Every small business has heard of the power of Yelp. Love it or hate it, Yelp continues to be one of the major review sites where your customers are turning to share the good, bad and the ugly about their experiences at your business.
While the reviews may seem daunting, using Yelp to your benefit is not only a possibility, but a necessity.
What does its influence really translate into in terms of dollars and cents? If Yelp is so important, what can you do to get your money’s worth out of it?
What's the Value of a Star?
We all know how better and more reviews translate into more business. Two very scholarly studies have put a number on how much more business to expect. A Harvard Business School study by Michael Luca showed how just a one-star increase in an overall Yelp rating can translate into a 5-9% increase in revenues.
Another study by Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder of UC Berkeley showed an even bigger lift. They found just a half-star increase in a San Francisco restaurant’s average Yelp rating translated into 19% more reservations during peak hours. What’s 5-9% of your business’s revenue worth? Or if you are running a restaurant, how much would you pay for 19% more reservations? Given that 45% of small businesses say their biggest challenge is growing revenue, it makes sense to put some time and effort into this platform.
Yelp says the average business gets $8,000 in extra revenue from a free Yelp listing. To help you capture your $8,000 (or maybe even more), we’ve put together a eight-point checklist for what you need to do on Yelp to get results. Most of these tasks are free, and they’re all based on tested techniques or industry studies.
1. Make sure you’ve claimed your Yelp account
This one seems so obvious. You’d be amazed how many businesses haven’t done it. These are businesses with reviews, too. Established businesses. Even if you haven’t claimed your Yelp listing, the odds are high you’ve already got reviews. The Cedar Crest Golf Course is a live example of this. They have a nice Yelp listing, complete with eight 4.5 star reviews. But they haven’t yet claimed their listing:
Fortunately, claiming your listing is easy. Just go to https://biz.yelp.com/claiming. Click the button that says “Claim my business”. They’ll walk you through the rest.
Now that you’ve got a Yelp listing tied down, the next step is just to fill out all the information. If this seems easy, you’re right. If it seems obvious, you’re right too, but again, you’d be amazed by how many businesses leave critical information, like business hours, blank.
Tails of Boston hasn’t added their business hours or many other pieces of basic business information. Their competitor, Wannagoout? Dog Walking and Pet Sitting, has. And Yelp has included a callout for Wannagoout? On Tails of Boston’s listing page. The competition is just a click away.
Related Article: Falling Amongst the Stars: Tips for Improving Your Yelp Ratings
2. Make Sure All the Information on Your Yelp Listing Is Accurate
You may have known about Yelp for years, and set up your listing a long time ago. When was the last time you checked it? Information changes. Here’s a table showing inaccurate listing information across the major review sites. It was compiled by Yelp engineers and is based on 1,000 local business listings.
3. Don’t Be Stingy With the Photographs
Photographs make a big difference on Yelp. People spend 2.5 times more time on Yelp listings with photos than on Yelp listings that have none.
If you’re short on photos, fixing that is easy. You don’t have to hire a professional photographer to get photographs on your site. A smartphone and a sunny day will do.
4. Respond to Reviews – Both Good Ones and Bad Ones
It’s always nice to give people feedback. Especially when they’ve just taken the time to give you feedback. This applies to both saying thank you when you get a positive review, and to troubleshooting what went wrong when you get a negative review.
Beyond just being polite and empathetic, try to think of your reviews as more than just an end to themselves. Reviews provide vital feedback about what your company is doing right and doing wrong. They can be used to make your business better for everyone, even the people who don’t ever leave reviews.
5. Carefully Get More Reviews
This is tricky territory. You do not want to directly ask customers to review you on Yelp. Something like this is off-limits:
You also never, ever want to buy reviews. Don’t even think about punishing people who leave bad reviews. So what can you do to build your reviews? Well, you can’t ask for them, but you can ask people to “stay in touch”. Here’s a review request email I got from a business recently:
It’s very subtle. All they do is include the Yelp logo in the footer. But if I’m a regular Yelp reviewer, I’d notice it. You can also put up a sign in your store window, like this:
Another effective method is via postcards or point of purchase cards. Here’s an example from Amplitude Creative.
There are a few key tricks to getting more, and better reviews.
- Have a system. You don’t want to get a bunch of reviews all at once, and so setting up a system for how to ask for reviews and when to ask for them. This spreads out the speed at which you get reviews and makes it a company habit to ask for reviews.
- Ask for reviews as soon as possible. The sooner you ask for a review after service has been rendered, the more likely you are to get the review.
- Never give an incentive for writing the reviews. This results in low-quality reviews and cheapens your relationship with the customer.
#6 Create a Yelp Deal or Gift Certificate
This is a kind of advertising, but with a twist. Yelp deals are prepaid vouchers that you can offer as an incentive to people searching for your business service. Gift Certificates are just like what they sound like, but with Yelp handling the purchase of the Gift Certificate on their site.
The real cost of these incentives is the share Yelp takes from the purchase. They skim 30% off the value of deals and 10% off for gift certificates.
Related Article: Online Marketing Basics for Start-Ups
#7 Create a Yelp Check-in or Check-in Offer
These are for everyone using a mobile device. As you know, that’s now most of your Yelp audience. Check-ins are a way for mobile users to show they’ve been at your location. They synchronize with Twitter and other social media apps. Check-in offers are just a way to get people to participate in the check-in.
Businesses who advertise on Yelp get more business from it and are probably treated a bit better too. Even the home page of Yelp for business owners says Yelp advertisers get $23,000 in average extra annual revenue. That’s nearly four times as much as businesses with a free listing get.
I hope you can follow through on even a couple of these optimization tips so that you can get your $8,000 of extra revenue from this platform. If you are on Yelp already, is anything working particularly well for you? Tell us about it in the comments.