See what’s new with eDirectory v11.1

Once again we are very proud to announce the release of a brand new version of eDirectory: the v11.1.  We’ve prepared a hard-hitting lineup for you: new features on Base Code, added Stripe, 3 new layouts to choose from, SEO improvements, and much more made to meet your expectations!

Check out what´s new on eDirectory v11.1!

Stripe – New Payment Gateway Integration & Free Trials

eDirectory has added Stripe to the list of payment gateways so site managers will now be able to not only add this as a payment option but Stripe users also can now offer the ability offer free trials to any of your listing levels and plans. Please note that the trial feature is exclusive to Stripe.

Stripe_Transparent

New Theme Updates

Choose from the beautifully re-designed default theme or choose from 3 additional themes, each of which have their own home page look and feel with unique display and behavior options too: The Medical Guide, the Restaurant or Dining Guide and the Wedding Guide.

Enhanced Membership Level Editor

Strong enhancements to the Membership Level Editor which now include the ability to associate classified ads and multiple deals or coupons with their listing owners. Classified ads are perfect for job listings, merchandise, services and real estate. We are sure advertisers will love these new updates!

Enhanced Email Editor

eDirectory.com´s email editor now allows the site manager to design and send email notifications automatically right from the platform with your personalized headers and footers. Modify your automated email notification with shiny new templates and updated default messages.

Are you ready to see your site online with v11.1? Sign Up today!

Are you already a customer that wants the latest and greatest? Request your upgrade!

Read here the full list of enhancements of  v11.1

10 Tips to Creating Successful, Revenue-Generating Online Directories

Revenue-Generating Online Directories

Whether you have recently purchased an eDirectory license or are thinking about creating online directories, it’s very important to understand what is involved in developing, building, launching and marketing your site in the first year and beyond.

There are two main areas to focus on when starting an online directory:

  • Developing the business plan or idea behind the directory
  • Getting the word out and promoting your directory

First is the development of the directory as a business itself, which will be covered in the first 5 steps. This aspect focuses on what you are providing to people and how effectively you are providing it. It’s all about your business model and how well you are executing it.

The next group of 5 steps will touch on the promotion of the site and growing its readership. Even the best and most original of ideas and businesses need to get noticed and must constantly work to find new ways to spread the word about their idea or product.

If you put the work in to develop a solid business plan, bring more awareness to your site, develop the right network to increase your visibility and continually develop rich, relevant content, you can start to see financial success within 6-8 months of your launch.

1. Patience

Any business, even an online business, is rarely an overnight success story. Honing vision for a site, developing content, getting indexed by Google and building lucrative business partnerships are all critical elements to building a successful online directory, and each of those steps take time. There’s a very good chance you likely won’t see ROI in the first few months, but if you invest your time wisely, and treat your venture as a business, not just a side venture, you have the opportunity to generate significant recurring revenue.

If you throw in the towel after three months, however, you’ll likely never know what potential your vision had, and in that short span of time, you’ve never really given your business a chance. Every good thing takes time to blossom and flourish, and your directory site is no exception.

 2. Do Your Homework

It’s important to do some online research on the line of business, industry or theme that pertains to your directory. Take the time to research a large amount of keywords and topics throughout the web that are related to the same type of subject matter that you will be presenting.

Learn from what you find. Take note of what and how much is out there. Is it a very competitive landscape? What are they providing their audiences? Are there gaps or opportunities in the marketplace?

Think long and hard about what you will be able to offer and how you can use your directory site to offer it better than anyone else. Look for the things you like and can implement in your own site. Also take note of the things you saw that didn’t quite work and make sure you know how to avoid them yourself.

 3. Develop a Strong Value Proposition

Based on the homework you’ve done, you should develop a very poignant value proposition. This should include the strengths and attributes that your site offers that others don’t. You should continue to develop your site with this value proposition in mind. Build to your advantages and apply what you have learned from your research.

This proposition will be the answer to the question “Why should I come to your site?” or “Why would I want to list on your site?” Having a definitive and persuasive answer to questions of this kind will be an important tool when lobbying for your initial sponsors.

