Yellow Page Ads are Out. What YP Best-Practices Are Relevant For Your Other Campaigns?

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Twenty years ago, Yellow Page ads wouldn’t have invited much debate. Today, however, it’s a different story.

The demise of the Yellow Pages isn’t news in this era of smart phones and free WiFi. Think about it: when’s the last time you opened up the Yellow Pages? Can’t remember? Neither can we. And we’re not alone.

In 2007, Bill Gates was quoted by a Seattle Times reporter as saying, “Yellow Page usage amongst people in their, say below 50, will drop to near zero over the next five years.” Sounds like he wasn’t far off. This article from January 2011 cites a survey that says, “Nearly 70% of adults in the U.S. ‘rarely or never’ use the phone book.” Web geek and journalist Ian Monroe wrote a post in March 2012 examining a claim someone made about the Yellow Pages being used by more people than Google as a reference tool. You can read all the ways he disputes this claim (including sources) here.

Forbes directly asks the question plaguing small business owners: should small business owners still advertise in the Yellow Pages? (The Forbes article in particular is worth reading since it provides a formula for easily figuring out your ROI.) The folks at Search Engine Land also provide a balanced “pros and cons” list at the end of its article “Are Yellow Pages Toast? Four Years Later We Review Ad Value.” This article points out that restaurants, businesses catering to older consumers, and businesses in more rural areas might still very well benefit from running ads in the Yellow Pages.

That said, most of the above articles are definitely falling into the “it’s not such a good idea anymore” camp, but the Forbes article also makes an important point: if you do any sort of advertising – be it in print or online – you must create strong, specific landing pages for each ad campaign, including those you might run in the Yellow Pages.

So let’s talk landing pages. Because whether you decide to advertise in the Yellow Pages or somewhere else, you’ll need to know this info.

The Anatomy of a Landing Page

In the past, a simple display ad with your company’s 411 was effective enough for the Yellow Pages. Not anymore. Now, it’s important to offer an incentive – you need to give people a reason to seriously consider your business as opposed to all the others that are listed, and one of the best ways to do this is by offering people something for free.

So what sort of incentive should you offer? It could be a free white paper, a free guide, a free book, a free service (think 2 for 1 specials), or a coupon. You get the idea. Think about what your prospective customers would find valuable and create an offer around that.

You’ll want to create a dedicated landing page on your website around this incentive so you can measure traffic and conversions (ideally, you’d have the incentive behind a form that people need to fill out).

The landing page should…

  • Reflect the language and look and feel of the ad – people should go from the ad to your landing page and not find it jarring or too different.
  • Be free of grammatical errors and typos.
  • Be clear as to what people need to do – do they need to fill out a form? Call a specific number? Complete a survey? Be clear and direct.
  • Fulfill the promise the ad made. If you’re offering a free guide, people should be able to go to the landing page and easily get the guide without jumping through too many hoops.
  • Not include your website navigation – the goal of the landing page is to get the person to take specific, immediate action…if you include your website’s navigation, you make it too easy for people to get distracted and leave the page.
  • Have a follow-up path after someone takes action. So if someone fills out the form, she should be redirected to a thank-you page with information, links, access, or whatever it is the landing page promised. Ideally, an automatic email should also be generated with the same information. Even better? The lead should be entered into some sort of formal lead nurturing program. The person has shown interest in your business. Now it’s up to you to nurture the lead and help her convert to a paying customer/client.

If you’d like more tips on creating strong landing pages, HubSpot has two great resources:

Do you still advertise your business in the Yellow Pages? If yes, has your budget or your approach to developing your ads changed? What sorts of offers, if any, do you use? If you’ve forgone Yellow Page ads, when and why did you make this decision? Share in the comments – let’s get the discussion going.

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