Category Archives: Sales Channels

Vistaprint Adds ‘Local Listings’: Our Interview with Scott Bowen, VP of Digital Services

What’s really important to SMBs in digital marketing? SEO/SEM, social media, Websites, mobile optimization and promotions immediately come to mind. The core feature probably remains listings (and “enhanced” data related to listings such as location info, hours and photos.)

Listings are seen as the #2 offering after Websites by Vistaprint, which has just launched Local Listings in the U.S. and Europe. The $10 a month service is aimed at micro businesses and will distribute enhanced data such as business hours, locations and photos to 100+ publishers, as well as provide detailed analytics at perhaps “half the price” of competitors such as Yext, Moz, Go Daddy’s Locu, Constant Contact’s Single Platform, etc.

VP of Digital Services Scott Bowen tells us that Vistaprint is ideally positioned to reach customers that already buy its business cards and its growing list of supporting physical and digital products. The listings product, which has been built in partnership with Neustar-Localeze in the U.S. and Uberall in Europe, can boost their website traffic rates by up to 60 percent.

Even businesses that aggressively claim listings don’t often go much beyond Google, Bing, Yelp and YP, says Bowen. “The three or four dozen ‘long tail’ publishers give you that more reach and make a positive impact on your organic search position,” he notes.

Listings also complement Vistaprint’s other digital offerings – some of which are being white=labelled from other vendors. They’re anchored by the company’s website business (as low as $5 a month), but also include social media marketing ($10 a month); and email marketing (as low as $5 a month).

Currently, Vistaprint’s digital services are being offered a la carte. Some customers are already committed to other vendors for components such as domain listings. (in fact, Go Daddy looks like the closest competitor here). Bowen believes that microbusinesses will ultimately want a one-stop shop for all their physical and digital marketing needs, positioning Vistaprint as an omnichannel provider to small business owners.

While it is an intensely competitive space, Vistaprint has some advantages over the others in terms of its huge base of business card customers, and by extension, being able to populate the most up to date info in the listings template. “There is a lot of information on a business card,” says Bowen.

The service is currently live in the U.S., France and the U.K., and will launch within the next couple of months in Germany. Bowen feels that the various European markets have more potential in terms of being a greenfield, but they also have “very different competitive landscapes.”

Vistaprint VP of Digital Services Scott Bowen

On Demand Trends: ‘People as a Service’ (PaaS)

We talk a lot about “on demand” jobs, or gigs. But does the on demand economy extend to full time, professional positions for administration, marketing and sales? Longtime local search and promotions vet Andy Steuer (IdeaLabs, Merch Engines) thinks so.

Steuer is an investor in two sister companies based on the idea of “People as a Service,” or PaaS — a play on Software as a service. Helpware provides employees on an as needed basis; Leadware helps sales teams build out va targeted research, lead generation, leads and sales. “The challenge in any business is to keep operating costs lower,” says Steuer.

Both companies provide English-speaking workers from The Ukraine. Workers are billed out at $1,800 to $2,600 a month based on disciplines, with an account manager for every five consultants to insure high quality output from the team. The workers are entirely dedicated to the hiring company for as long as they are needed. Many are proficient in a number of categories.

Typical Helpware roles include customer service, accounting support, search marketing and marketing support. “They work with a lot of CFOs on billing reconciliation, analytics, and support customer service teams and marketing teams to onboard and manage client campaigns effectively” and things like that, says Steuer. Leadware operates on the same principals, but operates on its own, helping companies build out their own “predictable revenueve sales” funnel.

“With Leadware, for every thousand leads, you might may have 200 conversations and emails, leading to 20 appointments and four sales,” says Steuer. As companies build, they can keep adding more Leadware consultants. Then as sales are made, Helpware is there to help companies scale their back office operations efficiently so they can boost their EBITDA quickly.”

