Keyword Research for Online Directories

Keyword research for online directories is a key element to understand the opportunities your website has to rank higher on search engine result pages (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc).

eDirectory’s code was written with SEO in mind. The structured code makes it easy for search engines to index and understand what is important.

In this webinar, our CEO James Chubb, along with the marketing team, shows how to determine which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content, and how to craft that content to satisfy both users and search engines.

This session was recorded on March 23, 2022.

The second part of the webinar demonstrates how to use professional keyword research tools such as the Google Ads Keyword Planner and SEMRush. Following that, we showed how to add keywords to your eDirectory website.

 

Here are the links discussed in the webinar. Feel free to use as a reference for your SEO strategy:

*We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected to the tools and sites above.

Want more tips? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and don’t forget to join our Facebook group.

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The Online Directory Business Model (and how to succeed)

The online directory business modelStarting a new business with an online directory is a very attractive option for several reasons. Online directories are one of the most effective business models within the online media space and can be used by agencies to grow revenue or by entrepreneurs to launch a new digital company.

Some advantages of the online directory business model:

  • Easy and affordable to setup;
  • Provides a valuable service for people making purchase decisions;
  • Much of the content is user-produced, meaning the business can be run with a small team;
  • Low ongoing maintenance;
  • Generates high-margin, recurring revenue.

In this article, we’ll cover the foundation of the online directory business model, as well as learn how to monetize the business and get the first customers.

What is an online directory?

An online directory is a guide that assists people in making a purchase decision, whether it’s a local guide for restaurants and hotels, a niche product, such as a guide to help set up a wedding, or a business-to-business guide for buying factory equipment or enterprise services.

Online directories provide information about specific businesses including their names, addresses, contact details, associations, services, and products offered in the form of listings. Businesses are typically categorized based on their location, activity, or rating, and the directory must ensure that all the information in its listings is accurate.

In this business model, there are several niches to be explored and each one of them generates value differently for users and clients (which we will discuss in the next chapters).

How does the basic business model work

The basic business model is creating a site that has a list of all the relevant suppliers, which includes detailed information about what they offer, photos and videos, ratings, and reviews.  The model originally was used by yellow page companies, which in the US was a 20+ billion-dollar-a-year industry globally.  Also, niche B2B media companies often published vendor and supplier directories.

The online directory business model has been in use since the late nineties. Did you know that Elon Musk himself, when starting his climb in the business world, created an online city guide with maps and yellow pages, founding Zip2?

Back then, the company’s strategy was to create a physical database to promote this service to major newspapers and media publishers. He managed to close deals with major publishing houses like the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and others.

In short, in February 1999, he sold the company to Compaq for $307 million. With the $22 million he received for his 7% stake in Zip2, he next launched an online bank called X.com, which merged with Confinity to form PayPal in 2000.

Interestingly, since then, the online business directory model has grown more and more, attracting the attention of different brands, products, competitors, etc.

eDirectory Business Listing Online DirectoryBusiness listing information example and how the information is displayed in an online directory.

The power of curation

Online information is everywhere these days – you can find information about a business on Google, Facebook, and many other sites. So why would people need a directory? The value is in the curation. The directory shows all the suppliers, ratings and reviews, and other information making it the authority to help make the purchase decision. There is so much information out there that curation is especially valuable, filtering out the noise and delivering only what’s really valuable.

By exploring the best content available in a certain niche, your online directory will be recognized. Customers value the diverse perspectives offer about the topics and interests that interest them. So get to know your audience, what are your customers looking for? What are their pains and needs?

Pay extra attention to the following points in order to have an effective curation process:

  • The kind of audience you are trying to build
  • The segment of customers you are trying to attract

Knowing your audience (and your niche) is key. Remember this.

As a source of curated content, your online directory’s purpose is to share listings, events, deals, and classifieds that your audience wants. It acts as a funnel. It is one of the most important ways to build trust between you and your audience. The better the content you provide, the more likely you are to receive clicks and referrals.

Get to know the types of online business directories

There are several types of online business directories to meet the most diverse interests and segments you could think of. Here are the most commonly used today:

  • Online local businesses;
  • Classifieds;
  • Real estate classifieds;
  • Job boards;
  • Freelancers;
  • Domestic services;
  • Events;
  • Weddings;
  • Doctors;
  • Travel, hotels, and food,
  • Softwares and apps;
  • Auto sales.

