Goodbye Yellow Pages

B2B Marcom Insider

Businesses have relied on the Yellow Pages directory to draw customers to their stores for over 125 years. It was the foundation of nearly every marketing effort from florists to industrial tools. It was the way customers located and sometimes evaluated a business through ads in the Yellow Pages directory.

Today, that convenient child’s booster seat is going the way of the dial telephone and landlines. Local Yellow Pages directory advertising went from a “must have” and has now become a “money waster” in the marketing budget.

The name and concept of “yellow pages” came about in 1883, when a printer in Cheyenne, Wyoming, working on a regular telephone directory, ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. In 1886, Reuben H. Donnelley created the first official Yellow Pages directory, inventing an industry.

Today, mobile phones are replacing the Yellow Pages directory. According to Nielsen, 43% of phone-owning adults have a smartphone and one-half of Internet searches from mobile phones are to locate websites for products and services. According to Microsoft’s Chairman Bill Gates, “Yellow Page usage amongst people in their, say below 50, will drop to near zero over the next five years.”

Having a Yellow Page directory-like resource that fits in your pocket is one of the advantages of having a mobile phone. It’s a convenient on-the-go information resource. Simply open up your favorite search engine such as Google or Bing, type in what you’re looking for, and get the answer you need.

The growing problem for mobile phone users though, is that most business websites are not optimized for mobile phone screens. Those small screens make typical website navigation hard to use and text is too small to read. That’s because typical business websites are designed for desktop or laptop screens and those tiny mobile screens were an afterthought.

Some businesses realize the need for a mobile-optimized website, but the thousands of dollars in costs and complexity to develop a separate mobile website holds them back. Others, don’t know the value of a mobile website in their marketing mix. A study commissioned by Google found that three-quarters of visitors to a mobile-friendly website will return, but 79% of people who find a site difficult to use on their mobile devices will give up and look for another site.

What business needs to be competitive in the new mobile market is knowledge and tools to make their existing websites useable on the small screen. Before the growth in mobile phone usage, mobile websites were constructed the same way typical websites were developed, time-consuming and expensive HTML coding by a professional programmer. For large, complex websites, that is still the norm.

For smaller websites, new services have been developed to make the transition from a traditional website to a mobile-friendly website. Services like MediaMate converter, help businesses achieve a mobile phone-friendly website that is low-cost and easy to manage. Costing about $1,500, this service and others, converts existing website content and reformats it to the mobile phone screen format. Website navigation is finger-friendly, text is easier to read and the layout is formatted for mobile devices. Yes, they also accommodate the various operating systems such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows and others.

These new services also provide mobile-friendly features such as automated updates with the host website, click-to-call, Google maps, movies and applications such as GoToTable for making restaurant reservations. The cost advantages and capabilities offered by these services are ideal for small and medium retail establishments and manufacturers.

There is an added benefit to mobile searches. The move to mobile website searches is reducing the environmental impact of printed directories such as Yellow Pages directory. Switching to mobile reduces the amount of tree pulp and energy used to make directory paper and the energy required for printing. It also reduces the amount of fuel needed to deliver directories to distribution sites, consumers and delivering discarded directories to landfills.

The tried and true Yellow Pages directory had its day. Mobile phones are changing the ways that we get information. They are convenient to use only if businesses respond with a mobile website. Many businesses with mobile-friendly websites see the slow adoption of mobile websites by their competitors as an edge. And the tot’s standby booster seat? Put it next to the buggy whip.

< Back to Library