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Today at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM East conference, a panel of leaders in the local deals space batted around how things are playing out in the space’s Sophmore year.

Bill Bice, President and CEO, BoomTime
Jere Doyle, Founder, President and CEO, Prospectiv and
Perry Evans, Founder and CEO, Closely
Christopher Tippie, Acting CEO, Find n Save

One challenge�repeatedly mentioned was avoiding the classic “one night stand” problem. That of course refers to deal seekers who don’t return for the intended repeat business. Eversave’s Jere Doyle says the answer lies in helping SMBs gather data, email lists and CRM tools.

This is meant to go beyond the customer acquisition that has driven interest in deals, and move more towards retention. And the key there is having the best data to capture customer information and retarget them in ways that are simple — an imperative�for SMBs.

“They don’t know what to do with the assets they’re sitting on,” said Doyle. “If they’re giving a 50% discount, they better make sure [the customer] comes back. The way to do that is to make sure you know more about them and use that to get them back in the door.”

A lot of these loyalties are what has driven Closely’s business from the beginning, such as features that reward top customers and empower them to share exclusive deals with friends. This is changing even more with the growth of mobile and social, asserted CEO Perry Evans.

“The reinvention of direct marketing for the real time social web is developing around us,” he said. “This gets to the most�interesting�opportunity I’ve seen in 15 years in this space, to fundamentally shift the profitability of SMBs by directly affecting their yield management.”

You have to fundamentally engage differently with merchants, added Evans, an industry veteran. And the point is to engage them with better information and context about what is going on around them — a source of local competetive intel of sorts.

Along these lines, Evans unveiled a new merchant facing mobile tool that lets them see live streams of local activity. This includes things happening about their business, active promotions, sentiment analysis and the activity around local competitors.

This gives businesses more control, he asserts, which is a top engagement paradigm for SMBs. It also gives them an immediate ROI to discern value. Back to the panel’s top theme, and the larger industry move towards “big data”, the idea is to empower SMBs in a�tangible�way.

“If you can build loyalty, you can run daily deals all day long,” said Doyle. “If you can’t build loyalty, you won’t be �successful.”

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