The key elements to having a good online business directory

For your online directory to be of higher quality, it must consider the following parameters:

  1. Breadth and depth of data for the categories the directory covers, so it has all the relevant listings and all the relevant information about each listing.  We have an entire Webinar dedicated to this topic.
  2. Provide relevant related content to attract more traffic (blogs, videos, social media);
  3. Present advertiser listings in an attractive and organized, with good descriptions and images;
  4. It is essential to have integrations with providers for online payment, allowing sales through this channel (check your local and major gateways);
  5. An online sponsor dashboard would allow sponsors to fully manage their listings. This saves time and allows greater flexibility for advertisers;
  6. To ensure a higher position in the search rankings of your listings and websites, it is essential to have content optimized for SEO;
  7. By providing maps and information related to the locations of listed companies, the directory site becomes much more useful to users.
  8. Reviews are important to make other users from your audience to have based purchase decisions.
  9. Invest in good quality photos and videos, hire a photographer or an image specialist. Good photos make your online directory look and feel more professional, and also make the sponsors sell more.
  10. And curation, as we mentioned before. Stay in your niche, promote an Editor’s Choice Award and other creative contests to engage with your audience.

How to get the first customers for your online directory?

To get started, you need to develop some marketing strategies to promote your online directory and attract your first customers. It is a job that requires a certain amount of patience to take the right steps and achieve the desired results.

Next, we will present some tips to attract the first customers to your online directory site, which are:

  1. Build listings on your site to grab users’ attention as an empty business directory doesn’t grab anyone’s attention. You can scrape listings and start filling your website by yourself.
  2. Use social media to promote your online directory, as your target audience is in these spaces and willing to interact with brands;
  3. Take advantage of the opportunity to establish a relationship with your audience by electing your visitors’ favorites in a certain niche;
  4. It is interesting to start using paid advertising, such as Google Ads, to increase traffic to your online directory quickly. Bing ads are also an option;
  5. Drive traffic to your directory site and build authority for your brand by writing relevant content and using guest blogging. Organic strategies typically require a longer time to work;

These are just a few suggestions to get you started in making your online directory popular and profitable.

How to monetize your online directory?

Certainly, most online business directory sites make money by providing visibility to their partners. This happens both with the dissemination of products and services and with the use of spaces for advertisements.

Additionally, some websites offer premium advertising and spaces. Once you have your online directory, it’s time to monetize it. It’s what generates business and profits.

Other forms of monetization can also be found in niches and differentiated business models, for example:

  • Affiliate Marketing;
  • Sales of leads;
  • Sponsored newsletters;
  • Disclosure on social networks.

Edirectory Free guided demoPaid advertisement inside the online directory business model

The option of paid advertisements to earn income in the online directory business model is the most used and applies to several types of online commercial guides, such as:

  • Stores;
  • Restaurants;
  • Subscriptions to scientific articles or videos;
  • Job vacancies, among others.

In this type of monetization, businesses pay to have their brand appear at the top of search results in their category. This is certainly an effective method of gaining visibility.

In addition, this type of listing generates recurring revenue, as the company can pay a monthly membership fee to have your name displayed throughout the month at certain times.

The listing is displayed on the first page of its categories, depending on the type of plan that is chosen by the companies. For example, a plan might offer three levels of memberships, such as:

  • Bronze ($30/month): Featured listing in a category and 2 photos to upload;
  • Silver ($50/month): Featured listings in 3 categories, 5 photos to upload and 1 social media account link;
  • Gold ($100/mo): Featured listings in 5 categories and 1 rotating ad slot, 10 upload photos, and linking 5 social media accounts with active feed updates.

In this example, it is clear how the advantages of each plan are increasing and how you can choose the one that best fits your budget.

Interestingly, the amount charged by companies to advertise their services and products directly relates to the quality of the directory site. Thus, the better your online directory, with a lot of good listings, the more you can charge for these plans.

As well, the more traffic your site has, the more opportunities you have to attract advertisers.

Ad spaces available

You can also monetize your online business directory by selling ad spaces, i.e. banners. Initially, you can offer free advertising space to encourage sponsors to start using your online directory.

You can also use the rotating banner to sell the same space to different companies. This requires defining a marketing plan that can be weekly, biweekly as well as other options.

One way to charge for ad slots can be Cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC), or by setting a monthly fee for a certain space in a specific location on the page.

Take advantage of every opportunity to advertise your online directory. Some ideas can generate good results, such as promoting events related to the niche market in which it operates. Or even promoting articles, classifieds, and everything else that may be related to your business and generate an audience.

How to get started?

This is a critical step in getting your business directory started and on its way to success.

With the tools available today such as directory templates, themes, or online directory scripts, it can be overwhelming to build and update your online directory yourself or have to rely on a developer.

