Still spending money on ads in the yellow pages? Really? It’s not 1982 any more.
It’s time, Y2K didn’t end the world and you need to let go of the phone book ads. Every year, I still have a select few that ask the question: should I re-up with the Yellow Pages (or Superpages, or Yellow Book, etc.)?
We can say with certainty that it’s not a wise investment to purchase display ads in phone directories.
This is especially true when online usage continues to expand, including in huge leaps among the demographic most likely to use phone directories: older Americans. With increased usage by the phone book’s core audience (43% of senior citizens and increasing daily, according to Pew Internet Research), online searches will become more important, and, conversely, yellow pages will be used less and less.
Most importantly, determining your return on investment, or ROI, for your yellow pages ads can be difficult, whereas it is easy to calculate your exact costs and earnings from online marketing. Forbes discusses the reasons why it suggests that only select local businesses should expect good ROI from yellow pages, and why it’s likely that your business would benefit more from investing in online marketing and pay-per-click advertising.
So, here are the top three reasons why you should invest in inbound marketing, not the yellow pages:
1. Yellow pages ads and more expensive
Indeed, we are regularly pitched by the various yellow page providers to advertise. Our businesses find their customers are almost solely sourced through Google search, word-of-mouth, or both, and we hear similar facts from other businesses. So, if your potential customers are online, and you are online, why not take the shortest path from A to B? True, most providers will bundle “clicks” with their ads, but you still must decide if the investment is really worth it.
The general measurement for marketing is cost per thousand. This means how much it cost you to reach 1000 people. Some digital tools start at $5 cost per thousand. They may print thousands of phone books but how many of them actually get used. That’s all that really matters. Our advice this year is to divert that investment to online marketing. Potentially, invest that money in a new website that is SEO-friendly, mobile responsive (so it works on mobile devices & tablets) and up-to-date with respect to design, and invest time in your Google My Business listings. These are the “new phone books” and if you’re not there, you don’t exist to online shoppers.
2. Never pay to be listed in a phone book or online directory
Nearly every directory offers a free listing. In our experience, the only clicks worth paying for online are through search engines like Google or Bing. It would be difficult to even justify the effort to get you manually listed in all the relevant directories, when pay-per-click is typically inexpensive and completely trackable.
3. Be found for what you, not who you are
When someone knows who they want to do business with, they look for that company’s name. More importantly when they don’t know, they search for the service they need. It’s more important that your business is found when the potential client DOESN’T already know with whom they want to do business. You have an opportunity to take market share from your competitor. Today, that means they search on their smartphones for the service or ask a friend on social media.
What about SEO? Don’t phone directories boost search engine traffic? Certainly listings in online directories can increase clicks, but they can also hurt the performance of your own website, ranking directories for critical results above your own site. In other words, your listings in online phone directories can hurt your overall search engine performance. You probably receive numerous emails and phone calls from “online marketers” saying you need to build backlinks to increase traffic — and that was true for years, but not really relevant in the new Google milieu.
You want your site to be the authority on your industry, product, or service in your geographic area, and earning that position is no longer a product of the number of times your site is listed on other websites. Rather, solid online marketing techniques mixed with authoritative, expert content updated regularly is what will boost your rankings and increase your traffic.
In short, your “SEO” company or your web agency should help you make your site as effective from a marketing standpoints as possible, and should also help create an inbound marketing strategy that relies on best practices for solid ROI, not to prop up a business model that is struggling to survive in the 21st century.
You may be thinking, what if I don’t understand digital marketing, where do I start?
The first thing you need to do is accept that all forms of traditional marketing that made you successful in the past are not obsolete. If you do not want to take my word for it, that’s understandable. Do your research and you will see the statistics.
Digital marketing has so many more options and it leaves most people overwhelmed. Here are your options:
- Contact digital marketing companies to give presentations on their services – (You learn a lot)
- Research options yourself (Time consuming)
- Hire a marketing team to do the heavy lifting for you
Branding Iron can save you time in research and finding the most efficient means for helping your clients find your business. We can do a full analysis of your online presence and give free advice and options for services with no commitment. Call us today.