Started in late 2009 by entrepreneur Perry Evans, Closely Inc. operates a platform for creating and distributing local promotions through social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Aimed at the small business market, the service also powers campaigns on mobile properties and across local networks like Google Offers.
Perry said the company noticed in the last year that small business users are simply overwhelmed with the volume of information they need to track across social media, daily deal sites, review sites like Yelp and other local directories to keep an eye on the competition.
To help address that issue, Closely is introducing a free, new app for the iPhone and Android handsets called Perch that allows merchants to monitor the social media and marketing activity of nearby businesses in one place. In addition to tracking posts from other businesses on their Facebook and Twitter pages, the app also provides alerts when a new review is posted to their own Yelp site or that of competitors.
“What we found is they’re so overwhelmed, they’re a little bit frozen. They’re feeling more anxious and less in the know,” said Evans, who had previously founded and led companies including MapQuest Publishing Group, messaging service Jabber and Local Matters Inc.
Evans said merchants are “hyper-interested” in what happens on Yelp because of the influence consumer ratings and reviews on the site can have on their business. To keep companies from soliciting positive feedback, Yelp recently began flagging the profile pages of businesses it said had tried to buy reviews.
The Perch app also allows users to set up watch lists of other businesses and receive a daily or weekly digest of activity from companies they are tracking. While there’s no shortage of existing social monitoring services, Evans said Perch was tailored to the small business community, especially in relation to tracking local promotion activity.
He added that use of the app, which will be available through the App Store and Google Play, could also serve as a lead generation tool for Closely. “This becomes an everyday tool, and we can build relationships on the back of that with the most active users,” he said.
Denver-based Closely offers its local marketing platform mainly through partners, including Yellowbook and Yellow Pages publisher Hibu, formerly Yell Group, and local promotions company Entertainment Promotions. In addition to CEO Evans, Closely’s management team includes veterans of companies, such as 24/7 Real Media, Quark and Datalogix.