Below is an article I wrote for my site / newsletter a while back... (not sure if it should be here or under marketing?)
When the first printed directories (what later became the Yellow Pages) were published more than a century ago, they became an instant hit with consumers. It was the first time that the potential client had quick access to specific information that they were looking for at the time.
And that's the secret of any directory (including online directories): most readers already want the service or product. ie. they are already engaged in the act of shopping.
However, listing in a directory, whether print or online, still needs your careful attention to get you the steady stream of customers that you are hoping for. In this article we have a look at some of the overall considerations of listing your website online.
Using an online directory is a process
People who 'shop' online do so because they can proceed with the decision-making process without having to come into contact with someone else if they don't want to. With directory listings you need to lead your potential client through the maze to your invoice book. You need to be in the right place, you need to be noticed, then you need them to follow the path through the directory and give them enough information to make a choice they are happy with.
Which is why you need to have a website
While you can often list in online directories without a website, you are wasting a golden opportunity if you don't have one. If you have managed to get a directory visitor to click through to your specific details, you need to give them more to savour. It can be too big a step to expect them to jump from an introductory sentence in a list of suppliers, to buying your stuff. It's a process, and having a great website can be invaluable - especially when most of your competitors have sites.
Getting your listing noticed
Getting noticed so that the user clicks through to your details is the most important step for you in the directory usage process - without it you're not even in the game!
To get noticed without being unethical you can try out these ideas:
You have to have a great introduction. You may only get one sentence to prick the attention of the user. Be specific about what you do, particularly what sets you apart.
If you want to hold a New Year's party that will rock Jowwies city centre, are you going to look at the company that says: "Specialist entertainment for any event or function anywhere in SA", or are you going to click through to the guys who say: "Joe Rapman, award-winning DJ from Egoli's hottest night clubs"?
Name your company near the front of the alphabet. If the directory lists the organisations in alphabetical order, the A+ Training school is going near the top of the pops. Consider this when naming your company - it is one of the reasons that we called ourselves 2B Marketing. (Look for our listings in Ananzi and Braby's under advertising/marketing to see what I mean here.)
Get in early with new directories. Some directories order their lists by when you send in your listing. Be awake for new directories.
Jumping the queue
When directories have a large number of listings, your offering can quite easily get lost. The larger directories are now making a very nice profit by offering listers the opportunity to 'jump the queue'.
Don't be surprised if soon after you have entered your free listing in a directory, you get a telephone call asking if you would like to advertise, or have a paid-for ranking. This is when your listing is placed in the top position or near to the top of the directory list. (Not to be confused with Search Engine Optimisation and a paid for search engine ranking - although both search engine and directory ranking services are usually offered.)
Making an informed decision about paid-for rankings
It can be well worth your while to take a paid-for ranking, or advertising - but do be careful, particularly with monthly listing prices. Before buying a monthly listing, get information on the numbers of visitors that particular section has had on average in the previous few months - or if the directory is new, at least have some idea of the plan that they have to get visitors to their site to look at the directory. (Article continues...)