Take a moment and locate the published Yellow Pages directory in your office. Did you find it easily? If not, that is proof that you probably don’t use it too often. On the other hand, if you were able to locate it easily, think about the last time you used it to look up a number. Now, think about this on a larger scale, perhaps within your community. If you’re not using the published Yellow Pages directory, then chances are very few people are, too.
Other than the reality that close to 70% of Americans rarely or never use the printed Yellow Pages directory, the book also creates environmental and economic concerns. Specifically, low-quality glues are used and are hard to recycle because the glue results in clogged recycling machinery. Further, the Project Stewardship Institute, whose mission is to reduce the environmental impacts of a product, reported that local governments spend $54 million annually to dispose of phone books, and $9 million to recycle them. Additionally, not many businesses are aware that once ad space is purchased in full for one year, the contracts have automatic renewal procedures, unless the business owner personally cancels their ad space. As a result, new editions of printed Yellow Pages have become thinner in size, with the added feature of larger font.
Generally, the printed Yellow Pages being used as a reference is declining, with potential customers turning to online business directories instead.
Online Business Directories: The New Local Directory
Web-based business directories are where potential customers are turning to in order to create business. Ultimately, consumers use a variety of methods before making a final purchase decision by referring to a combination of: search engine results, online directories, newspapers and (occasionally) printed Yellow Pages. Business directories are effective because people use them while in the midst of making a purchase decision. In particular, a 2009 study conducted by Burke, a media research company, found that 80% of people that use an online business directory are ready to buy (36% made a purchase after using an online business directory and 44% had the intention). Consequently, a vast majority of those who used an online business directory before making a purchase did not know of a specific company to buy from.
Generally, internet business directories are easy to set up and use for businesses of all sizes. While it is important to have a website, it is even more important to get consumers to your website; and one way of doing that is by providing a link to your site on a variety of online business directories. Setting up a listing with a web-based business directory can cost a lot less to obtain targeted local search hits compared to traditional marketing methods such as postcard mailers and the yellow pages.
Consumers are also able to save their search to be able to refer to it later. In addition, several online business directories have apps for mobile devices that allow people to call a business, get directions , and even offer coupons or deals with ease.
The Features of Online Business Directories
Other than the fact that results are locally-focused, online business directories are easily portable (with phone apps, etc), are easily updated if your business moves or changes its contact information, and the added benefit of providing links and references to your site, here are some other features that online business directories tend to have.
- Multiple Directories Available For Free. Online business directories put your community or the world at your fingertips. You can search for listings from anywhere in the world, and there are also several different kinds of directories available: community directories, industry-specific and association directories…the list goes on. It would be beneficial to register with a couple of relevant directories, so that you create a higher chance of people being exposed to your company. Google Places would be one of the first directories you should get your business added to.
- Reviews & Ratings. Several online directories are including customer reviews, as well as a chance for the business to respond. This allows you to gauge your customers’ experiences and strengthen and grow as a business. It may take more time to read and respond to the reviews, however, it is worthwhile when considering potential business is affected by what people say.
- Company Profiles, Business & Product/Service Descriptions. Many directories allow the option for businesses to provide more information about themselves other than the basics (phone number, address, etc). If you can engage potential customers by allowing them to spend more time with your business electronically, chances are they may consider purchasing from you.
- Maps & Directions. Online listings can be optimized to provide a map and directions.
- Sponsored Ads. Depending on the directory, you do have the option of spending money to make sure your business’ listing will appear above others through the use of ad space and featured business listings.
- Online Business Directories Are Constantly Improving. Whether it is layouts, features, expanded categories, etc, online directories are always searching about how to better provide services for your business.
How NetGain Can Help
With the vast explosion of online business directories, and the number of people turning to them, it is hard not to join the trend. It is easy to set up a listing with a few directories, and it is great to have the added features that printed directories don’t offer.
As easy as it is to create a listing with online directories, it can also be time-consuming, and that is something that business owners don’t have a lot of. NetGain knows and understands how search results work. We can identify and help you in making well-informed and well-executed business decisions when advertising your business online by capitalizing on the available free and pay-for-inclusion business directory options.