Tech Tidbits for SMBs: Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard and InsideView

While it’s tempting to paint the “SMB market” with one broad-brush stroke, the term actually represents very fragmented terrain. You can slice and dice it many ways–by company size, industry, degree of technology savvy, type of customers the business sells to, and more–and end up with a dizzying array of “SMB” combinations and permutations.

With that in mind, this edition of Tech Tidbits features a couple of interesting digital marketing solutions that reflect this diversity. Maybe one of them can help your company. If you use or try any of these, please let me know about your experience and outcomes!

Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard

If you’re a small business looking to grow your business , but are dazed and bewildered by the gazillions of options out there, and have a hard time managing disconnected marketing services, you’re not alone. SMB Group Research shows that most small businesses cobble together different tools for different sources and then get frustrated because they can’t tell what’s working and what’s not.

If you face this problem, you might want to check out Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard, which Yahoo! launched earlier this month. Marketing Dashboard pulls together a few core tools into an integrated marketing management dashboard designed for small business owners–not marketing pros.

The Dashboard provides a unified view into:

  • Reputation Management, to see the latest online ratings, reviews and mentions about your business from blogs, Yelp, Facebook, and thousands of other sites. The free service gives you the two most recent reviews and/or mentions. Premium (priced at $19.99/business/month for 12 months) provides unlimited reviews and mentions, and the ability to see this info for your competition too.
  • Local Visibility for search engine and directory listings, to make sure details about your business are available and accurate in top search engines and directories (e.g. Yelp, Citysearch, Google, etc.) so that customers find you. The free version pulls in info from over 100 directories, and highlights in red anything that isn’t consistent so you can fix it. The paid version ($9.99/business/month for 12 months) lets you submit business information in bulk to over 100 search engines and directories so that you don’t have to update them individually.
  • Email, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine management (SEM) campaign tracking, to give you visibility and reporting so you know how well your web site, email, and search marketing activities are working. The catch here is that at this time, the service works only with Constant Contact email marketing and  OrangeSoda SEO and SEM.
  • Site traffic, a free service that gathers web site traffic data from Yahoo! Web Hosting, Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, or Google Analytics (depending on which of these services you already use).
  • Online sales, which pulls in order and revenue reporting for companies using Yahoo! Merchant Solutions online store.

Yahoo! has been plagued with many crises over the last few years, but the company still has a vast presence in the small business market, and supports $3 billion dollars in merchant sales. When he briefed us, Yahoo! GM for Small Business, Tom Byun told us that small business continues a key focal point for the company, and that despite the turmoil, Yahoo! is doubling-down to remain a leader in the small business arena.

The solution seems well-suited to small local or digital businesses who need to use digital media to drive traffic into  physical stores and/or to their website. If you are already using one or more of the marketing services noted above, why not take it for free test drive? It could make your life simpler. And if you’re just getting your feet wet with online marketing, this could help you take an organized approach from the start–again, with little risk.

InsideView

Are your sales reps tired of cold-calling? Are you tired of them coming up short on their goals every month? If you are an SMB with a direct sales force, InsideView’s “social selling” solution can help your sales people spend less time doing research to find people and the ice-breakers necessary to start conversations with them, and more time talking to qualified prospects and customers.

What the heck is social selling? In a nutshell, social selling taps into the fact that customers are smarter, more connected and more socially engaged than ever. The Internet and social media make it easy for people form opinions about brands and products–and influence others about them–without seeing an ad or hearing a sales pitch.  With smarter customers, cold calling isn’t likely to work. Sales people need to get to the right customer, at the right time, with the right conversation to establish and nurture the relationships that can lead to sales.

InsideView goes beyond contact management to give reps the richer, more personal information that they need to start and nurture relationships. It harvests structured and unstructured information from over 25,000 sources, including social sites, news networks and research groups. It compares and rationalizes similar information from multiple sources to develop detailed profiles, reports and alerts. Just getting this information in one place would be nirvana for many sales people who I know.

But, you also want to know if all this social selling stuff really pays off. So earlier this month, InsideView announced a new ROI dashboard to help businesses track ROI for social selling activities. The dashboard identifies opportunities that InsideView influenced as they move through the sales pipeline. This enables businesses to gauge the value of InsideView to the building the sales pipeline and generating revenues, and helps sales management fine-tune their tactics to improve results. It’s available now for Salesforce.com, and will be ready for Microsoft Dynamics CRM later this quarter.

InsideView also launched new, customizable Sales Team Activity Reports, which give sales managers a visual summary of how reps are using InsideView, so they can more easily set and monitor social activity goals and drive team performance.

InsideView has a free, standalone edition for small businesses that don’t use CRM–or just want to get a feel for what they solution does. The standalone version is limited but can still provide significant value. But the biggest bang for the buck is for companies that use CRM. Pricing for InsideView with CRM integration starts at $29.99/user/month.

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