local media insider

Analyzing LocalVox: What is it and whether to sell it

The fast growing turnkey marketing platform offers white label partnerships

Alisa Cromer
Click through these slides to see the back end dashboard analytics, starting with Newsay.com, a city site where local merchants can post blogs for the SEO value.
Here's one of the nine Newsay.com cities that has been pre-populated with aggregated content, in addition to blogs. The company is willing to "turn on" content aggregation for media partner cities.
Click to enlarge: DIY functionality for merchants - or resellers - includes prompts to actions and the ability to respond to posts.
Click to enlarge: The checklist of digital presence includes optimization - that is, claiming and writing descriptions of merchants with key words identified - not just checking the name and address.
Click to enlarge: Our favorite view is the ranking by key word combination for Google Maps, which accounts for 83% of all organic search and 100% of mobile search.
Click to enlarge: Another interesting view shows rankings for content marketing posted on "Nearsay.com", with a recommendation to post stories, events and deals twice a month. The premium service includes executing the schedule for the client.
Click to enlarge: A quick summary shows movement up and down the rankings on Google Maps and Google, as well as directories optimized.
Click to enlarge: The deal view shows results and allows for broadcasting of deals.
Click to enlarge: Communicate with customers on the social media of their choice from inside the dashboard.
Please click to enlarge customer view: The first screen is a summary of current analytics.

LocalVox is a new white label opportunities for local media companies reselling agency services. The hottest new digital  marketing platform  provides a turnkey suite of DIY marketing tools - from findability to GPS targeted ads and content marketing.  It's the most robust integrated tool kit with a Hootesuite-like click to publish buttons and well-visualized analytics. 

However, LocalVox is a mixed bag of tricks in some ways;   it was developed for merchants first, so it includes a click to publish events and offers as ads on a GPS-targeted mobile ad network,  but not on the media's own sites. Full integration is probably a marketer's fantasy anyway, however, and LocalVox, built specifically for merchants, comes awfully close to creating a complete turnkey integrated SMB marketing suite.

Interestingly, some very large brand advertisers like Whole Foods are using the tools on their own. 

Here is the list of integrated products and services: 

•  "Findability" services includes posting listings across multiple directories, plus mobile web site creation and reputation management.

•  Claiming services and profile writing services.  Localvox will manually write and optimize company profiles, including images and key words, which is posted via API across 30 top social media sites  and directories like Yelp and Google+.  

•  A "deals" component lets users post a coupon (that can be linked to a deal) and events  to all the directories, plus publish ads across  GPS-based mobile ad networks.

•  Collected emails are stored in the system and can be exported, imported or sent from the dashboard. 

•  The content marketing component includes a simple DIY blogging platform. Click to publish across social media platforms,   to a network of citysites, Newsay.com  to the network media network partners, who receive blogs as "press releases."

• Full service includes social media management, with LocalVox writing the schedule of posts. 

The full suite of analytics - some of which are conspicuously cool - are in the top right gallery (click to enlarge each one).

Conspicuously absent from the group of channels is YouTube, SMS and other kinds of  display ads, but the list is still the most comprehensive  we've seen.

So far, several large brands like Whole Foods use the tools, plus The Berry Company, the largest telephone directory company with several hundred businesses on the platform one year into their relationship. 

LocalVox packages its services in four channels, which can be layered together, and are worth looking at for any media reseller of digital marketing:  

a. Broadcast

The basic service. For $99 a month merchants get:

• A responsive profile page on Newsay.com, which already has responsive design.

• A mobile site for the client's own web site

• Social media set up across the most important platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LInkedIn and Yelp, but not YouTube or Pinterest.

• Access to create a simple blogs with click to to publish across and the Nearsay sites ( the most active markets with a lot of content include Boston, Charlotte, New Jersey, New York, Philadephia, Providence and Washington, D.C.)  other media partners (yahoo, Bing, Topics, CBSLocal and CNNLocal)  and all social platforms such as  Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, GooglePlus.

• Click to publish coupons to Newsay.com and mobile sites.

Media partners receive blog posts as a 'press release';  LocalVox sales agents' claim that in their nine top markets, partners typicall post 3 to 4 local articles a day that typically include 2 to 3 from Newsay. 

b. SearchCast

The first upsell adds claiming and optimization of content on 100 mobile and local directories. The optimization service includes creating key word optimized content and images from the web site, and sending updates in real time via API Google+, Yelp, Yahoo, Yellowbot, etc. 

Merchants can track the rankings for each combination of desired key words in one of the dashboard views (see slides top right). 

