The Phone Book is Dead

07 / February 2016,

The Phone Book is Dead

The Phone Book Is Dead

For decades, placement in the phone book provided the obvious first step for a marketing campaign. It was how people found you, either by name or by the industry you served. It was the first item in any advertising budget, paid annually almost as an afterthought. After all, everyone had a phone book, and this put your name and number in every home in the area.

Times have changed. Most people still receive phone books in their homes; some states have relaxed this requirement, but telecommunications companies continue to push the requirement as hard as they can. But while people have phone books, they don’t use them anymore; most phone books are never opened, and get either discarded or recycled when the new ones come in. They serve in some homes as large paperweights, or as implements kids use to attempt feats of strength.

In their place, Internet searches have become the norm for people who want to find a company’s location or phone number, or the names of companies that provide the products and services they need. Rather than leaf through alphabetical pages, people type in their search and find what they seek. It is easier, faster, and often more interesting, and it even comes with hypertext to speed up the process of finding related companies or items.

As the phone book disappears from existence, smart companies grab ahold of SEO marketing as a more effective tool to be seen and discovered. If you run a strong SEO campaign, you will earn more bang for your buck, and see more comprehensive and measurable results. SEO marketing will accomplish everything for you that the phone book once might have done, and much more.


Role Yellow Pages Used to Play

Before Internet usage expanded to the masses, the phone book played a large role in business marketing. At that point, the most efficient way to find a business was to look it up either by name in the white pages or by category in the yellow pages. Anyone in the area would pick up the book, find a company that fit the bill, and call them up.

This provided a powerful marketing tool when it was the primary game in town. There was no better, more convenient way for a person to find a local business, or for that local business to establish a connection with potential customers. By appearing free to the public, it served as the obvious way for people to find the products and services they sought.

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Unfortunately, the phone book was paid for through business subscriptions and ads, without any good way for a company to track returns on that investment. For example, a business owner could track the number of calls received or in-store customer visits over the course of a given year or month, but could not be certain how much of that traffic came from a white pages listing, a yellow pages ad, storefront or ad circular advertising, or word of mouth. This also meant that you could not connect views to leads generated, since there was no way to determine how many people saw your ads or listings.

Further, a one-year subscription essentially provided a sunk cost. Once you purchased a phone book ad, you could not go back and revise it if it did not drive sales, or change it if you changed locations or phone numbers. It required a level of up-front planning combined with luck to make an ad or listing continue to generate successful leads for a year. You paid your fee and hoped for success. And if you happened to find success, you never knew whether your phone book listing or ad had anything to do with it!


How SEO Marketing Is Superior

When you use SEO marketing, one of the biggest differences is the reach you can achieve. The phone book is distributed to cover a particular metropolitan area. If you wanted to reach customers outside of that area, you had to count on word of mouth and other marketing techniques, and hope people were willing to come from outside the area—during a visit with family or friends, or perhaps during a vacation away from their hometowns. SEO marketing, in contrast, reaches across the web. While you will still direct some of your efforts toward local SEO to build a focus on local traffic, there is no physical limit that prevents you from stretching farther out from your neighborhood.

In addition, with SEO marketing, you don’t have to wonder how effective your marketing spend is. When you build a website, you can set up reporting to track the number of page views, the number of clicks on each page, and the number of sales through the page. You can also make changes to your content, to your presentation, or to anything else on your site to test and find the optimal web design to generate traffic, conversions, and revenue. Far from the world of spend and hope, every element of your design can be tested to ensure you are getting value from your online marketing campaign. And if you are not getting maximum value, you can adjust until you do so.

Finally, you have the opportunity to create much more for your customers, both current and prospective. The phone book offers a dry listing and some space for a single ad, and a year of nothing more. SEO marketing focuses on content, both written and visual. You have as much space as your imagination allows, and the ability to both provide a user experience and inform your customers. You need not rely on other media forms to come in and build after people find you. You make what you need to allow you to find them.


Local SEO to Meet the Phone Book’s Function

There still may be some companies that worry about their customers being able to look them up quickly and easily. An SEO marketing plan, though, should always include local SEO work that allows someone looking for you by name or by industry. Instead of looking in a phone book, a person who wants to find you can type in the name of your business and pull you up quickly with a phone number and address to locate you. Further, your local SEO package will let people find you by what you do. Thus, your SEO provider will work with you to ensure that a search like “massage therapy in Albuquerque” will rank your local massage therapy business high in the local results.
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This begins with the basics. Your name, address, and phone number will be displayed prominently on all pages of your website. In addition, that information will be embedded in tags in your site, giving someone looking for you an opportunity to locate you quickly and easily. All someone who wants to find you, or wants to find a business like yours in the area, can run an online search and go directly to you.

Part of this process is ensuring that your information is listed correctly in online directories. Rather than a single local phone book, you will find that several listings on the Internet capture local companies, companies within given industries, and companies grouped in any number of ways. Your SEO provider will confirm your information is consistent across these listings, thus ensuring anyone trying to find you can obtain accurate information.

