Yelp Extends its SMB Features, Adding Empyr’s Cash Back Loyalty Program

Yelp has made great strides in extending beyond reviews with reservations, food delivery, requests for quotes and other services. It will now add Yelp Cash Back via a new deal with Empyr, an online-to-offline marketing platform (full disclosure: I’ve had a relationship with Empyr). Cash Back is starting out with 8,000 restaurants and retail merchants. […]

After Lull, New Investment Dollars for Loyalty

In the card-linking space, some industry leaders are shying away from describing themselves as “customer loyalty” – they want to focus more on “new revenue.” But Thanx, a four-year-old, pure-breed customer loyalty solution for national-local retailers has just secured a massive $17.1 million “B” round led by Icon Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Javelin Venture Partners. […]

Why Pokemon Go Was The Biggest Local Story in 2016

What have been local game changers? My short list includes the rise of MapQuest; Craigslist; Google Local search; Yelp reviews; Small Business Saturday; and Groupon. This year’s candidate would be Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game from a founder of Google Maps that “lures” consumers to local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, museums and parks in […]

Belly Seeks Next Steps for Loyalty Marketing; CEO Logan LaHive Steps Down

Belly founder Logan LaHive is stepping down, signifying a new orientation for the company that focuses less on SMBs, which are tough to scale, towards analytics for national-to- local retail (like 7-Eleven, an investor.) CFO Dan Gloede is taking over the top spot. LaHive’s step-down tells a lot about the challenges of scaling SMB sales […]

Verizon, Visa Sees Local Synergies for Digital ‘Ecosystems’

Major brands with millions of users can leverage their digital activity and platform to really boost the fortunes of local players, according to industry leaders speaking at Money2020 this week in Las Vegas. While Starbucks and a few others may be able to go solo at the local level, others can really benefit from “frictionless” […]

From The Crypt: LivingSocial’s Lessons For ‘The Experience Economy’

Deal-a-day pioneer LivingSocial is being sold to Groupon for a “non material” price. LivingSocial’s eventual failure had been widely anticipated. Amazon, its largest backer, had written off its $175 Million investment in 2013. The company, once valued at more than $2 billion, had suffered hundreds of millions of dollars of losses due to the high […]