4. Establish a Brand

As you start to develop your directory, you should make it your goal to make a name for yourself, and establish your site as the leading media vehicle for your area of interest. If you’re developing a Ski Resort Directory, you should be known as the “go-to source” for skiing information. If you are creating a local search site, you should make a name for yourself locally and be the voice of your town, someone who has the finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the area, day in and day out.

Developing a brand is similar to putting a personality on your business or project. Align your brand with the things you learned from your research and your value proposition.

What do you want people to think of when they see your logo or your site? Do you want to be seen as informative, discerning and serious or open, knowledgeable and friendly? Make these decisions first and keep them in mind when decided on a brand name, logo, color scheme, typeface, catchphrase (if you have one) and overall writing style. You want all of the visual elements of your site and your brand to convey the symbol of the brand that you are creating.

5. Listings

Listings are the building blocks of your directory and the bulk of the data that will drive future visitors and sponsors. You should heavily, but honestly populate your directory as best you can. Fill your site with the type of listings that you want your site to be the main resource for. eDirectory’s “Claim this Listing” feature will allow these listing/business owner’s to claim them at any time and become paying members of your site if they want to edit or promote their information.

Because each page has its own mini ‘website’ with a unique, SEO-optimized URL, it’s important to have listings in your directory, so these URLs can be crawled and indexed by Google even before your site is launched.

Speaking of SEO, its now time to move away from the planning and setup phase of your directory and onto the marketing and promotional aspects that will drive traffic and help you start generating revenue.

6. SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it is more commonly called, can be a daunting task and confuse even the most tech savvy of business owners. SEO can be made simpler if you focus on just a few key factors for optimizing your site.

a. General Setup

First, there are a few things to set up for your site:

  • Install Google Analytics and set up Google Webmaster Tools and link the Analytics account to your eDirectory site. This will help you to track your site traffic, indexed pages and more so you can see your site’s progress.
  • Create a robots.txt file and upload it to the root directory of your site.
  • Create a sitemap.xml file and submit your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools for indexing. Your sitemap can be found in the SEO Center of your eDirectory under the Sitemap tool.

b. Keywords

To be most effective in being found by your customers in search engines its vital to optimize your website with keywords and phrases that are most important to your business. Drawing on the homework and research you did earlier, gather the keywords you will want to be related with and use these tips to optimize them throughout your site:

  • Include keywords in the description fields and headings on the Basic Information area of your site in the Configuration section of eDirectory
  • Include keywords within the content itself especially the Listings, Article and Blog posts. Use the “SEO” tab for each item in eDirectory to include relevant keywords in the Title, Page Name, Keywords and Description fields.
  • Include keywords when adding images: keywords in the Image Title and Image Description.
  • Link keywords in your content to other pages on your site: creating internal links by attaching URL’s to a keyword on one page to other pages on your site such as blog posts and articles is a great SEO tactic
  • Include links to your site on social media posts, email signatures and newsletters whenever possible (but not spammy!)

7. Content

If you run a business or website then you have a certain expertise that can be shared with your prospects. You can show you are knowledgeable and have a chance to build up trust in your ability as a potential product or service provider. Content provides a great opportunity to become the first stop for any kind of information in your market.

Articles & Blogging

The simplest, yet most effective, way to leverage this expertise is through business articles and blogging. It allows you to demonstrate your know-how and become your own micro media company, able to publish your knowledge for others to see. Educating your readers is key, it will be easier to sell your site’s benefits when people trust your authority and see you as a thought leader.

This type of content will help you to build up your inbound links and also help to raise your website’s rank for main keywords and phrases, which are crucial for SEO and growing your site’s organic traffic.

 High Quality Content

High quality content is meant to go a step deeper than articles and blogging and really drill down into some topics for your visitors. The goal of this content is to convert a lead to a customer.

An example of this is that your blog may have brought in a visitor to your site and helped them to understand what your business is about. Now you can introduce them to a case study that shows them direct benefits of your services and provides them with a clear success story that they can relate to. Sharing a real-life success story will help them feel more comfortable with becoming a customer themselves.

