Toronto startup KnexxLocal has released a new app called Instamonial that’s aimed at helping small businesses maximize customer recommendations.
The app allows businesses to contact customers via email, thanking them for their business and requesting a review. Instamonial does not prompt the customer to download the app or sign up – the review can be completed entirely via email. Both the business and customer can then share the review through social media with photos of the product in question.
KnexxLocal co-founder and CEO Paul Chen, who previously worked as chief technology officer of the email marketing firm Flonetwork, said many small businesses rely on word of mouth as a primary and inexpensive form of marketing.
“When we looked into the market for local business, we realized it is a huge market,” he said. “They’re willing to pay you for the service, because you’re replacing the Yellow Pages in helping you to find more leads and more customers.”
KnexxLocal beta tested the product with about 25 small businesses, many of which told the company that a large majority of their business is the result of word of mouth marketing and referrals from existing customers.
Instamonial’s current users work in several sectors, including catering, photography roofing and home improvement. Chen said Instamonial will also work well for larger brands that deal with customers in person in their local communities, like car dealerships.
“GM is a big brand, but the car dealership always has a relationship with the customer,” Chen said. “It’s really important for them to establish a trusting relationship with the customer before they can complete the sale.”
LavaLife founder and Dragon’s Den panelist Bruce Croxon is one of the investors backing KnexxLocal. Round 13 Capital, where Croxon is a managing partner, provided KnexxLocal with a $1.1 million investment.
Croxon said the growth of online reviews presents a challenge for local businesses that Instamonial is solving. “Simplifying the process for business owners to receive referrals from satisfied customers and distribute them easily online is the ultimate goal of localized, online word-of-mouth marketing.”
Instamonial is currently available for free, though it soon plans to add additional word of mouth marketing services for a fee in order to drive revenue.