How to Price Listings, Banners and More for a Directory Site

We received an interesting question inquiring as to what was the best way to price listings, banners and more for a directory site.

First, there is no one correct way to price your listings and there’s no one standard or uniform equation to pricing out your listings.

In our experience, having dealt with hundreds of clients and also having experience in the publishing industry, your pricing model should be competitive to your market specifically. The price of a diamond level listing on a biotech or pharmaceutical directory where sponsors include multi billion dollar companies like Amgen or Genentech is going to be drastically different than a diamond level listing on a local search site in Billings, Montana (no offense Montana).

Look at the advertisers you’re looking to attract and find out where they are advertising.

These are likely your direct or somewhat direct competitors. They’ve set a market rate for these businesses and established a standard upon which they’re used to paying. This is your best guide to determining the right pricing model for your site.

One thing to keep in mind are the differences in print and online competitors. A 1/2 page ad in a print publication that boasts a circulation of 15,000 is drastically different than a 728×89 leaderboard with 15,000 impressions.

One thing we encourage all of our clients to do is to focus on maintaining the value of your sponsorships. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re working on bringing in a new client and quote them $100 a month for a featured (diamond) listing. At that time, maybe you’re getting 10,000 page views a month on your site. $10 CPM isn’t that bad. Now let’s say 6 months down the road he comes back to you to purchase the advertising — or perhaps even renew his existing contract with you. The price he last saw was $100 a month for 10,000 page views.

Now your site has reached 30,000 page views and you’re charging $200. You’ve tripled the traffic to your site and only doubled the cost of your sponsorship and your CPM is down to $6.66. At the end of the day, you’ve created a more cost effective advertising vehicle for your sponsor, but him justifying a 2x increase in ad spend from what it was last time can be very difficult, despite the substantial increase in audience size. So what to do in these situations?

Price your ad units at competitive or slightly above competitive lines out of the gate. If you had come in at a $200 price point with 10,000 pageviews ($20CPM), it may be a little steep, but you can ALWAYS have value ads in the deal with your advertiser, such as buy 4 months and get a 5th free to make the cost sting a little less. This way, your sponsorships (listings, banners, etc) maintain their value ($200 a month) and you don’t have to worry about constantly increasing your costs to reflect the growth in your site traffic.

Many marketers can understand and justify the price increase above, but in many cases, when you’re running a local search site, you’re not dealing with savvy marketers, you’re dealing with small business owners who are trying to keep their operational costs to a minimum. Some things to remind them of when trying to reinforce the value of your site’s sponsorships:

  • Guaranteed impressions - In their print publication, they’re sold a circulation number, but this by no means reflects how many people actually read the publication or saw your ad for that matter.
  • Relevance - Use Analytics information (search terms, time on site) to SHOW your advertiser that people come to your site to FIND businesses like theirs.
  • Reporting – Provide your advertiser with a detailed report on how many page views their ad got, how long the average visitor stayed on the site, what they were searching for when they came to the site, how many people clicked on their listing, redeemed a deal, etc.

Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Leave them in the comments section or email marketing@edirectory.com

Navigation Configuration (9.7)

With the 9.7 release there is a brand new navigation configuration tool, we heard a lot about the original configuration tool (v.9.3) and the updated HTML Editor (v9.4 Onwards) and many of you expressed a need for a super simple way to edit / add & remove links from the top level navigation. We even added a ‘custom link’ ability so you can easily link any navigation link to a URL of your choice – it really couldn’t be easier.

*By the way, the HTML Editor is still there but is now labeled as a CSS editor, you can find it under Site Content > Css Editor.

eDirectory 9.7 Navigation Configuration Tool

The Simple Explanation

Order
Drag and drop ordering, hover, click and move these items around as you see fit.

Navigation Text
What do you want the link the navigation to actually say? Perhaps you would rather ‘Companies’ instead of the word ‘Listings’,  just tap in your new text here.

