local media insider

Marchex tool helps local SMB's manage their reputation on the internet

Alisa Cromer
Marchex competitor view. Click on the link to see what their customers are saying about them online.

With FaceBook testing a reseller's program and local ad reps increasingly selling online services there is a killer tool that should not be overlooked: Marchex has an inexpensive dashboard that let's SMB's monitor their local media mentions across platforms.

One more thing to sell, yes, but this is one of those low cost services that creates new conversations with SMB's.

Think of it from the advertiser's perspective. They already believe 50% of their business is coming from word of mouth. And 74% comes from WOM on the internet: Directories, Yelp, Twitter, and God knows what else. For a small business, it's hard to keep up. For a multiple location business, it's a full time job.

Instead of dealing with the situation, they receive 25 calls a week from media sales reps battering them with more products: Directories, coupons, online advertising. 

Marchex's platform lets local media services, ie the sales rep, show an advertiser all of the mentions of their business - and their competitors - on the internet. As such, it's is a great tool to get into a conversation, and then blend the services with other sales, especially things like directories, coupon offers or social media sales.

Reach Local has already purchased a similar service,  embedded in its CLoud Profiles. Put it this way: if ReachLocal is in your market, they are using these capabilities to create conversations you can't have with your potential customers.

“Twitter, blogs, yelp, every SMB has to deal with,” says Mathew Berk, Executive Vice President of Product Engineering at Marchex in an interview this spring.

“The reality is that SMB’s feel victimized, sites do everything for the consumer and nothing for the businesses.” He noted that a business with multiple locations has 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 access a dashboard to sift the data and gain insight into how customers feel.

Craig Abplanalp, manager at Definitive Audio, one of the beta sites, agrees. The high end home audio store was one of 300 merchants in the test.

“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.”

Like many small businesses, Abplanalp thinks most of his business comes from word-of-mouth and says the reports showed “a couple of squeaky wheels” involving sales people in one of his showrooms 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

-Mentions: Charts tie mentions back to particular changes in the business or marketing efforts by month.

-Business listings: Ensure business listings are accurate and visible on top online consumer destinations.

-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.

-Ability to engage: Share positive news and reviews with customers and employees through email, Twitter, Facebook, Digg or other sources.

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.

Media companies are able to resell the service for “suggested retail” price of $19 a month, of which Marchex will take a negotiated cut.

At less than the cost of many call-tracking services, the new tool will give a huge advantage to media who are early adapters. The private labeled solution can even be skinned to reflect the partner branding.

Berk says that the 300 SMB’s to use the tool found errors in data, such as a wrong address with customers driving to the wrong spot. Berk says that on a typical “sales call” the merchant often discovers upsetting information and immediately engages.

We are recommending this service for media companies who are already selling internet directory products and/or social media or offers such as coupons and discounts that are redistributed online. What about a workshop on "Monitoring your internet reputation" for SMB"s (see our article on workshops)?

It's not a big money maker, but a great add on to keep moving in the direction of selling what advertisers want, and keep them integrated into products they can't live without.

Alisa Cromer

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.

marchex, reputation management, marketplaces


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here