Sumner says Google+ is especially important because optimization is so different from traditional SEO, and Google+ now powers all Google maps, the defacto  "search" presence for most businesses. 

c. MobileCast

This channels pushes deals and event promotions with e-mail capture across a GPS-targeted mobile ad network LocalVox has created, including "thousands of apps" such as Pandora.  Company reps say a typical active local merchant posting an offer which lasts a month  collects 50 to 100 emails  using the system, a return of about .1%, though the CPM is not disclosed. 

d. Social Media

The largest package inciudes complete social media and content marketing management by the team at LocalVox. LocalVox writers create and publish a schedule of content for the merhcant.

These channels are layered into  three tiers of packages, priced as follows: 
• Tier one is $99 for Broadcast only 
• Tier two is $349 for Broadcast plus one of two, either Searchcast or Mobilecast
• Tier four is $499 for all three
• Tier five is $1499 for the three plus social media management.

Here is the retail pricing sheet: 

Onboarding a new merchant -  because of the  realtime API functionality - is fast:  One day to write and optimize the profile. Some diirectories take longer to make the corrections, but Sumner claims search impressions typicaly double or triple by the second month. 

The media reseller's sales team receives a white-labeled phone hotline and dedicated account manager, plus there is a chatline on the site. They claim a retention rate from merchants of 95%. 

LocalVox works on a revenue share with media of 20% to 50% depending on the level of service such as  who completes the sale (their own team of sellers also works leads in some markets), and who provides content updates. Media resellers can choose to create posting schedules themselves, leveraging their contacts with writers and taking a larger cut. 

Our take 

There is much to like in this turnkey platform - including the number of integrated components, ease of use (the tools are almost dummed down too much, with helpful explanatory notes), integrations and analytics. If we were a local merchant, this is just a great option that solves a key issue: integrate everything. 

Since merchants typically still need lots of help using these  tools  - and with content creation scheduleds -  the opportunity for media resellers to provide services is realistic. White labeling the product suite is a critical plus LocalVox has over some other more robust backend agencies. 

We found that the SEO claiming and content creation for directories was most similar to LocalMarketLaunch, though LocalVox uses an API, so events and deals can be posted across platforms and directories in real time, for example, in time for a holiday weekend.  Many agency back-end services do not include claiming and profile creation.

Finally, the product tiers make a lot of sense: Basic presence is "fixed" in the first tier, Promotions are grouped in the second tier, and Social media engagement with the merchant's audience of customers is in the third tier. 

However, full service media agencies provide more services than LocalVox integrates so some of these will not be integrated.  The email platform, for example, is limited in that reporting is by email, and not dashboard-based, so while it tracks opt-ins, it does not track specifically names of customers who "clicked or opented." A more robust email platform would required transfering emails.

YouTube and Pinterest, increasingly important channels, are not also here (to be fair, Pinterest is always manual, since it does not yet have an API). And of course, display ad networks and AdWords can not be integrated into this dashboard either. 

Media companies who already combine numerous products and use ClickFuel to integrate numerous product will not find an immediate advantage here - which is why it may make more sense for IYP resellers who do not generate large dollars from display campaigns on high traffic journalism based sites. 

Still, for basic search and social packaging this is a powerful simplified platform that media agencies should consider. Another idea is to add media-owned products into tier two promotions, and develop customized "bundles" for larger accounts or industry segments that include LocalVox as one product. 

Here's our review ratings: 

Pricing model: Includes a lot for $99 to $1499, with revenue share for media resellers. We'll give it a 3 to 5, based on what you can negotiate. 20% does not sound like a realistic model but 50% should work well for just about any media agency reseller. 

Functionality:  Software is simple to use and it works. We are only non-plussed by  email reprot which is emailed, but not dashboard based.

Customer service: The chatline is always open, and there is dedicated rep & white label phone line for media accounts. We got someone on the chat line right away who was able to answer our questions. 

White label: Yes 

Competitive advantage: Adds some extras, provides a turnkey start with a number of SMB tools integrated.  As a white labeled product, we see this as adding many important benefits to SMB's  without needing long turn around times. 

Integrations:  It's own integrated click-to-publish and analytics are robust. However, it's harder to intregate with tools the media may alreay be using - such as Vendasta or ClickFuel. Does not provide posting to YouTube and Pinterest. Most important, it does not integrate media-owned online display ads, which are a key differentiator for local media agencies. 

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

LocalVox, social media managment, search, findability, reputation management, GPS mobile, email, dashboards