Link To
All modules in eDirectory have their links hard coded (the module links can not be changed), but if you’re linking to a module just select it from here. If however you wish to add you’re own link pointing to another page, another site or anywhere else that’s not a module, choose the ‘Custom Link’ option.

Custom Link
This field is only available after selecting ‘Custom Link’ in the Link to column, enter a full URL here and you’re done. (Don’t forget to include the http://…)

Remove
Pretty self explanatory, press this and the row is removed.

You can also pick from the Header or the Footer navigation, and if you check the bottom of the table you’ll find a super handy ‘Add Row’ button. I hope you like the new navigation tool, and our move towards a more streamlined approach.

eDirectory Language Center

With the release of 9.7 comes a brand new language center. Pick the language of both the site (front-end) and the sitemgr (admin) independently for any domains or subdomains you own and run eDirectory on – it really couldn’t be any simpler – did you mention you can edit every single piece of the language integration?

*Language switching on demodirectory.com will return shortly.

Why a new center?

From an SEO standpoint, having all of the data criss-crossed across 7 pages (one for each language and translation) turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. By splitting websites into subdomains or indeed entirely different domains they retain a great deal more of their rank (multiple pages are not considered duplicate content anymore), the content is individual, the sites are unique, and if you are writing you’re site in Spanish or Portuguese, surely it’s better for you to host that site with the correct TLD (Top Level Domain) – .com.br & .com.es respectively.

We thought long and hard about the best way to approach languages, they were many ideas on the table, but in the end simplicity won out, a language per site, with the option to pick a global language just for the sitemgr. Read on for some more details of how this all works:

Selecting your languages

Selecting your languages

Simply login into the sitemgr and head to the ‘Language Center’, and on the first tab select both the language for the main site (Front End) and the language for the back end (Sitemgr), that’s it you’re done, these settings can be changed as often as you want or need.

Language Editor

Downloading Language Data

eDirectory requires two language files to function correctly, they can both be downloaded here, simple select the language and section you wish to edit (Sitemgr or Front End), then hit the ‘Download Language File’ button. Edit on your computer until you have the file the way you want, then simple return to this screen and upload – job done.

A lot of site users ask for a really easy way to edit the language data – this is it.

Add Languages

Adding a language to eDirectory

So, eDirectory doesn’t support a language you want? Not a problem, all the tools are here for you to add you very own language (providing you do the translation of course). Head off to the ‘Add Language’ page and simply follow the 5 steps for creation of a new language, tap in a few bits of information and the language is instantly available for use – we love it.

The Tiny Things

Changing names and flags

You know how it is, you make a change, upload a language and then find out you used the wrong flag or even worse names the language incorrectly – open the ‘Name & Flag’ tab in the site manager area and edit these oh’ so important settings here.

We hope you like the new language center, it’s really a much better way to organise the languages, it’s simple, clean and easy to use.

News Aggregation: Why You Should be Doing it

Whether it’s through email, on a webinar or at a tradeshow, the most common question I get from clients is:

“What can I do to keep bringing visitors back to my site”?

For any site owner, let alone a directory site owner, it’s not an easy task to keep getting new traffic to your site. Most of the people come to a directory site to find specific information about a business, browse through the listings and find all the details they need to make an informed decision. This is largely what brings people to your site. The ‘long tail search terms’ that are either geared toward business categories or specific businesses. For instance, if I’m running a local search site, search terms are probably going to look something like this:

“Annandale Virginia Restaurants”
“Annandale Restaurants”
“Evergreen restaurant Annandale”
“Korean restaurant in Annandale”

These folks come in, find the restaurant they’re looking for and they’re off your site. With static data like listings, what can you do to bring people back? What content can you offer that promises to be different from one visit to the next? Start with aggregating news in your industry or area. In any town there are at least 4-5 news sources covering the area, each of which are largely reporting on the same stories. By aggregating the stories across multiple media outlets, you provide your visitor with tight, consolidated news headlines. Reddit, Digg, and other sites are run on this concept and it can work at the hyper local level, too.

