It’s no secret that various online directories got hammered by Google some time ago and ever since have been trying to reinvent themselves in a desperate attempt to get up the search engine results pages (primarily: Google).
Without good positioning then people using Google won’t find directory advertisers, which means that their advertisers don’t get many visitors to their pages, which leads to a lack of enquiries originating from the directory.
Whether you buy into the Find the Needle offering depends on the same types of factors as when considering Applegate, as discussed in a previous blog.
The factors to consider are:
That factor 4 is very relevant – if Find the Needle (or any directory) sends you lots of visitors but your website is weak, then you’re not going to get a return on investment.
The easiest element to measure (using A1WebStats, but could also be analysed using other analytics tools) are the number of people who click through from Find the Needle to your website.
The view below, taken from the A1WebStats ‘Referrers’ function, shows that during that month (February 2014), the website owner had only two visitors from Find the Needle …
Here’s the visit of one of those two …
And here’s the other visitor …
If neither of those visitors became enquiries then the website owner would probably be thinking the following:
Is it Find the Needle that’s at fault, because they haven’t generated enough visitors to their website, which should lead to people who click through to your website?
Is it you that’s at fault because your Find the Needle profile isn’t strong enough/you’re not paying enough for them to boost your visibility?
The answer is that it’s usually both of the above.
Typically, directories like Find the Needle try to encourage you to spend more with them because that’s designed to give you more visibility on their website, which should (in theory) result in more people going to your profile page and more of those people making contact with you, or going to your website to find out more.
The problem though is that it’s a leap of faith to spend more money with them as there are no guarantees. They can guarantee that your profile will be raised within Find the Needle but they can’t guarantee the ‘right’ types of people will be seeing that profile.
They also can’t guarantee that people will find their website when doing relevant Google searches (try it for yourself – search Google for something related to your business and see which directories are prominent in the search results).
Whatever they say (and this goes for them all, not just Find the Needle) about the benefits of being on their directory, there’s only one thing that counts – you getting enquiries that you can confidently say originated from a directory, which means you’re getting a return on investment.
Our view of how online directories need to evolve is as follows …
Free before fee
At A1WebStats we offer everyone a 30 day free trial. Most of those people are primarily interested in identifying the company names that their website visitors were from but the trial gives us the opportunity to show trial subscribers how much more power there is within the system (including this example of tracking visitors from online directories).
We actually put a lot of effort/time into our trial subscribers and we don’t make a penny until a trial subscriber has purchased.
In short, we want people to fully ‘get’ the value of what we offer.
Find the Needle (and others) need to adopt a similar mindset. They need to give potential buyers a much stronger profile within their directory, put more effort into ensuring that potential buyers find the directory, and do it all totally for free for at least three months.
Within those three months the potential buyer can analyse their webstats (to see how many visitors have come from the directory, and be asking enquirers questions such as “how did you find our website?” (looking out for people saying “Find the Needle”).
Friendly fee arrangements
Although subscribers have the option to get discounts for paying 6 or 12 months for A1WebStats, most pay month to month with there only ever being a one month commitment.
The online directories need to offer similar.
The online directories could easily be tracking companies that go to their website, including which sections they get to, and could be offering packages that give exclusivity to certain types of buyers. For example, all people who visit a directory and go to the Widgets section could be filtered down to those identifiable as companies and those details automatically emailed to subscriber(s) who want to know when people are looking at the Widgets part of the website. So, those companies may not have even looked at their own profile page, but if they’re interested in widgets then they could feasibly be contacted.
Many online directories work effectively for their advertisers and there’s no reason to say that Find the Needle wouldn’t. However, you should test the water before making a significant financial commitment. Chances are that you’ve already got a free profile on there and so already have the ability (via webstats) to see how many visitors that brings you each month. It’s worth asking if they’ll boost your profile for you, with a view to attracting more visitors to your website (which you can track) and also more calls directly from your profile within Find the Needle. If they put the effort in and you benefit then you would (of course) be willing to continue paying for a service that gets you results.
But please don’t just buy ‘on a promise’ – we see the website statistics of so many businesses and overall, the traffic from such directories is rather weak.