Online interactions play a role in determining how customers feel about offline businesses, whether merchants like it or not. According to a 2014 survey by Yodle, half of SMBs think it’s “important” or “very important” for their business to receive positive online reviews, however 68% of those merchants don’t spend any time monitoring what customers are saying about their businesses on the web.
A lack of time and knowledge are two factors that explain why business owners don’t take a more active role in monitoring how they’re perceived online. However, a number of hyperlocal platforms are now aiming to streamline that process by giving small businesses access to advanced marketing automation tools and analytics suites that were once reserved for national brands and agencies. These platforms give SMBs ways to recognize and analyze mentions of their businesses online, and provide detailed insights into how online customer interactions might be influencing offline sales.
Here are six platforms that businesses can use to gather insight from online customer interactions.
1. Connectivity: Use social media posts to grow email and phone marketing lists.
Expected to roll out by the end of the year, Connectivity is a hyperlocal platform that small businesses can use to gain insight from digital interactions. Using software to identify and analyze references to businesses on social media, review websites, and other user-generated content sites, along with listings data to identify customer interactions, Connectivity is able to help SMBs better understand their customers’ behaviors, interests, and demographics. Businesses can use Connectivity to grow their email and telephone marketing lists, with contact information gleaned from check-ins, along with reviews and comments posted on the web.
2. Sysomos: Collect relevant conversations happening online.
Eavesdropping in real life is considered rude, but doing it online is considered a strategic marketing tactic for merchants who are interested in learning more about what customers think of their businesses. Sysomos provides clients with tools for virtual eavesdropping, allowing businesses to collect relevant online conversations, identify key influencers, and automatically analyze sentiment on social media channels. When issues arise, businesses are able to use Sysomos’ marketing tools to provide customer support. Ultimately, Sysomos aims to help merchants better understand key conversations, themes, and trends that impact how their businesses are perceived by potential customers.
3. Perch: Get a birds-eye view of customers’ online chatter.
Perch consolidates the mentions a business receives online, collecting data from sources including Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Foursquare, Groupon, LivingSocial, and Google+. Users can find out immediately when someone has posted about their companies via mobile notifications, or they can scan through mentions daily by reading Perch’s email digest. Perch differentiates itself from other vendors in the marketplace by also providing users with insight into how their competitors are doing online, as well. For example, a coffee shop owner might see that a competitor down the block is generating rave reviews for a new drink special — to combat that effect, the coffee shop owner could start offering a new special of his own.
4. Spark by Marketo: Track the online behaviors of prospective customers.
Developed by Marketo, a marketing automation vendor knows for working with enterprise clients, Spark was designed specifically to provide small and mid-size businesses with ways to optimize their online marketing efforts. Spark offers tools that SMBs can use to build relationships with online leads. Businesses can track the online behaviors and website activity of prospective customers, and they can send automated emails based on customizable triggers. Marketo’s platform also offers analytics tools that businesses of all sizes can use to measure the reach of their digital campaigns across social media.
5. uberVU: Learn from what “influencers” are saying online.
uberVU is a real-time social media marketing platform that businesses can use to build deeper relationships with their current and future customers through online interactions. uberVU provides businesses with in-depth information about which influencers are driving relevant conversations on social media—for example, who are the most important people tweeting about hair salons in Nashville this week—and offers ways for businesses to start conversations with those influencers. uberVU also has geo distribution data down to the city level, which means shop owners who are considering expansion can find out where customers in their target demographics are most likely to live and work.
6. Silverpop: Rely on detailed profiles for improved customer service.
Silverpop is a behavioral marketing platform that businesses can use to “automate personalized experiences.” What that means is that Silverpop collects data about a business’ customers and the actions they’re taking online each day. Businesses can then analyze and segment that data, to create targeted multi-channel campaigns based on the likes and dislikes of individual customers. For example, a clothing boutique might see a loyal customer tweeting about her love for Burberry clothes. The next time she visits, the shopkeeper could pull up the customer’s profile and use that data to determine which new items she should bring out for the customer to view.
Know of other platforms that businesses can use to gather insight from digital customer interactions? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.