Cloud marketing company Signpost has raised US$52 million in new funding to “increase the scale of our business and invest in our technology,” CEO Stuart Wall said Tuesday.
The funding was provided by HighBar Partners and BMO Bank of Montreal as well as previous investors Georgian Partners and Spark Capital.
Signpost expects to add employees in all three of its offices — in New York; Austin, Texas; and Denver, Colorado — and will move its New York headquarters to Seventh Avenue this month.
The company’s Software as a Service platform for small and mid-sized businesses consists of artificial intelligence-based customer relationship management and marketing automation technology powered by automated data collection and cross-channel marketing.
“Many local business owners are seeing their competitors benefit from adopting CRM and marketing technology in terms of getting more and better reviews and executing better marketing,” said Wall.
“Also, many are recognizing that investing in technology is the best way for them to delegate manual tasks and reclaim time to focus on their businesses and serving their customers,” he told CRM Buyer.
“What sets Signpost apart is that it has designed a system specifically for small businesses that are managing customer lists, customer emails and online consumer reviews,” noted Nicole France, senior analyst at Constellation Research.
“That’s a distinct, and narrower, set of priorities from what large enterprises need, but more than just email marketing,” she told CRM Buyer. “Though the company has incorporated some AI and automation, it’s applied to these particular areas of focus.”
Signpost’s latest round of fundraising follows a banner year. It achieved cash flow break-even ahead of schedule early this year, as well as 43 percent year-over-year growth in its core product and less than 1 percent customer churn.
This strong growth “indicates just how much demand exists for solutions tailored to the needs of small and very small businesses,” France pointed out. However, SMBs “can’t afford to pay for technology they don’t use.”
After a five-minute onboarding process, Signpost connects seamlessly to users’ phone systems, email services, and other key business platforms, and automatically gathers all of their customer contact information.
Behavioral data collected from more than 70 million U.S. customers help Signpost’s users convert prospects, drive repeat business, and generate new reviews.
Signpost’s platform enables small business owners to do the following:
- Capture customer contact information whenever prospects and customers call, text, email, or buy their products or services;
- Automatically send texts and emails to drive more feedback, new customers, better reviews, referrals, and more repeat business;
- Make payments effortless with Signpost Payments, a complete card payment solution with free equipment; and
- Draw on digital marketing expertise from Signpost’s Customer Success Managers to drive more reviews and increase revenue.
“The main challenge is for local business owners to find the time to figure out how they’re going to get more reviews or develop effective marketing programs,” Wall said. “It’s why Signpost has invested so much in automating its platform and making it as easy as possible for business owners to get results.”
Signpost’s depth of automation is a differentiator, observed Daniel Elman, research analyst at Nucleus Research.
“Most CRM systems are primarily a system of record to organize customer information and track engagements,” he told CRM Buyer. “In order to be effective they require consistent manual data entry by the user.”
Many competing offerings “leverage AI to recommend next action for sales reps and discover trends in data, but Mia, Signpost’s AI-powered CRM, is more hands-off and can virtually eliminate the manual data entry step,” Elman said.
“Additionally, having data from 16 million customers built-in to pretrain the AI is a key differentiator,” he pointed out. “This allows it to be immediately viable for SMBs that often don’t have the years of historical data needed for training an AI system, or the resources to build these capabilities organically.”
Integration With Key Business Partners
The platform offers easy integration to Quickbooks Online, Constant Contact, Mailchimp and Square.
Signpost’s AI feature, Mia, syncs all the contact information and transaction data, and will send feedback and review requests for new purchases.
More than 1,200 customers have used Signpost’s integration.
Signpost’s partnership with machine learning ad platform Acquisio in 2017 lets Signpost users leverage Acquisio’s Promote platform for search engine marketing on Google Adwords.
“Given the long tail of SMB opportunities, particularly among very small businesses, Signpost’s investors likely see the company’s current growth rate as a good indication that there’s still plenty of room for growth in this market,” Constellation’s France said. “An effective but carefully tailored set of capabilities that meet the distinct needs of small businesses has ample opportunity.”
For example, Mailchimp this spring unveiled an all-in-one marketing platform that includes CRM.
“SMBs are looking for solutions that help them do four basic functions: collect, organize, understand and act, and our marketing CRM is the center of that process,” said Darcy Kurtz, Mailchimp’s VP of global product marketing.
“We anticipate rapid adoption of our full-service marketing suite, as SMB tech is a largely untapped market, but the opportunity is massive. Small businesses contribute to 48 percent of the national GDP,” she told CRM Buyer.
Signpost offers three solutions:
- Basic, the most popular, is for businesses that communicate with customers primarily through email and only want new reviews;
- Standard is for customers who want to add phone and text communications; and
- Pro is designed for businesses that want marketing strategy support on top of all that.
Customers pay a flat fee of $200 to $400 a month, depending on the solution, Wall said. There is a discount for annual upfront payments.
There are also several vendors that offer CRM packages for small businesses at no cost.
The upside of CRM solutions for SMBs, said Constellation’s France, “is greater market reach and the ability to punch above their weight in name recognition and growth.”