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

The Importance of Great Web Design

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People are going to make snap judgments. Within the first few seconds of viewing a new site, visitors will make up their mind as to whether they are going to stay and look around or head elsewhere.

This is why it is so important to get to your design right for your website. Paired with great content and engaging copy, a good-looking site with a clean design will draw new visitors in and keep them interested in what you have to say.

Your Website Defines You

How a site looks and feels will define how the visitor perceives your business and the brand as a whole. A visitor will make assumptions about the amount of success, level of expertise and overall personality of the brand based on how the site looks to them visually.

If your web site looks modern, sharp and professional, your potential clients will think you run a modern, well-organized and professional business. On the other hand, if potential clients visit your site and think it looks outdated and cheap, then that’s exactly how they’ll perceive your business as well.

This is an opportunity to cultivate a brand identity that commands respect and trust amongst potential new clients. Perception is everything, so make sure you have a clear idea of what you want your brand to stand for and make sure your site portrays that.

Navigation

The navigation of a website is a key element of its design, this is especially true for websites packed with many pages (such as online directories!). Website navigation typically includes a navigation bar and the various other page links that differentiate the sections of the website.

Good navigation should be simple, clean and inviting. It should be very intuitive and require little thought for someone to understand how to make their way around the site and find what they are looking for. This is typically achieved their proper spacing, great-looking graphics and clean, concise copy throughout the design.

High Resolution

Speaking of great-looking photos, advancements in digital photography and the screen resolution of computers, laptops and mobile devices provides website owners with a great opportunity to display some stunning images. Many of the most popular trends in current web design themes include the use of prominent, high-resolution photos or graphics that help to provide an impressive accent.

A single image can be used to define your site and your brand. The proper image can portray ambition, excellence, beauty, excitement or stature in ways that are difficult for the written word to achieve.

Content

Your content is the backbone of your site, especially for directory sites. How this content is presented can be equally as important. Good-looking design that invokes thoughts of expertise and knowledge will help your site and your brand achieve a high level of respect and trust.

This is how a site with a great visual design can command attention and provide confidence to its visitors that this is the content they have been looking for.

Looking for great web design on your directory site? Give us a call at 1-703-914-0770 or email sales@edirectory.com

9 Ways to Drive Mobile App Downloads

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So you have a great looking mobile app for your business with a ton of powerful features. The issue now is that you need to get users to actually download and install your app so you can start taking advantage of its capabilities.

Here are 9 ways to help drive downloads and get more people using your mobile app:

  1. Offer Something for Free

People always love getting something for free and you can use this to help drive downloads of your app. Offer something for free from your store or business that is inexpensive and doesn’t put you out too much, such as a small fountain drink, a bag of golf tees, a small cookie or similar. Offer it to customers who show you they have downloaded and installed your app. Continue with this strategy until you have an adequate amount of app users.

  1. Screenshots, Descriptions and Icons

Quality screenshots and icons are essential to the promotion of your app. It is the best way to showcase your app and make it appealing to potential users. Make sure to start with a solid library of high-resolution images and icons that you can use for marketing materials and advertising your app to potential users.

  1. Promote it on Your Website

One of the simplest ways to get user’s to notice your mobile app is to use the medium that you already control, your website. Use this space to create and display some visually appealing graphics that promote and describe your mobile app and the benefits that will be available to your users. You can use write some promotional copy such as “Receive exclusive offers through our new mobile app!” or “Be the first to hear about upcoming events from our mobile app.”

Be sure to provide links to download the app from the app stores to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to view the details of your app and download it to their accounts.

  1. Handing Out Cards for Your App

Another easy strategy is to create some simple cards, notes, buttons or fliers that include instructions on how to download your app. Keep them in your business and hand them out to anyone who stops in or walks by. Include the name of the app and tell them the best search term to enter into the app store to easily find and download the app.

  1. Social Media

Work to build a following and build up some momentum on all the relevant social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Follow media members who carry influence in your specific industry or would be followed by potential customers for you business. Send out posts, links and images for you app to build up some interest and further share the app features that your users will benefit from.

  1. App Store Optimization

App Store optimization is a method of finding good keywords that people might search for and making sure to put them either in your app title, description or keywords for your app listing. If you already have users downloading your app, reach out to them and ask how they discovered your app, and if that was on the app store, which keywords they searched. Be sure to include all relevant keywords and phrases associated with this feedback and further build on them.