A company that specializes in online directory site software has a lot to offer for your online business model. For example, eDirectory is an extremely complete and commercially available directory website builder.

It offers its users all the tools to create, manage and promote a successful directory site. It also offers a robust list of resources, including some essential tools to help you market your directory online, such as:

  1. Ability to create professional directory listings with images, videos, social media feed, and coupons within an intuitive and beginner-friendly interface;
  2. Customize your pages to fit your needs, using a visual editor to create different categories for each listing you create;
  3. Seamless integration with the most popular social media platforms and encouraging advertisers to promote their own listings with social sharing links;
  4. Automatically integrate with Google Maps as new listings are added;
  5. Providing automatic payment reminders to listing owners as their payment due dates approach;
  6. You can generate business for your advertisers by allowing them to create their own coupons and offers directly from their listings. Additionally, you can sell them banners ad space;

To get a better idea of all these eDirectory benefits, go to edirectory.com and schedule a free guided demo. You will be surprised!

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Colors & Fonts for a Successful Directory Website

Colors & Fonts for a Successful WebsiteColors & Fonts for a Successful Directory WebsiteResearch indicates that people judge a product (unconsciously) within the first two minutes of contact. In between 60% and 90% of cases, this judgment is solely based on the color of the object.

A site can have stunning images and well-balanced text, but if the color palette does not appeal to visitors, they will likely leave. The worst part is that they may not even realize why they left.

A color can evoke a particular mood or evoke associations based on one’s environment or past experiences. Color psychology teaches us that blue is often associated with feelings of trust and loyalty, while purple represents luxury or imagination.

You can analyze the sites that you like most or that are references in your niche and make a comparison. To identify every color used on a website, up to the exact hue and hexadecimal code, you can use a google chrome or firefox addon extension like colorzilla.

Would like to know how colors & fonts work together to build a successful directory website? Watch this week’s webinar to know more.

Useful links and tools mentioned in the program:

  1. https://fonts.google.com/analytics
  2. https://www.pierrickcalvez.com/journal/a-five-minutes-guide-to-better-typography
  3. https://userway.org/
  4. https://support.edirectory.com/en/support/solutions/articles/77000041540-colors

Color palette generator

  1. https://colormind.io/
  2. https://coolors.co/
  3. https://paletton.com/
  4. https://mycolor.space/
  5. https://color.adobe.com/

*We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected to the tools and sites above.

This session was recorded on February 23, 2022.

Want more tips? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and don’t forget to join our Facebook group.

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Master your categories optimizing your online directory

Master your categories optimizing your online directoryMaster your categories optimizing your online directoryIn this week’s webinar, the marketing team and CEO James Chubb discussed one of eDirectory’s most powerful features: Categories. This video will teach you how to master your categories and optimize your online directory to the fullest.

We begin by discussing categories and how you can organize your website, then do a hands-on demonstration of the categories of the most important modules, such as listings, classifieds, and even deals.

You’ll learn how to customize your categories with images and icons by using the widgets in the design module, where you can change the background color and texts as well. If you have any doubts, please do not hesitate to contact the team.

Master your categories optimizing your online directory

How to balance the best taxonomy and the SEO for your categories?
We suggest taking a look at the search volume of these keywords using any of the tools below so you can compare the variants and improve your SEO strategy.

External links mentioned:

  • Icons 8 – website for downloading vector icons.
  • Flaticon – another good option.

This session was recorded on February 09, 2022.

Want more tips? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and don’t forget to join our Facebook group.

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How to Pitch your Online Directory

How to Pitch your Online DirectoryIn this week’s webinar, the marketing team discusses crucial strategies on how you can effectively pitch your online directory. From the very beginning, we look at how to:

  • What is a Pitch presentation
  • Who you should target
  • The best practices to be more precise on your pitch

During the early stages of your online directory, prospecting new sponsors is your most important task. Be sure to add some listings and classifieds to your website, write a good and complete description, and update the contact information, address, websites, and photos. Your prospect is going to take notice of this and will be more inclined to listen to your proposal.

You also need a good relationship with the people who can help connect you with the decision-maker of the business you are trying to reach to pitch your online directory. Known as gatekeepers, these individuals can be your most valuable allies if you are able to leverage them to your advantage.

Download the material discussed on the webinar:

This session was recorded on January 26, 2022.

Want more tips? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and don’t forget to join our Facebook group.

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Content Marketing Strategies For Online Business Directories

content marketing strategies for online directories

If you are launching an online directory there are a number of content marketing strategies to help you attract an audience and build engagement.  Content marketing is part of a larger marketing category called Inbound Marketing and is designed to attract your business’ target audience by building content pieces that provide information and reinforce authority on the subject matter.

