While Foursquare has been the most hyped location startup out of New York, there is actually another startup that is growing a real business from serving merchants with about 150,000 locations globally.
Yext has quietly grown to 200 employees through a platform that makes it easy for brands and small businesses to manage their location data across more than 50 search engines, mapping companies and on Facebook. They’ve raised more than $65 million to date after spinning out and selling an older pay-per-call business to IAC, in favor of going after this opportunity.
CEO Howard Lerman thinks of his company as the “quiet location giant,” which could eventually become one of the New York tech scene’s serious IPO candidates.
They’re making their connection to the Facebook platform even more seamless today with the launch of Yext Sync. Through a mobile app, businesses can manage their Facebook Pages, whether they have one or one thousand of them. It’s designed so that a local employee at one of a franchise’s hundreds or thousands of locations can update the page with real-time content like photos or status updates.
“If a Starbucks barista is interacting with customers every day, why can’t they manage the local Facebook Page?” said Yext CEO Howard Lerman. He said that Facebook is now a growing source of local search; according to a study from Neustar, Facebook has about 13 percent of local searches now.
The app they’ve built, called Yext Sync, kind of feels like any other social networking app where you can just add photos or updates to a stream (which ends up being the Facebook page). Facebook actually has its own Pages Manager App, but it isn’t multi-platform, Lerman says.
“When a business or brand posts into Yext, it appears not just in Facebook, but also, optionally on our network of 50 sites,” he explained. “So, post once, and it updates more than 50 platforms with one touch. This is better than updating each platform individually.”
Yext is looking to have 300,000 locations on its platform by next year. They have a subscription model with tiers that range from $149 a year to $499, depending on the number of sites a business wants to manage.
Local Market Launch, a startup that helps companies manage the online presence of local stores, is announcing that it has raised $1.5 million in Series A funding.
The company was founded by Brian Coryat, who previously founded ValueClick, an online ad company that went public in 2000. Coryat told me that he spent much of the past decade working with small businesses, and that Local Market Launch was created to address one of the big issues that he saw during that time — the need to manage the presence of these businesses on the web, both through their own websites and their listings on other properties. There are companies tackling parts of the problem, he said, but it’s a fragmented landscape with tools that aren’t easy to use.
“Our charge is to make businesses findable on all locations, apps, and devices,” Coryat said.
There are three main pieces to the startup’s offerings for multi-lcoation businesses. First, it creates a landing page for each location, and each page is optimized for local search, he said. Second, it promotes those pages by pushing out the information to a number of search portals and channel partners. Third, it offers monitoring tools so businesses can track social media buzz and reviews.
The company launched in 2012, and Coryat said it doesn’t usually work with these businesses directly — instead, its customers are print directories who can sell Local Market Launch as part of their services, as well as certified marketing representatives (basically, agencies who work with these types of businesses).
As for the funding, it comes from Rincon Venture Partners. Combined with seed funding provided by Coryat himself, Local Market Launch has raised a total of $2.7 million.
Rincon general partner John Greathouse told me that his firm likes to work with “serial entrepreneurs in an adjacent space” — in this case, Coryat actually tackled a similar problem with his first company, AAA Internet Promotions. Greathouse also emphasized that Local Market Launch is trying to drive real-world sales: “If you boil it all down, the goal of Local Market Launch is to generate door swings and phone rings.”
I asked Coryat about the competitive landscape, particularly Yext, a company that helps local businesses update their listings across a range of websites. He replied that Yext has “kind of a neat platform,” but he said that for most small businesses, the real-time updating that Yext emphasizes just isn’t as important, and that Yext doesn’t have Local Market Launch’s focus on optimizing for Google.
Sightly is a local marketing tool that allows small businesses to leverage the power of video to tell their story in the most engaging and effective way possible.
When you do any routine Google search these days, the most noticeable aspect of the page is the video thumbnails next to the typical search results. Video is quickly starting to dominate both global and local search and it’s growing thanks to the boom in mobile video viewing. With video essentially replacing basic websites as the main medium consumers will expect to see, it’s more important than ever to integrate video into your local marketing strategy and no one makes it easier than Sightly.
Sightly is all about local business search and discovery. Let’s say you’re a car dealership who turns to Sightly for a local marketing boost. When users search “car dealership” in your area, your Sightly video will allow your business to appear above YouTube videos and other search results while presenting the user with an engaging way to learn about your business.
Sightly is also a certified Google AdWords partner which can mean a huge advantage for your CPC campaign. Between video and certified AdWords experts, your small business will have a massive leg up on the competition.
Sightly provides a number of different packages and allows you to customize your campaign, get a mobile web site, get a 30-second spotlight video, customize your website and campaign with your own images and logo, and change or modify your campaign each month. There is no contract to sign, you simply decide if you want to continue using the service each month.
Sightly is all about video but there are other local marketing tools that allow you to leverage the power of the web for your local business. Yodle is a growing company that helps build your web presence and use SEO to drive calls and emails to your business, allowing you to track everything in the process.
OrangeSoda is another local marketing tool that provides you with a website, SEO, coupons, PPC, and marketing advice for your small business. Their services start at $475 for the basic package while the Pro package costs $1,125.
