BatchBlue (2-18-10)

2-18-10 BatchBlue

Highlights: BatchBlue (founded in 2006) targets web-savvy micro-businesses (most of its customers have about 3 employees) with BatchBook, it’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) social CRM offering. Batchbook provides a flexible, integrated contact, sales and social media management solution, with mobile versions for iPhone and Blackberry. The social media integration is cool–using something called the Social Media SuperTag, users can enter social media feeds from Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. on a contact record. When you open the contact, you automatically see the contact’s social networking profiles, and the last three posts, tweets and/or other entries. According to Founder and President, Pamela O’Hara, “As a start-up ourselves, we realized social media was an important way to communicate, so we built social media into our products.” SuperTags also let you do lots of other customizations, such as grouping specified contacts together into a custom field, or adding new tags to store special information, and all SuperTag fields are searchable for list and report creation. BatchBook pricing ranges from $9.95 to $99.95 a month, based on the number of users, storage, and 1-1 consultation time you need.

Quick Takeaways: BatchBlue helps small businesses solve the problem of social media overload. Let’s face it, it’s overwhelming just to manage your own social media interactions efficiently, never mind trying to keep a pulse on those of your customers and prospects. Since this is new ground for many small businesses, it can be a little confusing to parse through some of the terminology that BatchBook uses (such a SuperTags), but once you do, the solution is pretty intuitive. Luckily, BatchBlue provides all new users with a minimum of 2 hours of 1-1 consulting time to help them get over learning hurdles and get productive with BatchBook as quickly as possible.

BatchBlue has used viral marketing very effectively, growing to more than 10,000 accounts (including both paid and free) since it launched its first commercial solution in 2008. The self-funded start-up now has 10 employees, and expects to breakeven later this year. Every Tuesday night, BatchBook hosts the SBBuzz Twitter chat for small business owners can discuss technology, social media, marketing, business issues among themselves and with guest experts. BatchBook is also a founding member of the Small Business Web Consortium, whose mission is “connecting web apps to help small businesses bloom and grow.” The seventy companies that make up the consortium (including Freshbooks, MailChimp, Shoeboxed, ZenDesk and others) open up their APIs to each other to provide tight integration between their applications. Stay tuned as this could group could potentially help bring order to the SaaS chaos for small businesses.

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