Business directories can be lucrative for digital publishers. In addition to generating revenue, a business directory also increases website traffic and user engagement.
The majority of publishers are undervaluing their online business directories, failing to leverage what could be a key asset in their digital portfolios. The truth is, a robust business directory is likely worth more than most publishers realize. This is particularly the case when the directory is being properly monetized through a combination of advertising and sponsorship strategies.
Here are three steps to increase the value of your online business directory.
1. Assess what you’ve got.
Not all business directories are created equal. While most publishers can expect to generate revenue from their online directories, some will have to do more work than others before getting to the point of profitability.
We recommend starting this journey by assessing the value of your business directory in its current state. Quantify the size of your database, the number of free vs. paid listings, and the amount of excess display advertising inventory. How many of the businesses listed in your directory are paying for premium placements? How could the vendor pages and other related content be more efficiently monetized? With the answers to these questions in hand, you should be able to start identifying new areas for growth.
When you’re assessing your business directory, look at any existing limitations and brainstorm ways to surpass them. For example, a business directory may be limited in the amount of room available for display advertising. The best way to overcome this obstacle is to increase the advertising rates.
2. Fill any gaps in content.
Look at the results of that initial assessment to find places where your business directory could be improved. If the number of listings relative to the number of businesses in your community is low, then start by adding more listings to the directory. If you already have listings for nearly every business in town, but the information contained in those listings is thin or outdated, then get to work adding descriptions, phone numbers, addresses, and social links.
If manually updating your business directory is too burdensome or time consuming, consider a paid solution that automatically populates directories using publicly available business data. Another option is a self-serve interface where local business owners can submit information for their business listings. Revenue optimization should only be considered once there is strong, and accurate, content in the business directory.
A substantial business directory with updated information will encourage more visitor engagement and attract more advertising dollars. This is also the time to consider value add-ons for advertisers. Individual vendor pages, photo galleries, and click-to-call links all bring more value to an online directory, and more importantly, these are features that businesses will pay a premium to have attached to their profiles. Consider which of these add-on features makes sense given the specifics of your own publication’s business directory, then make sure to include information about them in any promotional material that are distributed to potential advertisers.
3. Sell, sell, sell.
Each step here builds on the last. The real value in an online business directory is in the listings that businesses pay to have included. Once you have assessed the current state of your directory and filled in any gaps in content, it’s time to start bringing in the revenue.
Reach out to local businesses that might be interested in having their listings featured in your business directory. Self-service marketing portals allow advertisers to submit content and pay for enhanced listings online. With the click of a button, an advertiser can decide how long the listing should run, and whether he or she would be willing to pay an additional $5 or $10 per month for extras, like logos, product images, or promotional videos.
Promotional materials published on your website should include information about the price of basic listings, as well as any add-on services. Many digital publishers are finding that they have an easier time selling to small and mid-size businesses when they provide potential advertisers with information about the number of visitors who click on individual listings each month. These same reporting tools can be useful as publishers evaluate their own pricing structures, since it might become apparent that specific add-on services—such as photo galleries or highlighted text—offer more value than others.
If you’d like to learn more about what it takes to build a successful online business directory, we’d love to set up a time to chat.