Yelp is truly a behemoth of customer reviews. It’s been around since 2004 and survived while many other review sites have come and gone. Yelp has helped millions of people find and get detailed information about businesses in their communities. Managing your Yelp reviews and profile is important for almost any business – let’s talk about how to do it right.
What are Yelp Reviews?
Yelp is the most-used review site on the internet. Why is it so popular? It’s elegantly designed with no spam, unlike many other review sites. And it encourages long-form reviews instead of just a tossed-off comment like “coffee was ok.” That makes it very useful for consumers, especially ones who are looking for something very specific.
Yelp reviews are based on a star rating system from 1-5 stars. Potential customers can see in one glance how your previous customers liked what you offer. If your star rating is below a three, that’s bad news for your business. And just one bad review can drag your rating down for a while.
But that doesn’t mean you can afford to just ignore Yelp entirely. Your business will likely be listed on there and reviewed by customers, whether you’ve claimed your Yelp business page or not.
Why You Need to Manage Your Yelp Page
It’s important to note – managing your Yelp Page doesn’t mean you can block out all negative reviews. That would defeat the purpose of the platform, which is to provide honest customer reviews to help other consumers make a decision. Online review sites like Yelp are only useful as long as they’re trustworthy in allowing real feedback.
That’s why sites like Yelp have grown so popular over the years. Consumers are increasingly wary of traditional advertising. And it’s hard to blame them. The world has become more and more saturated with ads for all kinds of products. What consumers really value is a recommendation from a person like them – real people giving real feedback. It helps people sort through the vast amount of options available.
But you don’t have to leave your online reputation entirely at the mercy of the often-anonymous reviewers. By claiming and setting up your own Yelp Business page, you can help manage your own digital reputation. You can put your best forward online – add useful information like opening hours, contact info, and details on menus or services. And don’t underestimate the value of adding enticing and professional photos to your profile either.
How to Get Great Yelp Reviews
Every business owner wants to get all five-start reviews on Yelp. While that’s just not possible for most businesses – you can’t possibly exceed the expectations of every single customer who walks through your door – you can use some tried-and-true techniques to up the chances of getting positive reviews from your customers.
The key to encouraging positive reviews from Yelp users is to remind them to do it, and to make it easy. After all, when are people most likely to take the effort on their own to write an online review – when they have a positive experience or a very negative one? But with a gentle nudge, you can get those customers who had a good experience to leave feedback too.
With that in mind, let’s explore some ways business owners can drive positive reviews to their Yelp page.
Put up a “Find us on Yelp” sign
Reminding customers that you’re on Yelp can be a good trigger to get them to leave a review. With the popularity of smartphones, some might even leave you a review while they’re still inside of your business. This can be great if they’re sitting down enjoying a family brunch or having a successful shopping experience.
Offer a Yelp Deal
Yelp offers businesses many interesting ways to bring in customers, but one very popular way is to offer a special Yelp Deal within Yelp itself. They can look similar to offer from Groupon or Living Social, but with an important difference – the customers are pretty much guaranteed to be Yelp users. That means they’re much more likely to leave you a review.
Host a Yelp event
Yelp events are a great way to build a base of support in your community. Most highly-engaged Yelp users are regular people from your local area. Inviting local Yelp users who have reviewed your business or businesses like yours to a fun event can increase your positive reviews and bring in new supporters who might not have known about your business otherwise. You can get extra lift from inviting Yelp Elite users (they have big followings and lots of reach in their communities) to help with your event.
And the benefits from your event don’t stop that night. Offer your attendees giveaways like a raffle for a free dinner, or 10% off a future visit for them and a friend. That will encourage them to become a repeat customer. Since all these attendees will be frequent Yelp users too, it ups the chances they will you a positive review after a great event.
Email customers after a visit
When it’s possible, emailing your customers with a thank you after a visit or a purchase is always a nice touch. And including a link to your Yelp page suggesting they write a review makes them more likely to take that action. It removes the barrier of effort from the review process. Do note, it’s against Yelp policy to ask for positive reviews specifically. And begging for reviews can seem desperate and turn off your audience. The key is to keep the ask natural and casual. If you’re emailing enough customers with this request, you’re bound to get some new positive reviews without resorting to desperate tactics.
Display positive reviews in your store
While they’re waiting in line or at their tables, a well-placed printout of some positive Yelp reviews can prime your customers to think positively about the experience they’re about to have. And it reminds them that they can use that time in line to post a quick review on Yelp themselves.
Add Yelp links to your newsletter
If you have an email newsletter that goes out regularly to your loyal customers, adding a link to your Yelp page can encourage some more positive reviews. If you’re newer on Yelp and want to promote your reviews page more, don’t ask outright for positive reviews. That’s a violation of Yelp’s policies and also seems needy. Just add in a button that says “check us out on Yelp” and let the customers follow it to your page. Many of them will likely leave you a positive review after that.
Managing Your Yelp Reviews
Once the reviews have started to roll in on your Yelp page, you’re off to a strong beginning. But there’s more to Yelp success than just the number of reviews your customers leave you. You also need to be proactive in managing your existing reviews to succeed.
Respond Right Away
This doesn’t mean you need to be scouring Yelp every hour and responding immediately to any review. But customers want to feel that their voices are being heard. That means you need to set up a schedule and a system to check on and respond to Yelp reviews in a timely manner.
For positive reviews, you should respond within a week. But a negative review hanging out online for your customers to see without a response for a whole week? That’s trouble. And sometimes customers will use Yelp to ask questions – so those need a timely response too.
Keep it Professional
You have worked hard to build your business. It’s natural that any critique of it will seem like a personal blow. But while a negative review can dent your business a bit, a rude or unprofessional response to that review will just compound the damage. How can you deal with a bad review, especially one that seems unfair?
Take a few hours to cool off after reading a bad review – don’t just jump into a heated response if you’re still feeling emotional. Acknowledge what the customer said even if you feel it’s unfair, and offer steps you’re taking to deal with their complaint. Yelp users are pretty savvy at spotting baseless complaints, so don’t worry too much about those ruining your reputation. And if something truly did go wrong? A simple acknowledgment and apology can show the rest of your customers that you care about treating everyone well, and facing up when your business has an off day. No one expects perfection – but accountability and a cool, calm manner reflect very well on your business.
Look for Patterns
Customer feedback is valuable for any business owner – both positive and negative reviews. Are your customers consistently lodging the same complaints? You should look into them and take it as an opportunity for improvement. Are they consistently praising an aspect of your business you didn’t expect? That can be a great inspiration for your marketing needs. Taking feedback gracefully is a skill, but it’s one that can pay off in big ways if you develop it.
Managing Your Yelp Reputation
As many aspects of our world move increasingly online, your business’s reputation does the same. And maintaining a strong online reputation is critical because the internet doesn’t forget – potential customers can find that one lousy review from a decade ago in less than a minute. On the flip side, a spate of glowing reviews from real and happy customers can boost your new business into success.
You know you need to manage your online reviews and reviews on Yelp and other review sites – but as a business owner with a lot on your plate, you probably don’t have the time. That’s why you need a partner like ContentFirst.Marketing. We can do all the heavy lifting of online reputation management for you as part of your digital marketing strategy. Schedule your free business review today and get started on the road to success with us.