  1. Localize your Description and Keywords

Take #6 even a little bit further and look for ways to localize your description and keywords. If you app or business mainly serves a local or regional area then be sure to include keywords and phrases that call out this specific location. Example: “san jose shoe store” or “morris county delivery service”. This will help to increase the amount of relevant app users who can take advantage of a localized app.

  1. Trade a Download for a Service 

If your business does not have items it can give away for free (#1), then maybe you can trade a download for a service. Such as a salon offering a 15-minute massage in exchange for a download, or a cleaning service offering 10% off your next appointment after you download the app. Use what resources you have available to offer some value in exchange for an app download. 

  1. Mobile-Only Discounts

A key strategy to promoting your app to potential users is to be able to communicate the value they receive if they have the app. One of the best ways to detail this is to offer mobile-only promotions through coupons, deals or loyalty cards that can only be received and used through your mobile app. Post these promotions online or in your business for customers to see and add a tagline such as “Available to Mobile App Users Only” or something similar so they know to download your app right away to gain access to these deals.

Looking to a build an online directory with a mobile app or in need of adding one to your current directory? Send an email to: sales@edirectory.com


Interested in creating mobile apps for all kinds of business types? Looking for features that drive business, like mobile coupons, custom loyalty cards and more? Check out the new www.lumeapps.com or call 1-703-914-0770 to learn how you can start building mobile apps that people will love.

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Why Advertisers Love Directory Websites

advertisersThe last several years have seen a growing shift of advertising dollars leaving the more traditional mediums of print media and moving to various areas online. Within this realm it can still be a challenge for advertisers to sift through the expanses of the internet and find the best places to spend their money online. This is where online directories have been able to gain a solid foothold in the market. Most modern advertisers see directories websites as an attractive option, the two main reasons for this are fairly simple: highly targeted audiences and easily measurable ROI.

Highly Targeted Audiences

With common uses including local search sites, product directories, membership guides, and yellow page sites online directories by nature are highly focused sites. They typically have a common focus by geographical location, industry, subject matter or all of the above. This format tends to bring people together, typically very like-minded groups of people who share the same interests and habits. This provides the ideal landscape for potential marketers and advertisers who are looking to reach a very specific type of audience to get their ads in front of.

Think Niche

Many niche businesses and industries have benefitted through the use of online directories. They have made it easy to build sites with focused subject matter and relevant listings and pair them with a blog or set of articles and social media posts that are all related to a very specific industry or niche.

No longer would you need to read a national golf publication to find the best local courses and instructors in your area, instead you could a find local site like LakeNonaGolfDirectory.com and be able to quickly find golf course and instructors right in the area of Lake Nona. This level of targeting is beneficial for both the user and for potential advertisers. From the advertisers perspective they would be able to know that any ads listed on this directory site would be targeting a predominantly male audience between the ages of 35-55, who live in the Lake Nona area and are interested in golf. Gaining access to this highly targeted audience is something that many would be willing to spend their advertising dollars on.

Additionally, platforms such as eDirectory utilize a search feature. This can help potential sponsors to know exactly what keywords and phrases site visitors are searching for and which ones they would like to pay to be found under.

Let’s see an example:

There is an online directory site for Los Angeles area salons. Right off the bat, advertisers would already know that these site visitors are from or near the Los Angeles area and that they are interested in things that a salon can offer, such as beauty products, hair styling, make up, manicures, pedicures and more. Taking it one step further, the directory site owner can share with potential advertisers that the most frequently searched term on their site is “gel manicures”. This can provide a perfect opportunity for a local Los Angeles based salon to post ads related to their gel manicure pricing options and upcoming specials. Plus they could pay for a Premium listing on this directory and make sure they include “gel manicures” as primary keywords in the settings for their listing, ensuring they would show up during searches of this term.

Measurable ROI img-newsletter-how-to-monetize-3 As a marketer, web banners, sponsored content, and email newsletter sponsorships provide keen insight into the success of promotional messages, advertising offers and how responsive a given audience is to that message and offer. These are key factors for marketers and advertisers to be able to gauge their success and determine whether they find their spending to be worthwhile and something they will continue to invest in. A lack of such data can be nerve-wracking at best for an advertiser and lead to rash, uninformed decisions being made.

