair Programming is amazingly effective.  And the information and learning flow is not one-way. Even seasoned folks come away with a new take on things  or a different approach to  a problem that can materially improve our systems and practices.

Compare that to other companies where interns are handed projects that haven’t been worth a “real” engineer’s time, then put in a corner with limited, if any guidance and interaction.  Marchex has a very strong mentoring culture and  it starts with bringing engineers to interact with students at the beginning of the onboarding process.

We’ve already seen a lot of interest from some outstanding students; I believe this will be another year with amazing results.

ted_headshot  -Ted

 

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Posted in Technology

5 Ways to Celebrate Technology This Halloween

By Lauren Walker, Associate Social Media Specialist

iScareTechnology is creeping and crawling into almost every area of our lives, including the holidays. Nearly 158 million consumers will participate in Halloween activities this year, and 32.9% of them will use the Internet for inspiration.

As Marchex’s Social Media Specialist, it’s my job to keep up on the latest mobile and technology  trends. And that includes how to get your tech on for Halloween. Here’s how to  join in the fun:

 

  1. iScare is an app that lets you turn a regular picture into a ticking time bomb of terror. (Disclaimer: this one really did scare me!) You can see how it works here.
  2. If you enjoy the silent spookiness of spirits and ghosts, then GhostCam: Spirit Photography might be more your style. See examples of the ghost photos you can create here.
  3. If you’re like me, then Halloween is all about the outfit. See how Digital Dudz can turn your smart phone into your most successful accessory here.
  4. Neighborhood competition can spur some pretty amazing decorations around the holidays, and Halloween is no exception. There is a company called Light-O-Rama that will actually choreograph outdoor lights to music for you… check it out here.
  5. Halloween isn’t for everyone, so if you’d rather steer clear of the madness, you can always wear this shirt during the festivities:

error404

Happy Halloween! Be safe, have fun and stay techy. IF YOU DARE…

headshotsmile

-Lauren

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Posted in Lists, Seasonal

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