What Google Now Can Teach You About Reaching Your Customers

    July 31, 2012
    Chris Crum
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At Google I/O last month, Google revealed what could be the beginning of the future of how you use Google . Google Now was revealed as one of several prongs in a shift in mobile search strategy that Google has started with its latest version of its Android operating system – Jellybean. One of the most interesting things about it is that it really speeds up search by eliminating the need for it.

Of course, not everyone likes the idea of Google tracking their data to deliver information it thinks they want based on that data. Is this something you’re concerned about? Comment here.

It’s going to be a long time before you no longer need a search engine at all, but Google’s goal with Google Now is to get you the information you need before you even have to search for it. It does this through personalization, requiring you to allow it access to certain personal information (things like location, search history, etc.). While Google Now only has a handful of “cards” – the types of information it will push to you in this fashion – the company has made it clear that it intends to greatly expand the number of situations where Google Now will become your personal assistant. This looks to be a major part of where search, or information consumption, is headed. As Google and competitors progress in their mission, the rest of us will no doubt learn a lot of things along the way. If you’re a marketer or a business owner, perhaps there’s already a great deal to learn from Google Now.

Mobile marketing company Globys, who works with carriers on leveraging customer data for personalized marketing has already seen plenty of lessons to take away from the product. We had a conversation with Lara Albert, Vice President, Global Marketing at Globys about it.

“Google Now is innovative in that it will be pro-active in delivering context-relevant information,” Albert tells WebProNews. “One of the most important things that Google Now brings to light is the ability to understand and anticipate user needs as well as the ability to act intelligently based on that understanding.”

“Brands have a lot of information about their customers, but in many cases they don’t have the tools to harness the data in a way that enables immediate insight and action,” she adds. “It’s time for brands to leverage what they know about their customers to engage them in more meaningful and valuable ways. And mobile is a powerful channel for doing so in that the device allows for such a personal and highly relevant means of engagement relevant to other marketing channels.”

Must brands build their own mobile apps to tap into the Google Now-like experience of delivering what customers want as they want it, or can they take advantage of existing apps that consumers are already using?

Albert thinks whether to build an app or use third-party apps is not the first question brands should be asking.

“The first question to ask is ‘what is my goal?’” she says. “By defining your objectives, you can then ask how mobile fits into the overall marketing picture.”

“Every marketer is interested in influencing customer behaviors in ways that align with a financial objective, whether that’s to increase revenue, for example, or build customer loyalty,” Albert adds. “Think of a department store focused on getting loyal customers to buy more when they are at their stores. An app can deliver an alert notifying of a sale on a customer’s most frequently purchased brands and the location of the item when they’re in the actual store. The alert may also recommend an item that similar customers have purchased in the past.”

“Or consider an airline focused on a life cycle management strategy to build brand loyalty, they can engage customers throughout the purchase cycle and beyond,” she continues. “What about an e-commerce company trying to motivate fans to create and share viral promotions? For each of these examples, brands should be using a data-driven approach to make their marketing more relevant – and let’s face it – more effective in driving a desired action.”

“Brands can leverage Google Now or other apps for awareness or attracting new customers, but for engaging existing customers – a branded app that collects, analyzes and delivers thoughtful, relevant, context-driven information will be more effective,” she says.

We asked Albert how she thinks brands be able to take advantage of Google Now itself.

“I would compare ads integrated with Google Now or another a third-party app as more akin to traditional online marketing – more like banner ads meant to increase brand awareness or to acquire customers,” Albert suggests. “Where mobile can really shine is in engagement with existing customers.”

“A branded app is a great opportunity to make the most of mobile’s strengths,” she says. “Think of the difference between getting a blast SMS from a local car dealership about a test-drive event vs. getting a notice about a promotion on a specific car model via your Volvo app which has been sending regular notifications and discounts for oil changes, tire rotations, etc. (and which has informed Volvo that your car is four years old and you have a pattern of purchasing a car every five years). Which offer are you going to be more receptive to versus considering it as spam?”

“Mobile apps allow brands to do more because they can collect data and integrate that information with other data such as a customer’s purchase history, loyalty program profile, etc.,” Albert concludes. “The real power of mobile engagement lies in the intelligent analysis of data from different sources and the ability to act on that data in real-time with contextually relevant communication.”

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for brands to overcome with this kind of marketing is getting customers to actually allow the kinds of settings required to gain certain data (location, for example). There are plenty of mobile device users who aren’t all that comfortable enabling this kind of information retrieval, but a lot of big tech and social brands making use of such settings is likely deteriorating the resistance to some extent. Google would be at the forefront of such brands, and with Google Now, the company may just be able to rip a giant chunk out of the barrier, especially once it is expanded on to a greater number of devices.