Luckily, this data is easily attainable through online directory site analytics and reporting, plus pairing your site with platforms like Google Analytics and Saleforce can provide an even higher level of insight. This nformation will provide a directory site owner with valuable selling points that can be shared with potential advertisers to portray the potential for success and gaining a favorable return on investment (ROI) from their ad.

How many people see the ads? How many people clicked on them? Of those people, how many people visited the ad’s website? Which pages did they click on when they were there and at what point did they abandon the site? How many people opened the email, how many people that opened that email came to the company’s site, or furthermore, how many people made a purchase because of that ad? The ways to break down and dissect the numbers into cost per lead, cost per conversion, cost per click—they’re all limitless.

Here is a good article by Forbes about the 10 Online Marketing Metrics You Need to Be Measuring. As a directory site owner, one can use these metrics to not only learn from the data and improve their site but also to gain insight on their site users and gather information that can be shared to help sway potential advertisers and sponsors to become involved with the site.

Interested in developing a profitable directory? Want to discuss ideas about how to better monetize your existing site? Send an email to: marketing@edirectory.com

8 Marketing Ideas to Help Grow Your Directory Site

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There are a lot of important steps to undergo when setting up your directory project: developing a unique brand, pairing it with a clear value proposition, building out a great looking directory site, filling it up with listings and content to just name a few. However, the set up is only half the battle. The next and equally important phase for getting your directory site off the ground and gaining traction is to find ways to market and promote your site to potential visitors.

Your goal in this phase is to improve your overall site traffic and increase the number of member sign-ups and paying promotional accounts you add to the site. You will accomplish this by getting your site in front of as many relevant, potential visitors and sponsors as possible. This is a major step towards how you are going to grow your revenue and turn your site into a success.

Below is a list of 8 marketing ideas to help get you started and grow your directory site:

1.    Unique Promotional Materials

There are standard promotional materials that people see all the time and just don’t pay much attention to (how many branded sticky note holders or cheap pens have been thrown out over the years?). An opportunity exists here to take a short moment and come up with ideas that are relevant to your site and the potential target audience you are looking to attract.

Some examples would include: handing out bottle openers or drink koozies for a directory of microbreweries, offering tape measurers or levels for a contractor directory or giving away guitar picks or drum sticks for a music services directory.

Use a unique touch to put a memorable spin on your brand. Try to find items that you know your target customers will use or will stand out and make them take notice. A small, inexpensive item can have a lasting impact. 

2.    Twitter Contests / Creative Hashtags

Twitter is the perfect tool to help generate some quick and easy interactions. Use this medium to hold contests or form creative hashtags that are fun for people to participate in. It can be useful in garnering some communication and sharing amongst your customer base and help drive some traffic to your site if you remember to include links in your tweets.

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Some examples would be a recipe or cooking directory asking people to tweet out photos of what they are making that week and have them use the hashtag “#itswhatsfordinner”, or a golf course directory asking players to tweet photos of their golf clubs and equipment and use the hashtag “#inmybag”. Post the feed for these tweets on your site and highlight some of your favorites, you could even offer prizes for the best posts to encourage more people to participate and build some buzz.

3.    Printing Door Stickers for Storefronts

Yelp! and Zagat use this tactic at restaurants all around the world. If you are running a localized directory site then this is a great marketing tactic for you to use as well. Ask all the local companies to place stickers on their storefront windows if they are listed on your site. Additionally, it’s a great conversation starter or icebreaker for businesses that aren’t listed on your site just yet and can now become potential leads for you. Use this tactic to promote your brand and your site while gaining a solid foothold in your local market with lasting visual appeal.

4.    Newsletters

Use email marketing campaigns and newsletters to stay in touch with your customer base. Use these emails to promote your site and new content, offer new deals and specials or just share interesting news in your industry.

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It’s important to provide value in some manner to your audience. Send a newsletter that your target audience will be interested in and will look forward to reading whenever they see it in their inbox. You can achieve this by offering newsletter-only discounts or sending out white paper quality content that will be valuable to your readers. Offering them a little something extra will keep them coming back for more.

