Google announced the release of the 6.7 version of their Maps app. Arguably the most interesting inclusion is the option to discover nearby offers, which is currently available only for Android devices. However, the more interesting news for businesses are the improvements to offers for Google Places for Business that have been implemented. These have not been promoted very widely, but Vanessa posted a sticky thread in the Google and Your Business forum stating:
We’ve given the offers interface in the Google Places for business dashboard a new look! Log in to your Places account, click the “Offers” tab at the top, and check it out.
Note: Offers are available in the U.S. only.
She also posted a link to a video that explains the new process of creating and managing offers through your Google Places dashboard:
Two days ago I reported that Google Places offers were getting suspended due to “unavailability” outside the US, which seemed odd as they had always been available everywhere where Google Places was. However, with the new launch this phenomenon makes more sense. It is also worth noting that the whole cleaning up of Offers started about 5 months ago, when Google began rejecting ineligible offers. At that time, there were already rumours that the company might finally have decided to breathe some fresh life into their offers/coupons feature. The change to the Google Places Quality Guidelines from the last week is also something that could be directly related to this new launch
The new interface looks much better than the old one and incorporates many new features. However, the first thing you should do before urging to create and promote an offer is to make sure you are eligible for that. According to the “Create an offer using Google Places for Business“:
- Your business must be located within the United States
- You must verify your business listing using Google Places for business
- You must determine that your business is eligible under our product policies – if your goods or services fall into any of the categories listed here, we cannot support your offers at this time.
The offer creation is similar to how it was done previously. You have to log in to your Google Places dashboard and click on the “Offers” tab. From there, choose the “Create” option at the left side and the following menu will be displayed:
There are three types of offers that you could choose from:
- Percent off – it is interesting to note that you have a limited set of options here, i.e. you could not display an offer for 33% discount for instance; you’d have to choose between 30% and 35%
- Money off – this is a more flexible option, but the limitation is up to $999
- Free item – there are two parts to this option: 1) what the free item is; 2) under what conditions someone could get it
After you’ve chosen your type of offer, you would have to pick an image for it. For now, the options are limited just to the stock photos gallery of Google, which provides a rather scarce choice of imagery. It is required that you add a photo to your offer, though.
The next set of options are related to the availability and redemption specifics. You can choose if one customer could use the same offer once or repeatedly, the number of offers available, when the offer will end, and very interestingly – which days of the week the offer would be active. This last option might come in handy for businesses that have low customers days, such as retail stores or auto repair shops.
The last options you might choose from are which locations the coupon/offer would be valid for, in case you have multiple offices/stores, as well as space for inclusion of additional terms and conditions that apply.
According to the message that shows up after you publish your offer, they are currently available only for Google Maps for Android, Google Offers and Google Wallet apps (notice the exclusion of desktop). You can manage your offers from the “Manage” menu on the left. It looks like this:
As you may see, the ability to track how many people saved and redeemed this particular offer is present. This is a large steps towards improving the overall Google Offers service.
A few things to be pointed out:
1) Check-ins are unavailable any more for offers
2) The service is free only for a “limited time trial period”, and Google does not currently provide information on when this period will end.
3) Even if you change, pause, or cancel an offer, if the customer had saved it previously, you should honour the terms and conditions that were in power during the time the customer saved the offer.
4) The offers created through the old dashboard would still be valid. However, you won’t be able to edit them, but you would be able to delete them:
Some thoughts of mine:
Google is doing a lot of not-very-obvious changes around Google Places recently. The latest ones include the removal of AdWords Express from the Google Places dashboard, and the current changes to Offers for Google Places for Business. Both of these “add-ons” to Google Places have been around for some time and they’ve always been part of the product. The first one is now rolled out into the general AdWords dashboard, and the second one seems to be going closer to the separate Google Offers product. Is it just a matter of time when Google Places and Google Plus for Business would also merge?