Google Now is only in its earliest of stages. Just wait until Google gets Glass involved.

As a business, do you see opportunities to learn from what Google is doing? As a consumer, do you want to see more businesses engaging with you in this way? Let us know what you think in the comments.

  • Sammy P

    Too much user information collection by cellphone OS players like Apple and Google will force emergence of open source cellphone OS maintained like Apache web server.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/artnip kss9

    Context relevant information…hmm. I betcha every spam email I receive was suppose to be context relevant. Google Now seems most relevant for Project Managers who are working on a specific info or research heavy project that would otherwise require hours of searching.

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  • mr37212

    I like the article. I am a small business emarketer assistant. I would like to learn more about how to integrate Google Now into small biz marketing plans. So please you big brainers please keep the comments flowing.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    It’s not Google’s tracking my data in order to quicken my search or deliver ads of items that I might be interested in that I object to. And I wouldn’t object to this if that’s where it stopped.
    My concern is with what else Google does with that information and with whom they share it with.
    Google doesn’t have a solid reputation of turning-down requests for personal information on individuals by foreign Host Countries (any County … including the now, more than ever, intrusive U.S. government).

  • Charles H Small

    The deadful imaginings of Google serving up what they know want to see better than I know what I was to see myself is appalling enough. But the currrent totally obvious putting of for-pay adverts disguised as hits first on Google is so bad that I have given up on Google and am using Bign, which is not much better. Try this simple experiment: search on pizza . When I try this for my little town (Harrisburg, PA pop 50,000) I get over five pages of totally worthless, badly edited directories before seeing even national chains like Papa John’s or Pizza Hut, let along Giovanni’s Pizza. I know a thing or two about directories. The sell a listing and then the customer sends back a check list (not a free form entry for a data base) of what it is they do. Most people don’t have time for such picky work so they check everything and the directories cheerfully enter it (can you say GIGO, boys and girls). Now that I think about it, it might be nice to see something that, if not what I want, even what Google thinks i want if its not the result of a bribe.,,er,,,advert buy.

  • http://www.dirtworks.net John Meshna

    I prefer random searches. I often learn things I didn’t know before and find things I could use but didn’t know existed as well as useful web sites I would’t find if some one else was filtering the search to give me what they think I want to see.

  • Bill

    This is just another way for Google to push its agenda

    Since Penquin – all 6 of my ecom stores have been dumped in rankings with Amazon being made #1

    Google control 70% of search and uses that to push Amazon

    It also pushes all companies assoc with ChanelAdvisors to include Sears and Overstock ect.

    Amazon is now on target to do over 50% of all online consumer sales – not because they specialize, but because of Google

    Now the Kindle ships preset with Amazon account already set on Google android platform.

    Small business is dead!

    I’ve ready over 100 stories like mine since in the last 2 months and there are thousands of posts, begging and pleading for Google to stop delisting, false penalizing and manipulating the the retail market.

    Went GOOGLE says its going to “Help” people before they even search, that just means they are going to use that data the way they did before to help companies like Amazon get in the minds first before others.

    Its the “icing on the cake” for Google and Amazon.

    I personally think Google has way to much control and they have already far exceeded abusing their power. Now they are just flaunting their ability to do what they want as they already have acquired 22 lobbyist firms in DC and are moving faster than anyone can keep up.

    Google is so far beyond comprehension that the average American has no idea how it is effecting the overall flow of the economy and the impact it has.

    This is going to happen – but its not going to make America or the world a better place.

    • http://www.sheboyganspirit.com/home/blog/ Spirit

      Standing ovation, Bill!!!

  • http://www.sheboyganspirit.com/home/blog/ Spirit

    Google has lost its collective mind. Searches are so awful it’s headache inducing to even try using them anymore.

    Yesterday I was at my folks. My mom mentioned a story that broke the news in the morning. I wanted to read more. She uses Google so I’m on her computer and stuck. I put in a 4 word phrase that, prior to April, 2011, would have brought me right smack to the story. Instead I got pages of results from 2009 – never did find the article on Google.

    For that matter, I didn’t find it on Bing, either. I had to go to a TV station web site and there it was, front and center.

    I won’t even connect to the Internet with my cell phone right now – not until our privacy is shown the respect it deserves and our Constitutional rights are back in place – if that ever happens…

  • http://www.OnlineSportsRus.com Larry

    The only thing google can teach anyone is how to be greedy, how to stick a knife into the back of customers and how to be a part of Halios worship. Google has absolutely nothing to teach anyone.