5.    Google Adwords

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. This is an extremely high level of targeting and a great way to garner relevant site traffic.

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 a new account, this can be a great way to drive traffic to your site and build repeat visitors at a lower cost.

Learn more about Google AdWords and how it works here.

6.    Bartering

Advertising and promotional campaigns can be costly and many of the available options are just too expensive or unreasonable for a new directory site. This is why its important to work with the resources and assets that you do have (such as the ad space on your site or connections you have within the industry) and work on trading and bartering these to your advantage.

Trade free advertising on your site to a business in exchange for being able to put up flyers or hand out branded materials in and around their business location. Trade free listings in exchange for a link on their corporate site or a shout out on their social media accounts. Use what you have available and see if you can find some opportunities to make some new deals and gain some value back for your business.

7.    Drive Traffic with a “Best of…” Program

Run a “Best of …” promotion by naming winners for different categories, decide on the winners yourself or use feedback from your customers or social media followers to vote for the winners. Local magazines and newspapers do similar awards programs and they can garner a lot of attention.

A local directory could reward the “Best Bakery”, “Best Happy Hour”, “Most Dog Friendly Park”, and much more. Feed off the interests of your target audience and choose the restaurants, businesses, people or locations that will fit into your niche and drive some interest. It will help to bring traffic to your site from both customers and businesses while encouraging people to interact more and stay connected through your site.

8.    Guest Blogging

Find other websites and blogs where you can write articles and share ideas in areas that are relevant to your site and your target audience. Use this avenue to share your subject matter expertise and gain influence while also spreading the word on your own site.

Be sure to provide links back to your own directory site whenever possible but make sure the content you are writing is of high quality and is interesting to your target audience. Give them a reason to want to check your site out to find other blog posts or content you have written and see what its all about.


Have any questions about eDirectory and how it can help you build the site you are looking for? 

Contact us:

Call us @ 800-630-4694
or
Send us a message here

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!

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The American Ceramic Society – Case Study

The American Ceramic Society - Case Study

Executive Summary

This case study focuses on the use of an online directory to increase engagement in a member driven association or not for profit. The directory is not only helpful for those in the industry to reach out to colleagues in other organizations, but it also is a critical component to further marketing the listings (companies) that make up the site.

About our client

The American Ceramic Society

Location: Westerville, Ohio

Industry: Non Profit (member based organization)

Year: 2012

Introduction

The American Ceramic Society is a member based non-profit organization designed to bring together a community involved in both the arts and science of ceramic materials. ACerS is comprised of over 9,500 members, including scientists, researchers, engineers, manufacturers, plant personnel, educations, students and marketing professionals alike from more than 70 different countries.

Their members vary in background, some working at universities, government agencies or small businesses, while others represent large global corporations like Toyota.

Challenge

After having used both an inhouse solution as well as eSyndicat in the past, their goal was to create a system that was more user friendly, both to their staff as well as their end users. They also needed a solution that would seamlessly export their data and import that data it into graphic layout applications like InDesign or Illustrator in order to take the entire directory from online to print for their yearly Ceramic Source publication.

Approach

After developing an in house solution developed in SAP, which quickly became outdated and difficult to manage, the American Ceramic Society moved to a formal directory solution, eSyndicat where they hoped to make the content more manageable and develop a robust directory site to showcase their members, educational organizations or any other member of the ceramic community.

“eSyndicat wasn’t as robust as we had expected, the back end was a bit confusing and we had trouble organizing the data the way we wanted to — we have hundreds of categories we use to organize each business,” said Scott Freshour, Web Manager.

After two iterations of directory solutions that didn’t meet their requirements or expectations, The ACeRs moved to eDirectory to manage their directory publication.

Results

Upon migrating to eDirectory The American Ceramic Society was able to reach out to their members and other members within their industry in an effort to engage them more in the directory. They used eDirectory’s multi-level listing feature to offer corporate members higher level listings in the system, thus giving the more exposure in the directory. They emailed members to send emails to listing holders encouraging them to update their information.

“eDirectory was easy to use and much more modern. We took what the solution offered out of the box and developed a quality product. We were able to make modifications with ease and make the site our own,” Freshour added.

With the export feature, the American Ceramic Society was able to better format the directory listings to be more compatible with graphical applications like InDesign or Illustrator.