Two Examples:
1.) A hockey blog that aggregates league wide news: http://blogs.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/sports/empty-netters/30066-empty-netter-assists-10-02-11

2.) An online news aggregator for different verticals/industries:
http://www.marketingdive.com/

Let’s say, for instance, I want to aggregate news in Fairfax:

A reward is being offered for anyone with information on farm animals that were recently slayed in the Herndon area. [Fairfax Times]

Two people were killed in a car crash on Lee Highway last night. [Fairfax City Patch]

The airport board has backed down on their union preference for the Metro silver line. [Fairfax News]

Winery at Bull Run will be opening in Centreville. [Washington Post]

By aggregating the best news stories in your area, you offer a valuable, convenient resource to visitor, produces fresh, new content on your blog and will help increase search traffic and returning visitors to your site.

eDirectory releases version 9.3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
eDirectory releases version 9.3
Annandale, Virginia – May 16th, 2012 – Arca Solutions, the parent company of eDirectory.com, has launched version 9.3, which introduces new a variety of new features and capabilities in the basecode of the software.

Version 9.3 was concentrated mostly on a number of smaller, but impactful features, mostly those suggested by the customer base. One of the more notable aspects of 9.3 is a new real estate template, which can be used for those trying to create a real estate listing-driven site to showcase properties. The direction of future releases may be concentrated more on creating niche, vertical focused ‘templates’ that work off of the base code, but each offering a different set of features that are most pertinent to their respective focus. For instance, the gallery on the details page uses a slider as opposed to a popup window and the template as a whole only uses the listings, blog and banner modules.

“The Real Estate theme is the first of many beautiful, stylish new directory themes to come. This release makes eDirectory the best solution on the market for creating a professional grade, multilingual real estate site,” said Arca Solutions CEO James Chubb.

9.3 also offers category sitemaps, meaning users can now generate category sitemaps for all languages. Other additions include an email import notification, the date selection tool now supports all languages in the system and the listings section within the site manager has been tweaked to preview listings more easily.

Lastly, an RSS feed has been added to the deals module and the advertising page has been restructured to support both graphical themes as well as the newly released real estate theme. To learn more about these features, please contact a sales representative by calling (703) 914-0770.

eDirectory is a division of Arca Solutions, Inc, a digital media company headquartered in the Washington, DC metro area.

“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

Top 10 most valuable items to a local search site

  1. An ambitious site owner – If you don’t truly have a stake in the community your local search site is covering, chances are good all the rest are pretty hard to follow. It’s tough to update, write about or maintain a site that has subject matter you’re really not interested in. Think about it.
  2. A well balanced focused – Not too geographically large (a local search site for the entire state of California) but not too geographically small (a local search site for a town of 400 people).
  3. Events – Keep up to date with what’s going on in the community. Whether these are paid event listings or free, a local search site should keep their events up to date and accurate.
  4. A good hook – What makes you better than the next online site that covers your area, or for that matter, Yelp, a local newspaper or other going out guide?
  5. An editorial voice – Your site should provide some type of editorial content where necessary. Whether that’s an academic article, a blog post or human interest story, it’s important to have a focus and voice.
  6. Fresh Content – Google loves fresh content. Search engines in general like to see that you’re updating the website and producing content of some kind on a consistent basis.
  7. Blog – Similar to #5, a blog is likely what’s going to keep your finger on the pluse of a community. Whether you’re reviewing a restaurant, interviewing a business owner or aggregating local news, it’s important to keep the content flowing.
  8. Unique Content – Aggregating news and posting events isn’t enough. You should be doing your own feature stories, interviews or reviews and coming up with editorial and information content that is going to keep people coming back.
  9. Otherwise un-aggregated content – List out specials, sales, happy hours, nightlife, drink specials, lunch specials or dinner specials, things that visitors would otherwise have to go to each business’s website to find.
  10. Data/Listings – A large reason why people came to your site in the first place is to find information about a local business. Whether that’s a telephone number, hours, reviews or menu, it’s vital to keep all of your listings up to date.

