Professor M

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Google is releasing new ways for businesses to respond to customer messages.
  • Google Maps app - Update tab
  • Google Search Profile Dashboard under "Customers" (not available to me yet) We will be able to use the computer to respond to messages, finally!
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And customers can:
  • start a conversation from any GMB post (released a couple of weeks ago anyway).
  • they try calling and you don’t answer, they will be prompted to send a message (I think this is new).
Also more metrics for Google Search Dashboard - "Performance" page

Starting this month, we’re rolling out more metrics to give you a deeper understanding of how customers discover your Business Profile. Soon you’ll see a more detailed list of the search queries customers used to find your business on Google. At the beginning of next year, you’ll see updates to the performance page that show whether customers saw your business via Google Maps or Search and if they saw it from a computer or mobile device. All your performance data will be available for up to six months.

New ways to connect with and understand your customers​

When people look for information online, they want to find the answers to their questions quickly. This is especially true for people browsing nearby businesses. Business Profiles help merchants share information like how late you’re open and what safety measures are in place. But sometimes people are looking for answers to more niche questions such as: “Do you make gluten-free cakes?” or “Is there covered parking?”

To help you quickly answer these questions and connect with the people who are interested in your business, we’re bringing messaging capabilities and customer insights directly to you on Google Maps and Search.

Messaging with customers just got easier​

Earlier this year, we made it easier for you to update your Business Profile directly from the Google products you’re already using—Maps and Search. Now, you can access even more features from these products so that you can engage with customers and update your business information from the same place.

Starting today, we’re rolling out the ability for verified businesses to message with customers directly from the Google Maps app. Once you turn messaging on from your Business Profile, you can start replying to customers on Google Maps from the business messages section in the “Updates” tab. And soon you'll also be able to see your messages right from Google Search (via the Customers menu on your Business Profile) and message customers directly from your computer.

If your business uses a messaging partner, you can sign up to access the Business Messages API and take a look at our developer guide.
GMM_-_Merchant_view.max-1000x1000.png

You can now respond to customer messages straight from the Google Maps app

As more people try to make more informed decisions before leaving the house, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of messages sent to businesses. Since the beginning of this year, people have initiated more than twice as many messages to merchants right from Business Profiles on Search and Maps.

To make it even easier for customers to get the information they want from businesses, we’re adding more ways for people to initiate messages with you. In addition to clicking on the “Message” button on your Business Profile, customers can now start a conversation from any post you create. And if they try calling and you don’t answer, they will be prompted to send a message.
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Customers can now message you directly from any posts you create

Learn more about your business with updated performance insights​

This summer, we rolled out updated performance insights on Search and Maps that give you a detailed report of your customer interactions. The report includes the total number of interactions over a period of time and a breakdown of calls and messages initiated from customers on Google. Metrics are provided on a monthly basis and can be compared to the same period from the previous year.

Starting this month, we’re rolling out more metrics to give you a deeper understanding of how customers discover your Business Profile. Soon you’ll see a more detailed list of the search queries customers used to find your business on Google. At the beginning of next year, you’ll see updates to the performance page that show whether customers saw your business via Google Maps or Search and if they saw it from a computer or mobile device. All your performance data will be available for up to six months. Dig into the numbers to see how your business is performing over time and how your Business Profile resonates with customers.
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New performance metrics on Search and Maps show the key phrases people use to see your Business Profile

We’ve continued to invest in new ways to make it easier for you to bolster your presence on Google. With these updated features, we hope you have more of the tools and information you need to connect with customers and grow your business in today’s ever-changing environment.
 

Contractor

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Currently when a customer sends me a message, I get an email which includes a “Respond” link that I could click to go answer the message through my browser on my desktop computer.

That made me wonder why they say you have to use the GMB app for messaging.
 

Professor M

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Currently when a customer sends me a message, I get an email which includes a “Respond” link that I could click to go answer the message through my browser on my desktop computer.

that made me wonder why they say you have to use the GMB app for messaging.