Conclusion

The American Ceramic Society found success in using eDirectory having used both an internal proprietary solution as well as one of eDirectory’s competitors, eSyndicat. With an easy to use interface, robust feature and a customizable look and feel, ACeRs were able to leverage their online directory to not only further engage with their members and offer an advertising platform to increase their exposure, but work within an easy to use, manageable systems both for their internal staff, as well as those that held listings on their site.

If you’re a non profit organization and want to learn how an online directory can increase membership, advertising funds and overall engagement, please send us an email to sales@edirectory.com or call us at (703) 914-0770.

Gleames Creative Design – Case Study

Summary

Who: Gleames Design (on behalf of Ohio Bridal)
Where: Pierce, Nebraska & Springboro, Ohio
When: 2009
What: Create a highly customized, interactive directory driven site for Ohio Bridal.

Abstract

While Ohio Bridal has become one of the most dominant companies in the bridal market, the biggest hurdle they’ve had to overcome in the last few years is establishing the same dominance in an online arena. With the help of Gleames Creative Design, Ohio Bridal was able to streamline all of their online efforts and help accentuate their presence in the wedding world.

Introduction

As a small agency that opened its doors in 2000, Gleames Creative Design has served a variety of clients throughout the country, having most their business gained through word of mouth referrals.

While Gleames’ owner, Jennifer Gleason, concentrates mostly on web design, the project that brought her to workwith Ohio Bridal was mostly print based. While the earlier projects called for print design, it wasn’t longbefore Jennifer and her team were tasked with honing and maturing Ohio Bridal’s online presence. As the projects grew, so did their working relationship and to date, Ohio Bridal is one of Gleames’ biggest clients.

Challenge

While Ohio Bridal has experienced a high rate of growth over the past few years, organizing the websites that were developed along side of that growth became difficult and somewhat of a headache. Ohio Bridal had developed a few sites, one of which included a list of all the vendors they either worked with in the past. Each time they worked with a new vendor, or had to edit the information of an existing one, the process required manual entry in the back-end of the site.

They had also developed an entirely separate site where vendors could publish coupons and other promotional offers. In addition to these two resource sites, they had a corporate website and a site for each bridal show. The challenge was streamlining these websites all of these websites into, thus reducing the redundancy between them and even more importantly, taking the manual work out of updating them all of the time.

Approach

With their list of vendors and industry partners growing, Ohio Bridal needed a way for vendors to be able to update their listing information and publish coupons without the strain of going in the back end system and manually entering it all. With their concentration rooted mostly in managing vendor data, Jennifer Gleason felt that a directory – driven site would encapsulate all of Ohio Bridal’s data management needs.

She had familiarized herself with directory software in the past, and knew that she needed to incorporate a solution that would grow with them as they incorporated all of their sites into one. “ I knew directories could be profitable,” Gleason said. “The fact they seem to rank so well on search engines drove me to suggesting a directory-style site. Ohio Bridal had all of these vendors and so the big thing for them was getting web traffic to their site and to the vendors sites as well,” Gleason added.

From there, Gleames went shopping for the most intuitive and feature-rich solution that could manage their vendor listings with ease. After doing some internet window shopping, Gleason was unable to find any solution that would help in automating their SEO efforts, give vendors the ability to edit and upgrade their listings, as well as bring ease to promoting some of their vendors service offerings like eDirectory could.

“It (eDirectory) was a little pricier than other solutions out there, but it had everything I knew they needed to succeed. If they wanted to get to the growth point they were striving for, they needed to go with eDirectory. There was little other options for them, but at the same time it was the best option because it offered a platform where all of their vendors could manage their own data,” said Gleason regarding the purchase of eDirectory.

Results

eDirectory software helped Gleames create a central depository for their bridal events, vendor listings and promotional materials. Not only did eDirectory provide a platform to help attract bridal businesses to advertise on their site, it allowed their existing vendors to create photo galleries, create and edit listings and also promote them more vigorously at an additional cost. Finally, their new site, driven by eDirectory, allowed Ohio Bridal to showcase all of their local events and most importantly of all, drive powerful search traffic to their site.

