The ‘Best’ Entry Point for SMB Tech Marketing? Broadly Bets on Reviews

As summarized in a localonliner post by Peter Krasilovsky:

What are the best tech “entry points” for SMBs? E-newsletters? Point of Sales? Listings Management? CRM?

Broadly CEO Josh Melick is betting that it is customer reviews. They tend to spur vital customer-SMB “conversations” that lead to business leads and engagement, he says.

Melick believes reviews are even more valuable to SMBs than they were three or four years ago. It’s especially true “for the little guy at the low end of the market,” he says, where a review will stimulate end-to-end conversation cycle between SMBs and consumers.

“They’ll choose a business based on what they see,” says Melick, an alumni of DemandForce. “The next step is something like ‘Can you do the paint job this weekend?’ That’s the gold here.”

To Melick, the focus has got to be on facilitating back-and-forth conversations, and integrating with multiple services. What no longer cuts it are the old review aggregation sites (i.e. early iterations of Yelp and Trip Advisor). “Capture the inbound, work with the SMB to engage the customer via modern SaaS Messaging Platform, and then win a review at the end,” Melick says.

It all leads to a “unified lead box,” winning a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS), and repeat business, says Melick. “Reviews spark new customers to the cycle.”

Review based platforms also tend to be more customer support-oriented than sales-oriented. Companies that rely on advertising (Facebook et al) will usually find themselves conflicted, Melick suggests.

Keeping the reviews coming is also a big part of the equation. Ideally, customers will file reviews soon after they’ve made their transactions, says Melick. Square is doing it today, although in limited form — its smiley-faced and check box reviews provide feedback to SMBs, but has limited uses for marketing.

Can review generation and management all be done via bots and automation? They can definitely play a role. Melick warns, however, that bots – and all forms of automation — have real limitations. Many companies that rely heavily on bots provide wrong answers half the time, he says.

Finding the balance between live service, tech platform integration and automation is what Melick and his team at Broadly are working on. The Oakland-based company has raised $11 million and today reports thousands of customers, typically paying about $200 a month.

Media contact: Laura Nelson, Director of Marketing,