One thing the phone book cannot do is to boost your rankings above those of other companies in your industry. The only way to achieve this in a phone book was to name your company with as many initial A’s as possible to fit alphabetically higher. With SEO marketing, though, your firm will work to develop your content and brand and profile to guide search engines to you more quickly, listing you above your competitors in relevant searches. You can be found more easily because your local listing is now combined with the power of online content and marketing to bring customers not just to a page with your name among a list of hundreds, but straight to you.

Finally, local SEO will help you be seen not only by those in the area who have a local phone book, but by people traveling into your area. More and more online searching occurs on mobile devices; smartphones and tablets account for a majority of search activity now. And with location services built into these devices, they present a prime opportunity for business owners who plan and take advantage. Whether these searches come from people out shopping who need to find you, or people traveling through town, you can grab them through a strong SEO program, attracting sales you could never achieve through a phone book listing.


Using Internet Marketing to Build

When you push away from the phone book and enter into SEO marketing instead, a new world of opportunity opens up to you. You attract customers not by merely existing on a list in a book, but by creating content that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise, that shows your value to customers who want what you have to provide. This includes telling your story and building your brand, but it also includes developing and posting regular content about your company and about your industry. A listing in the white pages gives only your phone number; an ad in the yellow pages can only give a set amount of information in a small space. In either case, you lose the opportunity to inform your customers and guide them more directly to you.

In a strong SEO marketing campaign, you begin by building a website that displays you to the world. This gives you not a number or an ad to present to the world, but a face and a brand. You create a way to show your identity to potential customers, to show what you know and what you do. The phone book’s homogeneous display does nothing to show who you are, but only how to find you and hundreds of other companies that, in this format, look just like you. When you make the move to SEO marketing online, you stand out.

The website already constitutes a huge improvement over the phone book, but it is just the beginning. When you create regular content, you give more ways that your potential customers can find you. Every article or post you create and optimize for search engines guides more people to you, and boosts your search rankings higher. Every time you distribute content through social media platforms or guide customers to your online presence, you create opportunity.


Investing Your Money Wisely

When you list in a phone book, you are done with that marketing platform. The phone book is not merely dead in terms of current usage and relevance; its functionality stops where it begins. Your company is growing and evolving, but the phone book stays exactly the same. It cannot grow with you or adapt to market trends or improve over time. When you invest in the phone book, it has stopped working before it can even begin.
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In contrast, an investment in SEO marketing for your company gives you a chance to see your money work. Your web content grows and evolves with you. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring, you can work with your SEO firm and reach actively for the customers that will help you continue to develop your company. Your marketing campaign lives, developing and growing with you every day. Instead of waiting to be discovered, you bring those who want to discover you right to your doorstep.

In addition, you can measure your results as you go. A phone book sits silent, and keeps secret any data on who sees you, who responds to what they see, and who acts. You can track your phone calls, but there is no way to understand whether that number represents fifty percent of those who see your ad or number, or 5 percent or one percent. You are putting in money with no way to know whether it is working.

If you are investing money in your business, you should be calculating your return on investment. And with SEO marketing, you can. You can line up the money you spend on marketing with the number of page views you receive, with the number of clicks on your website, the position you attain in online search rankings, and the number of conversions you get from site visits. In short, you know what is happening to your investment.

Even better, once you measure your results, you can go on to act on them. A good SEO firm will not only develop your marketing and help you create content; it will work with you to make midstream adjustments to improve on the results you obtain. Your marketing campaign can and should be a living, growing thing. You can run tests on variations to your website or your content, and you can act on the results of those tests. The process continues, giving you the opportunity to improve consistently over time. Track your progress, tweak the approach you use, and watch your customer base and revenue grow.

No one incurs marketing costs without expecting a return on those costs. With SEO marketing, you can track that return in ways the phone book has never allowed. Even if people still used the phone book on a regular basis, it would be a rudimentary tool of limited value for the savvy business owner. When you look at the dwindling use over time and the power and impact of SEO marketing, it becomes even clearer. The phone book, as a marketing tool and as a research tool, is dead. SEO marketing is the key to your company’s future growth.


1st in SEO Has Your Marketing Solution

Because SEO is an active, living strategy for your marketing needs, it requires a time investment that the phone book does not. Moreover, it requires an understanding of the medium that most business owners do not have. Your expertise lies in your industry, and your time is dedicated to running your business. Investing your money in online marketing makes sense, but the time you would have to invest might not provide an efficient path to success.

Fortunately, 1st in SEO focuses on exactly this area. We work with you to understand your business and your goals, and we apply our SEO and Internet marketing expertise to finding solutions to your marketing needs. We will help create your website and the content you need to build your rankings and inform your customers. We build, create, test, and create more, making sure that we not only get you up and running, but continue developing your SEO platforms to drive the traffic that will help you lift your revenue stream to new levels. If you are ready to drop the phone book and find real results, contact 1st in SEO today.

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