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$2M-funded Review Trackers helps you learn from online feedback — and manage bad reviews

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Chicago-based startup Review Trackers provides review harvesting and management software in a cloud-based tracking platform. The software helps companies of any size deal with rapid growth in customer review frequency and content, both good and bad. Today, the 14-person start-up received an infusion of $2 million to advance the mission.

When’s the last time you bought something online and didn’t get an e-mail or pop-up from the seller asking you to pen a review or a rating? Soliciting reviews is pro forma at Amazon, Netflix, Angie’s List, and thousands of other sites. Your dentist probably needles you for a same-day rating after the hygenist polishes those pearly whites.

Increasingly, dealing online or in an establishment with online appointment tracking means you’ll be asked for a review in a few seconds, minutes, or days. Helpful souls that we are, reviews have become a data tsunami for online marketers.

CRM-driven marketing automation and clever code have propelled online reviews to the top of the value heap among inbound marketing giants like HubSpot and Marketo. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are turning reviews into the marketing equivalent of placer gold.

Reviews and ratings can quickly get out of hand in any marketing department. And it’s a giant missed opportunity to not treat reviews like ripe corn, harvesting them at the peak of freshness.

Bernie Borges, CEO at HubSpot-teamed inbound marketing agency FindandConvert.com, said in a chat with VentureBeat, “Brands that rely solely on reviews and ratings are at risk if the raves don’t trump the rants. When a brand has built a loyal community, the members can serve to nullify the rants, particularly when they run counter to the majority sentiment.”

Through Review Trackers service, companies directly mine the data that enables a level playing field.

Review Trackers founder Chris Campbell said in an interview with VentureBeat, “Review Trackers helps SMBs raise awareness for both positive and negative reviews. This allows them to respond to negative reviews faster and also to address (and hopefully resolve) the issues quicker.”

Citing “exponential growth,” Campbell says he will use the cash to improve the platform, which was initially launched in January, 2013.

“We’ll be doubling the size of our engineering team this year… and accelerating our growth through increased customer acquisition.” Campbell pointed to accounts like Subaru, Pella Windows, and Culligan as examples.

Review Trackers cites Reputation.com and Revinate as competitors focused on different segments of the market. Campbell claims, “We have been gaining market traction through strong customer service, accurate and up-to-date data, and affordable products and services for small to mid-market companies.”

Rounded up by Milwaukee’s CSA Partners, top investors in the $2 million round include American Family Ventures, angel investor Jeff Rusinow, and SymphonyAlpha Ventures.

Review Trackers claims that it has signed thousands of businesses who use the cloud software to listen to customers, gain key insights, build a growing base of reviews, and deal with negatives. Single location clients pay as little as $29 per month to receive data that tracks and mines major review sites. The price slides to as low as $20 per month for multiple-site businesses.

The software includes a reporting and analytics dashboard. Clients can also ask customers for reviews via the platform. Review Trackers offers API customization for larger clients.

Online customer reviews are the digital version of “word-of-mouth” endorsements, long considered the gold standard for retailers and restaurants. Review Trackers said that Harvard University research shows that a 1-star rating difference on a review site may result in 5 percent to 9 percent revenue gained or lost. This amounts to $50,000 to $90,000 for a mid-size restaurant, an amount that can mean the difference between a profitable or unprofitable year.