50,000 customers & growing: Why Yodle is tapping the big potential of small business

March 4, 2015

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A few of Yodle's 600 employee plus Austin-based team
 
For Yodle, small business is big business. The startup, which was founded in 2005, has grown to over 1200 nationwide employees and $191 million in revenue in 2014. It has done this by focusing exclusively on the little guys — small, typically local services that need help marketing to customers over the Internet.
 
“Yodle is all about simplifying business success for the local business owner,” said CEO Court Cunningham. “Our average customer doesn’t have the time to focus on marketing, or they may not have a lot of marketing expertise – that is why they work with us.”
 
Local marketing has changed. Print advertising, listing in the Yellow Pages, and direct mail campaigns don’t work as well as they used to. Most consumers are now looking for local services online. To earn their business, small shops need to be online too.
 
But most of Yodle’s 50,000 customers don't have the time to do online marketing or the money to hire an in-house marketer. To solve that, Yodle handles the work for them, providing turnkey tools like email marketing, customer review management, search-engine optimization, and social media management. 
 
Dentists, for example, can use Yodle’s marketing suite to drive email campaign engagement with customers. Yodle has templates for dental appointment reminders, treatment plans, and follow ups for missed appointments.
 
“We pre-templated all of these campaigns on a market basis,” said Cunningham. “We know what works for a dentist.”
 
That take-and-bake approach minimizes the time small business owners have to spend designing their marketing campaigns. Instead, Yodle claims most of their small business clients spend their time filling in the blanks, like asking for customer reviews, adding pictures to their website, and updating social media campaigns.
 
 
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The service costs $249 per month. At that price Cunningham said Yodle is offering more value than a small business could wrangle together from separate online marketing tools like MailChimp, Hootsuite or WordPress combined. And Yodle’s all-in-one marketing service appears to be popular with small businesses.
 
Now at over 50,000 customers and $191 million in 2014 revenue, Cunningham said the company grew 18 percent last year. In fact, Yodle is not only big and growing, but also profitable. As such, Cunningham said Yodle has about one percent of the market for local online marketing.
 
“To be $1 billion in revenue we need 3.5 percent in market share and that seems very doable,” said Cunningham.
 
In its efforts to capture more market share, the company is eying new technology.
 
“We believe that the way consumers interact with small business is changing,” said Cunningham. “10 years from now consumers will be less willing to pick up the phone.”
 
Instead, Yodle believes small business-customer interaction will take place more via mobile apps. The company sees big potential helping clients book business over mobile phones.
 
It is even looking at “giving them tools to manage their business from their phone,” said Cunningham. However, “always with the goal of simplifying small business, not complicating it.” 
 
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