Blogging: A Voice to your Online Directory

From time to time, eDirectory runs promotions that provide free sales and marketing consultation for our clients. The idea is, having seen hundreds of our customers create online directories, we’ve grown to see some of the basic approaches to creating a successful site. We’ve documented most of these in “Marketing a Directory,” “Selling A Directory,” and “Manning a Sales Team.” One question that comes up most in these 30 minute or hour long consultations is ‘What can I do to have people keep coming back to my site.” While we don’t have a magic formula to creating a dedicated visitor base, there are a few ways to use a blog as a hook to keep visitors loyal to your site.

A blog can act as the voice of your directory and set a tone to your site. This tone can often be what keeps readers coming back for more. Think about it — almost everyone today has a ‘round’ of websites they visit in the morning as they sip on coffee and dig through the inbox. What are those sites to you? What keeps YOU going back to them everyday? Here are some ideas to think about:

[custom_list style="list-9"]

  • Local Search – If you’re developing a local search site, you want your site to be the destination for all of the restaurant menus, drink specials, nightlife, local businesses and events in your region. If you are to be trusted as the go-to destination for everything that’s happening in your area, it’s good to go above and beyond cookie cutter listings on your site. Talk about what’s going on in your community. Local search sites should keep their finger on the pulse of the community, and that is one huge advantage true local search sites have over Yelp, and it’s something site owners can’t afford NOT to leverage. Yelp doesn’t list all the events in Kearney Nebraska, it doesn’t feed breaking news stories in Kearney either, so it’s something readers would appreciate having access to. Interviewing local Chef’s about their cuisine and suggested entrees, local business owners on their company and concentration of work, aggregating local news in your area – all great additions to your site that can be easily funneled through a blog.
  • Buyers’ Guides, Business Directories, Product Directories – What is going on in your respective industries? If you’re developing a business directory, or buyers’ guide that focuses on a particular industry, it’s assumed you have a certain depth of knowledge to the subject at hand, as you should. What is going on in that industry? What things are happening that would affect the way people buy a certain product? What new products are hitting the market? If you want people to come to your site regularly, it’s vitally important that you update your site constantly and a Blog is a great way to do just that.

[/custom_list]
Some tips to consider when it comes to executing your blog effectively:
[custom_list style="list-9"]

  • Keep focused. It’s easy to blog about things you find interesting and want to write about, but does it fall in line with the scope of your directory? If you’re keeping your readers up to date on a new restaurant opening in Kearney one week, and going on a political rant the next, you’re likely going to lose readers along the way. Readers have expectations on what they’re going to get when going to your site and that’s why they will go there on a regular basis. If the scope of your blog is constantly changing, your readers will likely lose interest in being a loyal visitor. Make sure that you’re writing to keep your users informed , not for the sake of hearing yourself talk (or reading your own words, so to speak).
  • Check Facts. One way to lose credibility and respect pretty quickly is to post erroneous stories or ones with inaccurate facts. Read up on what you’re about to write, make sure it’s accurate and go out of your way to cite the sources you’re pulling information from.
  • Keeps a six inch voice. Just as you were told in school, it’s important to maintain a proper voice level in the world of blogging. When writing about a story, make your voice heard, but don’t try talking over people. If you’re posting industry news, breaking stories or perhaps tackling a big event, try to keep your commentary limited as you get started and get a feel for both your style and tone. Short, precise commentaries often compliment what you’re covering best.
  • Everything in moderation. Similar to the previous bullet point, it’s not only what you’re saying that is important, it’s also how often you’re saying it. Some directory sites may struggle to push 1 or 2 entries a day, and that’s sometimes all you need to keep an engaged reader. If the topic of your directory is more broad or general, you may have to consider dozens of stories to comment on. Pick the gold nuggets and always consider blogging the stories that may not get coverage elsewhere.
  • Write Responsibly. Remember everything you publish is for the world to see. If you’re writing about industry news, businesses, local events, be sure to do it with style. Remember, blogging doesn’t take accountability out of the picture, write with proper style and etiquette before you hit the publish button. For a few tips, check out: http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-10-11-n47.html

