Manta’s Massive, Unrealized SMB Opportunity

Many of you have heard of Manta, the small business and B2B directory site. But my guess is that many of you still have not. The company has been around since 2005 and has become one of the largest SMB hubs online. In many ways it’s a “sleeping giant” in terms of what it could become for the SMB segment.

Manta offers business profiles and some enhanced visibility services for a monthly subscription fee. But the paid services are really in an embryonic state. Indeed, one of Manta’s challenges in the next year will be to define a broader array of SMB (marketing) products and services.

I caught up with Manta CEO Pam Springer yesterday on the phone and she related some stats on the company’s growth. Springer told me that Manta now has over 1 million claimed SMB profiles. By the end of the year she projects that number will double to 2 million.

Each day 3,000 business claim their company profiles on Manta, compared to about 900 a day a year ago. Springer also said that Manta sees 26 million uniques per month. A lot of this traffic is B2B prospecting but some of it is consumer traffic driven by visibility in search results (the company doesn’t sell an SEO product per se).

Springer said that SMBs tend to come back to Manta on average 2.5 times per month and roughly 25% of the site’s claimed profiles are updated monthly. She emphasized that Manta has a “zero customer acquisition cost” (future funders and potential acquirers take note). She added that among paying members retention is over 90%.

SMBs are permitted to claim and enhance their pages for free but they get additional features and visibility as paying customers. While there are more than a million claimed listings the number of paying subscribers is very small, around 25,000. However Springer expects that to grow dramatically as Manta ramps up additional services for its members.

She also told me that about 40% of Manta’s SMB-claimant-members have a Facebook Page. She added that 80% of the business owners that have claimed their company profiles aren’t on LinkedIn.

Manta has its own social aspirations. Currently the site offers a kind of Q&A community for business owners who often seek recommendations and operational advice from their peers. This burgeoning SMB social network — which is also how MerchantCircle positioned/positions itself — is perhaps the most valuable thing about Manta. Business owners who claim their listings can ask questions and participate though all can see and search the content.

I pressed Springer about the paradox of all these SMBs claiming and enhancing their company profiles when the Manta brand is almost totally unknown among consumers. She was unfazed and said that brand awareness will grow over time.

Manta is now sitting on a massive opportunity, with more than a million members now growing to 2 million by the end of this year. There are very few channels with this kind of scale in the SMB market (i.e., ConstantContact, Amex, Intuit, MerchantCircle) and almost no one with a zero or nearly zero customer acquisition cost.

Off the top of my head I can think of three or four companies that should think seriously about a potential acquisition. But I know Springer feels, that after about six years in business, the site is only just getting started.

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26 Responses to “Manta’s Massive, Unrealized SMB Opportunity”

  1. Nyagoslav says at

    I have experience only with the free services of Manta, and everything is great, except the fact that the owner verification process is more painful than it should be. Some improvements in this direction might bring many positive results, imho.

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    You should tell them.

  3. Nyagoslav says at

    I hope they are following the discussion here 😉

  4. Anna says at

    Hi Nyagoslav,

    Yep, we are following the discussion. 🙂 I’d love to hear more about the frustrations you experienced during the verification process. I see you are on Twitter so I’ll follow you. Will you do me a favor and follow us back (www.twitter.com/manta) so I can DM you my direct contact info?

    Thanks for posting about this and I’m glad you like being listed on the site. I’m anxious to hear back from you.

    – Anna

  5. Marketing Day: February 9, 2012 says at

    […] Manta’s Massive, Unrealized SMB Opportunity, http://www.screenwerk.com […]

  6. Brad Simonis says at

    Greg,
    Do you know the source of their (unclaimed) business listing data? Is it localeze.com or another provider?

    Thanks,

    Brad

  7. Greg says at

    I didn’t ask that question directly but it sounded like there were multiple sources.

  8. Street Fight Daily: 02.10.12 | Street Fight says at

    […] buy an ad, let alone, design the ad?’”Manta’s Massive, Unrealized SMB Opportunity (ScreenWerk) Greg Sterling: Manta offers business profiles and some enhanced visibility services for a monthly […]

  9. Nick Sibbing says at

    Gday Anna
    Great to see you following the discussion. My feedback as a brand new Australian user (just signed up after reading this post) is mostly great. Love the interface and love the detail I can add for my business.

    However it seems to verify my business I have to call a US number. Now I’d consider a short international call but I think most wouldn’t. But ias ts a toll free US number I don’t think we can even access those from here. So I’d echo Nyagoslav’s comments re the verification needing work. (Of course I realise you might not be that focussed on Aust yet)
    Regards Nick Sibbing

  10. Duane McLennan says at

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for this post and to Matt McGee for sharing it.  I am in the process of claiming several listings, but I’ve found that many of them have already been claimed by others and that the directory has multiple duplicate and outdated listings.  This is going to be a lot of work!  (Which is ok, but…)

    Does Manta have a resource posted that discusses what to do when a listing has already been claimed by someone else.  (I see you can tell them the person isn’t authorized) More importantly, how do I let them know that a listing is outdated and needs to be removed.  I can’t see claiming a business I don’t own or represent as a solution.

