Baton Rouge Startup Kydos Aims to Make Review Management Easier for Businesses
Online reviews are essential for nearly every type of business these days, playing an integral role in discovery and reputation across almost every sector and company type, says David Maples, CEO of Baton Rouge digital marketing agency Catapult Creative Media.
“Reviews are now the modern form of word of mouth,” Maples says. “[The old version of] word of mouth is no longer the most important part of advertising.”
But as they worked with Catapult’s business customers who were managing reviews across multiple platforms, Maples and his team realized the existing management solutions were often inadequate. Maples decided to build his own, Kydos, a review-management offering that launched this summer and that is making waves in the marketplace.
The Science of Reviews
Maples says data indicate that more than 95 percent of U.S. consumers read reviews, and 90 percent of people trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth comments. That means reviews can be a primary source of business or a strong deterrent for potential customers.
Businesses that aren’t managing this key piece of their online persona are essentially delegating their reputation to others. “People don’t go to the watercooler and ask their friends anymore,” he says. “They go to Google and they check that first.”
Maples says a perfect review score is actually a bad sign, as they have been shown to reduce customer interest because people are suspicious of flawless reviews. Instead, he says, the best review score is between 4.2 and 4.5. People also only tend to care about reviews left within the previous 90 days.
The challenge for many business owners, Maples says, is engaging customers to encourage them to post quality reviews on a regular basis. And high-volume businesses, such as restaurants, struggle to manage and respond to their reviews across multiple platforms.
Kydos offers a solution for both problems, putting the power back into the hands of business owners to easily and more effectively engage with clients and what they’re saying about the business.
The software offers a review platform that lets a business easily contact consumers by text or email to get more reviews online. It also lets business owners update their reviews across any of the dozens of major directories they want to be on, while also responding to reviews via a single dashboard.
“You don’t have to log in to the major directories online — Google, Facebook or Yelp,” Maples says. “You can actually go into our dashboard directly and respond right there. It’s a time-saving feature for a lot of clients.”
Maples says the platform has already been successful in generating customer reviews for clients, including one small business that went from five reviews to more than 20 in three months. “I didn't think that was a big deal, but [the owner] said it took her four years to get five reviews on Google,” he says.
Other features include an online dashboard to track a number of key metrics for businesses that rely on local search to thrive.
Maples came to entrepreneurship early, starting his first company at the age of 16. By age 20 he served as vice president of sales and marketing for a national gaming company. In 2007, Maples moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU’s law school. He and his wife, Virginia, founded the company that developed into Catapult Creative Media.
Although they offer a wide range of digital marketing services, Maples and his team had extensive experience in software development, so bootstrapping a second company and a software product was not a huge leap. The original plan was to wrap up development and launch in October 2018, but by March it was clear they already had a viable product to release.
By May they started selling it, both as a standalone product and as a part of package for Catapult’s marketing customers. Maples says clients have been offering positive feedback.
The company is now building a sales team to sell it nationwide while also pushing into phase 2 of development, building new features and add-on functionalities.
“We’re in the growth phase right now and scaling it,” he says. “At the same time, we’re trying to make sure that we’re being smart about scalability. We want to make sure, unlike a lot of the other companies, that we’re actually doing the customer service work behind the scenes.”