The internet created new challenges for businesses trying to manage what is being said about them online. Enter Marchex, which developed a “reputation management” tool that media can resell to SMB’s, that allows them to monitor online mentions.
On the heels of this product launch, Reach Local announced its acquisition of SMBLive, which owns its own reputation management product, Cloud Profiles, that Reach Local's sales force may be able to bundle.
The two products are very different but address the same issue: The vital importance of social media to local businesses.
“Twitter, blogs, yelp, every SMB has to deal with,” says Mathew Berk, Executive Vice President of Product Engineering at Marchex. The dashboard created by Marchex allows SMB's to see all of the mentions, chart negative and postive trends, and identify listings errors.
So how does this compare to Reach Local's newly acquired platform?
While the back-end of the CloudProfile also tracks mentions on the web, the Clouds are really templated microsites intended to actively create a "social media presence", in addition to a web site.
The Cloud Profile looks like and can be updated like a blog, and automatically posts updates to Twitter and Facebook pages.
Businesses can follow real time conversations about their company and "join in". And businesses can chat live with visitors to their Cloud in the right hand column. The site says that e-commerce using pay-pal is coming soon.
SNBLive sells CloudProfiles directly to businesses for $14.95 a month; Marchex is suggesting a retail price of $19 a month to its media resellers. Both products have created a buzz because the vast majority of local businesses who never advertise are still interested in word-of-mouth and understand that it has migrated online.
“The reality is that SMB’s feel victimized, sites do everything for the consumer and nothing for the businesses,” said Berk, who noted businesses with multiple locations have a nearly impossible task in trying to monitoring dozens of online mentions without special software.
Marchex mines the internet – including review sites, blogs and twitter – for reviews, mentions and listings about their business. Merchants gain insight into how customers feel. About 300 are now part of the beta test, including Craig Abplanalp, owner and manager at Definitive Audio.
"For a small business, time is at a premium. This is an easy way to find out what people are saying bout my company...There's one dashboard so you don't have to do a lot of work to find out the good, the bad and the ugly."
The reports identified "a couple of squeaky wheels" involving sales people in one of his showroom being discussed online by unhappy customers, and that the dashboard allows him to "quickly aggregate all the noise" and take action.
There is also a voyeuristic aspect, Abplanalp says he looks up how his peers in other markets are doing in the new "ratings" for numbers of mentions and positive or negative reviews. He is now trying to create a seamless process to get customer reviews from each sale.
The core functions and tools on the dashboard include:
- Reviews: Charts break out the percentage of positive, neutral or negative reviews. The Cloud also shows mentions and has Google-like analytics rather than good vs bad charting.
-Business listings: Shows errors in listings in red.
-Keyword identification: Top keywords and phrases are highlighted to identify the terms that differentiate the business and act as an alert to customer service issues.
-Competitive marketing analysis: Compare a business to other local businesses to analyze how its reputation and marketing efforts stack up. With Cloud, businesses can only see their own statistics.
-Ability to engage: Share positive news and reviews with customers and employees through email, Twitter, Facebook, Digg or other sources. Cloud has all of these functions.
Marchex invested years and several million in developing the tool, which looks deceptively simple. In reality, more than 8,000 sources and 16 million businesses are scanned through an aggregated network. The technology replicates sophisticated services available to large companies.
The private labeled solution can even be skinned to reflect the partner branding.
To sign up, or be in line for to partner, www.marchex.com/repmanagement.
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.