CityVoter Gears Up for “Best Of” Voting Push, Looks to Cash In on Daily Deals and Rewards

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lean with 11 employees. The company’s strategy can be summed up as “low [capital] raise, build a huge database, and go like hell when the market turns,” Walker says.

That time could be now. August was CityVoter’s “best month ever,” Walker says, with 1.7 million unique visitors and 10 million page views. So far this year, the company has gotten more than 9 million unique visits and 40 million page views. The site has a local presence in 30-some cities around the U.S.

Next month, in conjunction with the soon-to-be-announced relaunch of the “Boston A-List” competition, CityVoter is rolling out some important new features—a slicker voting site, and a rewards program for loyal patrons who vote. If that sounds familiar, that’s because everyone and their brother (literally in this case) is trying to make money through new kinds of customer loyalty programs. But it’s not a major strategy shift for CityVoter—just an added dimension.

“We are not becoming a daily-deal company,” Walker says. “This is just a smarter way to monetize the consumer experience.” What’s more, he says, the marketing will be very different from group-buying deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial, or location-based gaming approaches like Foursquare, Gowalla, or SCVNGR. “You won’t know where there are deals. These aren’t buy-a-vote deals. This is a thank you,” he says.

In the group-buying sector, CityVoter has partnerships with Boston-based BuyWithMe and Seattle-based Tippr; it already uses those companies’ software platforms in different cities to offer deals to voters from their favorite establishments, by selling vouchers that are redeemable in stores. But CityVoter’s new deals for voters will be different. “We’ll take the 100 people who already come to your store, have taken time to vote for you, and get them out there talking about your business, and let them spread the word,” Walker says. “It makes sense. We’ll see if it makes enough sense.”

It sounds like CityVoter is primed to ride the wave of daily deals and rewards, while not fundamentally changing the company’s mission—which is to supply the voting platform for local “best of” competitions. The key will be whether the startup makes a lot more money, or gets a lot more exposure, from its emerging deals business. Everyone knows the deals sector is evolving quickly, and merchants have lots of options now. So why should they work with CityVoter?

“The only reason is to win the title,” Walker says.

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Editor in chief. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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