In this article, we’ve outlined some of the key content marketing strategies that are most effective for building an audience.

  • Why is content marketing important for an online business directory?
  • How to get started with a content marketing strategy
  • 7 content formats to explore in your online strategy

Copyright: (c) Bakhtiarzein | Dreamstime.com

Why is it important to use content marketing strategies for online business directories?

Content marketing is part of a bigger category of marketing activities called inbound marketing, or attraction marketing as it is also known.  This is different from outbound marketing which takes the value proposition to the customers.

Content marketing offers several benefits such as:

  • Educate your audience about your niche;
  • Promote your business’ authority;
  • Generate engagement from your target audience;
  • Take a softer approach to convert users into customers;
  • Reduce your business marketing costs;
  • Expand your site’s organic traffic and visibility.

How to start a content marketing strategy for online business directories?

Now that you know the importance of utilizing content marketing strategies for your classifieds website, you might be wondering how to get started, right?

Well, contrary to what many people think, a content marketing strategy does not simply involve posting blog posts on your website at random but rather, researching, planning, executing, and measuring the results (and the use of different content formats).

So, before thinking about creating content for your online business directory, you should consider all the steps in this process and think about aspects such as:

  • Who are you creating content for?
  • What are the goals of your strategy?
  • How do you plan to promote them (channels and formats)?
  • How will you fit content into your business’s sales funnel strategy?
  • How will you measure your results (KPIs)?

All of these are critical to achieving successful results in your content strategy for online business directories.

Once you plan, execute and evaluate the results, you can make the necessary adjustments to the strategy to improve it further.

7 Content Formats to Explore in Your Trade Guide Strategy

A content marketing strategy is not based on just producing content sporadically and only in one setting (people often associate with blog posts). On the contrary, there are several formats that you can adopt, mix and reframe in your planning.  Here is an overview of a few successful formats.

1. Interview with Advertisers (video, podcast or text)

Create a sense of importance in your advertisers by inviting them to an interview by telling their story, and sharing their knowledge. Invite a prominent sponsor and record an interview in webinar format, highlighting their background, strategy and successes (as well as their mistakes).

To save time this can also be done via email, where you regularly send a set of questions to directory listing owners or other people in the industry, edit them and post as articles or blogs.

The goal here is to generate more engagement with your audience, creating identification with real people, so that other users can connect and interact through your platform. We recommend that you hold webinars or do a written email interview with a guest once a month and then feature it in your directory site and other channels such as social media or newsletters.

2. Create Local Itineraries

For local search directories, a great way to drive readership is by creating a virtual itinerary of good options for businesses and services offered in your guide. Contact advertisers and offer space within your itinerary, but be sure to curate it to give your audience a good experience. It can be regional food restaurants, craft and arts stores, street food vendors and other attractions that might be of interest.

You can structure the itinerary into a blog post, or article, including mentions of listings and advertisers, as well as videos and photos to enrich the material and rank higher on Google. You can create thematic itineraries based around holidays and events (watch the calendar). Renewing annually to update with new tips and content.

3. Create Top 10 Lists

Another great opportunity to generate engagement with your advertisers and visitors is to create Top 10 or Best of lists, with the best picks from your online business directory. Use “editor’s choice” badges to value the top-rated advertisers and offer this premium space in a top 10 of the year in key categories in your business directory, such as best restaurants, best dental clinics, best car dealerships, accounting offices, lawyers and others.

Top 10 lists are usually run annually, selecting the best services, products and advertisers. Send an email to selected candidates informing them that they are participating in the selection for the best of the year in their category. Define how the choice will be made and reward the winners with a special badge for that year and promote the result on social networks and groups of your online directory.

4. Create Infographics

Infographics about different subjects relevant to your directory can help capture attention by telling a story with information and images.

This format increases engagement and traffic to your site on search engines. First, think of a narrative (a story) that you want to include and what main data you should gather, for example: an infographic that shows the main attractions in your city center on a map, or an infographic that shows the reviews and prices for services (choose a category) in a particular neighborhood.

As a lead-gathering strategy, you can start off by offering some of the content for free in your business guide, and a more complete version accessible by subscribing to a newsletter, where the visitor leaves their name and email to access the material.

5. Create a Fun Contest

Here’s a fun tip to generate more likes and comments on your social media: a contest is always a good way to generate some buzz on your online directory! Host a photo contest of the best dishes from advertised restaurants in your online business directory. Is your location a coastal city? Even better! Award the best photos of the beaches in your region. Create polls open to the public to choose the best services, food and stores in the region.

