A few years ago, Merchant Circle pushed the boundaries of SMB marketing,– getting claimed profiles from over one million SMBs with just minimal staff but the latest in social marketing (and telemarketing) techniques. The site has continued to develop after it was acquired by Reply!, Inc. in 2011 — it continues to gain new profiles — but it may have the perception of fading as a top local play.
Reply! is now relaunching Merchant Circle with an eye towards making it “the best directory site on the Web.” The relaunch focuses on leveraging the 1.6 million member merchants with speedy searches, and more of an emphasis on user experience — especially, Reviews and Expert Answers, and the mobile experience. In general, merchant profiles will become more of a “showcase” rather than a flat listing experience.
The site is a major improvement, with a slick, updated design. We especially like the globe-like local maps highlighting reviewed businesses.
The consumer-facing design launches this week. An updated dashboard with self-managed Merchant Circle profiles including blogs, images and Q&A — will be launched at the end of January. A dedicated mobile app will come later in 2014.
With the relaunch, “the merchant’s persona is front and center,” CMO Chris Mancini told BIA/Kelsey. “This relaunch will continue pushing that mission forward. Our research shows that SMB’s need simple solutions for their online marketing and we are dedicated to providing that without breaking their bank account or their timeclock.”