WOLFBITES - Issue 26

Are you wasting thousands of dollars on internet
online advertising in digital directories?

Dollar signs on a blackboard, presented to remind small business owners of the results often generated by Words at Work, the best marketing company among Toronto ad agencies with a freelance writer specializing in social media advertising, web marketing, web advertising and online advertising.
Trying to reach new customers with cost effective marketing? Just about anything is better than online advertising in a business to business or consumer directory – and we have the numbers to prove it.

Check the advertising spending of any small to medium sized business and you will find significant expenditures on directory advertising. 

On the consumer side, the directory of choice is Yellow Pages or some equivalent.  On the business to business side, many companies have placements with Thomasnet and Frasers or other aggregators (websites for a specific industry niche).

The pitch for this form of internet advertising is always the same – we will drive traffic to your website.  This sounds good, especially if the buyer has:

  • no knowledge of how internet advertising works and what are the true advantages – and disadvantages – of online advertising
  • a poor website that attracts little or no organic (free) web traffic and therefore depends on directory advertising to attract traffic 

Why a directory ad could be the most
expensive advertising you can buy

So let’s do a little bit of education on internet marketing and in the process explode the myths about online advertising companies, online ad rates and the benefits of  an online advertisement.

Myth #1 – Internet advertising rates for directory advertising are highly competitive.

Fact:  Internet advertising costs, measured in terms of cost per visitor, are far above the market rates for what is known as “paid search”, meaning you are paying a fee to have traffic sent to your website.  We know this because our audits of internet directory advertising rates show that many companies are paying five times more than they should be paying to generate a single web visitor.

For example, we just looked at the Yellow Pages spending of a client in the U.S. and found that they were paying, on average, about $10 to generate a single web visitor.  We then did a short test with Google AdWords to see how expensive it would be to generate a web visitor with that media option. The result: it cost $1.61 to generate a web visitor.

Do you understand the difference between
"organic" web traffic and paid web traffic?

The same numbers apply on the business to business side.  Most companies are paying about $10/visitor when they should be spending about one-fifth that amount for paid web traffic generation.

Myth #2 – You need internet directory advertising to get ranked on page one.

Fact: Your website can rank ahead of the directories, provided that it has been “optimized” to attract organic (free) web traffic.   For most companies, especially in the business to business category, it does not take a lot of optimization to get to page one, so don’t be sucked into paying huge fees to get your site optimized.  Learn more by reading our tips on search engine optimization and website copywriting.    

Myth #3 – Directory advertising is all you need. 

Fact:  At best, directory advertising should be just one element of a much bigger internet marketing strategy.  But don’t forget that you will be paying above market rates for every visitor generated and there are many other better options, such as pay per click on Google or Yahoo.  Of course, there are also social media options, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, but I remain skeptical about the effectiveness of those media options, especially for any company in the b-to-b category.  

Myth #4 – It is too hard to get ranked on page one. 

Fact. Some product and service categories are highly competitive, meaning there are many well established websites with highly optimized content and ongoing optimization programs. It is not easy to bump these sites off page one, but these situations are the exception, not the rule.

For most categories, it is not that difficult to get to page one and stay there, but keep in mind that optimizing your website is a process, not event. You don’t make one quick fix and suddenly appear on page one. It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to improve the rank of your website, depending on the age of the website (is it new or an existing website?), the existing optimization and (as previously mentioned) the degree of competition.

For more tips on how to get a better result from your investments in advertising and marketing, read my blogs on advertising and marketing.  Or contact us online or by phone (905-940-6610) to request a free audit of your website performance (or lack thereof).

PS:  Remember where you read this first.  Our competitors are not shy about “borrowing” our web content.

Read Wolfgang's latest marketing blog.

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Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.




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