At this point, everyone is familiar with Yelp. It’s a great platform for small businesses to reach an audience that they otherwise might not have a chance to connect with. Its great for consumers also, as they can find products and services that meet their needs more efficiently. Search Engine Land, reported that in 2012, 72% of consumers trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
In the simplest terms:
Word of Mouth + Internet = Yelp
Let me start out by driving home the point that Yelp is a powerful tool. Here is a graphic from Yelp’s Factsheet that shows off their traffic and reviews data from pre-2006 to Q1 2013.
It’s quite clear how popular Yelp is, wouldn’t you say? It’s only getting more and more usage as time goes on, and I don’t see that stopping, or even slowing down for that matter.
Another really interesting piece of information was is Yelp’s demographic data.
What really surprises me from this chart is that well over half (64%) of Yelp users make more than 100K a year. Yet Yelp caters towards the wealthy and the bargain hunters, the refined and the hipster – one and all.
At the bottom of the factsheet, Yelp gives some other startling numbers.
Yelp’s mobile application was used on approximately 10 million unique mobile devices on a monthly average basis during Q1 2013.
10 million unique devices used Yelp on a monthly average to start out 2013. I know it’s the age of mobile, and I was aware that Yelp was a popular app, but I didn’t think the numbers would be that high.
Every second, a consumer generated directions to or called a local business from a Yelp mobile app.
This number might be even more impressive. Literally, on average, one person every second was able to get in contact (in person or on the phone) with a business – through the mobile app. This is an incredibly important piece of information. If your business isn’t on Yelp, or your contact information or address is not up-to-date, you are losing out on potential customers every second
Approximately 45% of all searches on Yelp came from our mobile apps.
This just goes to show you that more and more consumers are finding products and services on the go. No one is looking in the Yellow Pages these days to find a place to get dinner, or buy earrings – they are searching on their phones. For many small businesses, this means their only chance to get in front of the customers face is to have an optimized Yelp listing.
Claiming and Setting Up Your Business
I’ve previously written about how to claim your Yelp business listing, you can read it here.
Now comes the fun part – setting up your listing properly.
Make Sure Contact and Address Information is Accurate!
If there is incorrect information on your listing, you’re losing out on customers. It’s important to update your contact and location info if you ever make a change. Fill out this information completely, and accurately.
Double-check the phone number and make sure that it rings to the person who you want answering the phone for potential customers.
Triple-check your address on the map, and make sure it’s accurate! This is crucial!
Photos are another essential part to your Yelp listing. If your potential customers don’t have a visual cue of what they are getting into (especially if they are first time customers), they might pass you over for something more familiar.
I always suggest to my clients to upload image that hit these key points.
- The outside of the business – this gives potential customers who are unfamiliar with your location a visual reference for when they arrive at your location. If your business is on a busy street block, it can be stressful for people unfamiliar with the area to find you, and they might just keep driving.
- The inside of the business – this gives potential customers a more inviting feeling when considering your business as opposed to others.
- Products – of course you want pictures of the merchandise!
- Services (Staff) – if you sell a service, like carpet cleaning, post pictures of your staff members. Again – this gives customers a safer, more comfortable feeling when considering you.
- Promos and sales – give potential customers that “call-to-action” in image format.
Promos and Call-to-action
Of course you want to promote any sales or promotions you have going on right on your Yelp listing. I’ve had clients who’ve done promos specifically for Yelp users, who just had to mention the add they saw on Yelp to get a discounted price. This type or marketing has great results with a high ROI.
As marketers, we love our call-to-actions, am I right? Yelp has those too, and you should absolutely be utilizing them. You may only have a few seconds to catch a potential customers interest, so do everything you can to increase those conversion rates!
Forget about Reviews – Focus on Customer Service
Yes – reviews are perhaps the single most important piece of Yelp. Yes, you can celebrate when you get glowing recommendations from customers who are genuinely pleased with their experience. Yelp reviews are a great thing!
The problem is, you cannot solicit customers to review your products or services! It’s against everything that Yelp stands for, and frankly – is cheating. Yelp doesn’t approve of solicited reviews, and will often remove them from your listing anyways (they are remarkably good are finding solicited reviews by the way).
Since you cannot ask for a review, why should you spend any time trying to generate them? You shouldn’t!
Instead, give your customers a reason to want to review your business. Give them a great experience that they will want to share with their friends. Give them a reason to want to come back. Your a business owner, you should already be doing this – this isn’t a new concept.
In my experience, my clients that have great customer service get more reviews than those with mediocre customer service. Give your customers a good experience, and the reviews will come.
But what about negative reviews?
Of course, there will be negative reviews – no one is perfect. You shouldn’t look at these as personal attacks on your business or brand, but rather an opportunity. Negative reviews give your business an opportunity to right a wrong, no matter what your personal opinion is about the review or the person who wrote it. Do whatever you can to make the customer feel better about your brand.
Negative reviews can also be a great opportunity to get customers input on improving your product or service. If the customer wasn’t a fan of your services, you can politely ask them what you can do better in the future. They’ll give you honest feedback that you can then implement going forward if it’s a smart business decision. Your products and services are now better, and the original customer who left the negative review feels like they made a difference, and will probably give you a second chance.
In my opinion, the best way to look at reviews is not to consider them reviews at all – think of them as people (in essence, they are). When a customer walks in your store, there is the potential that they could walk out, drive home, and leave a review on Yelp. With this mindset, you treat every customer as politely and respectably as possible. If a customer is upset in the store, it’s your job to make sure they don’t leave that way. A negative review on Yelp could do much more damage than comping a meal for someone because they found a hair on their burger.
Respond to all Reviews!
I’ve seen too many businesses that don’t respond to their reviews. It’s important to respond to all reviews (if possible), both negative and positive. The concept is simple: give customers who left positive feedback more reason to continue giving you their business, and give customers who left negative reviews the opportunity to give you a second chance.
Since you can’t ask for reviews, “inception” them!
I apologize for my bad movie reference…
The point is, the only way you can really ask or suggest to customers that they should leave a review is to let them know that you are on Yelp. Use Yelp’s images on your website, in your email signatures, in your store windows, on the back of your P.O.S. system, on flyers around your business, on your business cards, etc. Let customers know that you are on Yelp, and they’ll be more likely to leave reviews.
Really, having great success on Yelp doesn’t take any extra effort. If you run a great business, have great products or services, and great customer service, you’re already set up for success on Yelp.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, just a business who is transparent, and values their customers above all else (even more than reviews).