Go Local or Go Home: Yext.com
We call it the “world” wide web and for a long time individuals and businesses have been tantalized by and busily trying to exploit the Internet’s ability to take us to virtually any corner of the planet.
Digital surfers can use webcams to snoop on the Serengeti. Businesses can use banners to boost book sales in Boston—even if they’re based in Bilouxi.
But,fueled by the increasing use of smartphones and tablets, the center of gravity on the Internet has started to move from making connections globally to finding places locally. It’s possible that the Internet may end up being more valuable to businesses as a narrow local web rather than a world wide web.
Yext is one startup that has recognized this potential and has started to exploit it. And as it is starting to establish itself, local businesses are now beginning to ask the questions, “Is Yext worth it?” and “Should I signup with Yext?”
In the simplest terms, Yext allows local businesses to easily and almost automatically manage the information that is posted about them on some 50 different websites. So, we might say that only two types of business owners would be interested in using the service:
✓ Businesses whose customers use the Internet to find them and get information about them, and
✓ Businesses who want to attract customers who use the Internet to find them and get information about them.
So, unless you’re no longer among the living, you probably need—at least in general terms—some or all of the services that Yext provides. The question is whether you can do it in-house or with another provider more cost effectively.
The scope of Yext
There are a couple of ways to measure a startup like Yext. For business owners wondering if the service would be worth the investment, they need to know that Yext will give them excellent control over their listings on websites such as Citysearch, Yelp, YellowPages, Twitter, Facebook and many more. Here’s a long list of sites and services along with some pricing information. You’ll probably find that for the best lineup of services from Yext, you’ll pay between $50-$60 per month charged one year at a time.
Tip: Even if you do not take the plunge and sign on with Yext, you need to make sure your business is properly located on Google maps. Many owners are surprised to find that Google has an outdated or just plain wrong address for their location.
Yext makes managing what is posted on these local information providers easy. There are even mobile apps that let you stay in control when you’re on the go yourself.
The bells and whistles
However, it’s not just keeping your address and phone number current that could make signing up for Yext cost effective. You have the power to create an “enhanced profile” for your business. This can include photos, a video, special offers, featured products, menus and even event calendars.
Leveraging these features is what will, for some, prove to be truly valuable. Imagine being able to get your sale flyer in front of shoppers at exactly the moment when they’re comparing stores online to plan where they want to go hit first. If you don’t have the desire to take advantage of these more sophisticated features, you’re probably going to be fine just making sure that your address and phone number are correct on the most important listings, like Google maps, Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo! and a few others.
Recently Yext employees were partying like startup employees did during the days of the original Internet bubble. They even had New York City Mayor Bloomberg in their office, which is located in NYC’s NoMad (north of Madison) neighborhood. The company has grown to about 200 strong and recently signed a deal with Facebook that will pull Yext data into Facebook’s new, more powerful, search feature, also known as “graph search.”
Combining the habits, recommendations and preferences of Facebook friends with all of Yext’s information about local businesses might give those who subscribe to Yext a competitive advantage snagging new customers via social media. For its part, Facebook hopes that its users become increasingly reliant on it to visit new businesses and therefore improve its position among Internet advertising providers.
Yext isn’t cheap
Pricing of startups like this is always subject to change, but let’s peg it at $55 a month for the sake of comparison. If you take full advantage of your ability to market yourself, run things like A/B tests to find out what kind of promotions work best for you, it could be worth the money—especially if you’re in a competitive local business sector that has a decent share of customers who are web-savvy-social-media-addicted smartphone users.
If you tried to do everything Yext did by yourself, or you hired someone to do it for you, it would be very time consuming and expensive. However, if you only need accurate listings in a few local directories and on maps, it’s probably not worth the money. Just be sure to put something on your calendar to remind you to check your listings, map locations and what people are saying about your business in the social media once or twice a month…at least.