Online directories are a great way for businesses to expand their recognition to audiences previously out of reach. For small businesses and startups, this is a great way to ensure you stay competitive while you get your bearings. Starting a new business is hard, but online directories make it much easier to see immediate profits.

However, starting off too strong can also be a detriment to your business. Here, we’re going to break down six things to consider before listing your startup to online directories in order to make sure your startup offers nothing but positive customer experiences and increased leads, revenue and return rates.

Optimize with relevant placements

The first factor to consider before listing your startup to online directories is choosing which directories you want your startup to be listed on. As you can imagine, there are tons of directories for companies of all fields and sizes. One thing to keep in mind before you list your startup on as many as possible is whether or not those directories are even relevant to your needs.

Take the time to do your research on the directories you wish to advertise on. One way of determining if the directories you’re considering are right for your startup is by reading their mission statement or about page. From there, you can determine if those statements align with your own goals.

When you choose the online directory that’s best for your startup, make sure you’re tracking the number of visitors that click your link to ensure you’re actually advertising your business to the right audience. You should, of course, make adjustments based on the number of clicks your business receives.

Establish your budget

Speaking of money, make sure you actually have some in place. Free directories are very much a thing, but the last thing you want to do is limit your startup to free online directories anyone can access only to get lost in the shuffle.

Make sure you’re putting money aside for more exclusive online directories, and make sure you’re taking future email marketing campaigns and advertisements into consideration. Listing your startup to online directories is only a part of a much bigger marketing strategy. The trick with listing your startup to online directories is to only list your business on ones that are relevant to your needs and will highlight your company to those who will benefit from your startup.

Bottom line: only pay for what you truly need.

Prepare your website for traffic surges

Do you have the proper infrastructure in place to handle a potential surge in traffic? If not, you want to make sure you leave room in your budget to do so. Loading times can have a significant impact on overall conversions. The longer a visitor has to wait for your website to load, the less likely they’ll follow through with a purchase.

The goal is to have your website load in under two seconds, and those two seconds are generous. Same goes for your mobile site if you have one (and you should have one). In this day and age, competition online is cutthroat. If you’re going to an online directory to expand your customer base, you have to be sure that visitors who are seeing your website for the first time have a positive experience from the very beginning.

If your website crashes, you’re obviously not doing anyone any favors. Current customers will look elsewhere and new ones will have no desire, or reason, to commit to your company. One way of preventing a crash is to use 302 redirects to prevent 503 errors by automatically sending visitors to a different page with a new URL.

Ensure calls to action are in place

Your advertising should be personalized to the leads you wish to acquire. With proper lead segmentation, your startup can ensure each ad targets specific groups of people who will want to purchase your product or utilize your service.

You have to make sure your advertisements are actionable, as well. You don’t want to simply tell a lead who you are — you have to explain why they should purchase your product or service, and how they can do so. A message like, “Click here to save 50 percent off your next purchase!” tells the visitor what to do and what they will get by visiting your site.

Branding is also important. Be sure forms have your company logo on them (we’ll talk more about forms later on), and your website’s logo must be clear when someone clicks on your link.

“Seventy two percent of marketers say branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine,” according to BrandBuddha.

Everything your customers see should have your brand on it to reinforce who you are in a sea of seemingly-endless competition.

Related: 5 Tips to using social media for marketing purposes

Dedicate channels for collaboration

It’s imperative to offer your leads more than one way to communicate with your business. Offering an omnichannel solution is a great way to not only optimize the customer journey, but to personalize it, as well.

Omnichannel solutions take multichannel a step further. Instead of simply offering more than one channel for customer communication, omnichannel takes those channels and has them work together.

For example, you walk into a store and you open the store’s app to assist you in finding a product or price. Or, you use it to speak to an agent through Facebook Messenger while waiting in line at customer service.

If you’re listing your startup to online directories, you want to mention that customers can call, text, email, send DMs on social media, and communicate with chatbots. Not every lead is going to want to pick up the phone or send an email to get in touch. You have to understand the many ways people communicate with businesses today in order to make the process as simple as possible for your customer.

Optimize forms for data analysis

If you’re listing your business on an online directory, you’re including a link to your website. However, just because you include that link doesn’t mean people are going to know what to do, or feel inspired to take action, once they reach your website. Instead of letting that opportunity go to waste, direct people who visit your website via an online directory to a specific landing page.

On that landing page, you should have leads fill out a form so you can gather their data and learn more about who they are. That way, your marketing team can target them with more personalized ads. Having a person click on your link and expecting them to buy your product or service works similarly to cold calling. Chances are slim that you’ll convert every visitor.

In an effort to increase the odds in your favor, you should use whatever data a visitor is comfortable giving to segment that customer and target them with ads that will actually be of interest. From there, and depending on how they respond, your sales team can take over. The more data you can gather the better.

The final word

The easier it is for a visitor to determine what your startup offers, the more likely they’ll click on a link to your website as they scroll through an online directory. It’s imperative to remain transparent because there’s nothing to stop a person from seeing a description of your company and scrolling right past it.

Make a potential customer want to stop and check your website out. To do that, you have to give off the impression that you not only offer a quality product or service, but also a positive customer experience. The primary, and most effective, way of doing that is by offering a personalized experience.

You want to target your audience with personalized ads, use visual elements, a clear mission statement, and make it as easy as possible for the lead to communicate with you if they show even the slightest sign of interest.

You’re not limited to these suggestions, but each variable we listed prioritizes the needs of your potential leads. You want to advertise to your target group, and you don’t want to come off as just another business.

Source: StartupNation

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