Monetizing a Directory

5 Things to Remember When Monetizing a Directory

Online directories that showcase the top restaurants, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and schools in a particular region have become popular among digital publishers. Not only can online directory listings help with SEO, but they can also provide publishers with a new source of recurring revenue. If you’re interested in monetizing a directory, it’s important to understand the different approaches.

This article isn’t about promoting one approach or platform over another. When it comes to monetizing a directory, every publisher will have his or her own preferences. Whichever monetization approach you choose, you’ll find opportunities to generate ancillary revenue through directory listings. For the best success, though, you need to choose the platform that’s right for your publication, and that might vary depending on your business setup and the specifics of your existing website.

There is no secret to monetizing a directory. Publishers who have the most success have appropriate expectations and a willingness to put in the effort up front.

Delayed Gratification

Building an online directory from scratch takes time. Be prepared to spend significant time researching the various revenue options before selecting the approach that will work best for your business. If you put in the time up front when designing your directory, then monetizing a directory will be much easier down the road.
Just like going on a diet or starting a workout routine, it takes time to see the results when you’re launching an online directory. Some publishers move on from the idea or close down their directories before they achieve their desired financial results. That’s a big mistake.

Publishers who understand the concept of delayed gratification see much more success with online directories. When you’re monetizing a directory, it can take a few months to see results. Setting up the directory takes time, as does populating the directory with listings. Generating awareness of sponsored listing opportunities will take time, as well.

Even before your directory is generating a profit, you need to keep it populated with fresh content. That might mean manually adding new listings, or potentially uploading batch listings from another source into your directory. Carefully evaluate the impact of the various approaches.

Lessons When Monetizing a Directory

The platforms, tools, and monetization approaches that you choose when setting up a directory play a big role in your directory’s overall success. Regardless of the approach you use, keep these lessons in mind.

  1. Get your sales team involved. Do you have an in-house sales team working with advertisers on a regular basis? Make sure to get them involved in your online directory from the very beginning. Since your salespeople interact with advertisers, they probably have a good idea what types of products those advertisers would be willing to pay for. Take advantage of the insights from your sales team as you build your online directory, and you’ll end up with a more thoughtful product that’s easier for them to sell.
  2. Don’t forget the editorial team, too. To be financially successful, an online directory needs to have plenty of sponsored or promoted listings. But that’s not all. Successful online directories also have large audiences of readers. Check in with your editorial team to find out what types of content they think readers will be interested in. Would readers be more likely to click on a list of the top restaurants or the top doctors? There’s no reason you can’t do both, of course, but you should begin with the product that’s most likely to generate page views and engagement from your existing audience.
  3. How hands-on do you want to be? Most publishers love that they can monetize a directory using self-serve payment tools, which means they don’t need to interact with advertisers in order to sell paid listings. If this is the approach you’re interested in, then a self-serve portal is ideal. If you do want to interact with advertisers, then you may want to skip the self-serve portal and assign a salesperson the task of managing paid listings instead.
  4. Dig into the analytics. When you’re monetizing a directory, you always want to pay attention to the analytics. Are certain directory verticals generating more page views than others? Are certain listings getting substantially more clicks than others? How is the directory impacting SEO for your existing website? These are all questions that can be answered by taking a look at your website analytics.
  5. Keep working at it. Like we mentioned earlier, very few directories are a huge financial success from day one. Generating substantial revenue through an online directory takes a bit of work, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If your directory is generating plenty of page views, but few paid listings, then start looking into why that might be. Conversely, if businesses are interested in advertising in your directory, but readers aren’t clicking on listings, then that’s something you should sort out. Analytics can give you a sense of what’s going on in either of these scenarios. Your staff might have some ideas, too. Just don’t give up on a directory that isn’t generating profits right from the get-go. Keep working to reach your financial goals.

If you would like to learn even more about how to successfully launch an online directory or select the right software for the job, check out Web Publisher PRO’s guide right here