Thursday, January 19, 2012

The New MerchantCircle: We've Remodeled!

With the new year upon us, lots of folks start thinking about embarking on remodeling projects. Here at MerchantCircle, we spent much of last year remodeling the site, and you could say we learned a few things.  We thought we’d share our experiences with all of you out there thinking of taking on a remodeling project, no matter how big or small.  

Here’s what we learned...

It’s good to have a plan...but plans change.  Looking back, our original plan didn’t take into account the complexity of the task ahead.  As we went along, we learned a ton about the site and each other.  The biggest lesson: the only way to make real progress is to get out of the “planning” phase and into the “doing” phase.

Everything takes longer than you think.  That’s probably true with many things in life, but definitely true with remodel projects.  You don’t know what you don’t know, at least until you start tearing things down.

You’re never really “done”.  Just when you think you can’t go on a day will find yourself checking things off your “punch list”.  The initial project will get done, but the tweaking, tuning and improving never ends.  

If you’ve recently remodeled (your kitchen, a bathroom, or maybe even your business website) share your experience in the new MerchantCircle forum

Now for the good stuff…

The launch of the new and improved MerchantCircle is a key milestone in the integration of MerchantCircle with Reply!.  As you can probably tell from our new homepage, we’re refocusing MerchantCircle a bit to help busy people get things done – big and small – by connecting them with a network of local business owners who are eager to help.

Here’s what’s new on the site…

For consumers (we like to call them MerchantCircle Neighbors):
·      Better search experience – three search bars focused on finding merchants, answers, or deals
·      New localized category pages that includes top merchants, deals, and advice (see examples here and here for examples)
·      More prominent display of top-rated merchants
·      Integrated “request a quote” functionality on listing pages, category pages, city pages
·      Easier access to expert articles and advice

For our fantastic merchant members:
·      A completely new support section and fresh user forums 
·      Reorganized layout for claimed listing pages to drive more user engagement
·      More prominence for photos and a new Photo Viewer
·      No more anonymous reviews
·      Better promotion of content and better search through new categorizations for businesses

And we’re not even close to done…in the coming weeks, we’ll announce other exciting improvements!

Stay tuned...

The MerchantCircle Team

P.S. To learn more about the new, improved MerchantCircle, we've created this handy-dandy FAQ

P.P.S. We’ve also create a whole host of “how-to” videos to keep you up to speed on the new features available to you

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Q4 2011 Merchant Confidence Survey -- Full Results

Several folks have asked for the full analysis from the Q4 Merchant Confidence Index survey, so here ya go!  This presentation is chock-full of stats pertaining to small business owners' thoughts about our economy, the future of small business hiring and trends in the adoption of new marketing channels like daily deals, pay-per-lead and mobile advertising.



The MerchantCircle Team