Unlike eCommerce, a directories’ business model is based on providing information to time strapped visitors that are seeking answers which are unavailable elsewhere.
This insight into user behavior is among the many reasons a high bounce rate is not a cause of concern and neither is time on site. The directory is doing its job when its site can be found and can provide the most relevant information to the visitor between point of need to conversion.
The challenges of operating in Pakistan
Keeping various factors in mind, doing an event in a country like Pakistan is not easy. One big roadblock is event organisers are taxed 30 per cent on each ticket sold.
Furthermore, in order to obtain a ‘no objection’ certificate, event organizers need to prepay the total taxable amount.
Considering this, along with other factors like the investment made towards private security in and outside the event arena, quality control with participating vendors, dealing with sponsors and other hurdles, event organizer will do everything they can to spend less and keep more.
Experts agree that business directories need to execute campaigns that drive digital or physical footfall for their customers (event organisers). This, more than brand awareness, is the real need of the businesses model.
Additionally, event directories must accept the fact that Facebook’s event feature is free.
Facebook’s daily audience is eons beyond what any startup could hope to reach and Facebook can remind users, both passively and proactively, to attend. So, trying to match Facebook’s free feature is pointless, directory startups need to find a different niche.
According to Danish Ayub, the CEO of MWM Studioz, “aspiring founders of event directories need to focus on either the publisher model as a source of high valued content and earn from AdSense, display and native. Or they can help orgnanizers sell tickets and rely on instant deliver services like Forrun or Delivery ChaCha on the fulfillment side. Anything beyond this strays from market realities.”
Let’s look into some companies succeeding — and failing — in the industry.
Formed in 2007, KarachiSnob.com has been regarded as the most successful online business directory in Pakistan, with its dedicated domains reaching other urban cities.
It’s success is attributed to the vast range of listings.
However, a gradual dilution of resources dedicated towards checking for quality of listings has shaken consumer confidence. As per latest data from SimilarWeb, it averages 35,000 visits per month with 2 minutes time on site and a 66% bounce rate. According to MOZ, the website’s domain authority and page authority is 29 and 31 respectively.
Formed in 2013 and closed six months ago, KiaSceneHai.pk listed events taking place on and off university campuses as organized by students for their courses, societies and clubs.
The business has since shut down, but co-founder Daniyal Shahid says the site averaged 840 visitors per month and peaked with 1,749 visitors. Its revenue model was dependent on selling event advertising by offering front page promotion on the website and the Facebook page. They also retained 10 per cent commission on each sold ticket sold.
Over the businesses’ two year life span, it averaged US$400 in sales per month and experimented with revenue channels such as commissions from ticket sales and awareness building.
Shahid said, “the number of events happening per month varied and depended highly on the security situation.”
“After the 16th December 2014 Peshawar attack there were hardly three to five events happening per month for the next 4 months.”
He says this is a big reason behind the businesses closure.
Formed in 2014, Happening.pk is an events directory which managed to attract over 25,000 visitors per month at its peak.
The business doesn’t focus on direct revenue and instead directs its energies towards media partnerships.
As per the latest data from SimilarWeb, it averages 3,000 visits per month with 1 minute time on site and a 60 per cent bounce rate. According to MOZ, its domain and page authority is 17 and 25 respectively.
Formed in 2015, Abdul Rahman Rafiq launched Rave.pk as a business directory destination with a peer to peer review system.
He was inspired by the behavior-shaping impact of iPrice and wanted to hold businesses accountable for their quality of services. The other goal was to empower customers with the ability to rate and review said services.
Despite growing concerns over the validity of reviews and accusations from non-listed businesses that reviews are fake, the business has steadily grown over the years and has played a role in forming opinions about potential experiences.
As per the latest data from SimilarWeb, the website averages 1,000 visits per month with 3 minutes time on site and a 50 per cent bounce rate. According to MOZ, it’s domain and page authority is 15 and 23 respectively.
Rafiq believes he has successfully served the international and local market with his web design company, Inspurate, and has a keen understanding of SME market dynamics and the inner workings of the online world.
Rave.pk was born from a need and is solving a problem.
“We’ve been observing the struggles of small businesses in Pakistan,” says Rafiq.