Marketing an Online Directory
Whether you have an existing directory you’re working from, or you’re using eDirectory to get your business off the ground, there are many ways to better position your site for success. While we provide our customers with a robust platform to develop an information packed, highly interactive directory, there are many steps that need to be taken to help make your site a valuable advertising or promotional vehicle.
When they hear the word ‘niche’ many people often think it means restricted or constrained, but niche directories are almost always the most successful. Just because your focus or scope may be narrow, it doesn’t mean your audience, or pool of potential advertisers is at all limited. Let’s say I want to develop a business directory for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I want to include a list of a variety of types of business, shops, stores, business services, restaurants, happy hours, drink specials, events and more. Keep in mind this will likely include tens of thousands of listings and with something this broad, I’m bound to rub up against competitors with similar directories. With a broader focus and other competitors in a similar space, my value proposition loses quite a bit steam.
That is, I can’t offer a poignantly focused arena for advertisers to promote their business. As we’ll learn later, nearly all advertisers have a very specific type of visitor they’re hoping to attract and your value proposition should reflect that.
If we narrow this down to something in a little smaller scale, it becomes exponentially easier to compile information and I can profile my audience in a much simpler way. By changing the focus of my directory from the city of Pittsburgh to a sub section like North Huntingdon Township, I offer a more niche, personalized resource where I stand a less of a chance to go up against bigger sites like Yelp, City Search and About.com. At the same time, however, the site still offers thousands of companies in the region a highly targeted advertising vehicle for their business or services.
The same concept applies to product directories, or services guides as well. One could try and develop a physician directory, or a wholesale manufacturer directory, but a simple search in Google for similar sites shows we’re up against many existing platforms with the same business model.
If, however, we are able to hone the focus to something more specific, like Nephrologists Directory or Beer wholesale Manufacturers Directory, we have a more personalized product to offer our potential advertisers.
After all, Bob’s Wholesale Beer Distributor is much more apt to advertise on your website than something more broad, like the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. In the next document of this two-part series entitled “Selling a Directory,” we’ll cover how this becomes a very powerful selling point.
Listings, Listings, Listings
It’s difficult to sell ideas or concepts; people have more faith and confidence in tangible products or solutions. It’s not easy to sell web design services if you don’t have a portfolio of site’s you’ve done in the past.
Similarly, it’s difficult to sell advertisers on your product (directory) before it’s fully developed. Some of our clients, after purchasing a license, immediately pursue advertisers for an immediate ROI, before ever having developed any content on their site. While we understand our clients want to justify their spend, it’s always best to show them a fully functional, populated directory. It’s important that when you approach potential advertisers, you tell a story and physically show them how your site can help bring more visibility to their business. There’s no question that populating your listings takes work, but our industry partners such as datadepot.com provide data and listings to help fill your directory with information your visitors are looking for.
From barbershops in Santa Barbra to Nephrologists in Nebraska, Data Depot is a great resource to help get information your directory. Content, or listings are the heart of your site and without them you make it impossible to achieve organic (natural) growth on search engines. Without organic search rankings, your website traffic from these search engines is extremely limited. Without website traffic, your directory has no value to the advertisers. Your user will likely search in two different ways, but regardless of how they search, it’s vital that we have the content in place to make sure our organic search rankings rise for searches that match our site. Let’s go back to the example of having a directory of Nephrologists. Someone looking for such a physician will search one of two ways:
“Washington DC Nephrologists”
“Nephrologist Dr. Zimmerman”
In the first search scenario, the user isn’t certain of which doctor they want to go to, but rely on a directory that we’ve developed to help them fi nd that doctor. In the other instance, we know the name and location of the doctor that we’re looking for, but we’re not quite sure of his or her contact information.
If we have a list of Nephrologists in Washington DC or in the second case, Dr. Zimmerman in our directory, we’ll most definitely be a match on both of these searches. As we continue to be matched with these search terms, our search rankings will continue to increase. If we don’t have the directory properly populated with all of the data to support search terms like this, we can’t achieve the web traffic we need to gain the business of advertisers.
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.