Another local marketing tool is ReachLocal which provides a full suite of features for your business. ReachLocal can produce videos as well but focus mostly on search engine advertising, marketing, and lead management. Their services start at $1,000 while a full comprehensive media mix package starts at $3,700.
Ultimately, you will want to choose the right tool for your budget and goals. All of these tools provide an edge in the search engine and local marketing game, Sightly just does it differently than the others.
The post Sightly Revolutionizes Local Business Search With Video appeared first on Small Business Technology.
Groupon’s VP of mobile, David Katz, says that it has been “business as usual” at the daily deals company since the dramatic departure of founder/CEO Andrew Mason. “We’re still just focused on shipping new stuff,” Katz told TechCrunch in an interview. Today, that includes news of updates to Groupon’s iPhone and Android apps: it is adding a universal search feature that will let consumers use the apps to search for Marketplace deals that are available nearby, covering not just local discounts that are time-sensitive but rolling offers that are not.
The search feature lays the groundwork for a larger attack that publicly traded Groupon is making on mobile to stay competitive in location-based mobile services against the likes of Google, Yelp and Foursquare — with the latter just raising $41 million to position itself as a platform for local search, offering local deals as an added twist. And it’s an area that Facebook too is targeting, as evidenced by its mobile app update today. With the search feature available now in the U.S., Groupon plans to turn the feature on across the rest of its mobile footprint this year, Katz says.
On top of the new search updates, the Android app is now able to support tablets, the first time that it has been optimized for screens of up to 10 inches.
And while the iPad app is not getting an update today, Groupon says that this week it is extending the number of countries where it will work. Belgium, Japan, Malaysia, South Africa and Switzerland are getting added, taking the total to 18 countries.
That’s still a far cry from the 42 that Groupon supports with its iPhone app, but Katz says that they hope to reach parity “by the end of the year, if not sooner.” iOS usage, he says, “still dominates” on Groupon’s platform but the company’s move to roll out features like search internationally, into countries where Android is stronger than iOS, may see that balance changing, which is why it’s important for Groupon to not only keep updating that Android app but add tablet support, as well.
Groupon’s bid to “transition from being just daily deals into a more complete offering,” in Katz’s words, is so far showing signs that it is paying off, with both mobile and non-time-specific Marketplace deals playing roles in that.
About half of the company’s local transaction volume in North America is coming from its Deals Marketplace at the moment, and that deal bank (Groupon’s internal term for the Marketplace) has grown by 300 percent compared to last year, with 37,000 active deals last quarter.
Meanwhile, the company reported last quarter that 40 percent of transactions are being completed on mobile devices, with mobile users typically spending 50 percent more than web customers. While Groupon doesn’t break out what that means in terms of actual revenues, as a rough calculation North America saw overall revenues of $375 million last quarter, which would work out to $150 million of revenues on mobile for the period. (Of course, that revenue also came with an operating loss of $12.9 million and a loss per share of 12 cents, signs that the company needs to drastically continue to expand its business and margins to sustain itself longer term.) The product enhancements appear to have come in conjunction with a rise in stock.
Putting search on the mobile apps brings these two strands together: “Search has been the most-requested feature,” says Katz. “And we now have the inventory on the back end to bring it to mobile.”
While there are a number of third-party companies able to power local search features — Foursquare’s API is used by some 40,000+ developers — Katz says that Groupon built its own search engine as part of its investment in “data science and algorithmic ranking,” and its own bid to become a search company. “We are becoming a different company technologically,” he says.
The new search feature is something to keep an eye on. Katz wouldn’t comment on whether Groupon would use it as a platform to offer other information, such as local listings and user reviews, two areas already hotly contested by its rivals, but he did hint that there may be more news in this area soon.
“We have such a large mobile audience that we have an opportunity to do more,” he says.
Biomimicry is an engineering field that takes cues from nature to help solve and address human problems, and Google today launched a new website at its Google Green initiative that highlights some of the ways nature’s engineers can inspire and guide human behavior. The site uses gorgeous National Geographic images along with brief descriptions of how the natural antecedent relates to the human concept, and then provides Google-sourced tools to help people emulate that activity.
Is it basically an ad? Yes. Is it a smart one? Definitely. Google manages to pitch pretty much all of its major web- and app-based offerings and services in a single slide show, with direct integrations built in that make it possible to take immediate action based on the trends they choose to highlight. You can do a local search for recycled and upcycled decorating material, grab apps and movies on the subjects from Google Play, search for maps and join Google+ communities and more. My only complaint is that Google buries the science at the end of the site in linked academic articles for each animal or plant behavior, where those probably should have been at least linked somewhere in each well-designed spread right alongside the Google service advertisements.
Some might call this empty lip-service to Earth Day, which takes place today and probably would be better served by Google powering down a server farm or two for a few hours, but the concepts highlighted (including ride sharing, composting, energy conservation and diet modification) are solid ones and would have genuinely beneficial ecological effects if adopted by large portions of the community. Plus it’s an impressive example of web design in its own right, and a look at what Google can do with content marketing models which could be a key vector for it to exploit as the nature of online advertising continues to shift.