Offer prizes to winning advertisers such as upgrades to your ads or free plugins. The better the offer, the more people will engage and participate in the contest.

6. Create Memes

According to scientist Richard Dawkins, “a meme is an idea or information that is propagated and multiplied among individuals, similarly to what happens with the gene in genetics”. This may seem far from the concept of memes we see on the internet every day, but it’s exactly the same concept.

The power of Memes comes from the fact they are meant to be shared – it’s a content format with potential to reach thousands of people. You can take advantage of this format by creating fun images that fit your niche. Believe me, there is a whole audience of the most diverse segments that consume memes produced specifically for them such as pet owners, cooks, nutritionists, lawyers, dentists… In short, look for your niche and pay attention to internet trends.

7. Ebooks, Templates, and Podcasts

Other informative content formats that draw attention and build authority are ebooks, templates, and podcasts.

Ebooks can further deepen a topic and still explain clearly and objectively the topics covered, in addition to serving as a tool for capturing leads. Try to create different ebooks in pdf format of various topics around your niche. Pay attention to what your users are looking for and create files to address their pain points and collect more leads.

Document Templates, which help businesses save time and create a professional image, are great for attracting leads to your business directory. Create ready-made templates of customer engagement emails your advertisers might use, or landing pages, or other things that might help their business like spreadsheets to plan or budget.  Businesses will download and customize them to fit their needs, and along the way they learn about your site and may sign up to become a paying member.

Podcasts are also great for attracting an audience.  You can plan, record and distribute audio content on subject matters that may be of interest to your audience.

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How to Distribute Created Content

Create an email marketing strategy

Email marketing is one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies.

A survey showed that for every $1 you spend, you can expect a return on your investment of $51. It is said that the ROI for email marketing is a whopping 4400%, that’s just amazing and shows how well email marketing strategies can perform. Make sure to customize your emails to your user base (this is key), keep your audience engaged with news and deals when it is relevant. Be sure not to spam your sponsors with too many blasts per week.

Content Marketing Strategies For Online Business DirectoriesSource: sendinblue

Do you want to build loyalty with your audience and establish a connection with your online business directory? An email marketing strategy can help you.

After defining the aspects mentioned in the previous topic, think of ways to build your email list with the contacts of potential customers who might be interested in your listing.

For example, invite your readers to subscribe to a newsletter where you will share valuable content and practical tips to your customers, free of charge and with the frequency defined in your planning (weekly, fortnightly, monthly).

Use Social Media

Social media is an extremely powerful tool in marketing campaigns for one reason: your potential customers are there on a daily basis.

Therefore, using them as one of the means of distribution in your content marketing strategy for trade guides is indispensable.

The great benefit of this means of distribution is that you can be present in the channels that make the most sense for your strategy and you can develop content that will really connect and create valuable relationships between your online business directory and your audience, all of it in a more present and frequent way.

Then, analyze which channels make the most sense for your strategy, according to your persona and objectives defined in the planning phase, and thus start thinking about ways you can engage your audience in these media through content production.

As you may already know, you can create a presence on social networks such as:

  • LinkedIn;
  • Facebook;
  • Instagram;
  • Twitter;
  • Pinterest, among others.

Reuse your content across different channels and formats

Who says content has to have the same format forever? A great way to put content marketing for online business directories into practice is to reuse your content across different configurations and channels.

How does it work? Well, blog content can become a more detailed ebook that you will make available to your audience and in return, you will get a contact that can be reused at another time; a live broadcast can become a longer blog post; a video can become a dynamic and useful infographic, among others. You just need to know how to fit the content to another purpose!

Use the video content format in your strategies

Videos, as well as blog posts, are excellent content formats to explore. This becomes more relevant every day as users consume more and more audiovisual content.

Also, producing content in video format is a way to make your content more shareable and thus reach more people. You can even embed videos in some blog articles and further optimize their content.

Videos also appear in search results, such as on Google, and therefore, can be optimized to better rank your portal in the most used search platform in the world.

Make your content relevant to Google – Write with a focus on SEO

One of the pillars of content marketing is blog content written with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind.   Understand which keywords groups are relevant to the topics you are targeting, and write with them in mind.  This will help you become an authority in search engine result pages for those topics.

A great way to do this in 2021, according to Neil Patel’s website, is to produce smaller, niched content and use long-tail keywords to occupy the more specific search positions on Google.

Also, doing keyword research work in your niche and developing content around those terms remains extremely important to getting good results.

Conclusion

Content marketing is a great way to attract an audience to your directory site and make your site the authority on the subject matter, and with the techniques from this article it’s not difficult to get started.  Make a plan and a schedule to try different strategies, and build on the ones that are most successful.

