Social and Internet marketing using Yelp, Facebook, Google and MerchantCircle

I have been thinking hard about online and offline marketing programs to help my brother’s dental practice get some legs.

Groupon requires 25 Facebook followers for your business.

Yelp charges a ton of money for a limited number of impressions or you can buy ads that are $3 per click. That’s a really high pay-per-click if you take a 1% conversion rate on clicks. That would be $300 per converted customer. Alternatively Yelp CPM based plans but the pricing is super high like 1200 impressions per month for $500.

The nice thing about Yelp and Groupon is that they offer a lot of hand-holding early in the process. They promise some basic offline marketing as well as tips for optimizing. Another nice thing that Yelp and Groupon have in common is that I believe it has a higher-paying average user.

MerchantCircle is by far the cheapest at $30-$100 per month but these are search engine ads which may not be the most effective for converting online viewers into brick-and-mortar customers. The weak point of MerchantCircle is that they offer zero hand-holding and for the most part it’s difficult to figure out if anything is actually improving because people most likely would have seen your keyword ad on a search (Google, Bing, etc) and when they come in to the store their most likely answer for “How did you find us?” would be the search engine that showed the ad as opposed to the MerchantCircle page they clicked-through to see.

Direct search engine keyword buys at Google, Bing, etc. and simply too complicated for a business-owner to deal with.

3 main thoughts:

1. He chose to accept Yelp’s offer because they offer early hand-holding with the marketing. Not for the impressions.
2. What does Peixe tell merchants to do once a customer comes in the door?
3. How do I get more followers for my brother’s facebook page? Free or low-cost ideas.


My brother decided pay Yelp with these goals in mind:
— A) to see if he could get some higher-paying customers. He said he tried a service that blanketed post cards within a 5 mile radius for $900/month and got nowhere with it.

— B) He also reasoned that Yelp offers a little bit of consulting to ease new customers into the process.

$550 includes the video production including a $50 “hosting fee.” Yelp really knows how to suck money out of merchant wallets. I was also surprised at the cost for impressions. Yelp also offers a $3/PPC which I thought might be more efficient.

My takeaway here — even though it’s not scalable, early hand-holding is absolutely something that MC (and any “local” player) should be offering.

WWYGD? What would Yelp and Groupon Do?

What do Yelp & Groupon suggest its merchants do in order to engage/retain customers once they come in the door? I’m trying to drum up some offline programs that he could use to spark more reviews and possibly to gather email addresses. I think my brother should buy some “review my business” cards to hand out when patients come in. His current demographic is primarily blue-collar hispanic — I don’t believe this is a common demographic for Yelp/Groupon.

Facebook followers & Groupon Deal

Originally my brother wanted to try Groupon. However, requires him have a Facebook Fan Page. The Fan page must have at least 25 followers. My brother barely uses Facebook. His friends don’t use FB either. This makes it difficult to get followers because he has no network. Any cheap/free suggestions that should use to get Fans?

Now, suppose we achieve 25 followers in the near future. What type of deal does Yelp/Groupon/other typically suggest for a dentist (regular dentist) offer? My brother is using Yelp to offer free teeth-whitening trays.

Custom Nginx logging format

I’m trying to figure out if my nginx proxy cache is working or not. Reference these pages to hopefully log cache hits and misses.

#I put this in my nginx vhost config file
log_format up_head ‘$remote_addr [$time_local]’ ‘upstream_cache_status $upstream_cache_status’;
#write log using the "up_head" format that I just defined.
access_log /path/to/log/access.log up_head;

Sample log output of the example defined above. [16/Jan/2011:20:22:25 +0000]upstream_cache_status HIT [16/Jan/2011:20:22:26 +0000]upstream_cache_status – [16/Jan/2011:20:22:26 +0000]upstream_cache_status – [16/Jan/2011:20:22:27 +0000]upstream_cache_status HIT [16/Jan/2011:20:22:28 +0000]upstream_cache_status – [16/Jan/2011:20:22:28 +0000]upstream_cache_status – [16/Jan/2011:20:22:45 +0000]upstream_cache_status HIT

nginx caching for wordpress and drupal

Use Boost module for Drupal and then copy some nginx rules.

Wordpress Nginx proxy cache integrator plugin. Rather doing a proxy to Apache, I proxy nginx back to itself on a different port that is running fastCGI for the PHP.

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