Without the email you could not reply to messages on your computer and many times the email link does not work in my experience.
 

Contractor

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Without the email you could not reply to messages on your computer and many times the email link does not work in my experience.
That sounds pretty half-assed. It seemed like Messaging was just a silly push to get people to use the GMB app.

What bothered me the most is that on GMB in the browser Google says "Get full access to your Business Profile", but that is a complete lie. The app gives you less functionality than GMB in the browser.
 

Professor M

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That sounds pretty half-assed. It seemed like Messaging was just a silly push to get people to use the GMB app.
agreed!

I think they realised they could not fight against the "grain".

I checked and you can reply from your GMB Dashboard:
1607016537155.png
 

greenworld_

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Could someone elaborate on what the difference between what we currently have as insights on the Business profiles and the new detailed ones would be? I'm not really sure I understand what to look for - what is mentioned in the article has been existent for quite some time already, or am I missing something? Thanks!
 

Colan Nielsen

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Could someone elaborate on what the difference between what we currently have as insights on the Business profiles and the new detailed ones would be? I'm not really sure I understand what to look for - what is mentioned in the article has been existent for quite some time already, or am I missing something? Thanks!

The biggest difference is the fact that you can get 6 months worth of data and Google is providing year over year comparisons.
 

Theo1313

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I have had messaging turned on for months and it is not helpful to our customers. Everyone wants a "quote", which is impossible to give for HVAC since we need to get a ton of information before we can give a quote. So for our customers, messaging is just an unneeded step they take when calling would give them a better option.
 

Nicole Basham

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TLDR for our clients: Messaging can be a lead source, but it is currently difficult to manage.

Here's what we've seen: A prospective customer provides a zip code, selects a service and provides more information about what they need, and they expect a pretty immediate reply. The Request a Quote or Messaging button varies and its placement has of course impacted the volume, and this has seemed to have varied since we turned this on about a year ago.

If you manage multiple profiles, the notifications come onto your phone and they are very easy to miss and very difficult to find in the app afterwards. I get them in my app for our clients and so I observe how quickly they are responded to and try to follow when they are missed.

These aren't hooked up to the API, so there is no way to respond other than on a phone. There are some messages that come in that aren't related to the service, but probably 90% are actual people wanting to get an estimate. As you might expect, more folks use the feature after hours, but there is no ability to set hours. It's either "on" or "off".

The best case scenario is having a salesperson assigned to these who is under the understanding that they will respond promptly, pretty much day or night. Some clients find it too much of a bother so just turn it off entirely.

I researched this quite a bit and ended up down a rabbit hole to find the products Google wants to roll out for Messaging. In theory, review sites like Podium who are Google partners already should have access to the API to enable these messages to flow into those tools, but the Podium reps our clients have talked to say this isn't available. So this is another one of those features that is probably best for small businesses, and Google may have a better enterprise solutions down the road for larger businesses.

Hope this is helpful for anyone trying to weigh the pros and cons!
 

Jon Hall

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@Nicole Basham Thank you, thank you for sharing this clear view of Messaging's pros and cons to date! It's funny, my company sprung into life this year at the specter of Google *owning* business messaging. I mean, who knows what will happen with the big G's hand even deeper into our customer relationships, sales funnels, etc?!

So we've built a text messaging alternative--one that automatically engages callers *via text* when you don't pick up, one whose automations *can* be set for specific business hours or after-hours, etc, etc. (The company, Switchbird, is profiled here in the forum: Switchbird Solves Lead Nurturing & Client Communication for Agencies and Their Clients)

Anyway, I thought we'd be competing with Google Messaging primarily on principle. Why? Because I believe many business owners would prefer to *own* their customer relationships, not forfeit them to Google.

But I gotta say, Google is so far making it possible for third parties like Switchbird and Podium to compete on features, ease-of-use, and value, too.

Maybe not on price, but Google's eventual monetization of GMB has already begun ;) Thanks again!
 
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