And if you’re still looking for a platform that integrates everything you need to successfully launch your trading guide, schedule a free demo with us today and see how eDirectory can help you!

Start Your Online Directory

Claimable Listings: engage and sell with this feature using eDirectory

Claimable Listings - Engage and SellDuring this webinar on Claimable Listings: Engage and Sell, the eDirectory team discussed approaching potential clients with triggers to encourage them to claim their listings in your directory.

A new or consolidated online business directory can benefit from this powerful native feature to drive engagement and sales. Using this tool, you can create a listing for a business that will later be contacted and asked to claim and pay for this listing.

Would you like to learn more about how to make the most of your online business directory? Make sure to watch the entire webinar and check out the files to help you along the way. Happy learning!

Download the material discussed on the webinar:

This session was recorded on January, 12th of 2022.

Want more tips? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and don’t forget to join our Facebook group.

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Put your eDirectory on autopilot for the holidays

Put your eDirectory on autopilot for the holidays! The end of the year brings revenue opportunities and also some extra work.

In this webinar, learn how to balance new sales opportunities, add some design tweaks, and how to enable the automation features of eDirectory so you can save managerial time.

Download here the design template for emails mentioned in the webinar.

This session took place on December 15th, 2021.

Watch the past webinars here.

Want more tips? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and join our Facebook Group.

Check our webinar schedule at https://www.edirectory.com/webinars/.

How to Populate Your Online Directory

How to populate your online directory is one of the most common questions for new and existing directories. Data is the most valuable asset of directory-based websites.

In this Webinar with our CEO James Chubb, learn more about how to populate your online directory with good and quality curated data, software for data scraping, list brokers, and best practices on listing management.

 

For more information on how to populate your online directory, please visit the article below, which also brings information and links to the Octoparse freemium tool and a few list brokers mentioned in the webinar.

post - how to populate your online directory
This session took place on December 1st, 2021.

Watch the past webinars here.

Want more tips for building a successful home page? Shoot us a note at marketing@eDirectory.com and join our Facebook Group.

Check our webinar schedule at https://www.edirectory.com/webinars/.

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How to Build a Membership Website Easily

how to build a membership websiteYou’ve heard the buzz. More and more people are researching how to build a membership website.

Why? Membership websites can provide a great new source of recurring revenue, so it’s no wonder they’re exploding in popularity.

So then, which one of these are you?

1) It’s all in my head: You have a really great idea for a membership website you want.

or…

2) I’ve got the content: You’re a pro at something and already have a ton of content you’d like to monetize.

Whether you’ve only been thinking about doing it or you’ve already been building an online knowledge base, you’re onto something big…

Because regardless of the path you walk now, starting a successful membership website has never been easier. 

Yes — running a successful membership site takes work, but luckily, there are some great tools out there to help you along the way (and give you access to amazing features you can use to grow your business online).

So in this article, we’ll show you exactly what a membership website is, what it does, and how you can build one (no advanced technical skills required).

Ready to explore this ultimate guide to membership websites? Let’s jump in.

What Is a Membership Website?

A membership website is a platform that offers exclusive content to members only. Usually, that content exists on the other end of a paywall.

Simply put, in exchange for signing up for the site, members can access gated content that’s not available elsewhere. Only members can access and use the information you put “behind” your membership sign-up.

Pricing for a membership site can be free, paid, or tiered. Most notably, a membership website takes advantage of the booming subscription-based model of recurring revenue.

Meaning, site owners can expect to see repeated income. Which is extra enticing since 76% of businesses now look at subscription-based pricing as a way to improve their customer relationships and retention.

how to build a membership website

Sure, numbers like this are super exciting if you’re just starting to learn how to build a membership site. However, it’s important to point out that building this kind of website is no small task. Business owners who make money online through a successful membership site put a ton of work into it.

So, let’s see how people end up making money with a successful membership site next.

How Membership Sites Make Money

It’s likely you’ve heard about people making good money from running a membership website. And you may be thinking that income is just from repeating monthly or annual fees. In reality, many successful membership sites make money using a mix of different methods.

So now you’re probably wondering…ok then, exactly how do membership sites make money?