Besides case studies some other examples of high quality content that can be highly affective includes webinars, white papers, eBooks, tutorials, slide decks, demos, videos and infographics.

8. Invest wisely

It’s important to understand what your budget will be and how much you will be able to spend. If you want to help get the word out about your website in person, it might require making an investment in marketing collateral, promotional materials, or your business may benefit more from online advertising in order to gain significant traction to your site. Plan your spends accordingly and stretch your budget as much as possible.

Some of the lower cost options for physical marketing collateral would include business cards, fliers, napkins, buttons, window stickers and more. Resources like Vistaprint and Fedex Office can be great places to find professional yet affordable materials.

For online advertising Google Adwords is the standard on the web. With an account, you can pay Google to have your site’s advertisement show up whenever someone searches for keywords that you are interested in. You can choose the specific keywords and phrases you want, how much you are willing to spend, the location of the searcher, the time of day searched and more to ensure you optimize to reach your ideal customers.

Local Search site owners also have the luxury of advertising relatively cheaply through Google Adwords. With keywords and phrases as low as 5-10 cents per click, and Google periodically offering $100 credits to start, this can be a great way to drive traffic to your site and build repeat visitors at a lower cost.

9. Shake Hands

Many people often ask the best way to make a sale to a business in their directory. The important thing to remember is that before you make a sale, you need to build a solid relationship with potential advertisers. Rather than walking into a business, slides in hand, trying to pitch them on a sponsorship opportunity, it’s better to form business relationships first and foremost. Introduce yourself as THE person who has started a directory where
people come to find businesses like theirs and explain to them the opportunities that they can take advantage of (free listings, guest blog posts, etc).

In making a name for yourself and getting the word out about your directory, it’s important to get in front of most, if not all decision makers in your industry. The best way to get yourself introduced to businesses that are populating your directory, or other potential advertisers, is to take a journalistic angle. Rather than go in to pitch them advertising or talk up your directory, try asking them to do a feature story, article, or interview. These are
things that add value to your site and also make for a great ‘in’ to any business you’re pursuing.

10. Never Stop Working

The success of your site is directly correlated with how much work you put into that site. Our most successful clients have been on board with us for a few years, and they constantly work at improving their site on a daily basis, and they’ve all at one point or another, followed most, if not all of steps 1-9.

Even after your site becomes profitable, you shouldn’t be putting your site on cruise control. The only way to maintain the success and exceed it is to strive for continuous improvements and to always be on the look out for new market trends and opportunities.

You should be meeting new businesses, updating your listings, posting news stories or writing whitepapers in addition to finding new markets, creating new marketing campaigns and finding innovative ways to strengthen your brand.

eDirectory has provided you with the tools, now its up to you to build your idea into a success!

Take a Guided Tour of eDirectory

Online Directories: The next big media vehicle for advertising agencies?

iphone-in-handOnline Directories: The next big media vehicle for advertising agencies?

As many publishers are scrambling to transition their publication to an online format, or at the very least offer a digital version of their publication, something should be said for the changes that we’re undergoing in the way we search, find and gather information. Saying that the world is moving more and more online is nothing prolific, it’s been in the works for the last fifteen years. But to think the print industry, dominated by paper-back books, grocery store gossip magazines and blockbuster papers like the Times, are re-inventing the wheel makes one wonder what bigger impact this might be having on all of us.

These publications set the standard on where and how people got their information. Need to find a business, open the yellow pages; want news, pick up the Times or Post. The yellow pages, perhaps one of the most staple print publications in circulation today is now planting its’ feet in the sand as a primarily an online information source. News aggregators like Digg and Reddit have revolutionized the way we read our daily news.

Where we used to browse several news sources to get different stories, aggregators pull together the best content from hundreds of news providers. This isn’t just the industry moving from print to online. The online world is embracing new mediums for publishing information, one of those being online directories and portals.