    Duane

  11. Greg says at

    Duane… You should contact them. I don’t know the answer

  12. James Williams says at

    Did your business grow through Mantas Program? On a Google,Bing,Yahoo search does your listing show up through Manta? Is the Manta program as good as Yellow Pages for web searches?
    Please share your experience with me.
    Thanks James

  13. Duane McLennan says at

    Update:  The generic “Contact us” email was useful to remove the dead business listing. But, it did take over 2 weeks for a response. 

    From Manta 29/02/2012:
    “Your address will be removed from the old company profile on Manta.com within 24 hours. Search engines such as Google routinely visit web pages and remove unusable search result listings from their pages on the World Wide Web. It may take a few weeks before a listing is removed from a search result page on the Internet.”

  14. Terry Wall says at

    Hi, Greg! Great post about Manta…would definitely like to engage with Pam Springer or “Anna” who has been monitoring the string. I sense she works for Manta, as well. 

    Cheers, Terry

  15. Joe says at

    I run a Time and Attendance company dealing business to business with any company that has hourly employees. How does Manta perform B to B ?

  16. Greg Sterling says at

    @Joe: I don’t know what distinct options for B2B that Manta has. You’ll also want to look at LinkedIn.

  17. Michael says at

    I just recently came across Manta. There are so many search engines now it’s impossible to know which ones will benefit you. Let’s see, you can use google’s ppc for $39.00 a click or use smaller hit and miss search engines. It’s a real delima for small companies such as mine. I don’t mind spending the money I just want results.

  18. John Smith says at

    Manta.com is irresponsible. They post income, number of employees, and addresses of businesses. Many people have complained online about their unsafe practices. Some of these businesses are home businesses. Some of the listings are inaccurate. Not only that, giving out all that information gives a competitive edge to bigger businesses in the same category who can look up their competitors. I thought they were about ‘helping’ smaller businesses.
    Granted many sites post unsafe information about you that is not really public record, but they make it easier to get your listing removed. Manta on the other hand makes you CLAIM your listing, which only helps their business by increasing their member numbers. They purposefully make it difficult to get your listing removed and make you claim your listing.
    If this is about transparency, then what are public records for? If this is about helping smaller businesses, then why not make it easier to have businesses optionally opt-out of their website?
    I wonder how inflated is their membership number.

  19. IYP Ranking Factors: Getting Visible in Local-Biz Directories | LocalVisibilitySystem.com says at

    […] 1. Being “Verified by Manta.”  Once you create your Manta profile, they call you up to make sure your info is accurate.  I don’t recall ever having done this with my clients (maybe once or twice…don’t remember), but I believe it’s free. […]

  20. San Diego Mover says at

    I’ve been on manta for over 3 years now. It has not made any type of marketing dent what so ever. I believe that is why sites like Google and Yelp are so popular. They actually add to the bottom line. Manta falls short on that.

  21. Greg Sterling says at

    Thanks. Helpful information

  22. MantaCares says at

    Thank you all very much for your comments and feedback. We are very excited about some of the new features that have and will be rolling out at Manta.com! All of us here at Manta are constantly looking at new and innovative ways that we can better serve the small business community and their efforts to expand and grow. I encourage you to have a look at some of the new features and changes that we have made to the site over the past several months. And keep checking back, as there are some really great things on the horizon at Manta for small businesses.

    I’d love to hear your feedback on the new changes and features. Please feel free to email me at MantaCares@Manta.com.

    Thank you,
    Joe

  23. Stefano says at

    Hi Greg,
    very interesting point of view.
    I also believe Manta has a huge potential.
    And one thing that is also missing (my opinion) is mobile: they can acquire leads easily and sell easy, low cost, working like Hell services for mobile to their base…making a lot of $$$.

    I tried to pitch them Movylo (http://www.movylo.com), that is a turn key solution for mobile marketing & commerce for SMB’s, but…got no luck..:(

    i agree on the fact that in terms of SMB’s…they are really well positioned abd could make a lot more money than what they do
    Stefano

  24. Greg Sterling says at

    Manta has improved over time but it still has a long way to go from a consumer-usability perspective to deliver true value to its members.

  25. Stefano says at

    Greg, would love to get in touch and get your opinion on Movylo, mobile for SMB’s and discuss one thing about Manta
    Should you be interested…just write me an email to s.colonna@movylo.com, thanks
    s

  26. Greg Sterling says at

    I won’t be available until after 7/15. You can ping me again then

  27. David says at

    Manta is great I use it on a daily (almost hourly) basis.

    But here is the million dollar question. How does manta generate Income?

  28. Greg Sterling says at

    Ads, fees and services to business owners: http://www.manta.com/advertise/

  29. Joe Chesmer says at

    Manta should consider selling low cost access to our easy to use DIY (or do it with me) platform that allows the automated scheduling and delivery of digital messages.
    These Messages could be Coupons, Special Offers, Invites, Pictures, Graphics, Video… It’s up to the SMB.
    The Messages would go out Automatically to the SMB’s Businesses Facebook Page, and if they had them, Twitter & FourSquare accounts. Further if the SMB has or builds TEXT or Email Subscribers, it can as an option Automatically send to those subscribers as well. PLUS, the platform provides a wealth of Tracking & Reporting.
    Do you have a contact at Manta?
    Thanks,
    Joe Chesmer

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