Technological advances have a sneaky way of changing our habits and reshaping our consumer behavior. The things that we considered essential a few years back are now cataloged as outdated and useless. Could the phone book be listed in this category?
Numerous marketing experts are inclined to provide an affirmative answer to this question. You may ask: why is the decline of the Yellow pages (YP) industry so important, and how does it impact advertisers and everyday people? Let’s find out.
The Great Fall of a Popular Search Giant
While the Bible is one of the most read books of all times, the YP books are known as the most versatile, most used and most printed books. The YP system managed to help millions of clients find what they were looking for in record time, and it also established a mutually beneficial relationship between different categories of service providers and their prospects. Without any hesitation, we can affirm that phone books were the bible of advertisers striving to promote certain companies and improve their profit margins.
The history of the phone book is almost as fascinating as the legacy of a culture that surrounded the book and considered it a useful tool used by millions of people to simplify their daily lives. At this point bringing a business on the front page (in search engine results) has very little to do with the old yellow pages industry.
When users can find everything they may be interested in with a few clicks, by surfing the Internet, what are the odds of survival of the printed phone book? Some would argue that the entire YP industry is facing very difficult times and that the printed versions of phone books will sink into oblivion. So should we assume that they will only be used to press flowers or as a mouse pad or a cooling pad for laptops?
Could YP printed books be dead and halfway buried as we speak? One thing’s certain: the entire YP industry is facing a huge challenge. It needs to grow and expand its line of digital products to replace their printed material. The problem is that print ads bring a bigger profit than what they could obtain by relying on the Internet. According to Search Engine Land, the YP industry would have to find approximately 20 online costumers to replace one lost print client. Yellow pages books are ignored in metropolitan areas. They don’t make much sense to clients and advertisers for 2 reasons:
a) In large cities are hundreds and even thousands of service providers that are listed in printed phone books, so the search can be time-consuming.
b) Most advertisers rely on online marketing promotion strategies, since they are fully aware of the fact that most clients prefer to surf the Internet to spot goods and services compare prices, read product reviews and make a purchase online.
The phone book as we know it is going away, as the YP sector is now targeting online environments. The ugly truth is that users are no longer reaching for the phone book when they need to get information about a company, a product or a service. They are either using their home computer or using their smart phone to get that information. They need to consult accurate reviews and find what they are looking for fast and with minimal effort. With the onset of Google Local, the need for using the Yellow Pages is a thing of the past.
Now even the Yellow Pages industry is moving to the online world (Hibu). It seems that phone books are distancing themselves from their past very quickly. Several companies have anticipated the fact that the Internet will inevitably change the way in which we connect and we do business. Some of them, like Hibu for instance, take pride in a valuable heritage and feature iconic brands, like Yell.com or Yellow Pages. They basically provide digital solutions tailored to the needs of digital prospects.
Yellow pages don’t stand a chance, if we take into consideration the fact that mobile ad growth is increasing by 83% while desktop is decreasing this year. The ongoing mobile revolution is changing the rules of the game. Most buyers use their mobile gadgets to read reviews, compare prices and features, add products to their shopping carts and close fast, convenient transactions.
Google Places gives owners the chance to promote their business and improve its online visibility and its profit margins fast and effortlessly. With Google Places, it is fairly easy to grow a company and attract clients through shiny listings based on appealing photos, additional details like how to find a parking spot, coupons and other perks offered to clients to stimulate sales or increase loyalty or a combination of all these important factors.
Obviously, the printed Yellow pages books come with an expiration date. In a world governed by advertisers striving to anticipate and address the needs and demands of modern mobile consumers, printed phone books can hardly find their place. Clearly, tested, personalized online marketing strategies are the key to success in any field of activity. If you are stuck and don’t know how to promote your business and find the best substitute for printed YP ads that no longer do the trick, a team of search engine marketing (SEM) experts could give you the best answer to all your questions and concerns.