Blog tool startup has crucial first test

Blog tool startup has crucial first test

Compendium Software launches test version, but has big client already using it
By Erika D. Smith,  July 16, 2007

It took a few extra months, but the latest software company from ExactTarget co-founder Chris Baggott is up and running with at least one client and $1.1 million in new investment.

Compendium Software, which sells user-friendly blogging and search-engine marketing tools for companies big and small, launched the test version of its software today. Yet Indianapolis-based law firm Keller & Keller already is using it.  "Keller & Keller wanted to win some very specific keywords and concepts (on search engines)," Baggott said. "As a first customer, they’re ideal because they know a lot about this already."   He and Ali Sales, formerly of search-engine startup ChaCha, started Compendium Software this year with the hope of turning it into a top provider of blogging and search-engine marketing software.

Blogging by individuals is nothing new. Millions spout off every day
about anything and everything. But for companies, blogs remain largely
untapped territory. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found
last year that only 5 percent of blogs in the U.S. were
business-related.

Blogs, managed correctly and confined to narrow topics, can rank high
in search-engine results because they are updated frequently and
contain links to several other Web sites. That helps increase
visibility, and sometimes sales, for companies.  "The number one reason
companies don’t blog is fear. They fear what their employees will say,"
Baggott said. "What we’re doing is giving them this control. Before
it’s posted, it has to go through an approval process."

Employees write their own blogs, but entries must be approved by an
administrator. When that happens, the entry gets posted to both the
employee’s blog and to one or more of the company’s "compended," or
topic-specific blogs. These blogs are designed to attract search
engines.

"There will be a lot more compended blogs than individual blogs," Sales explained.

For example, an employee of a sporting-goods retailer might write a
blog entry raving about her latest pair of golf shoes.  When the
administrator approves the entry, the software will post it to the
employee’s blog and company blogs on golf and shoes. The administrator
never has to specify what compended blogs apply. The software does that
automatically.

All of those blogs will link back to the company’s Web site and to each
other, thus providing one feature that search engines like so much. 
Companies want to land at the top of search engine rankings, Baggott
said.

For example, a recent poll by AIS Media found that the majority of
consumers now go online and research restaurants prior to selecting a
place to dine out.  "People don’t go to the Yellow Pages. They don’t go
to the directory," Baggot said. "People care about search."

Compendium Software had expected to launch the test, or beta, version
of its software in April. It received initial funding from 12 local
investors. Two weeks ago, the startup said it got an additional $1.1
million. Baggott declined to name the company’s investors.  Keller
& Keller, which didn’t return a call for comment, is the startup’s
only client right now. But Baggott said he expects to sign up nine
others by the end of July.

"Before we go national, we’re going work with specific clients," he said.

The blogging tools will be distributed via a "software-as-a-service,"
or "pay-as-you-go," model that’s easier on businesses with small
budgets. It’s the same model that ExactTarget uses to sell
permission-based e-mail marketing software to companies.

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