While much of the new site is still being integrated from all angles, Ohio Bridal was slightly skeptical at transitioning their websites at first. “At first they didn’t understand the scope and didn’t realize what they were getting but they are turning on to it now. Galleries, Coupons, Banner ads and so much more that they can offer vendors with the new site,” said Gleason on the integration process.

As web developer & designer, Gleames was able to appreciate what the eDirectory solution could offer when developing a directory-driven site. “As a developer, this makes constructing a directory site much easier to do. I would recommend it to other agencies or web design shops, not only for the software itself, but the support you get after the fact. It’s been tremendous.”

Conclusion

While eDirectory helped Gleames Design put a directory-based structure into place for Ohio Bridal, it also offered them the ability to aggregate several websites together to better organize and present their content. On top of making the content more cohesive and centralized, it offered more valuable resources to their vendors and prospective clients, all while driving heavy search traffic to their site.

The Google Long Tail: Opportunities to generate unparalleled search traffic through online directories

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The Google Long Tail: Opportunities to generate unparalleled search traffic through online directories

If you’re already familiar with the Google Long Tail, the first part of this document will serve as a refresher, and perhaps open your eyes to a few examples the Long Tail model has played into the success of many businesses.

The Long Tail is a concept describing how selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities can generate more total revenue than the blockbuster. This is largely made possible by advances in technology that have lowered distribution costs. This white paper details how a Long Tail strategy can be applied to raking in search traffic by targeting niche keywords using an online directory.

chart

The Y axis in this chart shows popularity of any particular item. This could relate to amount of downloads, sales, units, or any measurable standard of success in today’s market. In music, the ‘Popularity’ column could be replaced with number of CD Sales, downloads or plays. In Google’s case, this axis represents the number of dollars in ad sales. We see the head, or red portion of the graph accounts for the highest CPC (Cost Per Click) rate that advertisers spend on desirable popular keywords like “Insurance,” “Mortgage,” “Cars,” or ”Hotels.”

In his book entitled “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,” Chris Anderson sheds light on an example of how Rhapsody capitalized on the opportunity they saw in the Long Tail. In terms of music, the ‘head’ or red shaded part of the graph would represent those artists or groups who have the most sales, downloads or plays. These are more popular artists with multiple billboard topping, platinum or gold selling hits. These are what record stores or stores that sell records/CDs are selling. In the orange portion of the graph, we have the tail, which includes an abundance of less popular artists. These are bands whom you’ve likely never heard of, who are on small time record labels and tour small clubs throughout the country but have avid, cult like followings of small groups of people.

Most record stores won’t carry these artists because, well, they aren’t high in demand and their records aren’t flying off the shelves, so how cost effective could it really be carry their CDs? Think of it this way: If bands represented keywords in the graph above, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bon Jovi & Pink Floyd are in the head of the graph, and Hot Rod Circuit, The Victory Year and Sir Salvatore are bands in the Long Tail.

 The point being there aren’t thousands of Bon Jovi’s or Pink Floyds, there are, however millions of bands like Hot Rod Circuit, Victory Year and Sir Salvatore that you’ve likely never heard of before. The secret of the Long Tail is in what isn’t shown on this graph, specifically on the far right side. This model doesn’t rapidly take a nose dive into the ground as it moves more toward the right as one might expect. In fact, it takes a very gradual, slow decline and spans out for quite a distance. Why? Because there are millions of bands in this world with smaller record labels going on local tours than there are bands major record deals performing in stadiums around the world.

What Google saw was big spending advertisers on prime keywords and phrases in the red, or head of the graph, on words like ”Insurance,” “Mortgage,” “Cars,” or ”Hotels.” But what Google realized was there were millions of potential advertisers in the Orange. So what did they do? They provided a platform that would allow smaller advertisers to buy more niche CPC phrases, piped them through thousands of ad networks (think small
publishers) and accordingly, advertisers are able to pay 10 cents or 25 cents a click, which becomes affordable to a business of nearly any size.

Google made advertisers of nearly every business in the world that has an online presence and today, this accounts for over 30% of Google’s business. What did Rhapsody do? They took all the music that record stores and Walmarts wouldn’t carry, and hosted it online. Currently, these ‘Long Tail’ artists on Rhapsody’s music application account for 25% of its’ business.

