Retail

How SweetIQ Makes All Retail Local

The concept of customer acquisition pretty much relies on being seen by the customers. No matter what the business or level of service quality, the reality is that if customers don’t know you’re there, it is pretty much irrelevant.

The internet is a massive boon to advertising — but with an asterisk, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. The world isn’t what a mom-and-pop shop needs, because with their single (or perhaps handful) of locations, a visit is not really a live option for just any customer but one within a conveniently local radius.

Those properly located customers are obviously highly desirable but not as easily reached as one might want to assume. The web is good for blasting a message out widely — but for more tailored efforts to work globally, that is actually a pretty significant business challenge.

And it is the one that the team at SweetIQ is most interested in going after.

“SweetIQ’s Local Marketing Hub gets hundreds of big businesses listed on search and discovery sites like Google, Bing, Foursquare and Yelp. Our local products and services help enterprises connect with consumers by elevating brand awareness through reviews, consistent local content and keyword monitoring and by tracking the entire customer journey from search to sale,” explained CEO Mohannad El-Barachi.

SweetIQ has not always been SweetIQ. It was founded as a marketing agency called Get Me Listed in 2009. And while Get Me Listed offered a variety of services — the customer base, brick-and-mortar retailers — it was primarily interested in one: getting businesses listed in local directories. And at about this point, El-Barachi noted, a light went on.

“We realized there was a huge opportunity to solve this problem,” he said. “Get Me Listed became SweetIQ, growing into the software-as-a-service offering that we are today. SweetIQ has always been a technology company with performance and analytics ingrained at its core. Over the last few years, we have made tremendous strides in evolving our product offering to ensure our clients are able to launch local marketing campaigns that drive true and measurable performance metrics.”

The goal, he noted, is pretty simple: Give brick-and-mortar retailers the same level of highly granular data to which e-merchants have always had access.

That has been a pretty significant building project over the last near decade particularly when they first started out — because, El-Barachi said, when the company first started going after listings and local marketing for businesses, it came upon something surprising. SweetIQ was pretty much the only player interested in the game.

That has changed an awful lot since 2009.

“Since then, there has been a wild proliferation of companies claiming to be able to solve local for businesses. Many are taking a static approach to listings management by choosing a fixed set of directories or by promoting scare tactics,” he said.

SweetIQ, on the other hand, claims to be different because it is much more focused on targeting — particularly when it comes to directories. And time in the field matters, El-Barachi said, because it means SweetIQ has had time to really parse by verticals and a lot of local data over the past eight years.

“That data is now extremely valuable in helping us create targeted local campaigns for our clients,” he said.

That data has also been pretty fundamental for the SweetIQ growth story — which is carry-on-a-pace. Last fall the firm acquired an in-space rival Connectivity, which the CEO noted was a huge moment for the firm.

“The acquisition enabled us to expand our position as a leader in the local marketing industry and cemented our leadership position in the U.S.,” he said. “Our company is seeing phenomenal growth. It began in 2009 with three founders — myself, Michael Mire and Ravdeep Sawhney. In eight years, SweetIQ has grown to include over 100 employees and has increased its footprint in the U.S. with offices in Los Angeles and the acquisition of Connectivity. In addition to this, partnerships with major channels like Yelp, RetailNext and the myriad of offline data providers we work with are further cementing our online-to-offline attribution product, helping major brands get a true understanding of the in-store foot traffic impact of their local marketing efforts.”

The problem with having a good year — as SweetIQ certainly did in 2016 — is that the year must end. Then a new one begins, and it becomes time to ask the always fun question, how do we top that?

But SweetIQ has an answer. Some of it involves doing what it has been doing at a higher and more expanded level — more partnership with online and offline data providers.

“We plan to continue building on the exciting momentum by cementing more partnerships with online and offline data providers,” El-Barachi said.

We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

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