[/custom_list]
Blogging is a great addition to any directory site, as it puts a voice, a face and sometimes an attitude behind a site full of hundreds or thousands of listings. It’s another way to engage with your site visitors and show them the investment you’ve made into the directory you’re developed. Reviews, Interviews, Feature Stories, Event coverage — all great elements to cover via the blog that are likely to get re-posted by others, but more importantly, it’s going out of your way to show site visitors your conviction to the subject matter.

eDirectory releases version 9.0 with new bells and whistles

Annandale, Virginia – August 5th, 2011 – In their second software release in less than a year, Arca Solutions, the parent company of eDirectory.com, has unveiled version 9.0, which introduces new features such as Click to Call, SMS listings to others, Sugar CRM Integration, Google + enabled sites and more.

Unlike most other releases, version 9 concentrated on small, but impactful features to the base code that help site owners sell the functionality of their directories a bit more. With Click to Call, site visitors can click on a listing, enter their phone number, and upon clicking enter, will be placing a call to the business. Accordingly, the ‘Send SMS to Phone’ feature will enable visitors to send contents of that listing via a text message, including the business address, phone and listing link. Both features, however require an account with Twilio, who provides very affordable levels of web API services.

Based on the request of their customers, the eDirectory.com basecode team included an integration with SugarCRM in version 9, where sales reps can automatically populate orders from eDirectory into their Sugar account. With the popularity of Google +, visitors will also be able to share listings with others.

“I’m really excited about the work we did under the hood, completely overhauling the CSS to make it much easier to customize as well as taking measure to improve the SEO of our users’ sites,” commented CEO James Chubb regarding release.

The Back Link Builder incentivizes listing owners to link back to your directory with increased visibility. In short, when a listing owner links to their directory, the software will verify the link and increase the exposure of their listing in the directory. Other SEO changes to the software include now having a description field available for categories, where site owners can add in SEO friendly text. Lastly, all listing images are now tagged for Google Images, increasing your directory’s presence on the search engine.

A few final features changes include overhauled CSS to simplify customizations, entirely redesigned mobile html versions to look even better on more hand helds, in addition to overhauling the URL structure for multi-lingual sites. To learn more about these features, please contact a sales representative by calling (703) 914-0770.

eDirectory is a division of Arca Solutions, Inc, a digital media company headquartered in the Washington, DC metro area.

eDirectory releases version 8.1, increases mobile profile

Annandale, Virginia – April 15th, 2011 – Following up the most paramount release since launching the product 7 years ago, eDirectory, the leading online directory software solution, has announced the release of version 8.1, which features new functionality in both the iPhone and Android, in addition to a revamped import tool, SEO-friendly URL structures, new language support and more.

Following up on the blockbuster release of version 8.0, which included multi-domain management, a revampled deals section (previously coupons), iPhone and Android feature updates, Package builder and GEOIP, the eDirectory basecode team focused their development efforts more on growing and improving existing features of the system as opposed to adding a slew of new functionality as they had in version 8.0. Perhaps the most notable change for existing users is a revamped import too, which includes a brand new interface, new import types and the ability to update listings, too. Additionally, version 8.1 will have a few improvements on the SEO of the software, specifically creating more SEO-friendly URL structures across the site, specifically those pulled from search queries within the database. Furthermore, eDirectory will have W3C validation to ensure all directory sites are crawled error-free.

Another notable feature based on demand is having Turkish language available for translation in the top corner of each site. The platform already provides a Spanish, French, Italian, English, German and Portuguese translations. Site owners can now provide category descriptions when visitors click on a category in order to better explain how the site is organized. The deals section will not only provide discounts by dollar value, but also by percentage of the cost, and user profiles now include a few new fields, all in addition to several other minor changes and fixes made to the platform.

eDirectory is a division of Arca Solutions, Inc, a digital media company headquartered in the Washington, DC metro area.