MerchantCircle Creates ‘Instant Websites’

MerchantCircle has introduced what it’s calling an “instant website” product. In order to take advantage of it local businesses need to be registered with MerchantCircle.

The company told me yesterday that 75% of its registered businesses/members (now at 550K) don’t have websites. This number is not the same as all SMBs because MerchantCircle “over-indexes” in smaller markets. (My survey research has shown a figure in the 55% to 60% range for no websites among SMBs.) But it represents a significant market opportunity for the company to grow its advertiser base (now at a reported 7,500).

The websites are similar to blogs in that their format is templated but can be changed at will. The content is drawn from the MerchantCircle profile pages. Richer pages equal better website content. The website populates with a single click at the end of the process.

To begin, local businesses register domains through MerchantCircle. Hosting and monthly fees are $14.99 per address per month. Costs go down for multiple addresses. Here’s a video showing the entire process, most of which is spent on registering domains.

Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google and SmallTown offer stand-alone simple website building tools. Blogs can also be used as sites (as I do). However the MerchantCircle tool may be the quickest and easiest yet. It represents an entry point for most of these businesses, which later will probably want more elaborate sites as they become more sophisticated. (That implies another product for MerchantCircle to meet that potential demand.)

However it’s a smart way for MerchantCircle to generate additional revenue and create a foot-in-the-door for an advertising upsell, as well as to provide a service to these businesses. Those that create websites are going to be more likely to advertise. It also creates SMB loyalty because most people don’t know how to transfer domains and will likely remain with MerchantCircle, accordingly, as their web host.

A related, previous post, “The End of SMB Websites,” generated lots of discussion and debate about the relationship between websites and landing pages, as well as the need for websites in a world of rich profiles and landing pages.

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16 Responses to “MerchantCircle Creates ‘Instant Websites’”

  1. MerchantCircle Creates ‘Instant Websites’ Says:

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  2. MerchantCircle Numbers and Statistics - Daniel Swartz Says:

    [...] – http://gesterling.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/merchantcircle-creates-instant-websites/ – [...]

  3. Pidech Pinich Says:

    Thank you. Name:pidech Pinich 32/3.Bandoo.Mang.Chiang Rai.Thailand. Email: Pidech_7979@hotmail.com

  4. David - LA Marketing Firm Says:

    I think merchant circle’s on the right track… I don’t like their “networking for merchants” – it leaves out the consumer. Therefore sites like Yelp etc. are better off. I also don’t like some of Merchant circle’s marketing (the phone calls, and original bad press) – and their my competitor :)

    Regardless, this is a very cool concept – kudo’s to them.

  5. Merchant Circle provides instant website for SMBs - Lost Remote TV Blog Says:

    [...] coupons, deals, blogs, reviews and newsletters, but now they provide websites with custom domains. Greg Sterling has all the details on the “instant” websites including what other local search sites are doing. Local business are no longer just looking to [...]

  6. Merchant Circle provides instant website for SMBs | Web Development Live Says:

    [...] coupons, deals, blogs, reviews and newsletters, but now they provide websites with custom domains. Greg Sterling has all the details on the “instant” websites including what other local search sites are doing. Local business are no longer just looking to [...]

  7. Local 1.0 « Your Suspect Says:

    [...] SEM (through various firms or direct with the search engines), their own website despite that only 55% of SMBs don’t have websites (and those that do are largely brochure sites, built long ago, and not SEO’d), and local [...]

  8. Pidech Pinich Says:

    Thank you. From Address Name: Pidech Pinich.Address:32/3.Bandoo.City:Mang.State:Chiang Rai.Zip/Postal Code:57100 Country: Thailand. Tel:053 175 739,+082 180 4274 Email: pidech.undefined98@gmail.com

  9. eufaulaok Says:

    merchant circle has porn and defamation posted on a business — contained in writer reviews of a business. they do not remove trash comments form customer reviews. it is very difficult to get feedback to merchant circle about offensive review posts. I was just looking up a funeral home in eufaula ok — and found porn + defamation. merchants -be careful if u use the merchant circle.

  10. jdwebdesigns Says:

    I have been a member since December and the site has increased my exposure quite a bit on search engines. I have actually received a few extra calls because of being found on that site. Sure, there are some downfalls with it in some aspects, but for the most part, it has been a great help to me. But I don’t rely on it solely, and I hope that no one else does either. It’s just another SEO bump in my opinion.

  11. BTS Says:

    As a registered Merchant you can remove any of these reviews that you don’t like.

  12. Instant Websites and Merchant Circle Questionable Practices | The Musings of Nicholas Reese Says:

    [...] Commenter BTS who posted on my last post, it seems that you also commented on MerchantCircle Creates Instant Websites. Does BTS stand for Ben Smith owner of Merchant Circle? Interestingly enough the ip address of the [...]

  13. arcangelo fusco Says:

    Once youve installed wordpress you have a basic functioning web site. At this point you can easily download free (and paid) themes and plugins. THey just go into your public_htmlwp_contenttemplates or plugins folder.

  14. Done for you Traffic Review Says:

    Done for you Traffic Review…

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