Google My Business Looks Increasingly Like ‘CRM Lite’ for SMBs

One can make the argument that Google My Business (GMB) has evolved from being a “listings management” tool to something much more like a lite CRM platform for local business owners. The company introduced a new version of its GMB app for business owners this morning.

The company has increasingly referred to its own local search/maps/booking experience as an “engagement platform” for consumers and SMBs. Indeed, the new app offers a range of improvements designed to make it easier for business owners to update information, post content and see customer interactions with their business.

Here’s what the copy in the App Store identifies as new in version 3.0:

  • In the new Customers tab you can respond to reviews, message with your customers, and see your followers all in one place.
  • Results on the Home tab. Clicks, calls, direction requests, and follows – see in one glance how and how much your customers interact with your Business Profile right from the app’s Home tab.
  • Introducing the Business Profile – that helpful box with your business information that you see on Google Search and Maps finally has a name: Business Profile on Google. Make edits to your Business Profile and see those changes on Google in real time.
  • With a tap of the new Post button in the app, you can easily upload photos, create enticing offers and share what makes your business so unique.
  • Real-time notifications let you know when a customer connects with your business on Google. Focus on what you love and rest easy knowing that Google My Business is on the clock helping you get more customers.

Not long ago Google introduced the ability to follow local businesses on Google Maps. Once a user clicks on the new “Follow” button within a business listing, Google Posts show up under the “For You” area of the lower horizontal navigation. Below is a .gif that illustrates the follow experience.

It’s not very far from this to more selective communication to groups of customers based on things like purchase or visitation history or lapsed visitation. Google has much of this data today. And while Google isn’t talking about future features, it’s pretty clearly thinking about where all this can and should go.

One can imagine creating incentives to follow a business to enable this segmented customer communication in the future. These types of features look a lot like loyalty or CRM tools. We previously argued that CRM is the heart of the new SMB cloud tech stack.

A majority of local business owners probably aren’t familiar with “CRM” beyond having heard the term. But they will intuitively get the benefits of using this type of solution — to better understand customer behavior, enable selective communications with different groups and so on.

This is where it seems to me GMB is headed.

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