Let’s face it, we’re changing the way we search for and gather information and more importantly, we as consumers, buyers or readers are becoming considerably more demanding when it comes to the way we access that information. We’ve come to expect our data to be compiled, aggregated and presented in the most user friendly and time efficient manner possible and for many companies out there, there’s lots of catching up to do.

The pace of these changes will have several major implications for Web Designers, Developers, or even Advertising Agencies that offer those services. To date, over 25% of eDirectory’s business comes from Advertising Agencies or Web Design/Development shops. More and more companies are relying on ad agencies and interactive designers to develop blogs, networking sites and directories that provide easily accessible and centralized data.

Online Yellow pages, city guides, local search, business directories, product directories – all becoming more popular mediums for businesses to develop and publish content. Simply put, the ability to develop and design online directories is becoming yet another tool in the belt of agencies that stay on top of new media and technology. Twelve years ago there weren’t many companies developing sites in Flash. Today, you’d question their credibility if they didn’t have a designer inhouse with that capability.

At that same time banners were 728×90 leaderboards, sky scrapers or boxes, today there’s prestitials, interstitials and peel backs. The most successful advertising agencies are those that can keep up with the direction of online media. Given the current rave around SEO and SEM, and an online directory’s ability to account for great success in both of these arenas, electronic directories may very well be a primary advertising vehicle for most businesses in the near future.

There is, however, another opportunity for Ad Agencies and Web Designers to develop directories themselves and put into place an additional, and substantial revenue stream.

When it comes to the client base of agencies we’ve worked with in the past, we’ve found they can be categorized in one of three groups. In one scenario, the agency’s customers consist mostly of local, small companies as the agency themselves are small as well. If the agency or design company is located in Kearney Nebraska, most of their clients are stores, shops or businesses within Kearney. The second type of organization we’ve worked with has a strong industry focus.

For instance, some agencies only work with Pharma or Biotech companies, or another client of ours, for example only works with hospitality companies while the remaining group has no limitations, geographically or otherwise, on their client base.

For companies whose scope is more limited, directories often times offer your clients an excellent arena for marketing. If an agency caters more to local businesses, a city guide, or local search directory provides an enticing and powerful advertising vehicle to your client. For example, if you’re doing a website for Joe’s Computer shop in Kearney Nebraska, it would be a lucrative opportunity to also offer Joe advertising space in
GoKearney.com.

This provides a more holistic service to your client to help establish their presence on the web and helps their business gain visibility to prospective customers. The more local clients that you serve locally, the more powerful an offering a local search directory becomes.You don’t have to serve local businesses to effectively leverage a directory for your customers. As you learn more about marketing an online directory, you’ll learn that
a narrow, niche focus accounts for sites that are the most successful. Agencies that only concentrate, for example, in life sciences or software solutions have a highly targeted client base. Developing a directory of different CRO (contract research organization) services for biotech companies makes for a great addition to any campaign the agency is working on the client with. Alternatively, a product directory, where an organization can
list and promote their customers’ products provide unparalleled visibility for their software and services.

A site like Capterra is regarded as the Kelly Blue Book for businesses shopping for software. If, as an interactive agency, your business has a niche focus and limits its’ services to a select group of companies, leverage the narrow focus and industry knowledge to develop product directories or service directories. This provides not
only a valuable resource to your advertiser, but it also opens up another stream of recurring revenue for your organization.

If you have any questions, or would like to further discuss how to improve the way you’re marketing or selling your directory, we would welcome a phone call or e-mail anytime.

Reminder: SEO Crash Course Webinar tomorrow at 10:00AM

A quick reminder that we’ll be conducting a complimentary SEO Crash Course webinar tomorrow, October 10th at 10:00AM EST.

Some things we’ll cover in the webinar
-What is SEO?
-A brief History of SEO
-Black Hat SEO
-First steps to Optimizing
-It’s All About the Keywords
-On Site Optimizations
-Off Site Optimizations
-Leveraging Social Media
-How can eDirectory Help?
-Additional Resources

For those interested in learning the basics of SEO and what you can do to better optimize your directory site, this is a great presentation.

Hope to see you there!

Register Here

New Webinar Dates Posted

Check out the list of new webinar dates posted in the ‘resources’ section of our website.

