One of the exciting aspects of working in marketing is that the industry is constantly evolving, often due to advances in technology. (Remember when SERPs first entered the marketing lexicon?) If you’re an agency owner or manager, it’s absolutely crucial to stay on top of the latest changes so that you can give your clients and their businesses the best possible shot at winning over customers.
One of the latest technological innovations to set the marketing world abuzz is Apple Business Connect (ABC). Although it can’t replace a little hands-on tinkering with ABC, this guide to the new tool can help you get started and give you a few talking points that you can use with your clients.
What Exactly Is Apple Business Connect?
Before we dive into ABC, let’s take a quick look at its predecessor. Back in 2014, Google launched Google My Business (GMB), which offered brick and mortar businesses a free listing and allowed their customers to easily see the most important details about those businesses (e.g. hours, address, etc.). GMB is now retooled as Google Business Profile (GBP), but it’s still essentially the same thing. Given the success of GMB/GBP, it’s a little surprising that Apple has only recently launched its own version of this online directory, but here at Pennington Creative, we’re excited to see it!
Apple officially launched ABC in January of 2023. ABC is intended to serve as an integrated add-on to Apple Maps, which customers already use to find businesses they’re interested in visiting. Now, with an ABC integration, Apple Maps can also point customers to other essential information, such as the business’ current special offers. Customers can even use a company’s ABC profile to easily handle tasks such as to place an order, reserve a table at a restaurant, or call the business.
In short, ABC gives businesses more opportunities to connect to customers. It allows company owners to customize how their essential information is viewed by customers using Apple Maps. (Customers can also see ABC listings when they are using Apple Wallet and Siri.) And, like any digital marketing tool worth its salt, ABC also allows business owners to access marketing insights and analytics.
Why Should Your Clients Be on Apple Business Connect?
To be perfectly frank, the new ABC tool is Apple’s way of trying to be more competitive when going up against Google Maps and Yelp. But for agency owners and business owners, it’s a win-win because a business can easily manage its presence across all relevant digital platforms. Even as Apple uses ABC to compete with Google, your clients can use ABC to stand out against their own competitors. The more robust your clients’ digital presence is, the more clicks they’ll get and the more sales they’ll generate.
As popular as Google Maps and GBP are, Apple Maps does have a robust share of the consumer base. Not long after Apple Maps first became available, Google Maps lost about 23 million iPhone users to its Apple competitor. In the years since, Apple says “hundreds of millions” of Apple users globally turn to Apple Maps to access business information.
Plus, there are about 1.8 billion active Apple devices. Yes, that’s billion with a B. All of those devices – iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, etc. – come integrated with Apple Maps, providing more than a billion opportunities to connect with customers through those devices.
Those are impressive numbers, but just how important is a business presence on Apple Maps? Well, according to Rio SEO, which integrates with ABC, their research has revealed that about 84% of all U.S.-based consumers turn to Apple Maps to find relevant business information. Furthermore, about 20% of consumers who were surveyed asserted that they would avoid patronizing a business that had incorrect or missing information on their Apple Maps listing.
Clearly, business owners who haven’t yet jumped aboard the ABC train are missing out on potential customers. Why not grab a slice of the Apple pie for your clients?
How Can Agency Owners Set Their Clients Up for Success on ABC?
If you’ve already been in the habit of getting your clients set up on Google Business Profile, then you’ll find ABC to be pleasantly familiar. Once the initial set-up is complete, maintaining a listing won’t take much time. Here’s a look at the basic steps.
Step 1: Request your client’s Apple ID or create one.
Go to the Apple ID website and click Create Your Apple ID.
Step 2: Create an ABC account for your client.
Visit the ABC website and click the Get Started button. Sign in with the Apple ID. Enter your location data and choose your business type (e.g. small business, enterprise brand, or third-party partner).
If you’re registering the company as an enterprise brand with 25 or more locations, you’ll be prompted to enter the Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number.
If you’re registering the business as small business with fewer than 25 locations, you’ll need to search for the location on Apple Maps and select the business that matches or, if the business isn’t listed at all, select the option to create a new location.
Step 3: Establish the business hours.
In addition to checking the physical address and getting directions, checking a business’ hours is one of the most common reasons why people turn to Apple Maps. After all, who wants to make the mistake of wasting time driving over to a closed store? Check and double-check that the business hours are entered correctly.
You’ll be able to enter primary, holiday, and special hours. Special hours are similar to holiday hours, except they don’t occur on an official holiday. They are periods of time when the business expects to have either extended or shortened hours. (For example, special hours can accommodate staff shortages or staff training days.)
Step 4: Add categories and other essential info.
Next, choose the company’s primary category, which should be the description that best fits their overall mission. If the business is a yoga studio that also doubles as a martial arts studio, but only on weekends, then the primary business should be yoga. You’ll also have the option of selecting secondary categories.
Next, be sure the website and phone number are entered correctly. Copying/pasting is best to avoid errors. Again, consumers don’t respond well to incorrect business information.
Step 5: Get verified.
This step will be quite familiar to GBP users. Apple Business Connect requires a verification process. You may have the option of verifying the business instantly via phone or you may need to submit an identifiable business document. Examples include lease agreements, utility bills, and business registrations. The verification may take up to five days to complete.
Step 6: Build the Place Card.
Now, you’ll get to flesh out the company’s Apple Place Card. This is the fun part, where you’ll get to craft the company’s main marketing message to consumers. Take a few minutes to create a compelling and unique business description that embodies the company’s voice and style. Then, upload high-quality photos, including a cover photo and logo. (Apple reviews uploaded photos; approval may take a few days.) You can also add functions like making reservations, booking appointments, or ordering online.
Be sure to comb through all of the available attributes and select the appropriate ones for the business. For example, you can add information about:
• Payment options
• Parking options
• Tech features (Wi-Fi)
• COVID precautions
• EV charging availability
You can even add attributes that speak to the atmosphere of the establishment, such as whether it’s a fun place for kids or a romantic spot for couples.
Lastly, you can periodically set up showcases, which will run for 30 days (or sooner if you wish). A showcase is a great way to tell consumers about special sales and new products or services. A showcase is comprised of a photo, image tag, short title, short description, and call to action.
Now that you know the, well, ABCs of ABC, it’s time to take the next step and begin transitioning your clients onto this robust digital platform. Of course, if you’re like many agency owners, you already have a lengthy to-do list and getting your clients on yet another digital property might seem like too much of a challenge.
When you’re ready to outsource some of your digital marketing tasks, the experienced team of veteran marketers at Pennington Creative is here to help. For years, we’ve provided white label services of all sorts to agency owners who find that the convenience and affordability of outsourcing beats in-house hiring. Fill out our contact form today to request a free discovery call.