In the past month, I’ve been going through the first round of dog walker advertising renewals on DogWalker.com, and I want to share a few things I’ve learned that might be helpful to you if you have web directories.
Paypal is great, and Paypal subscriptions are fantastic. Every day, I am getting payments from dog walkers whose listings are expiring but automatically renew via Paypal. These renewals take the trouble out of collecting payments after the first year, saving me significant time and effort re-contacting dog walkers and re-billing.
I am thankfully getting FAR fewer cancelations and/or refund requests than I anticipated. I would say it’s probably less than 10% including subscriptions where the payment failed (may be due to expired credit card or cancelled Paypal account). There have been over 50 renewals so far.
If you do use Paypal, here’s a tip for you. If your Paypal account is used for multiple websites, you will want to realize that the receipt people receive will have your company name. In my case, it’s Top Notch Domains, LLC, which has confused a couple of businesses who didn’t remember the DogWalker.com website.
Since I am billing for a few pet websites, I should probably change the receipt to “Pet Website.” Actually, a better solution would be to open separate Paypal accounts for each website. That’s probably the next step, although it could prove to be a hassle, but it’s something for you to consider if you accept Paypal.
I’ve found that some people (like myself with many subscriptions) cancel their subscription prior to billing so they have the option to pay the next year if they want and not automatically. One thing that works for me is emailing these people a week in advance to remind them of their pending expiration date and giving them a link to pay using Paypal.
If they still don’t respond or aren’t amenable to renewing, I let them know exactly how much traffic their listing has seen as well as the traffic to the city searches. I then compare it to the cost of Internet advertising to show the deal they get on the site.
Finally, if the company says advertising hasn’t worked for them, I ask them how they are tracking results. Since most don’t, I ask them if they mention the Yellow Pages when they call a local business, and they typically say “no.” I tell them that similarly, most dog owners wouldn’t mention their DogWalker.com listing unless they had a special DogWalker.com offer where they had to mention the listing. I recommend that they try it out for another year with a special offer to track all business from the listing.
Finally, I’ve been taking checks from some people who don’t want to use Paypal. Checks are a pain in the neck because they can take a week to receive and a week to clear. One bad check fee can cost 50% of the actual listing! I don’t like taking checks, but if it’s a check or nothing, I’ve accepted checks.
Hopefully some of these lessons are helpful to you as you build out your websites and take advertising.