The Yellow Pages are Dead

Yellow Pages

Perhaps a better title for this post would be “should I advertise in the Yellow Pages“.  For those of born before 1980, I think this is best demonstrated by asking the question, “do you know anyone under 25 with a land line?”.

Yellow PagesIf that question doesn’t mean anything to you, I’ll explain. The phone company produced a directory of everyone who owned a land line. In the front of the book were white-pages where individuals were listed. In the back of the book was a section printed on yellow paper for business owners. In larger markets, these “yellow pages” were broken out into a separate book.

This directory listed name, address and phone numbers and was “public information”and perhaps most important, it was distributed to every home that had a land line (…know anyone under 25 with a land line?).

The phone company no longer has a lock on this information. The listings, business and residential, are now readily available through numerous websites. And while one could argue that aging land line users might be inclined to visit these sites, a phone call is no longer the  primary means for remote research and communication. People looking for products and services are more interested in the detailed information that is readily available through search or on a company’s website than what is contained in a phone listing.

I am tempted to go into a rant about the exorbitant fees the phone company charged for print ads in these books, when it had a virtual lock on this business, but to be fair there were real costs associated with the ink and paper required to produce the book. However, the phone company has tried to extend this pricing model to the Internet, but I don’t think the return justifies the price they are asking for these listings.

Similar money will buy significant exposure for your business in Google AdWords where there is far more people searching for good and services. And unlike the phone companies flat monthly rate for a directory listing, with AdWords  there is a direct relationship between what you pay and the amount of traffic you receive; you can readily identify the number of people who actually saw your ad, visited you site as a result; and the number of visits resulting in a sale.

If you are considering advertising in the Yellow Pages (on-line or print), I suggest you consider what a 2011 Yelp survey revealed  about how business owners feel about yellow pages in the digital age.

Only 24% of our 3,500+ respondents said “Yes” to the question, “Are yellow page phone books still relevant?”

That’s quite a find. Here are some others:

1) Most business owners don’t think yellow page phone books are useful to them:

“Yellow page phone books are useful to me as a business owner.”

  • Agree – 11%
  • Somewhat Agree – 17%
  • Somewhat Disagree – 19%
  • Disagree – 52%

2) Only about 10% of business owners use yellow page phone books more than once per month; 3 out of 4 don’t use it at all:

How many times per month do you rely on a yellow page phone book to find a local business?

  • “Zero” – 75%
  • “Once” – 14%
  • “Between two and four times” – 8%
  • “Five or more times” – 3%

3) Very few business owners believe customers find them using a yellow page phone book.

Estimated percentage of customers who find me using a yellow page phone book.

  • “0%” – 43%
  • “1-25%” – 47%
  • “26-50%” – 5%
  • “51-75%” – 3%
  • “76-99%” – 1%
  • “100%” – 0.1%

The conclusion:  Business owners have clearly observed the shrinking relevance of yellow page phone books.

Is there a place for directories? Sure, some businesses will never have a website and for these businesses on-line directories such as Yelp and Google Places are essential.

Using AdWords for Local Marketing

AdWords Advertising

You may know about the widespread importance of online marketing for large companies and seen the ads alongside search results in Google, Bing and Yahoo. However, what you may not be aware that local business can also benefit from these online marketing campaigns. Whether you’re marketing nationally or you’re just trying to strengthen your sales in Huntsville AL, you would benefit from an understanding of Google AdWords. Online marketing is important for any businesses that want to expose their products and services to new prospects.

How Google AdWords Works

AdWords AdvertisingWhen you sign up for Google AdWords, you are given the option of bidding on keywords related to your products and services. Then, every time someone searches for that keyword, your ad is shown alongside Google’s search results. These ads are listed based on the by the cost per click (CPC) bid you have provided. You are only charged that when someone clicks through to your website, however the onus is on you to create a content that matches the users’ interest in order to maximize the return on that investment.

One of the keys to success is to choose keywords that will not just get you the most clicks to your site, but those that will provide the lowest  “cost per action,” or CPA. It is a delicate balance that requires sophisticated judgment and sound campaign design to find search phrases that occur in high enough volume to be worthwhile and yet specific enough to provide the lowest CPA.

To measure CPA, some acquisition (or conversion) metric must be established on you site. For an e-commerce site, this can be triggered when the purchase button is clicked, but for a services business, this can even be something simple as monitoring a visit to a form or contact page.

Google AdWords and CPA

CPC is the traditional metric of cost when using Google AdWords, but recent developments allow you monitor and bid based on your CPA. Google AdWords’ Conversion Optimizer lets you set the cost that you want for any given action, whether it is a purchase, a sign-up or a download. The optimizer will then choose the keywords that will best allow you to achieve your target CPA. Keep in mind that it may take 10 clicks to get a single acquisition. This would mean that you would need to set your CPA bid at roughly 10 times your CPC rate.

Google AdWords and Local Marketing

These days’ people are more likely to use the Internet to search for local products and services than any other resource, and Google has shifted its focus to accommodate this. Google tracks where computers are located, and delivers ads based on the region you have selected. Whether you’re interested in marketing in Huntsville or want to extend your reach to neighboring communities, or nationwide, you can create a number of different Google AdWords campaigns to easily target the prospects that you are seeking to reach.

Marketing campaigns for businesses in Huntsville are among the most lucrative drivers of new business today and we can assist you with the setup creation and management of these campaigns.