Listening In On Your Locations
The online review monitoring and management platform ReviewTrackers looks to help brick-and-mortar businesses use online customer reviews to better their branches.
Online reviews can make or break your business, not unlike word of mouth could in the pre-digital days. Chris Campbell founded ReviewTrackers two years ago to provide a resource for multi-location businesses looking to aggregate and assess their online reviews.
The Chicago startup raised $2 million this past summer to build additional tech resources for its web presence and reputation management tools. More recently, ReviewTrackers has been active in emphasizing the influence that sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, and Foursquare, among others, have during the all-important holiday season for local businesses.
The convergence of online and offline shopping activity that marketers are examining so closely right now is also expected to deeply inform how normal commerce is analyzed beyond the holidays, and Campbell is squarely focused on how these changes will play out in 2015 and beyond.
GeoMarketing: What is ReviewTrackers? How/When was it formed and what is its mission?
Chris Campbell: Review Trackers is a software company that helps businesses not only collect and organize their online reviews, but also collect feedback from their customers so as to better understand their business from the voice of the customer. It was formed in 2012.
My background is in digital marketing. I’ve been in local marketing, digital marketing for the past ten years or so. I was trying to solve my own problem. I was working with a large brand that was trying to figure out how to understand what people were saying [about their services] and, in essence, there were not many good tools at the time to help them collect all this data, summarize it, and analyze it so they could understand what people were saying about their brand, or give them tools to help them resolve issues, reach out, and engage with those customers.
So, that’s how we got started. We were trying to solve our own problem.
How does your reputation management software work? What kind of data does it pull?
We have a couple different tools, but our main product tracks and [collects] from over fifty different review sites. That pretty much covers all the major ones across the US and Canada. We don’t display all of [the names] on our website, but basically, it’s Google, Yelp, Citysearch, TripAdvisor; if you’re going vertical specific, it’s Cars.com and DealerRater; if it’s in the medical space, it’s Vitals, and Healthgrades; if it’s in senior housing, it’s Caring.com, [etc]. The list can go on and on. Any review site with traction we pretty much have in our software.
We pull reviews from those sites and plug them in so that these location-based companies can understand what people are saying about them online. We provide a dashboard [where these companies] can acquire analysis. That’s another set of tools that helps them engage with their customers and solicit feedback, and hopefully, also help them generate some online reviews as well.
Is your clientele mostly SMBs who may still be figuring out digital technology, or do you work with national brands, or both?
While we do allow SMBs to sign up for our product directly, our bread and butter seems to be more mid-market and enterprise companies. These are [clients] with at least a few dozen locations. They seem to really get a lot of value out of our product.
So the more locations, the more useful ReviewTrackers services may be to a business. How and why do multiple locations factor in so profoundly?
Every single piece of feedback that we collect is tied to a specific location. Other social media [listening] tools — they might monitor Twitter for you and take a general consensus [of your brand]. With our data, every comment or piece of feedback is tied to a physical location.
If you have a chain of restaurants, you’ve got ten little pizza locations, Joe’s Pizza, each one would have its own set of channels that we monitor. Each one has its own Google or Yelp profile, etc.
We’re pulling in that data for each physical location as well as [applying] the other tools to help them collect feedback from their customers. It’s on a one-to-one basis. While brands can see how everything is performing at the high level, they can drill down to see how they’re performing on a regional level. How is a location in the Midwest doing versus one in the east coast?
If, for instance, a chain restaurant is doing well in one area but not in another, how does ReviewTrackers discover and relay the deficiencies of one location versus the success of another?
Our feedback and the analysis we do are tied to the physical location. We don’t necessarily take outside factors like, “Is the competition high in this area?” What we do is try to pull meaningful insight.
We do some of this through analysis of the data, and we’re working on some more text analysis, but how Amazon, for example, might say, “Twelve people thought this mattress was comfortable,” we want to be able to tell you, “Steve is a problem employee. The bathroom is dirty at this location. You’re not open late enough. People are complaining that you’re always closed when they show up.”
We’re trying to pull out those meaningful insights for our customers so they can make changes in the individual locations which can, hopefully, impact the business overall, and, at the end of the day, [boost] their revenue.
Is it a challenge getting smaller, more regional businesses on board? Do you need to explain to them how and why online reviews are so crucial to their success?
Actually, we’re pretty fortunate. A lot of our customers find us. Whether we’re mentioned in articles like yours on GeoMarketing, or through some other PR outlet. The majority of our business is actually generated from people doing research, and [approaching us] saying that they have a problem trying to track and manage this, and then signing up once deciding we’re the best solution for them at the time. We actually don’t do too many outbound efforts to educate them or get them to sign up.
What are you looking to develop upon or launch in the New Year?
We see ourselves as the engine that helps our customers understand the voice of their customer. In order to do that, we are looking at adding more and more data sources into that input, into that engine, so whether it’s surveys at the bottom of cash register receipts or iPads in the physical location requesting feedback — all these things are in power right now.
We look at helping our customers collect more and more feedback and giving them that meaningful analysis and data that can help them find those actual insights to improve their business. That’s what we see as part of the future cost at the location level.