Restaurants Disintermediated by New Sites That Make and Deliver Food

There is a new front in the food delivery wars: food delivery companies that make and deliver their own food. Sites such as Blue Apron, Munchery and Sprig are focused on on disintermediating restaurants and the food delivery companies that rely on them. including GrubHub/Seamless, Yelp’s Eat 24, Groupon’s OrderUp and PostMates.

In a macro way, the restaurants are being made to realise they are only brands in a broader “food at home” category. As Business Week’s Brad Stone reports in a great new article, the only question is whether the new food prep and delivery companies will serve the food hot (like Sprig) or require that it be heated up (like Munchery).

Stone’s report focuses on Munchery, which now runs mega-kitchens with $50,000 industrial overs in San Francisco, LA, New York and Seattle. Munchery – a Y Combinator reject in 2012 now valued at over $300 million — makes about two dozen gourmet items every day, centrally directed by star chefs. The high volume of orders lets the food scale and means lower costs for consumers. Stone notes that a salmon dish that was $22 when first introduced, for instance, currently sells for $11, which seems to be the average price.

Munchery has also proved to be an activist in on demand labor issues facing many of the on demand companies. When Hilary Clinton recently visited, Stone notes that the CEO lobbied her on the need to find a middle ground between full time employees and part time workers. Munchery’s workers are all fulltime and enjoy full benefits. But a new classification between contractors and full-time hires wouldn’t require employers to shoulder the full burden of health and retirement benefits. It would also allow companies to employ more people to work a few hours a day around dinnertime.

Photo from Forbes

@LocalOnliner: Day 1, BIA/Kelsey SMB (Hibu, Constant Contact, Home Advisor, Booker, YP)

Hibu USA CEO Kevin Jasper
1. Sales team is now 1,600, down from 4,500 peak. Bringing in new talent.
2. New customers we acquire today are almost exclusively digital.
3. Prints revs still more than half. Digital will surpass in next several quarters.

Constant Contact SVP Joel Hughes
1. $100 Constant Contact package cost breakdown: $85 FaceBook spend, $15 management fee.
2. Two changes in smb marketing are advances in audience targeting and rise of native advertising.

Peter Hutto
1. Three changes in SMB marketing: low cost tech, tools, data; massive, global audience platforms; digital consumption shifts.

Home Advisor CEO Chris Terrill

1. One million appointments forecast for Home Advisor in 2015, with service launched 6 months ago.
2. $350 mm anual rev, 7 quarters of accelerating growth, 12 years of consistent profitability.
3. “Multi vertical” vs. “focused vertical.” Best way to grow is focus on single vertical.

Booker CEO Josh McCarter
1. Retention we see (for service platforms)..churn is 3-6% a month. Booker’s is 1/2 percent.
2. Stand alone scheduling is insufficient…SMBs have real world needs” (for integration)
3. At Booker, we’re seeing 30% of (SMB) sales come from pen and paper. totally disconnected.
4. LocalCommerce Market: Less than 25 k: 15 m. More than $25k: 7.5 M.
5. Service businesss account for 60% of US GDP
6. “Local service commerce” cuimlination of online/offline to drive offline–encompasses all tools.

YP SVP Harpreet Marwaha
1. YP hiring 200-300 reps per month for past 6 months.

BIA Kelsey Data
1. 57% of SMBs use Facebook for marketing, per BIA/Kelsey survey.
2. 3,022 companies in the Local Verse.

G5 Raises $75 Million; Extends Vertical Marketing Focus

We like vertical specialization for local marketing, and have long admired the approach of G5, the Bend, Ore- based local marketing firm that started with a focus on self-storage unit owners in 2005, and later added senior housing, multi-unit property managers and student housing. The 175-person company has 425 customers controlling 6,900 properties. Sixty percent of its business now comes from multi-unit property managers.

Last week, G5 hit the big time with a $75 million raise from Peak Equity Partners. The company says it will use the funds to extend its Marketing Cloud, which has gone beyond G5’s origins in search, and now also provides a full slate of analytics, search, social and advocacy.

CEO Dan Hobin told BIA/Kelsey that the key is to recognize the individualities of each vertical. Self storage takes about a month to fill a vacancy. Multi-family units take two weeks. Senior housing has a longer cycle: three months.