So what does this mean? Well if the key to success in online business is selling less of more, there’s something to be said about what these Long Tail search keywords can do for generating search traffic to a website. Many businesses concentrate on the SEO quality of their site and often overlook at what quantity can do for your search traffic.

If there are as much, if not more opportunities in the tail, and content is king, why not create Long Tail keyword-driven content to rake in search traffic? Let’s take all the content in the tail, centralize it, organize it and create a valuable resource to website visitors. Online Directories produce thousands of pages of unique, Long Tail-driven content and consequently rank very well on search engines.

You can spend time with SEO experts modifying your content, adjusting your page titles or URLS in order to rank higher on search engines, but developing unique content through directory listings can do as much, if not more to drive search traffic to your site. While directories may not rank #1 in “New York Restaurant” they do rank very high on more niche, specific terms like “French Provincial Restaurant Upper East Side.”

Where there is search traffic, there are ad dollars to be made. What makes the opportunities at hand even more lucrative is the fast pace transition media is taking from print to online. Print is dying. It’s not dead, and it’s not right to say People, Time, or the New York Times are going under anytime soon, but print media is on its way out. It’s not cost effective, it’s not as easily accessible and for marketers, it’s simply not measurable enough.

Web 2.0 guru Gary Vaynerchuk said, regarding the opportunities with print money moving online that there is “a trillion dollars in ad revenue that is going to leak down to all the hyper, local, super nichey-niche-niche opportunities.”

During a seminar he conducted while promoting his book, “Crush It,” Vaynerchuk mentions the site midtownlunch.com. Owner Zach Brooks covers 6 blocks of street food (vendors, etc) in New York…6 blocks and generates $70,000+ a year from this site. Why?

It’s a niche site that offers its visitors a resource of valuable information. It’s an online directory for food selections in Midtown Manhattan and Zach is crushing it.

Internet users are lazy. No one wants to search the menus of eight different restaurants to find a good restaurant in New York. They want to find a local search directory that will house all of the menus under one roof. They way we search and find information is changing, thus the mediums to which we access that information is changing and savvy advertisers are taking the money they spent in print and putting it strategically into online portals, directories and sites that cater to the way we search.

Think about this:

When they first came out, Priceline, Orbitz, Hotwire and Travelocity were great sites because they aggregate flights, hotels and car rentals. Each of these sites made it considerably easier to make travel reservations without having to go to the websites of Southwest, United, US Airways, Hilton, Sheraton, Best Western, Hertz, Budget or Thrifty to evaluate costs side by side.

Then Kayak came along and became an even better alternative. Why? They aggregated all of the travel aggregators listed above. They made searching and booking travel easier by centralizing he information that Priceline, Hotwire and others had aggregated in their booking portals. This is the trend technology in media is taking and this is where online directories become a valuable arena of consolidated, information packed content.

Similarly, directories help make finding information easy for those browsing. From newspapers developing local search sites or dining guides, magazine publishers developing supplier, vendor or industry directories to a directory of Certified Mold Inspectors, online directories create niche focused sites full of rich information.

About eDirectory

Designed to increase web traffic and provide systematic organization, eDirectory’s platform offers a low-cost, easy-to-use online directory solution. Our software empowers its’ users to publish a variety of directory-based websites that help maximize advertising revenue. With elaborate search functionality, advanced SEO reporting, and mobile access–as well as a fully customized platform–eDirectory is the performance leader in its market.

eDirectory also allows your advertisers to track and adjust their marketing efforts in an age where ROI in advertising has never been so critical.

Grow Your Directory Site’s Traffic with Curated Content

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Grow Your Directory Site’s Traffic with Curated Content

Content curation is one of the fastest was to achieve growth in web traffic for publishing, directory, business and media sites. With the rise of social media and growth of mobile devices, content can now be viewed and shared more quickly and easily than ever before.

Mainstream sites like Buzzfeed, HuffingtonPost, Distractify as well as more niche properties like Colossal (www.thisiscolossal.com – Art & Design blog) use curation at their core to drive visits to their site.

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, organizing, and displaying information. It is increasingly becoming an effective tool for companies to increase their online presence and it’s easy to see why.

Why is it so valuable?

Curated content puts you at the front, as the gatekeeper or tastemaker for which of this content is used on your site. You will have control over amassing it from a variety of sources and delivering it in an organized and unique fashion.

