Google is updating Maps — and positioning it as a B2C app

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Google launched a slew of new features in its Google My Business app last week in an effort to help businesses better engage with consumers through Google Maps.

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The updated app — which allows businesses to create and manage their profiles on Google Maps — is part of Google's play to expand the scope of Google Maps beyond navigation. Here's an overview of the features that will help drive interactions between businesses and consumers in Google Maps:

  • Companies are now able to inform consumers of timely offerings. The new Post button enables all businesses to upload photos to their profiles and create special offers and events for consumers. Previously, businesses had no way to provide promotional information to consumers on the app. The ability to showcase timely offerings will likely help businesses attract more customers to their profiles going forward.
  • Businesses and consumers can now chat with each other within the app. The new Messages functionality enables more streamlined communications between businesses and consumers. Previously, they had to chat with each other through SMS, meaning that both parties had to leave Google Maps and open up a new app to communicate, adding friction to the process. The ability to more seamlessly chat within Google Maps could encourage more customers to contact businesses on the platform.

These new features are the latest moves in Google's ongoing efforts to transform Google Maps into an app for business-to-consumer (B2C) communication. Google released the Explore tab in Google Maps this past June, which displays top events in a user's area, restaurant recommendations, and trending restaurant lists. Later in October, Google launched the Follow button in Google Maps, allowing users to stay up to date on events and other updates from their favorites businesses.

Although Google Maps is entering the territory of Facebook Pages, the new updates to the navigation app will help Google Maps come out on top. Facebook Pages boasts over 65 million local business pages and already provides communication abilities between businesses and consumers through its integration with Messenger.

But Google Maps' popularity as a navigation app — two-thirds (67%) of mobile navigation app users' go-to app is Google Maps — well positions it to take on Facebook Pages since users don't have to leave the navigation app for their B2C chat needs. Facebook Pages, on the other hand, requires users to leave Facebook and launch Apple Maps to access directions, creating more friction in the user experience.

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