PRWeb. Help a Reporter Out (HARO). North Social. Engine 140. iContact.
Small business owners, marketers and managers may recognize one or more of these products. But fewer people are familiar with the umbrella brand of Vocus.
Vocus is a cloud-based marketing and PR software company. Like some other companies that we’ve covered here on Small Business Trends, the Vocus goal is to unify a highly fragmented landscape that today contains countless tools each intended for narrow siloed tasks. Few of us have time to investigate all the marketing tools out there for small businesses — let alone master them all and share data seamlessly between them. Vocus wants to make it so that you don’t have to.
Integrated Products Key to the Strategy
The Beltsville, Maryland headquartered company is on a path to connect the dots and provide business users with an integrated experience to save time and be more effective. According to their most recent investor presentation, a key part of their strategy is to provide an all-in-one product suite. “We began to see that SMBs had a variety of point products, used separately, that left SMBs with little integration in product, and consequently, marketing strategy,” explained Frank Strong, Director of PR at Vocus.
As a result, the Vocus product strategy has evolved toward integrated product suites to handle more of the small-business marketing process seamlessly, end to end.
- If all you need is a tool or service to perform a single marketing task, you can still get that with individual Vocus products. Example: market your business through email (iContact), distribute press releases that appear in search results (PRWeb), or find media leads to generate publicity (HARO).
- But you now can also purchase subscription offerings that combine various functionality into integrated product suites covering multiple marketing activities. There is a Vocus marketing suite and a public relations suite for small businesses, with prices ranging from $1,950 – $9,950 annually, based on modules and needs.
Intelligence Interjected into Small Business Marketing
Vocus’s aim is not only to make marketing easier, but also more intelligent and effective. The social media module, for instance, helps you see and measure activity related to the company Facebook Page, Twitter account and website. It also attempts to provide analysis and intelligence, such as providing suggestions for which Twitter users to follow.
For small business owners and managers responsible for a business Twitter account who don’t know what to do with it, the Vocus platform is designed to “train” business users while they are using the product:
For instance, the “handwritten” note next to Tweets on the Vocus dashboard (see image above) either analyzes the tweet or recommends taking action such as “Check out this important post on Facebook.” These recommendations, said Strong, provide direction to busy business owners or marketers.
Growth While Learning Along the Way
Vocus has grown in part through acquisitions. Case in point: the company acquired email marketing software iContact for $169 million in February of 2012.
Another acquisition was PRWeb. During that acquisition, Vocus found it wasn’t PR pros who used PRWeb. Rather, it was small businesses wanting to drive traffic to their websites. “In reality, these customers weren’t necessarily seeking a press release distribution, although reporters find information through search as well,” said Strong. “They really were after a content marketing system.”
Vocus is a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ, with reported 2011 revenues of $115 million, having grown from $28 million in 2005. Its software products are used by more than 120,000 organizations worldwide, and are available in seven languages.
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Vocus is one of the key brands showing their support of small businesses by sponsoring the Small Business Influencer Awards.