Google has certainly been making a lot of changes in the past 12 months. Not only did we see the transition of the Local Business Center becoming Google Places, but we also saw the transition to the oh-so-famous Google Instant search enhancement. Even more recently, Google had drawn quite a bit of criticism for offering to buy the daily deal site, Groupon, for several billions of dollars. However, Groupon rejected the offer, yet the search engine giant still had their eyes set on providing the same local daily-deal program that Groupon had offered. According to reports from Mashable and Search Engine Land, Google has decided to duplicate Groupon under the moniker of “Google Offers”. Although this isn’t available to all businesses just yet, there are some very interesting applications that this presents to businesses using Google Webmasters tools. Here’s a look at how Google Offers might help your local business.

Google Becoming a One-Stop Shop for Online Advertising

One of the biggest potential benefits to having Google Offers is that you can have it within close reach to other Google services you may be using, like Merchant Center, Webmaster Tools and AdWords.  Google claims in their Fact Sheet that they will allow businesses to manage their offers easily with tools to track and measure their ROI. This would be useful for businesses that are actively trying to determine what Internet marketing efforts are the most successful. It won’t completely replace the need for Analytics and Conversion tracking, but it is certainly something that might entice businesses that are looking to promote a particular product or service for a short period of time.

Exposure

According to the Google Offers Fact Sheet, the deals that local businesses offer to consumers will be run across Google ad networks along with being showcased on the Google Offers site. This can help boost exposure to brands and businesses on a local level, even for non-customers. Customers pay for the offer in advance, which means that businesses utilizing this marketing tool will not have any up-front, out-of-pocket expenses, much like Groupon. This can be very enticing for local small businesses that may not have the revenue to front a lot of cash for a marketing campaign. And, of course, certain limits can be implemented with the Offer, such as quantity.

Choice for Businesses Advertising on Google

For businesses that are either hesitant to start an AdWords PPC campaign or just simply want to mix up their marketing strategies, this might be a welcome alternative.  It is important to create a unique offering to stand out from your competitors, as Zac pointed out in the last Best Rank post. However, with the support of Google Sales Reps, this might help attract a lot of local businesses that might have otherwise been intimidated by managing an Offer.

Google Support

Not only will merchants participating in Offers benefit from support from Google sales reps, but it would also make sense if Google copied Groupon by providing apps to merchants with smart phones, allowing them to use their phones as redemption-tracking devices. For companies that may not have a large budget for equipment, utilizing a device that is already on-hand is a big plus. Having support from Google’s sales reps can also help businesses, who may not have copywriters on staff, produce catchy copy on their Offers as well.

Downsides

As anyone would guess, Google doesn’t hand over the revenue instantaneously. Merchants have to wait three days after the Offer goes live before they see any of the revenue from Google. Additionally, a portion of the revenue will still be held by Google for a couple of months in case of any refunds. However, this also applies to Groupon and LivingSocial. The biggest hurdle that Google has to overcome in order to stand toe-to-toe with Groupon is trying to gain the popularity that Groupon has with over 40 million subscribers. If Google can offer enough incentive not only for merchants, but for customers to use Google Offers instead of Groupon, then this could be a useful addition to your local Internet marketing tools.

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