Mon ami Sebastien blogged about Amdocs’ Eitan Ackerman’s talk on Categorizing Consumer Activities on Merchant Listings or in other words – What do people actually do on Yellow Pages sites?

Here’s what Eitan found:

  • Search to call: I am looking for the merchant’s phone number, often a core element of a business directory site.
  • Search to book: I want to schedule an appointment or make a reservation.
  • Search to purchase: I want to buy the product online (e-commerce)
  • Search to navigate: I want to get to the store and I’m looking for the address, map, driving directions, etc.
  • Search for additional information: I’m looking for hours of operations, brands carried, etc.
  • Click to save: I want to save/bookmark the information in my personal address book for future use.
  • Click to share: I want to share the merchant information with friends/contacts via e-mail, social networks, etc.
To which Seb concludes:

I like this categorization of activities because it tells us about potential proof of value points to measure advertising ROI.

In the post Seb asked if he had forgotten anything.  IMNSHO*, Eitan seems to think that all people want to do on IYPs is to find businesses.  Perhaps some other activities to look for and measure:
  • Search to review: I like writing reviews, have nothing else better to do with my time and I am ready to slam that mechanic that ripped me off
  • Search by accident: I was doing some searches on Google and because your SEO consultant rocks, your site shows up for everything.  I somehow stumbled upon it – now it’s up to you to keep me there and coming back for more – or more likely in most cases to get me to click on an ad.
  • Search for friends: I am looking for other like-minded souls online who share the same passion for fat-laden food and want to tweet with me
And of course let’s not forget that marketers are consumers too:

  • Search to learn: I am a marketer and I want to understand what the competition is doing right and wrong
  • Search to SPAM: I am a marketer and I want to write some fake reviews to either praise a business or slam a competitor.  I may even be looking for ways to add fake addresses and fake businesses to dominate a particular query. Also see Search to review.
  • Search for dofollow links: Can I get a link from this site if I claim a profile or write a review/comment?
  • Search to Friend/Fan/Like: I am a marketer and I want to find key influencers in the local social graph who can help me get the message out.  Also see Search for friends.
Did I miss anything?

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14 Response Comments

  • Mike Stewart  November 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

    So simple, yet profound. I love how you included the activities of us marketers or “listing optimizers” perform.

    Honestly, as an SEO, I do very little, if any, purchasing from IYP sites. When you understand what type of businesses purchase advertising on them, you sometimes tend to avoid the sites. In Dallas, not a single IYP company has the marketshare or quality or reputable advertisers (enough to make great buying decisions) as they did back in 2004. No matter what hocus pocus Guarantee of Service you stick on ’em.

    Times do change.

    Mike Stewart

  • Andrew Shotland  November 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Mike, when I say IYP, I don’t just mean Yellow Pages brands, but pretty much any site that has a local directory.

  • Mike Stewart  November 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Sure Andrew. I love verticals.

    I am sure some of those industry folks might respect that I don’t associate online directories with “Yellow Pages” so much. I need to be less critical of previous failures. 🙂

    … YP is not very social. Kinda like calling a CD a record… lol.

    <——— Keep showing my age. GenX/Y here!


  • Malcolm Lewis  November 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    My money’s on “Search by Accident” 😉

  • Andy Kuiper  November 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    “What do people actually do on Yellow Pages sites?”… I bet 80% + hit the ‘Back’ button LOL 😉 The other 20% ‘might’ take note of a phone number.

  • Myles  November 23, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Is this list ordered in any way? It would be great to know what % of people undertake which action. This would give us some real proof of value points.

    Andrew – you spent a few years at Insider Pages – what’s your experience tell you about the actions IYP users do the most?

  • Andrew Shotland  November 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

    oh that would be leave the site as soon as possible

  • Thomas  November 30, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I’d really like to see a percentage breakdown of the visitors to these sites, too. I’d tend to agree it seems like “hit back, right away” would be the most likely action! I guess I just don’t really see what purpose these sites serve these days. Most businesses have their own sites with all the information you could need. Google is my directory… Type business, get info – straight from the company.

  • Myles  November 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

    @Thomas – we have a breakdown of UK directory audience numbers here –

    Colelctively these sites have 17million UUs/month so they’re a powerful source of customers for local businesses. Also consider the mind set of the users – they’re on the directory for a specific purpose – to find a local business to meet a specific, current need. Conversion to call/contact is likely to be very high.

    Also the purpose/focus of directories is changing from purely a repository of generic business listings to dynamic, socialised sites with communities who rate, review and interact. Google has always been terrible at building community tools and it’s HotPot service is a pretty plain attempt to copy & overrun these directories. In time i’m sure Google will get it right but in the meantime directories can generate lots of customers for local businesses who use them right.

  • Chris  December 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

    So in other words, there’s a greater probability that people using IYPs are already a customer of the business they’re looking for. Whereas people searching for dentists on Google are looking for a new dentist.

    Good stuff.

  • Dallas SEO Consultant  December 2, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Chris, I think you just hit the nail on the head.

    Considering some of the print yellow pages companies are looking to cease providing 411esque type information via white page directory distribution throughout the country, this obviously is not a great future business model.

    I received a report from a sales rep at that stated my client received 300+ calls to a toll free tracking line during the entire 2010 year. I was not shocked to find that both Google and Woopra Analytics state the client is averaging 15 clicks to the website per month. They state that the client is getting direct calls from the profile pages. I am anxious to swap numbers to my own tracking line and test/validate this claim.

    I don’t doubt that verticals and directories skew numbers. I just don’t trust lead aggregators data. It is so easy to fudge the numbers.

    All that being said, I feel that the so-called leads being provided are questionable at best, it is up to us holistic practitioners to validate claims on behalf of our clients and customers.

    Be selective on which companies you engage and support. Which companies bring a positive impression of the brand. Which companies allow the client to communicate to the audience. Which companies provide tools that the business can use to measure, monitor, and respond to social media profiles and posts?

    Lots to consider.

    I am going to dig deep and provide real data that validates or disproves the “results” from these lead providers.

    Wish me luck!

  • Thomas  December 6, 2010 at 4:56 am

    @Myles – thanks for your reply and for the link. When you lay out the facts and figures like that, the value is obvious! I really don’t think I’d thought it through properly, so thanks for educating me! I must try harder to think things through before posting dim comments on the internet…

  • Myles  December 6, 2010 at 5:17 am

    @Thomas – i didn’t think your comment was dim and i hope my response didn’t seem harsh – it gave me a chance to promote some of the research i’d done so i appreciated it! If you don’t ask or comment you don’t get answers to your questions so you should keep it up.

  • Chris Reilly  December 15, 2010 at 12:57 am

    “Search to Sell”

    Many salespeople use IYPs as highly targeted prospect lists. If Yext’s numbers are correct about 48% of calls being spam, does that mean 48% of IYP traffic is salespeople?