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The Value of ThomasNet



Our CT-based advertising and marketing agency offers a special focus on clients in manufacturing, industrial and technological fields. We design and develop industrial and manufacturing web sites that are branded, communicate your capabilities and help generate sales.

A good web site is both a sales tool and a salesperson. Stifel Marcin's sites have proven to be an invaluable resource and source of new sales leads for all of our clients. Branded web design with targeted search engine optimization will help you rank for the right search phrases and drive customers to your business.

So why does ThomasNet® think they're as good as a well-ranking web site? Just look at the facts, and our client's own experiences.


Value of ThomasNet vs. Organic SEO

Thomas Register isn't what it used to be. Many of us remember when it was like the Yellow Pages for manufacturers. Then it phased our its printed version, and became ThomasNet - the same thing, just different - they claimed.

But it didn't take people too long to realize that the thousands of dollars being spent on ThomasNet weren't actually providing a return. We hear it over and over again from our clients. A majority - eventually - dropped Thomas completely.

But ThomasNet is out knocking on doors again, trying to sell a revamped site that is supposedly better and cheaper than before. But when you actually look at the what they are offering, and what people are getting, well I guess you could say that the emperor has no clothes. (And with the money Thomas wants, believe me - they're the emperor in this story).

ThomasNet lost their edge when they transitioned from a printed registry to online. It just didn't work - they couldn't make the change - and now they're just trying to catch up. Organic search engine optimization (SEO) has changed how everyone does business.

Problems Marketing with ThomasNet - It's a Bad Strategy

People with larger marketing budgets have asked if they should sign up for Thomas, in conjunction with an SEO plan. Usually we recommend that clients use that money for something else - an e-blast, PR, social marketing, etc. Here are my problems with Thomas:

1. Thomas lists you on their site with your competitors. Bigger/smaller, better/worse - anyone can be there.

2. Thomas makes you lower your prices. Listing you alongside your competitors gives people an easy opportunity to get multiple bids. It's virtually impossible to completely explain your brand, services and products in that short paragraph they give you, forget including information about why your company is better than your competitors. So Thomas makes you compete on price (and its easy for a potential customer to get lots of bids from similar companies, since as outlined in #1, they're all listed right there).

3. Cost - the numbers just don't add up. Compare ThomasNet's pricing to even a basic search engine optimization package. I can personally guarantee all our customers have done better, and I believe always will, with an SEO plan (see our client experiences below).

4. Thomas claims it will help you rank on Google, Yahoo or Bing - but it doesn't. It ranks a page on the Thomas site where you are listed with all your competitors.

5. ThomasNet is just harder to use. The set-up isn't user friendly. Think about its search: First I go on ThomasNet.com, then enter my search phrase. If my phrase is too broad I have to drill down through their pre-set categories (which you need to fit into by the way), then I get to that big list of results. Last time I checked, multiple clicks are a bad thing.

Your Marketing and Advertising Review

With a full range of industrial-focused marketing solutions and a client list of manufacturers and technological companies, we like to say "we get mfg". If you'd like a review of your marketing and advertising please don't hesitate to contact us. You can also read more on our web site design, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing services. Visit our contact page for an online quote.

ThomasNet Verses Search Engine Optimization - the Numbers Don't Lie.

Stifel Marcin has grown for over a decade by remaining dedicated to our clients' success. Happy clients stay with us, and not to brag, but almost all our clients do.

It's our responsibility as an agency for manufacturing, industrial and technological clients that we know as much as we can about their industries. We belong to local manufacturing associations and stay current on what matters to our clients. We work to become an extension of your company.

Our conclusions about ThomasNet are a result of our clients' experiences. We want our clients to be successful - if Thomas worked we'd include it in a marketing package. But the problem is it doesn't work. Be perfectly clear - we don't compete with ThomasNet.

Here's just a few of the reasons we view Thomas as we do:

Client 1

A national manufacturer of custom parts had been listed with Thomas for years. After the transition to ThomasNet (from Thomas Register) they saw leads decrease, and after years of decreases they had started to cut back their annual spending (which at one point had been over $30,000 annually). The client had signed on for one of our premium-level search engine optimization plans and had seen the number of leads generated by their web site double, and traffic to the site also increase significantly.

As part of our annual marketing proposal, we reviewed the web site's traffic statistics. For that entire year search engines brought in 74% of their web site's visitors, 20.3% directly typed in the url, and ThomasNet brought in 1.4%. The cost of our SEO efforts was roughly double the cost of ThomasNet, but the results spoke for themselves.

The client discontinued advertising with ThomasNet.

Client 2

Another client requested a review of ThomasNet results while they evaluated their web marketing budget. Their ThomasNet rep was claiming lots of "impressions" (which aren't necessarily relevant) and great lead generation. We reviewed the ThomasNet data, which showed that for each view of their Thomas listing, the company was spending about $37.

We then compared the ThomasNet data to the web site traffic analytics, which revealed a very low number of ThomasNet referrals (people who came to the company web site from Thomas). We know that not every ThomasNet profile view is a credible lead (which can be easily seen in Thomas's lead reports). We took the approach that 50% of viable leads would click out to the company's web site after viewing the ThomasNet profile. With this criteria, the cost per click jumped to about $90.

But the real concern occurred when we actually viewed the clicks that were coming to the site. Nearly half of all the ThomasNet referrals had zero "seconds on site" meaning they were either robots, or people that never looked at the site. In addition, a large percentage had only a few seconds on site, not even long enough to get a phone number.

The client decided to significantly reduce their ThomasNet budget, and allocated the funds to a strategic AdWordsTM campaign we developed. The AdWords leads resulted in significantly more relevant traffic to the site as well as sales, at a cost between $3-6 per click.

ThomasNet is a registered trademark of Thomas Publishing Company

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