Well, here are the main ways membership sites can earn money:

  • Membership Dues: Get recurring revenue month after month (or year after year) when people pay you to be a member of your site. This can be set up in tiers so the highest-priced plan should also include the most perks for your members.
  • Affiliate Sales: Collect revenue from sales you send to your affiliates. Insert affiliate links to partner products within your website content.
  • Google Ads: Make money from your web traffic by displaying 3rd-party advertisements in banner areas with Pay-per-Click advertising.
  • Selling Digital Products: Courses, guides, and other downloadable content that’s valuable to others can be sold on your website. You can set up an eCommerce shop or bundle these products with specific membership plans.
  • Selling Directory Listings: If you’re using a robust membership tool, you’ll have access to other revenue-generating features like online directories and classifieds. Selling these listings to advertisers and sponsors can be a fantastic way to generate income.

As you can see, there’s more than one way to make money using a membership site. And using a solid membership tool that offers features that support these revenue streams makes it much easier to tap into these different ways to generate income from your website.

WordPress Plugin vs Dedicated Membership Tool

When you’re learning how to build a membership site, you’ll see there are WordPress membership plugins that developers install and use to give normal website membership capabilities.

Some people look up how to build a membership website with WordPress and dive right in, trying to do everything at once and all by themselves. This could cost months of time setting up a DIY website and configuring a WordPress plugin. And after it’s up and running, many people realize they simply don’t have the time or energy it takes to continue to build every feature their membership site needs.

Because for the average business owner, installing, setting up, and maintaining a made-from-scratch website plus a membership plugin can be very time-consuming and not beginner-friendly.

For those that plan their membership site, use a dedicated membership site tool like eDirectory, and stay committed, the possibilities for growth can be astounding. This dedicated membership site tool offers everything you need to launch and grow a successful membership and online directory website like a blogging system, banner advertisements, online recurring payments, and more.

how to build a membership website

If you’re serious about setting up a successful membership site and looking for a one-stop solution, a dedicated membership tool is the way to go.

So now that you know why people prefer dedicated membership tools over DIY solutions like WordPress membership plugins, let’s cover exactly how to build a membership website.

How to Build a Membership Website

When you’re ready to make your own membership website, follow these easy steps to get it up and running in no time.

1. Determine Your Industry

When you’re first learning how to create a membership program, it can feel overwhelming. Luckily, this step is not only fun, but it will also help clear a path for where your website is headed.

The very first thing you’ll want to do to build a membership website is to pick your niche.

You may already have an online presence that you want to monetize, like a blog or podcast. In that case, you’ve already carved out your niche.

If not, some great membership website ideas can include (but are not limited to):

  • Niche online business directories.
  • Specialized gated content like stock photos, how-to’s, recipes, etc.
  • Local classified listings.
  • Event calendars for specific interests and groups.

…and a lot more.

So, what do you know a lot about? What are you passionate about? The answers to these questions can help inspire ideas for your membership website.

Start Your Online Directory2. Choose the Right Membership Tool

Next up, you’ll want to sign up for eDirectory. Using a dedicated membership tool is the best way to easily build and manage your website (plus access features that let you generate additional income.)

how to build a membership website

And unlike a WordPress membership site, eDirectory is a cloud solution that provides everything you need to build a raving online community (and without all the hassle).

After you’ve got your membership tool up and running, you’ll want to set up your payment gateways.

3. Set Up Payment Methods

Accepting secure credit card and PayPal payments over your website is a must for a successful membership site. Plus, you need a way to get paid.

So, the next step to setting up your membership website is to configure your payment methods. You’ll have many payment service provider options to choose from.

how to build a membership website

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to set up an account with your preferred payment solution. Then, you can connect your account through your membership website.

To do so, simply head to Settings > Manage Levels & Pricing > Payment Gateways.

Once you’ve connected your payment provider(s) details, you’ll be ready to set up and customize each membership level that you offer.

4. Build Your Membership Levels

The next thing you need to do is determine the cost and features of each one of your membership levels.

Not sure what to charge? We recommended starting with a free membership level with some features included. Free members get to use your software and are a great place to find paying customers since they’re already familiar with your brand and software.

After your free level is set up, you’ll need to decide what you’ll include with each one of your paid membership levels.

Because eDirectory is a leader in online business directories, you’ll find a lot of options to really fine-tune what your members can and can’t do.

You can offer different features within:

  • Listings
  • Events
  • Classifieds
  • Banners
  • Articles

how to build a membership website

Just remember to save the most impactful features for your highest plan so people will want to sign up.

And don’t stress about which features and pricing to go with. It’s easy to return to this area and adjust your membership level offerings whenever you need to as your business grows and your members’ needs change.

5. Populate Your Listings

Now that your membership plans are built, it’s time to populate your directory listings. This is an important step because you’ll want to show leads what they can expect when they sign up as a member with you. That’s nearly impossible to do if you can’t visually explain it.

