When someone asks you what are some good Online business to do, what would be your natural answer eCommerce site, you will say focus on a particular niche or create a marketplace, you might even suggest an affiliate site or travel portal, hospitality and hotel booking or any other service marketplace but will you ever suggest anyone to go for online directory business? It is because we only focus on the black and white, the short-term gain and we generally miss the long-term opportunities and the depth of the concept.
Now, what if I tell you that many of the business I mentioned above are online dictionaries, don’t believe me stick with me, I will prove it…
What is Online Directory?
Let’s define the Concept form very root, Online is just a medium, Directory is a list of information which is organized/categorized, in a particular manner so that the user can easily find the information he is looking for.
So the most important element of a directory is Information/Data:
And the three most important functions of a directory are
- Collecting Information.
- Organization of Information.
- Representation of Information.
Online directory business
It is based on the same foundation, Information is still the key component in online directories, it is just a slightly different form and representation.
The following are the major components or features of the online directory…
1) Listing: In an offline directory the collection of information was one of the difficult tasks but with the help of the Internet, you don’t have to go out to and seek information the information will come to you, anyone with related business will log in fill the details online and boom listed.
2) Information Management: It consists of the amount of useful information your directory provides and the User Experience of the site,
- Information Part
- Name of Business
- Type of business
- Brief about the business
- Contact Information: Address, Phone No, Email,
the website, etc.
- User Experience Part
- Universal search
- Sorting of information
3) Reviews & Rating: One of the differentiating factors between online and offline directory is reviews and rating which gives much more meaning and authenticity to the information, it includes mostly three component:
- User Reviews.
- Editor/Publisher Review
- Awards and Recognization
In the end, everything comes down to revenues, what will we get by investing time and money in any business, the obvious and important return in this investment is data.
The raw database is going to increases with the increasing popularity of the platform.
Today data is more valuable than money, but.. but.. it is not that simple, it will take years and years to capitalize or monetize your data.
If you are targeting only data then it is a great opportunity but at the same time there is a high risk and investment associated with it, however data is not the only way to monetize your Idea there are many more.
I am not going to list down the ways without evidence following are the real examples of how this generic Idea of Online directory is adopted and implemented creatively, by some of the most successful online directory business.
The Overhaul (Implementation by different Online Directory Business)
Foursquare has a created a crazy hype, by introducing the check-in feature, and elements of gamification in a simple directory app or a review platform.
On one hand Foursquare always got praises for there innovative idea and implementation, while on the other hand they always faced criticism for not able to monetize their platform.
But they had a clear long-term vision in the mind and after almost decade of the operation, we have started seeing the result of there longterm planning.
They have an incredible amount of data, and today it is considered as one of the big names in the data trading industry along with Google and Facebook.
Today big guns like Twitter, Uber uses their service and they have plenty of solutions for small businesses as well.
The Giant in Travel and Hospitality business TripAdvisor is one of the most successful names in the Online Directory business, it has one of the most advanced advertising models.
It was started back in the year 2000, 90 Million users and 7 Million listed place and the massive database is built by their users.
Tripadvisor is an online directory or a guide for traveling and hotels needs, and 90% of there revenue is coming from the advertisement.
Their strategy is completely opposite from that of the Foursquare.
They do not monetize the data directly instead they capitalize their large user base by providing different advertising solution to businesses associated with travel and hospitality industry.
Yelp is the prime competitor of Foursquare, in fact, it is an older and bigger platform than Foursquare.
It was founded in the year 2004, is one of the largest local directories in the US, with over 100 Million users in the country.
Yelp can be best described as the combination of Foursquare and TripAdvisor’s Business Model, functionally it is similar to Foursquare whereas The revenue model of Yelp is similar to TripAdvisor.
Yelp earns over 90% of the revenue from Advertising as well.
Clutch is one of the most trusted business directories for the IT Industry, the reviews on clutch give high credibility to any business in the field of software development, SEO, Digital Marketing, and other IT solution.
The first three directories were dealing with B2C Markets so the more focus was on the quantity of the data but the Business scenarios changes, when we talk about B2B Online Directory Business, In B2B Directory the quality of the data is more important than the quantity.
Unlike the other B2C directories, there is no open listing in Clutch, but there is a dedicated team of the analyst who maintains the list of the business on the platform.
To get listed on the platform, you have to send the request and provide all the Information once the team of analysts verifies it, your business will appear on the platform.
There are three different membership plans available on the Clutch Free Basic, Premium Plan where you get different business and analytic tools, and the third one is Sponsored plans where you will get more preferential benefits.
Crunchbase was started in the year 2007 as a small subsection of TechCrunch.
The primary purpose of the app was to create a database of new innovative startup and investors so that the startups and investors can meet each other.
Though it was a B2B platform, the listing in Crunchbase was open, because it was never intended to be monetized.
But it somehow caught the attention of the business world and now it is considered as the Wikipedia of the Companies.
Today from a small side project, it is a separate company, with different tools for monetization.