A quick synopsis on each of the upcoming presentations

How to Steer Your Site to Success – an overview on steps to making your site have better potential for success. These include strategy in selecting a domain name, introductory SEO tips, engaging with your listing holders and putting the right partnerships in place to help your site

SEO Roundtable – Submit your site or watch live as your peers sites are critiqued on they could be better optimized to increase search traffic.

Free Group Training – Free of cost introductory training course conducted by Jessica Delucchi. Great for new users as well as those hoping to become a bit more familiar with the system

SEO Crash course – While a lot of people know about SEO, very few people know what goes into making your site a well oiled SEO machine. We’ll cover the history of SEO, the basics of on site optimizations as well as the best approach to launching a successful backlink campaign.

“Your software isn’t cheap..”

Having been at eDirectory for several years now, we’ve run into our fair share of competitors. We’re confident that out of most of the solutions on there on the market, there isn’t a more powerful solution for the price. With a steady growth in the market, we know we’re not outpricing ourselves, but many people come to us and say that our software is over priced, too expensive or outright not affordable.

A few things to consider:

Script Vs. Software One thing that makes me cringe is when people refer to eDirectory as a script. It’s not that a script has a bad notation necessarily. It’s just to me, a script is something you buy for $25-$200, are sent an automated email with a link to download the script, which you have to install yourself. Support is limited or non existent and you’re likely ONLY getting a program that runs business listings.

What are you getting for the price? eDirectory, a software solution, provides our clients with near 24/5 support from a global software organization. Additionally, our software has many features that simply aren’t included in most others, which include, but aren’t limited to:
[custom_list style="list-9"]

  • Daily Deals
  • Classifieds
  • Events
  • Banner Advertising
  • Automated billing
  • Click to Call
  • Send SMS to Phone
  • Advertising Package Builder
  • Multi-site feature
  • Android & iPhone Apps
  • And many, many more…

[/custom_list]
This is what distinguishes us from the $75 script you’re looking at. Enterprise features, elite support and a product dev team pumping out new releases every quarter.

Build Vs. Buy A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak with a client of ours at a non profit organization, the American Ceramic Society. They have a directory of businesses in the ceramic industry and use it to not only engage more with their members and those in their community, but to also increase their visibility. For them, eDirectory was their ‘charm’ as they had first tried building the system in house and then tried going with one of our lower end competitors. While this may have been an interesting case because he had tried both an in-house solution and a competitor, I would confidently say that 30% of our clients have at some point come to us and purchased eDirectory after trying to build the solution in house. For every time one of our sales executives is told ‘We’re going to build it in house’ by a prospective client, I tell them to make sure to follow up with that prospective client in 3 months and see if they’re still as committed to developing it on their own. It’s simply not cost effective.

The average PHP developer will cost about $55 dollars an hour. So after you lay out a project proposal and spend time defining your requirements, let’s say you’ve already put in 4 hours explaining to a developer what exactly it is and how it’s supposed to work. You’re already down $220.

Our software costs $1799. So at this point, are you still confident in thinking that this developer can finish the project for less than $1579? If you are, this means your developer is capable of building something in 28 hours what has taken us 7 years and a team of 10 basecode developers to come up with.

Could you do it yourself ? Sure. Would it take 750+ hours. Yes. But why reinvent the wheel? Even if your site needs customization, at least bring the already-invented-wheel to a developer of your choice and have him customize the foundation, which has already been built.

$1799 to invest in a business? With so much developing with the growth in online directories, dining portals and local search sites, and so much advertising opportunity accordingly, is $1799 a cost prohibitive price point to developing a successful online publication? People come to us and share great ideas about how they envision leveraging our software to create unique and information packed websites. It’s like their eyes glow just thinking about the possibility. From experience, $1799 rarely stands between a person or business with vision and ambition from developing a successful online business. If it does, maybe there’s more to consider about that venture before continuing to pursue it.

Feel free to give me or one of my sales reps a call to talk about your directory.

Jared Elder
Marketing Manager
jared at e directory dot com