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Yelp To Help Your Busienss – Part II

Posted on Apr 02, 2012 by Melissa Arnett

Hello again!  In our last installment, we told you about Yelp’s business model, their online and in-person presence, their users and growth.  In this installment, we give you concrete advice on how to leverage Yelp to add value to your business.

How you can harness the power of Yelp

1. Claim you free business listing on Yelp

This is so incredibly easy and free.  It gives you the opportunity to put your business out there and not wait for a good Samaritan (or Yelper, in the case) or the dreaded D&B to list your business.  Your business will come up when people search either on the mobile app or the actual website.  You have the ability to post photos, give a detailed business description, list the business history, and your specialties.  Also, Yelp has free business tools associated with the business accounts, like how many page views you’re gotten or how your business comes up in searches.  Pretty cool.

2. Host or sponsor a Yelp event

If your business is in a city with an active Yelp community, consider hosting a special event for the Yelpers.  This is a great way to get Yelpers in your business and introduce yourself to the community at large.   Contact your local community manager for more details about this.

3. Read your Reviews

Read both the positive and negative reviews.  People are much more likely to complain about something than to praise it, so if a reviewer does praise something, take that as 10 people praising it and keep doing whatever that was.  As a business owner, you can respond to reviews publically, right on that review, or privately, by sending the reviewer a private message.

In reading negative reviews, it is important to read them thoroughly to truly understand the issue.  Do not be tempted to lash out at the reviewer, especially publically; nothing good can come of that.  My best advice for this is to respond privately to the user and apologize for their experience, tell them that is not how you do business, and invite them to give you another shot.  I have personally had this experience and was glad to have the opportunity to share my experience with the owner and give them the opportunity to correct the issue.   And after that better experience, I updated my review.  Remember, the customer that complains is your friend.

4. Buy Yelp Ads

Personally, I think if you do the first three steps well and often, you will not have to do step 4 or 5 at all, but the option is there if you want it.  In fact, there have been accusations of Yelp being overly-zealous with trying to sell ads to business owners and these ads not being as effective as other advertising purchases you could be making (see Yelp Ad Sales).  From my experience, businesses on Yelp that provide a good service, reach out to the community in general and the Yelp community, will do well without needing to advertise—word of mouth is so much more powerful.

5. Have Yelp Deals

This is another service offered by Yelp and again, is there if you want it.  These are similar to Groupon and Localiter Deals but on your Yelp page.  One benefit of these is that in the search options, users can filter on companies that currently have a deal, so depending on the type of business you have, this may be helpful in initially penetrating the market or trying to stand out among the crowd.  However, you want to be careful and avoid “Daily Deal Backlashes” which can actually alienate customers and employees and erode your prices and reputation over time.  Value and quality propositions are always better in the long run and it will pay off.

Good luck and happy Yelping!


Yelp to Help Your Business

Posted on Mar 26, 2012 by Melissa Arnett

If you are unfamiliar with, as I imagine many people are, given the percentage of times I tell someone I am an Elite Yelper and they say, “What’s that?,” it is time to get familiar.

On March 2, 2012, Yelp hosted their IPO with shares closing at $15 a share, 64% higher than anticipated.  Nearly 6 million people use Yelp’s mobile app to find businesses near to them and 66 million unique users visit the website per month.  Some of the top Yelp communities in America are in San Francisco SEO (where it was founded), L.A., New York, and Austin (of course!).

Why is this important to you?  If you are a small business owner, Yelp can be used to add value to your business by leveraging social strategies to increase visibility of your business in your community.  That is, unless you have poor customer service or are peddling a poor product, then Yelp can be your worst enemy.   Let’s assume you have a nice small business, be it a restaurant or food trailer, day spa, clothing store, salon, day care, gym, or what-have-you.

Why Yelp is Good for Your Awesome Small Business:

1. Yelp is Mobile

Both dedicated and casual Yelpers look up businesses on the mobile app.  I found it especially useful when traveling since the app allows you to look for places meeting your criteria within a certain distance (2 blocks, 6 blocks, etc).  One author called this “enabling hyper local neighborhood searches” and this is the reason that many people prefer Yelp for local business searches to Google.  Yelp’s directions to your business are also superior to any I have seen on the web or on apps.  In New York, it even told me which subway to take since I was on foot.  That’s pretty cool.

2. Yelp is Trusted

66 million users per month and growing 80% per year.  Mm-hmm, people trust Yelp.

3. Yelp is Social

We are all familiar with “digital strategies” that businesses can employ to communicate with customers.  These include your website or emails you send out, even your tweets.  Anything you do that is basically one-way communication from the business to your current or potential customers.  “Social strategies” are when a business encourages interaction with itself and the customers and interaction among the customers.  This is becoming a much more powerful strategy to implement to help grow your business.

Yelp’s business model incorporates both digital strategies and social strategies.   Yelp is not only an on-line review website, there are also on-line and in-person social aspects to it that most people don’t realize.  Users (“Yelpers”) can set up their own profiles and tell the world what their favorite movie is or what their last meal on earth would be, they can have Yelp friends, or follow people on Yelp (becoming their Yelp fan), users can post events to Yelp, or topics in the Talk threads, they can give each other compliments, and send private messages.  In active communities, there are Yelp parties, and Community Manager Yelp Events (CMYEs), Yelpers can host their own “unofficial” Yelp events (UYEs).  And there is a tier of Yelpers known as Elite, but that is a whole different blog entry…

Stay tuned for Part II of this article, where we tell you exactly how to harness the power of Yelp to add value to your business!