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Constant Contact Acquires Digital Storefront for $65M

  |  June 13, 2012   |  Comments

Email services provider pushes into e-commerce, social for small businesses.

Email service provider Constant Contact's acquisition of digital storefront service SinglePlatform for $65 million underscores efforts to combine marketing and e-commerce services for small business.

"We think this acquisition…builds on our mission to help small businesses create and build relationships with customers," said Joel Hughes, SVP, strategy and corporate development, Constant Contact, in an interview.

SinglePlatform, which offers its platform at no cost to publishers, enables small businesses to create basic listings for free. A premium listing enables a business to add photos, video, menus, and other information for $495 a year. Publishers using SinglePlatform include Foursquare, The New York Times, YellowPages.com, and Urban Spoon.

SinglePlatform also helps businesses manage their social profiles on Facebook and Twitter, as well as publish information optimized for mobile devices, Hughes said.

When asked whether SinglePlatform works with Google, SinglePlatform CEO Wiley Cerilli declined to say what relationship, if any, the service has with Google. Cerilli would only say that the digital storefront service is available on the top three local and review sites and top three business directories. Another potential rival includes Amazon, which offers web storefronts to merchants plus an email service for businesses.

Constant Contact, though tiny compared to Google and Amazon, has had a steady ascent serving small businesses. It has more than 500,000 paying customers; two-thirds have fewer than 10 employees, according to its 2011 annual report. Constant Contact's revenue totaled $214.4 million in 2011, an increase of $40 million or 23 percent compared to 2010.

"Constant Contact's acquisition of SinglePlatform is further illustration of Constant Contact leveraging their lead with selling marketing products to SMBs and expanding the product offering to their more than 500,000 customers," said Gregg Stewart, president of 15miles and president, North America at Geary LSF.

He said this acquisition rounds out Constant Contact's product base to include dally deals, social campaigns, and event marketing. "So from a competitor standpoint [this puts Constant Contact] more in the realm of HubSpot, Yodle & Groupon- because it is a content platform and distribution play not a publisher play," Stewart added in an email interview.

When asked whether SinglePlatform works with Google, SinglePlatform CEO Wiley Cerilli declined to say what relationship, if any, the service has with Google. Cerilli would only say that the digital storefront service is available on the top three local and review sites and top three business directories. Another potential rival includes Amazon, which offers web storefronts to merchants plus an email service for businesses.

SinglePlatform, which will continue to operate out of its New York City office, employs 50. In contrast, Constant Contact employs 926, according to its annual report.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Maria Virzi

Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.

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