So, you’ll need to create some listings, by hand or by importing them.

how to build a membership website

During this step, you’ll want to customize your listing layout to match your membership website. There are many configuration options, so pick the one you like the most and keep populating your listings.

6. Create Members-Only Content 

The next step to build a membership website is to create members-only content. The psychological phenomenon known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) can really drive sales, so locking gated content behind a paywall can be a great business decision.

This can look different for everyone since no one membership website is the same.

You may be an expert at succulent care and have tons of helpful guides already published. Compiling this content into an organized course or workbook is a great way to source members-only content for your website.

If you don’t already have a blog, or if it aligns better with your business model, these are some popular ways to create some members-only content:

  • Business Directory: From local business directories to niche hobbyist groups, people are willing to pay to access listings specific to what they’re interested in. 
  • Classified Ads: If you’re using classifieds on your site, only letting paid members post ads is a great way to earn new recurring subscriptions. Just make sure to populate your ads just like you’ve populated your listings in the previous step.
  • Event Calendar: Only allow members to post to a public event calendar. Alternatively, set it up so only members can view the events.
  • Offer Services: Access to coaching calls, pre-recorded webinars, or courses.
  • Offer Goods: Creatives can give members access to things like custom social media graphic templates or stylized stock images.

…and anything else you can think of that may have value to someone. But to start, these are excellent sources of members-only content you can create quickly and easily.

7. Promote Your Membership Site

Next, you need to promote and market your membership website.

This is an extremely important step because, after all that hard work, you want to make sure people are coming to your website.

Head to the Blog Module in eDirectory and start writing posts around keywords related to your membership website and your intended audience. Find out your ideal customer, what they need, and how they search for it.

how to build a membership website

The easy-to-use and SEO-optimized Blog Module lets you create, monitor, and optimize your content in just a few clicks.

And if you’re planning on making money through affiliate sales, you’ll also find an option to seamlessly insert your links within your content.

On top of SEO blogging, you might also want to consider these popular website promotion methods:

  • Pay-per-Click Advertising (PPC): Pay for Google Ads advertising on specific, related keywords.
  • Take Advantage of Social: Create (and stick to) a social media posting schedule.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list by collecting addresses on your site then promoting to those leads (great for returning traffic and high conversions).
  • Word of Mouth: In this digital world, website owners often forget how impactful telling other people about your membership site can be. This is especially important for online communities that are locally based, like a business directory.

There are a lot of ways to promote your membership site, but these are all very popular places to start. For more, make sure to head over to our article on how to market an online directory where we’ve laid out some detailed tips for powerful website promotion.

8. Keep Improving Your Membership Site

For any business to succeed, you’ll need to make sure to continually improve. If you notice something isn’t working right on your site, jump in and fix it. If you get feedback from an advertiser about a feature request, see if you can provide it. Make the customer experience pleasant and you’ll likely see members who stay subscribed for the long haul.

how to build a membership website

The great thing about easy-to-use membership website platforms is that whenever you see an area for improvement, you can jump right into your site and change it. And if you’re not sure how, reach out to us for help.

With eDirectory, you get access to a helpful support team ready to help you make your membership website a success.

Create a Membership Site with eDirectory 

Now that you know how to build a membership website, your next step is to launch yours using eDirectory. This feature-rich tool lets you build and manage a customized membership directory to meet your business goals and drive growth.

With eDirectory, your membership site can:

    • Collect Member Dues: Generate recurring revenue from membership fees.
    • Let Members Login: Display an easy-to-use login area for your members to access and manage their own account information.
    • Sell Directory Listings: Allow people and/or businesses to create listings, and automatically turn them into member profiles.
    • Featured Listings: Sell featured directory spots with a repeating revenue model.
    • Integrate with Social Media: Display your Twitter feed on your website, plus encourage members to share your brand across popular social platforms.
    • Use Classified Ads: Offer your members different capabilities inside of classified listings based on membership levels, driving sales to your higher plans.
    • Social Media Integration: Connect with social media platforms for more exposure with social sharing links and a website Twitter feed.
    • Grow with Content: Access the Blog Module to create and manage SEO-optimized content that brings you the right kind of traffic.
    • Earn Money from Ads: Easily Insert Google Ads into banner space on your site or even sell the space to members with a powerful Banner Ad System.
    • List Events: Encourage a sense of community among members by letting them create recurring or one-time event listings, complete with a Google Maps integration.
      …and more.

So if you’re wanting to build a successful membership website that’s easy to manage and gives you access to the power of online directories, eDirectory is a fantastic choice.

Asking yourself how can I create a membership website for free? Don’t wait, sign up for a free eDirectory demo today.

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