Last week I wrote about ReachLocal and its move into transaction management and CRM tools for service businesses. Today independent SMB marketing platform Yodle is announcing that it has done something similar with the acquisition of Lighthouse Practice Management Group.
Yodle CEO Court Cunningham characterized Lighthouse to me as “Demandforce on steroids.” The company, which describes itself as appointment reminder and relationship marketing software, also operates in the dental market.
According to the press release:
Yodle will now have a strong relationship marketing complement to its customer acquisition marketing offerings, currently used by 30,000+ small business clients. This acquisition expands Yodle’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform offering, which now accounts for nearly half of the company’s revenue.
Just as Reach’s new ReachCommerce CRM and related capabilities complement its marketing tools, Lighthouse does much the same thing for Yodle’s marketing services.
For example, Cunningham and I spoke about the visibility that Lighthouse will offer into ROI and attribution. As the company expands Lighthouse into new categories — those where there is a recurring relationship with the customer — Yodle will similarly expand its ability to “optimize SMB lead generation based on actual transactions.” Unlike Reach, however, Yodle is not getting into payments transactions.
Key Lighthouse personnel, including CEO Brian Smith, will join Yodle to continue Lighthouse product development and its expansion across key verticals.
One of the other points stressed by Cunningham is that Lighthouse is compatible and integrated with all the major dental back-office systems. Rather than build their own back office, as Reach has done with ReachCommerce, Yodle decided to acquire a scheduling and CRM provider that was tied into legacy software systems.
Big picture time: Lighthouse offers “operational support” for SMBs and puts Yodle services at the heart of day-to-day business operations rather than at the margins (where advertising resides). This is part of a broader move among SMB channels and service providers to develop a broader array of services than simply advertising or marketing.
Once at the center of an SMB’s operations churn becomes less and less likely. In addition, as mentioned, the CRM and “back office” capabilities will give Yodle and its advertisers greater insight into which marketing channels actually delivered the best value. That enables Yodel to optimize for those channels (by vertical) and deliver a better service overall.