Circl a new startup helping businesses run online promotions using social media and email marketing, is launching today with already over 1,000 customers who have signed up for the platform, over 100 of which who have since gone live. Although there are plenty of competitors in this general space, what makes Circl interesting is the way it ties into mobile in order to track the success of various promotional campaigns.
Founded by Soso Sazesh and Neej Gore, who bring their own experience with both search engine marketing (SEM) and performance marketing to the new company, the two were inspired to create Circl to address a need in the local space.
“The way you do online marketing, it’s very metrics focused. It’s focused on ROI,” explains Sazesh. “And when you look at what’s available for local businesses, it’s very expensive – you have to give away 75 percent of what you’re selling with certain companies – or you run promotions on Facebook and Twitter, or on your email marketing lists, and you don’t know what’s actually driving people in,” he says.
Circl wants to close that gap by actually tracking the conversions from social media and email to real-world foot traffic, letting business owners know which promotions really worked. To do so, the platform allows the business to set up a promotion using Circl’s centralized dashboard, which they can then share out to Facebook, Twitter, email or elsewhere. When the customer clicks the link, they’re prompted to enter their phone number which sends the offer or deal via text to their phone.
Once in store, the customer clicks the link in the text at point-of-sale, which verifies that they’re actually there using the phone’s geo-location capabilities. But it also identifies the source of the promotion, allowing the business owner to better understand things like which channels work better than other, which promotions send more customers, how many people came in for a particular deal, and more.
By gathering this data, businesses can then improve the way they advertise, and increase conversions. However, Circl will take things a step further, too, by also making suggestions and offering optimizations out of the box.
The system uses machine learning, Sazesh tells us. It first aggregates data across its own customer base, so it understands how businesses in a particular region perform, or how businesses in that same category perform (e.g. how other local pizza places perform). Of course, for these recommendations to be powerful, Circl needs to gain significant traction. If it can achieve that, a future step may allow businesses to not only get recommendations as to how to proceed, but may also be able to compare themselves to others in their same space.
But for now, the company is focused simply on onboarding new businesses, taking advantage of the founders’ SEM experience in user acquisition efforts. The immediate priority is figuring out which channels should come next (Foursquare and Yelp are on the roadmap, Sazesh notes). The long-term goal is to be channel agnostic, and to help customers not only launch and track promotions, but also increase their presence on social media in order to better support those goals.
Pricing starts at $99 per month for up to three locations, and enterprise pricing is also available. AngelPad-backed Circl is currently raising seed funding.