A colleague has been talking to a lot of small business owners recently. When we talk to them about their website and online marketing, a common complaint is their harassment by the local directories. e.g. Yellow pages, Locallist, Finda and Gopher.
These are Suspect, Highly Dubious services
Looking at the website traffic figures (for those businesses that track such things), these third party directories have little to offer and provide few sales leads for most business sectors. If they were a political party, they wouldn’t get into parliament. Yet they still crow they have lots of power, can change the world and rebuild your business! Yeah, right….
Let the Figures do the Talking
Left are two very typical traffic summaries from tow of our client websites. Each spends around $500-1,000 per month for their Google Adwords (cpc). A similar amount is invested in maintaining their SEO and updating content on their website, ensuring they’re high on page one and get lots of organic traffic too. They’re also listed in the third party directories.
But traffic and leads is mainly Google, supplying 70% of their website traffic. 25% is direct traffic and around 5% for all others combined. Certainly the traffic supplied by Yellow and Finda is on a steep decline, under half what it was this time last year.
So, what’s the sales pitch these sub 5% directories are using? Many just push the need to be high in their own listing (which few people will see) together with the generic fact that you need to be in directories to be found online, inferring that their paid-for listings, not the free ones, may help people find you in a Google search. Yet when shown the poor traffic figures, they tell us that many people will phone you and not visit your website first. Yeah, right… Most people I talk to always click through to the website of a new supplier before they phone, and this visit will be shown in the stats.
Sales practices like this should incur the wrath of the commerce commission, but the commission may just take the line, ‘let the buyer beware’. In the US there have been legal proceedings towards these types of companies, but it’s unlikely to occur ‘downunder’ Everyone’s just trying to make a living and companies have the right to throw money away, especially when it comes to advertising.
So, Where Should We Put Our Ad Dollars?
Many business will spend money on directories in the fear that if they don’t, they may miss out on something…
There’s an old saying (circ 1838) in advertising and business circles ‘
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.’
Many business will spend money on directories and many other forms of advertising in the fear that if they don’t, they may miss out on something. Often their own competitors are listed and they have this desire to just follow them, regardless of any logic or sound reasoning. It’s the human condition.
All this may be true of the old, traditional advertising, but when it comes to online and amazing tools like AdWords, it’s all tracked. You know very quickly the ad spend that is working for you and what isn’t.. And you can adjust things quickly, fine tuning the campaign to get a better result, even localise it for particular parts of NZ The technology also provides the figures and ample proof you need (from the detailed analytics data, shown above), to tell these directory services companies where to go. Threatening them with the commerce commission angle always helps…
p.s. There may be some sectors where these minor directories do work. I’m just not aware of them and would welcome any feedback below, along with stats and proof. Read also. Online directory listings, are they worth it?