Are Paid Directories for You?

There is a lot of value to be had from paid directories but oftentimes seeing success from your directory investments can feel elusive and even frustrating. As with any marketing tactic, it requires your time and effort to maximize its impact. While directories can work for most businesses, it’s important to understand whether it’s the right time to join and, of course, you need to find the best directory to fit your needs.

First and foremost, you need to determine if directory membership is in your budget. Understand that it won’t be a cure-all if you’re facing a hitch in your lead flow. Plus, it will take some time to start seeing results, so it’s not a good idea to stretch your budget if you’re already trying to make ends meet.

If budget isn’t a concern, your next step is to start researching directories that would help connect you with your target audience. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when searching for the best fit. Types of DirectoriesThere are a few options you can go with, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. Local directories are excellent if they can prove they have enough traffic to make a difference for your business. Alternatively, the big national directories are an advantageous choice if your budget is competitive enough to measure up with others in your vendor category.

Lastly, there are niche directories for wedding businesses that want to reach a specific segment of the market. For example, I run a barn venue, so we have a listing on Rustic Wedding Chic that positions our brand in front of those who can picture their wedding at our property. Niche directories are a great place to start for those with smaller budgets and I encourage everyone to list on at least one niche directory. Since you’re reaching your exact target audience, you can guarantee that your dollar is going further.

Top Factors to Consider

Once you have a shortlist of directories that have caught your interest, your next step is to determine how much local competition you have in your vendor category. If you’re a destination vendor, search for those in your destination. To make the biggest impact, you want your listing to stand out from the rest, so try to avoid directories that are already crowded in your local market.

Then, you need to determine your potential return from each directory. Every paid directory should have a stats kit or info sheet that shows data about traffic and viewership. Oftentimes, they’ll readily share this with you (after all, they do want your business!), but it’s important to seek the numbers that truly matter: conversions.

If you see they have 250,000 monthly views on Pinterest, it doesn’t mean anything unless you can see that a bulk of the directory’s web traffic is coming from Pinterest. Naturally, conversion data will be lower than traffic, so they might not be given to you outright. Be an advocate for yourself and ask for them before making your decision. It’s better to know they have 25,000 unique visitors from Pinterest, as opposed to 250,000 Pinterest views.

Maximizing Your Directory Presence

After you’ve paid your first invoice and publish your storefront, you might expect your website traffic to see a spike. However, like other marketing tactics, it takes time for a directory listing to start producing leads. Similar to other algorithms, you’re going to see more return the longer you’re a part of it. Over time, you will build more authority and your listing will rise up in the search results. Nothing is instant, so give it six months before reconsidering your options. In the meantime, you can still make efforts to enhance your listing and appeal to prospects. Consider your listing as a marketing machine; it’s not a static listing but a living document that needs to be updated and kept fresh. Most directories will have a progress bar to show your storefront’s completion rate, as well as any gaps that can be addressed. Aim for at least 85 percent completion for the best results. Go for 100 percent if possible, but it’s possible there are categories that don’t apply to you and need to be left blank.

Beyond that, you should be updating your listing regularly, just as you would a social media profile. Refresh your description every season, add new photos and videos, and continue publishing new content to demonstrate that you are relevant and active. Ideally, I suggest updating on a monthly basis, but at the very least, aim to do so quarterly. If the platform adds new features, implement them right away. The idea is to make your storefront look the best so it stands out to visitors while browsing. We update our listings twice a month and one of our directories has become one of our top three referral sources. It can certainly work for you, but it does require investing some time and money to ensure you’re taking advantage of the space.

Tracking ROI

After six months or so, you’ll have an idea of whether a directory is providing the return you expected. Of course, the ultimate ROI is booked business — but also look at secondary indicators as well. How much traffic is the directory driving to your website How many visits do you get on your directory storefront?

One of the best ways to boost conversions is to ensure your visitors feel like they’re being cared for with a custom experience. Consider creating a special landing page for each directory on your website — for example, Use this page to craft a user experience that factors in where they came from and what they need to know. For instance, if we are guiding people from our Rustic Wedding Chic listing, our landing page can read “Glad you found us from Rustic Wedding Chic!” and include some gorgeous photos of rustic weddings at our barn. It also allows you to easily track how many visitors visit each landing page, so you can see which directories are sending the most traffic.

If you have the room in your budget, paid directory listings can be a bountiful source of referral traffic. Be intentional with updates and always keep an eye on your web analytics to determine the effectiveness of each channel, dropping any that are underperforming.Kinsey Roberts is a wedding venue educator, marketer, and co-owner of Vista View Events. She’s dedicated to helping women dominate their market and diversify their revenue streams through, She Creates Business, a podcast and online shop for wedding professionals. You can also catch her as a co-host on The Venue Podcast which helps venue owners navigate trials and tribulations within the event industry.

Share this post: