Yodle is an all-in-one digital marketing platform that offers everything a small business needs to build a presence online. It is to marketing what an all-you-can-eat buffet is to meal time. There’s plenty to consume, and then some.
Yodle is primarily designed to assist local small businesses: realtors, plumbers, doctors and retailers, to name a few. Currently, the company serves more than 50,000 businesses across 250 industry verticals.
“Small business owners want to focus on the reason they went into business in the first space, which is their craft,” said Dafna Sarnoff, SVP of marketing for Yodle in a phone interview with Small Business Trends. “They don’t have time, money or the desire to acquire marketing expertise. We provide the tools they need to do much of the marketing for them.”
Web.com acquired Yodle in February of this year. Currently, it remains a self-standing platform, however that could change over time.
What is Yodle?
Yodle’s all-in-one platform, called Marketing Essentials, consists of web presence, local SEO, social media, customer reviews, email marketing and special offers. Businesses can also run Google and Bing ad campaigns, but that’s a separate product. A reporting dashboard, shown here, is also built in.
Regarding Marketing Essentials, Sarnoff said: “We create a website that is mobile and SEO-optimized, build a Facebook page, make it easy to distribute offers and reviews and build templated emails for customers, so they don’t have to do the content. It’s set it and forget it. We will send emails on their behalf throughout the course of the year.”
Here is a rundown of each Marketing Essentials’ component:
Web Presence. Yodle uses the term “web presence” to describe its local search-optimized, mobile-responsive websites. Sites feature content such as customer reviews, business photos and maps. They also resize to fit the device the customer is searching on.
Although the business owner has some customization and design options under his or her control, the bulk of the content used on the site comes from Yodle’s database. The business has to go through the customer service department to make changes, which could, potentially, slow down the updating process.
Regarding the reason why Yodle retains control, Sarnoff said that the content chosen for a particular site is based on years of experience developing websites for various industries and seeing what converts, gets ranked in search engines and more.
“We also have an excellent customer service team that enables us to work quickly and make sure the websites are something customers are proud of,” she said.
Local Search Placement. Yodle’s sweet spot is the local small business. As such, it optimizes customer sites with local in mind. That includes directory placement and maps.
Social Media. Yodel will build the Facebook page for the business, and then post reviews, photos and offers to it. Currently, the company has no provision for managing Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or other social networks.
Customer Reviews. Yodle’s customer review component enables companies to request and collect reviews from happy customers, and then post them on the website and Facebook page.
“Business can respond to reviews through our platform and add or remove them,” said Alyssa Sharp, senior product marketing manager at Yodle, who spoke to Small Business Trends via phone. “Each site has a section for reviews. Businesses can choose which to show and which not to show.”
Email Marketing. Yodle comes with its own email marketing client that lets businesses send customizable appointment reminders, confirmations, thank you notes, newsletters and holiday greetings to their customer base.
“Creating email content is one of hardest things business owners struggle with,” Sharp said. “One area that we find our customers are excited about is our email marketing template library (shown above). They can design their own template if they like but can also choose from default templates, which help business owners have a starting point when setting up an email.”
Special Offers. The platform includes a special offer component designed to incentivize purchase behavior. Yodle publishes offers to the website and Facebook page.
Reporting and Analytics. While the reporting component provides plenty of relevant metrics, such as the number of site visits, its real value is the CRM-like lead sourcing, scoring and management capabilities that allow users to see the prospect’s name, the type of lead (e.g., phone or email) and ratings that determine whether he is likely to convert.
Yodle Ads. Yodle Ads implements customized pay-per-click search engine ad campaigns on Google and Bing as an add-on module to the Marketing Essentials package. Users get keywords, ad formats, bid strategies and landing pages optimized to convert at the highest level possible.
Customer Service. As part of the package price, Yodle has expert marketing professionals who guide small businesses through how to maximize the value of the Marketing Essentials platform. The customer service team is available via email, phone and live chat.
How Can Yodle Help Your Business?
Yodle is ideal for a small business that relies heavily on digital channels for marketing and that wants one place to do everything. Companies that understand this can benefit from the end-to-end solution, and many have.
Within one month of signing up with Yodle, an electrician based in New York started receiving seven more calls per day as compared to the other online marketing tools he had tried.
A criminal defense attorney also saw business growth as a result of transitioning to Yodle.
“My first day with Yodle was incredible,” she said in a case study on the Yodle website. “Within the first hour of going live, I got a client call, and it more than paid for six months of Yodle marketing.”
This video showcases what other customers have to say about the gains they have received from using Yodle:
Remarking on the benefit Yodle provides small businesses, Sarnoff said: “Yodle has been at this for ten years and has conducted marketing for tens of thousands of small businesses. As a result, we can mine the insights we’ve gleaned around what actually works. Over the years, we have tested multiple approaches to marketing techniques and continually improve based on what we’ve learned along the way.”
If there is one problem with Yodle, it’s pricing. Not only is the platform all-in-one but, regarding pricing, it’s all-or-nothing.
Businesses do not have the luxury of picking and paying only for the components they want to use in an a la carte fashion. Instead, they must pay for everything — the whole enchilada — at a cost of $299 per month.
The price, while reasonable for those who make use of the entire platform and who are serious about marketing online, is steep for businesses that only need a few of the components or that don’t rely on internet marketing to a high degree.
Lighthouse: Vertically-specific Marketing
Marketing Essentials is not the only product Yodle offers its small business customers.
In 2013, the company acquired Lighthouse Practice Management Group, which provides business management tools to four specific industry verticals: auto repair, chiropractic, dentists and field services.
A primary goal of Lighthouse, according to the website, is to help businesses in these industries reactivate lapsed customers and clients.
Lighthouse manages more aspects of running a business than just marketing. For instance, the dental version includes patient communication, practice operations and practice marketing.
Where marketing is concerned, Lighthouse is not merely an online product, but includes multiple “offline” channels such as telephone, direct mail and text messaging.
Pricing varies based on the vertical but uses a monthly subscription model, the same as Marketing Essentials. Here’s the breakdown:
- Dental: $329
- Auto: $299
- Chiropractor: $299
- Field Service: $99 – $199, depending on number of users (from 1-2 to 10+)
Yodle is a great fit for businesses that take their marketing seriously and rely on digital channels to drive leads and sales. But at $299 per month, it’s less than ideal for those that only need a handful of tools or are less dependent on the Internet for marketing.
Visit the Yodle website to learn more about Marketing Essentials. Dentists, chiropractors, auto repair shops and services companies may also want to check out Lighthouse.