Sites using content curation also tend to be highly efficient in increasing their natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which in part increases traffic to their site. Sites with curated content are updated rather frequently, and search engines will reward these up-to-date sites by indexing them more often.

  • Grows Your Site’s Traffic

Content curation websites attract vast amounts of traffic. We live in an age of abundant content and these sites are drawing in huge amounts of visitors all across the web.

  • Quicker Way to Create Content

It can be pretty difficult to create great content on a regular basis. Compared to that curating can be easier, quicker and cheaper than producing all of your content on your own. It’s a leveraged value-add for your readers, and thus can potentially be more profitable for your site.

  • Builds an Identity

By curating content for a specific subject matter, you can start to build and cultivate an identity for you site. You can use this identity to give your site a personality for visitors to relate to within your topic’s niche.

  • Develops a Following

As you start curating content of a particular type, you will eventually start attracting an audience that favors content of that type. If you’re the person your readers come to when they need new information on a given topic, then you’re doing your job effectively.

Sounds great, so how do I do it?

Having topically relevant keywords and phrases throughout your site is very important to your site’s SEO. Yes, I said keywords AND phrases. A common mistake people make is focusing too much on individual keywords.

Most of these will be far too limiting and competitive to gain much ground in the search ranks. Instead, it’s much smarter and efficient to focus on a common idea or subject matter and find phrases and long tail keywords that fit into that set.

  • Pick your Subject Matter or Theme

Choose a specific and relevant area that fits your website. Keep your topics as specific and niche as possible.

  • Find a List of Sources

Comb the web for sources of content. Not all of the best sources can be found on search engines and can require a bit more digging. Try these areas and you’ll always have an amazing link to share:

    • Use Social sharing websites like Reddit, Imgur and Digg
    • Find a blog or website you like and follow the trail of links that you can find on their content, also be sure to set up an RSS reader
    • Try this Chrome extension called Pin Search, it “leverages the power of Google Search by Image to give you a wealth of information about any picture you find on Pinterest. Find similar pictures. Find all the websites where the picture appears…”
    • Publishing platforms such as Tumblr and WordPress
    • Social bookmarking tools like Delicious.com
    • Social Q&A websites such as Quora.com
    • Other websites and resources for finding useful content: Inbound.org Digest, Medium, Panda, BuzzSumo, and Swayy
  • Collect and Publish the Best, Most Relevant Content Possible

This is now where you sift through the content that you have been able to find and pick out the highest quality content and what you think will be most appealing to your visitors. Which are the most attractive? Which ones will draw people in? Which ones best fit the subject matter of my site? These and more are the questions you must be asking when looking for content to curate.

  • Provide Context

Use an annotation method to add your own comments and insight. This will provide some context for your audience on why the content is important and why you are sharing it with them. This puts a personal touch and some ownership on the content even though it is from another source.

  • Curate Consistently

Establish a publishing schedule and make sure to stick with it. No need to overwhelm yourself or make it too demanding, just decide on a cycle that is reasonable and can be met consistently.

  • Share and Promote

Make sure you always attribute the original sources of content you curate and link to them. Be sure to always give credit.

  • Track, Analyze, Optimize

Keep close tabs on the how your content is performing and use this knowledge to guide future curation. Constantly look for ways to optimize your content and make sure you are focusing on the topics your audience is most interested in.

So are there any negatives?

Good question, there are a few things to keep in mind when using curated content:

  • Copyright Issues

With the majority of the content coming from another source you must be careful in making sure you are citing and providing links to the original source when you show it on your own site to avoid any copyright infringements.

  • Quantity Over Quality

Focusing on getting the most content up instead of the best content can have an adverse affect on your site and its incoming traffic. Having high quality content is one of the best and easiest tools a site owner can use to grow and keep visitors. Take your time and be selective when choosing your content, it pays off in the long run.

  • Don’t Forget About Original Content

Relying too much on curated content can leave your site without its own voice and style. Google and other search engines will consider a site with only curated content to be “thin”. This can hurt your site’s SEO efforts. To combat this your goal should be to have a good blend of curated content and original content. Create content that fits your site’s identity and your target audience will be interested in.

Have any questions about eDirectory and how it can improve your directory site? Call or email us.