Google Maps – Utility or Lifestyle App?


Where would we be without Google Maps? Lost, probably.

Of all navigation apps, Google’s is the one people trust the most. In fact, of the 77% of smartphone owners who rely on navigation apps to find their way, almost 70% prefer Google Maps over others. It’s the preferred navigation app for nearly 6X more people than the second most popular one, Waze. (BTW: Waze is owned by Google! I happen to like Apple Maps, too.)

And Google knows Maps is the preferred app, which is why the company has been adding features to it that make it more like a lifestyle app rather than just a utility. They’re drawing people and increasing the app’s stickiness by integrating with every day services and content delivery platforms that consumers love to use.

Here are some of the latest additions:

  • Move over Uber. Don’t exit out of Maps to summon a ride (Uber or Lyft). Now you can ask Google to book a ride for you — no typing necessary.
  • Track your travel. A recent update that’s currently in beta will enable you to view a monthly report of your driving behavior, right inside the app.
  • Play that funky music. A recent integration available on Android and iOS devices enables Maps users to stream music from Spotify. It basically works as a music discovery platform, pulling in content from Spotify, which appears as an icon on a sidebar within Maps. No more toggling between Maps and Spotify to get the tunes going during your journey.
  • The gang’s all here. Google’s new group planning feature makes Maps a more social experience, enabling users to create a list of places they’re interested in visiting – say, bars or restaurants – share that list with friends, and decide as a group where to meet up. That eliminates a lot of back and forth over text.

So what does all this mean for businesses?

For instance, accurate business listings are essential for capitalizing on Google’s new ride feature. If a Maps user asks Google to order a ride to your business, and the driver can’t find you, you’ll lose a customer.

You need plenty of recent online reviews, as well. First of all, Google uses reviews to determine where businesses rank in “near me” searches, and which to feature on the map. And if a consumer is using the new group planning feature, everyone involved in the group vote will see star ratings and review snippets before making a decision. Friends aren’t likely to suggest meeting at a 2-star restaurant with bad reviews (although a 2-star dive bar might be entertaining).

And Google’s integration with Spotify is probably just the first of many that will enable targeted content delivery based on consumers’ locations, destinations and business preferences.

Eventually, your business success will depend on whether or not Google makes you a visible business — that you’re findable, credible and highly rated. To maintain its position as the go-to search engine for everything — products, services, information, directions, content — Google has to provide the best results. Anything less will damage consumer trust. So, it’s up to you to convince Google that it should send business your way.

Want some tips? Here’s a good place to start.

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