Don’t look now but ReachLocal may be reinventing its business. Three years after going public, and two years since seeing its stock price plummet, the company has quietly rolled out a stack of new services that look to transform the company from a bundler of commodity products like SEM and display advertising toward a marketing software-as-a-service business that solves some of the key planning and execution problems for SMBs.
This morning, the company is extending its subscription ReachEdge product to a general audience, providing tools for merchants to not only generate, but also manage leads that come directly to a business’s website or through a display or search campaign.
For Kris Barton, the company’s director of product, the problem that software needs to solve for small businesses today is not that of generating new leads — it’s converting demand into customers: “There are prospects who discover you, leads who contact you, and customers who chose you, and in ideal world everyone who visited your website would also contact you, and eventually would choose you,” Barton told Street Fight in an interview. “But, in reality, there is a significant drop where customers are, for whatever the reason, lost in the [conversion] process. We want to improve those leaks.”
With ReachEdge, the company aims to fix those “leaks.” The subscription service bundles a custom designed website with email marketing and its existing search and display advertising products to help businesses manage leads generated on the web and automate their marketing spend accordingly. Merchants can use a mobile app to review messages left by leads on the phone, via a form on website or through email, and respond in kind, or add to a leads list, without leaving the service. The service can also push these leads to business owners and marketing managers in real-time through in-app notifications or text alerts.
For ReachLocal, the lead management product is the middle layer in a marketing stack that includes its existing lead generation services and an emergent business management software product called ReachCommerce, which the company is currently piloting in a few markets. The service, which spawned out of its consumer-facing ClubLocal project, is a point-of-sale of sorts for service businesses, through which plumbers, electricians and the like can manage jobs (including a killer feature that allows customers to track their service provider on a map), as well as process payments and send invoices.
“There’s definitely an ecosystem play here,” says Barton referring to a strategy similar to Apple’s device model where integration of adjacent products drives adoption each other. “There are adjacencies and elements of the funnel that are continuing on beyond [the ReachEdge product] that we’ll be tying together into the future.” The interesting question for ReachLocal, and other firms in the space, is what to build, where to partner, and how to outsource some features to improve the user experience (through partnerships) without sacrificing long-term revenue opportunities.
Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.
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