Turning the black art of tracking customer feedback through blogs and social networking services into a science has become a successful service at Sydney-based startup BuzzNumbers.
Following three years of development, BuzzNumbers has been available for 12 months and aims to fill the void between qualitative media monitoring and quantitative customer research.
BuzzNumbers founder and director Nick Holmes a Court came up with the idea when he was working in the BI space and suggested integrating Internet data into the corporate BI system to his manager.
“My manager said what would you want to do that for and it was about then I decided to leave the company,” Holmes a Court said.
“Saying something online shows people have made some effort to understand the product or service [and] social research from online shows it’s a different level of motivation.”
Holmes a Court said companies generally know when people are “p**sed off” during a phone call, but “what do people hate about us that we don't know”.
BuzzNumbers (http://www.buzznumbershq.com/) is a SaaS application that can track online conversations from news sites, blogs, social media services and forums among other online channels.
With the version eight release BuzzNumbers allows companies to do “topical analysis” to understand whether customers feel “positive or negative” about an offering.
The startup has also developed patent pending technology that enables companies to segment online activity by location.
“For example, Sydney people might care more about the price of a product than people in Brisbane,” Holmes a Court said.
“Do companies now have a responsibility to be aware of what is being said on social media? This is the reputation of the or ganisation. Within the blogosphere there is a lot of noise but they can provide valuable feedback. For example, the aggregate of all Wordpress blog traffic is more than Facebook and Google. Twitter gets talked about a lot, but the meatier reviews happen on forums on blogs.”
Holmes a Court said the blog aggregator Technorati doesn't offer location-based searching for the level of influence of a blog, for example, the "top 10 fashion blogs in Sydney".
So far BuzzNumbers counts Microsoft, Red Bull and government departments in its customer base, which for the latter Holmes a Court “has a responsibility to understand what people want and what they are saying online”.
The application was developed using Microsoft’s suite of technologies. It first built a pilot and took that to market with a “ship early, ship often” direction.
BuzzNumbers is hosted in North America as the servers use “multiple terabytes a month per server” of data which would not be economically viable with the cost of bandwidth in Australia, according to Holmes a Court.
“We’re also using Windows Azure cloud services for some production systems,” he said.
BuzzNumbers has done some private capital raising, but has not gone to the wider VC market for funding.
Regarding business intelligence, Holmes a Court said the company is in discussions with large BI software vendors and integration is inevitable.
“We are releasing a BI connector for in-house data warehouses so we do see it will be integrated with corporate data,” he said.
“Any company spending more than $50,000 on marketing can take advantage of BuzzNumbers.”