Evanne Schmarder

Editor’s Note: Evanne Schmarder is the creator of the RV industry’s first Digital Marketing Workshop – www.DigitalMarketingWorkshop.info. She’s also the owner of Roadabode Productions – outdoor hospitality communication consultants specializing in digital marketing strategy, social media program development, seminar facilitation, educational presentations, business writing services and the producer and host of the “RV Cooking Show.” Her new book – “Unconventional Wisdom Works: 25 Marketing Strategies to Build Your Outdoor Recreation Business Today” – was co-authored with Peter Pelland and is due out this spring. Contact Evanne at [email protected] or (702) 460-9863 or visit her online at her B2B site, www.roadabode.com, or her B2C site, www.RVCookingShow.com.

With the announcement of changes to their privacy policies, the first quarter of 2012 has seen Google nearly everywhere in the media. Whether you agree with the changes or not, I think we all recognize that in this case, Google has been on the winning side of media coverage. Awareness of Google and their vast and varied products abound.

Effective March 1, 2012, Google has merged 60 individual privacy policies that were used across the spectrum of their online services into one policy allowing them to easily track your anonymous user patterns as a whole, in an effort to better monetize their business. We know they’ve been quietly collecting this data across the network for years. Now, instead of individual logins and policies for each product, it’s all rolled into one – and that makes the collection process easier. The truism “nothing is free” exemplifies this situation.

There’s plenty of pushback for this policy change but in my opinion, there’s not going to be a mass Google abandonment. Casual Google users can get around data tracking a number of ways including not signing in to Google when using the Internet or by deleting and disabling web history via their Google accounts. In fact, I would not be surprised to see a small cottage industry grow up around this topic.

As business owners and active digital marketers, many of us use several complimentary (read: free) Google products including YouTube, Blogger, Google Analytics, Place Pages, Alerts and, if you are smart, their Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator. You can’t deny the fact that Google + Business Pages are a hot property and getting hotter. Many of these platforms are where we connect with our customers and prospects. And in case you are a Droid smartphone user, you should know that Google owns the Android operating system.

5 Hidden Google Tools

No matter how you slice it, Google will continue to play a major role in our private and professional lives. Like they’ve done in the past, Google continues to develop cutting-edge tools that amaze and engage us, spark our imagination and beckon our participation on a larger scale. For your consideration, I’d like to present five lesser-known Google tools that may be valuable to your business. If they pique your interest, simply Google them for more information.

  • Custom Search: Web surfers can arrive to your website a number of different ways. Perhaps they’ve clicked a promotion and are taken to a special landing page. Perhaps they’ve found you via an organic search. Either way, once they’ve arrived at your web property you want to keep them there as long as possible, presenting interesting and informative information that results in heeding a call to action.

Who better to deliver search than Google? Easy to install, Google Custom Search is available as a free product that requires ads to be shown on result pages (which can work in tandem with AdSense accounts) or as an ad-free service for $100/year. This product offers seamless integration with Google Analytics as well as a smooth and recognizable user experience.

  • AdWords Express: Newly developed as a local marketing addition to the popular AdWords program, AdWords Express is designed to target businesses geographically. For example, if a Googler searches for “campgrounds in your town” or simply “campgrounds” if they are already in your town, AdWords Express will serve your ad with the search results. Like AdWords, users set a per-click budget and ads are served on search, maps and mobile devices. Unlike AdWords, keywords are determined by the description you enter and cannot be targeted or chosen.
  • Google TV Ads: As part of Google’s AdWords program, users can advertise on over 100 cable channels – targeted by audience, program or network/daypart options. Budgets are set based on viewer impressions lasting longer than five seconds so a TiVo fast forward will not affect your budget. Reports are provided within 24 hours of airing allowing users to adjust their campaign through their AdWords interface as needed.
  • Google Voice: Certainly not a newcomer to the Google family, Google Voice is a telephone management system providing one customizable Google Voice phone number that rings all your phones or select phones – your cell phone, office phone, home phone, VoIP lines, etc. This could be very effective if your workday takes you away from your main business telephone. Google Voice offers the option of listening in as a voicemail is left, setting custom ringtones for specific groups and even conference calling.
  • Google Goggles: Though it’s been around for a while, Google keeps improving an exciting Google goodie, Google Goggles – part of the Google mobile search app. A mobile technology tool that is in the thick of augmented reality, Goggles lets users search the web by scanning images, landmarks, logos, text, barcodes and QR codes.

A few favorite tricks of Google Goggles include a language translator, the ability for the tool to recognize a print ad and its voice search. As the product advances, they expect it to be able to visually recognize leaves, animals and more. Available for both Android and iPhone, Google Goggles has the power to once again transform the way digital marketers present information.

And as a side note to Google Goggles, it’s hard to believe but there’s talk about Google Smart Goggles – real goggles or eyeglasses if you like – that are secretly being developed in Google’s X Lab. These futuristic augmented reality glasses could provide facial recognition and overlay graphics in your field of view – Terminator-style.

Get in Google Gear; Tomorrow is Here

Reading through the “Google five” may inspire you or may exhaust you but there’s no denying that with or without Google, technology marches forward in lockstep with our audience. Remember when websites were new-fangled? Your customers could only connect to the Internet by plugging in a telephone cord at a designated cubby? Cable TV was a wow factor and an expensive extra? Boy, have times changed. And if tomorrow is here, today is getting a whole lot more interesting. Study up and stay current, time (or in our case technology) waits for no one.