Consumers care about online reviews; small businesses (SMBs) care about what’s being said about them online. Most small businesses that are aware of the phenomenon of online reviews (and care) try to monitor those reviews by using a search engine or alerts with their business name. They also visit specific sites like Yelp or Citysearch to see what’s being said about them. It’s an awkward process that is time consuming, but increasingly necessary.
Large corporations have had various “buzz tracking” tools at their disposal to monitor “brand chatter” but these have not been available for SMBs. Marchex has now created a comprehensive reputation management tool aimed at the SMB market that enables monitoring of virtually everything being said about them online via a single dashboard. I’ve seen the demo and it’s a very impressive offering. The search tie-in is that the tool is built on top of Marchex’s OpenList search and reviews aggregation technology. During the beta period SMBs can get direct access but after that it will apparently only be available through Marchex’s partners (e.g., YellowPages.com) and not directly to SMBs. I think that’s unfortunate because it’s a valuable tool and service that SMBs would directly pay for.
The press release summarizes the content and data being collected:
Marchex Reputation Management was built using proprietary local search technology from Marchex’s Open List local search network. Covering more than 8,000 sources and currently containing more than a quarter billion pieces of meta-data, Marchex Reputation Management monitors and reports on a specific business’ online footprint, including its user reviews and news, blog and social media mentions. In addition, Marchex Reputation Management ensures the accuracy of information in existing online business listings found on general search sites, local search sites and directories, such as consistent business name, address and phone numbers, as well as making recommendations as to where to add new listings for more coverage. This information is refreshed daily.
Marchex Reputation Management blends Marchex’s heritage in local search with its proven ability to partner and deliver local advertising solutions. Specific features include:
- Reviews: Charts break out the percentage of positive, neutral or negative reviews in an easy-to-read display.
- Mentions: Charts demonstrate activity by reviews or mentions to tie the information 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 any 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.
The tool can be used to determine where business listings exist online and how consistent and complete they are; but it’s most valuable, as the name suggests, to track reviews and what’s said about a business. SMBs can also compare themselves to others and direct competitors. And there’s the ability to share reviews via Twitter, Facebook, etc, which takes this beyond simply a monitoring tool into the realm of outbound marketing:
I spoke with Marchex EVP of Product Engineering Matthew Berk, whose OpenList was acquired by Marchex in 2006 and is the basis of this tool, and he said that SMBs in the beta test are figuring out that they can use this not only for monitoring of reviews but also to glean information for later marketing purposes. It has long been the case that proactive SMBs have used online reviews to improve their service or identify problems but there hasn’t been an easy way for them to get all the relevant information in a single tool or dashboard.
GetListed does a good job of helping businesses identify where they show up online and provides a number of services for SEO purposes. But in terms of monitoring online ratings and reviews of local businesses and building a suite of services around that, there isn’t anything else in the market (to my knowledge) that does this.
Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search Engines: Buzz Search Engines | Search Engines: Maps & Local Search Engines | Search Engines: Other Search Engines | Search Engines: Word Of Mouth & Buzz Search Engines