Mobile devices have blurred the line between our offline experiences and online activities, allowing consumers to connect with physical businesses digitally at an unprecedented scale. The result of all of this interactivity has been an ever-increasing deluge of unstructured information about real-world businesses — from snarky comments to check-ins and tips — that nonetheless deeply influences the decisions consumers make in the local marketplace.
Connectivity, a Los Angeles-based startup headed up by former BIA/Kelsey CSO Matt Booth, has announced this morning that it has raised $6.35 million in funding to help small businesses structure and draw insights from that sea of digital interactions. The company is developing software to identify and analyze references to brick-and-mortar businesses in social media, reviews and other user-generated content, and then aggregate that data into a dashboard for small businesses to monitor their presence online.
The project was spawned from Solfo, a local data business which spent the last seven years aggregating and structuring listings information to power local directory sites. A year ago, the team began to develop a SaaS for businesses, using the dataset to build a reputation management product that allows businesses to track and respond to customer comments online. Today, over 92,000 small business locations use the software, sold largely through mom-and-pop agencies and various channel partners.
But the future of the company lies in a new product, which Booth says will roll out by the end of the year. The company is building a system to connect a small business’s customer with a variety of passive signals buried online, using its core business listings data to identify customer interactions online — say, a review, comment on social media or check-in — and append that to a merchant’s existing list of customer emails or phone numbers. By automating the list building process, Booth believes it will open the door to a much larger opportunity: marketing automation.
“In order to make marketing automation business work, you have to help these small businessees solve the first problem, and thats quantifying who my customers are,” said Booth. “It’s going to be a big business. The rub is that its only valuable for the people who are already good at aggregating their customer data. The platform doesn’t exist for people that don’t have this massive retail infrastructure.”
Booth says that over the next few months, the company will use its new capital to build the necessary marketing and sales structures needed to turn the company into from a client-services organization into a SaaS business. He also says the company plans to expand the reach of the list-building product into more privately controlled data sources, integrating with point-of-sale providers as well as telecom companies so the product can measure when a customer makes a purchase or calls a store.
Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.