Sergii Shanin of Pluspoint tells us how businesses can beat their local competition with an advanced review platform.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Pluspoint.
Sergii Shanin: I come from Ukraine. It has a vibrant IT and startup community, and for more than six years, I’ve been launching and managing software companies. The idea for my recent startup was birthed out while I was working at my previous company, eTeam.
Customer satisfaction was always our top priority and, as a result, online reviews and recommendations from our clients became the main driver for our company sales. It turned out that local businesses experienced the same problem, but there was a lack of modern tools to manage customer feedback and online reviews. When covid restrictions started to lift off, and many local businesses returned to work, we decided that this could be good momentum for a solution that could help them get more loyal customers and grow their online presence.
We combined the best practices from the digital business like Net Promoter Scoring, Reputation Management, SEO, and Social Media Management to create a modern review management solution for local businesses – Pluspoint.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Sergii Shanin: I think that the main ones would be focusing on what you do best and sharing. Many of our team members are based in different parts of Ukraine and work between constant air-raid sirens. But being able to build a great international product while supporting their country by participating in volunteering activities keeps them motivated and productive despite the extreme circumstances. We also made our service free for all our existing customers affected by the war to help them go through these difficult times.
How does Pluspoint market its product/services online?
Sergii Shanin: Mostly, we use Google and YouTube ads to get users to our website. That assures that we get relevant users to the website. But this is only the first step. After users get to Pluspoint’s main page, we conduct a complex remarketing and retention scheme:
● Remarketing on Facebook and LinkedIn;
● Remarketing on YouTube and Google Display ads;
● A sequence of emails that explains how Pluspoint works;
● A separate ad group promotes our key posts and articles to the user.
This way, we engage visitors in several ways. Even if they left the website without conversion, we continue to show them the value of Pluspoint via several channels. It’s also important to show not only promotional messages but to promote useful content and build relationships with potential customers step-by-step.
Another important vector is PR. PR is less effective for attracting new visitors, but it’s a vital factor to help persuade the audience that is considering your product. For this, we collaborate with key media that write about SME business.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Sergii Shanin: Here is what we use to manage our online marketing.
● Hubspot is our key marketing hub that aggregates leads and data from several channels and integrates the marketing department with sales.
● Crazyegg helps us to see the behavior of our website visitors and what screens are engaging and not.
● Of course, Google Analytics is must-have for any digital marketing move. With it, we track users’ behavior and which channels are the most efficient.
● We collect reviews about our software on Trustpilot – it has a simple interface and a lot of ways to get reviews for your software.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Sergii Shanin: We are an early-stage startup, so it is crucial to have people who believe in the idea and share the same values. It is also critical to support employees during hard times and ensure that they and their families are safe. We ensure that every employee receives necessary help and can take paid time off if they need to move or relocate their family.
How are you funding your growth?
Sergii Shanin: Both external investments and paid subscriptions. We managed to close the pre-seed round from Pragmatech Ventures in 2021 and are now on track to make our company profitable with its current resources.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sergii Shanin: There are several dominant players in our industry like Reputation.com, Podium, Yext, and others. Instead of the direct competition, we decided to focus on the underserved markets by the bigger players in other geographies and industries. Another trump card we have is a unique set of features, including freemium accounts and social media integrations.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Sergii Shanin: One of our clients, a leading network of medical clinics, used to manage all customer complaints in manual mode, which caused delays and even more complaints. Additionally, most patients were hesitant to complain to administrators and shared it directly on Google My Business, damaging the clinic’s reputation.
We’ve helped analyze the customer journey and find touchpoints where customers are most likely to provide feedback. The company set up Pluspoint to intercept the negative feedback, manage customer complaints in real-time and ask for public reviews from satisfied customers.
As a result, after implementing Pluspoint, the number of negative public reviews has fallen by 85%, and they started to get three times more 5-stars reviews. But most importantly, the customer satisfaction metric that NPS tracks have grown by 25%.