6 Tools Publishers Can Use to Monetize Their Business Directories

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directoryHyperlocal publishers are frequently on the lookout for new ways to generate revenue from their sites, and one of the most straightforward revenue diversification strategies involves launching a business directory. Although the market for this type of offering is strong — after all, small business owners are always looking for low-cost ways to market their products or services to consumers in their areas — many publishers struggle with finding ways to effectively monetize the directories they ultimately create. This is especially true for publishers who handle the bulk of website development and coding tasks on their own.

Here are six tools that publishers can use to monetize business directories on their hyperlocal sites.

1. BlackMonk: Create, manage, and monetize a business directory.
BlackMonk calls itself a “next generation web publishing platform,” and provides publishers with tools for creating, managing, and monetizing online portals and business directories. One of BlackMonk’s 20+ “apps” is a business directory app. When publishers integrate this into their sites, they provide advertisers with a way to submit and promote their listings, as well as distribute coupons and showcase special offers. Merchants pay publishers for this service through self-serve panels, which publishers can set up using multi-tiered pricing structures. BlackMonk offers custom quotes based on the requirements of individual publishers.

2. Pingup: Create new revenue opportunities by adding online booking options.
Hyperlocal publishers are often competing with much larger directory vendors for the attention of small business owners. Pingup is a tool that publishers can use to persuade merchants to pay for listings on their sites. The mobile API allows publishers to add booking capabilities to business listings, which means online visitors can schedule appointments with advertisers right from within their directories. Readers can also connect with businesses via text, rather than having to pick up the phone.

3. Broadstreet: Make money from enhanced business directory listings.
Broadstreet provides local publishers with a WordPress plugin for building business directories. Directories created with Broadstreet’s portable plugin include all the typical information—including business names, descriptions, phone numbers, addresses, and social links—along with photo galleries. Paying advertisers can edit the ads they post in a publisher’s business directory from their phones via text message. Publishers also have the option to populate their directories automatically using publicly available business data, or to add listings manually. Broadstreet’s directory plugin is free to use.

4. CityGrid: Access business listings from paying advertisers.
CityGrid aggregates more than 800,000 paying advertisers, and provides publishers with access to enhanced listings and content from millions of businesses. Publishers who join the local media company’s Places That Pay program with the Places API can access CityGrid’s local business listings for their directories and local guides. CityGrid pays publishers and developers for displaying local content, with rates based on the number of times visitors land on connected pages and engage with CityGrid’s listing content. Implementation for CityGrid’s Places That Pay program is free through an API in the vendor’s developer center.

5. Superior Media Solutions: Supplement existing revenue streams with a paid directory.
Publishers that are looking for additional revenue streams can use SMS’s eDirectory Solutions to supplement their existing advertising opportunities. Local advertisers are encouraged to use the self-serve interface to purchase updated business listings, which can include product images, videos, and logos. Custom built directories created with SMS may also include click-to-call and texting functionality. The vendor offers reporting tools that allow publishers to view the income being generated by their directories, as well. SMS provides variable pricing options for its directory solutions.

6. Locable: Use directories as a base camp for future advertiser engagement.
Part “provider” and part “publisher,” Locable offers directory tools that are deeply integrated into a publisher’s events, listings, and articles. Using Locable’s tools, businesses can create their own listings and promote events through connected community directories. These listings can then be cross-linked in related articles and blogs. Revenue comes into play through Locable’s Business Services, which are self-service marketing options for local merchants. Through this program, Locable drives publishers additional revenue through “on-site cues,” email marketing, and directory upgrades.

Know of other tools that publishers can use to monetize their business directories? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.