Most vertical owners perceive their marketing efforts as too expensive for property owners, and too cumbersome for consumers, says Hobin. It takes three days for consumers to get an apartments, from the time they look at it to the time they sign the lease, he says. “It is easier to buy a car than rent an apartment. You should be able to find a place in five minutes.”

Hobin says G5 works with all levels of property owners, but in the apartment space, for instance, most of them are the “middle level” below the publicy-owned, giant REITs which have traditionally used sites such as apartments.com. They could use G5 to complement those big site efforts, he says. G5’s emphasis on a wide range of channels, including lower cost channels such as social media and ratings and reviews, saves them money and drives more traffic to their sites. The analogy is to a site such as Kayak in the travel space.

While G5 is focused on its four verticals today, it is looking to expand to additional verticals. If it adds a vertical, it will really focus on its individual characteristcs, says Hobin. “It is difficult to enter new verticals,” he said.

New Paper: Local’s Stake in Programmatic Advertising


A new era of big data analysis and automation has been heralded in by the rise of programmatic advertising. But what is the actual impact on local? That’s the subject of my new Insight Paper for BIA/Kelsey: Defining the Local Stake in Programmatic Sales.

Programmatic advertising supports the ability to automatically plan, buy and optimize ad campaigns. By adding transparency, discoverability and transactability to media inventory, much of the buy/sell friction is reduced When it comes to local, however, programmatic’s rise has been slower because of local’s fragmentation, natural inefficiencies and non-early adopter status. We estimate that fewer than five percent of ad sales are now oriented towards programmatic exchanges.

Will programmatic ultimately prevail in local? We think so, and in a big way. Local programmatic allows marketers to optimize local inventory buys efficiently and effectively at scale – and close the loop with better attribution insights. It is already strong in search and display, and should become increasingly important in the new powerhouse channels of mobile and video.

In our paper, we detail the elements of programmatic; discuss major issues that impact local sales channels (i.e. the purported flight of sales agents?); and provide insights from top thinkers in the space. Those include MediaVest’s Jason Dailey, Prohaska’s Matt Prohaska, Advance Publishing’s Sandy Lohr, Hulu’s Kristen Wnuk, Balihoo’s Dabid Olivera, Simpli.fi’s Frost Prioleau, Operative’s Lorne Browne, Enradius’ David Carberry and Ninth Decimal’s David Staas.

Centro: Boost Demand Side Ads With Full Program, Not Just Programmatic

Chicago-based Centro, which helps provide targeted ad solutions to 13,000 publishers – 4,000 at any given time — says it is refocusing on providing publishers with complete Demand Side solutions that integrate first party data targeting, hyperlocal mobile tools, digital extensions and cross-channel capabilities.

Publishers increasingly want to provide greater reach for their advertisers than they can provide from their own-and-operated (O&O) properties, said Centro SVP Katie Risch and VP John Hyland in a discussion with BIA/Kelsey. “O & O solutions are becoming a smaller share of the mix.”

Centro DSP for Publishers, the new product offering, provides a wide range of mobile, display, video and social campaigns directly through Centro’s platform. An increasing amount of these efforts are automated. “Revenue is going towards self -serve,” said Risch and Hyland. “People don’t go back after they start with self-serve.”

To be sure, programmatic – an automated process of planning and placing ads on the platform – represents a big part of Centro’s evolution. Centro has committed 18 buyers specifically to support programmatic. But programmatic needs to be supported with other pieces.

“We are in an early iteration of programmatic,” said Risch and Hyland. It helps to “close the loop.” But “it doesn’t do enough to support the demand side of the business, which is critical for local targeting. The biggest challenge is how to drive demand. There has to be a human layer; a set of KPIs.”

Centro’s Brand Exchange, for instance, has enlisted 1,400 publishers. It allows auto dealers and other SMBs to call on the company to meet their needs for local inventory. With such services, “we are providing a cohesive media strategy, along with first party data.”